Jam Filled Muffins

 

I am constantly searching for healthy breakfasts-to-go options.  Options that will carry me through those insanely busy mornings.  You know.  Those barely have time to shower, I think I’m still sleeping, my brain isn’t really functioning, kind of mornings.

Hey.  Life happens.

 

 

And so—more times than not—you’ll find me driving along in my car at 6:30am, eating an almond butter and banana sandwich (maybe toasted, maybe not) and sipping on a hot cup of green tea.  In fact, you could almost bet on it.

But then, once in a great while, I’ll find myself home alone during a lazy Sunday afternoon.  That’s when I break out the whisk and spend some quality time in my kitchen, preparing breakfasts for the week to come.

 

 

Everyone has a favorite muffin.  A favorite recipe.  (Mine happens to be the whole wheat pumpkin muffins on my recipe page, but please don’t tell all of the other muffins!)

 

 

However, jam filled muffins are a delightfully close contender.  With their sweet personality and rustic good looks, they really are impossible not to love.  I almost always have a couple sitting in my freezer, just in case.

Because you never know when those crazy mornings might come along.  I like to think that I’m completely prepared.

 

 

It should be mentioned, however, that jam filled muffins are only ever as good as the jam that fills them.

You could technically use any old jam and probably still enjoy each and every delicious bite.  However, I’ve found the best results with either (a) homemade jams and jellies, (b) Trader Joe’s raspberry jam, or (c) some other “gourmet” jam/jelly.  You want these to taste fresh.  Homemade.  Rustic and pleasant.  This is one of the few times that I become totally stuck up, refusing to buy any store-brand products. ;)

 

 

~17 minutes in the oven~

 

 

Crazy busy mornings.

A healthy breakfast to go.

And let the day begin.

 

 

Jam Filled Muffins—recipe adapted from the Eating Well Magazine

These muffins are absolutely heavenly when served warm, straight from the oven.  To reheat the next morning, simply pop them in the microwave for a good 15-20 seconds.  Any extras can be frozen for the upcoming week.

Serve with a glass of milk and a fruit for a complete, healthy breakfast-t0-go.  Enjoy! :D

  • 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or 1 cup milk + 1 Tbsp. lemon juice)
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup blackberry, blueberry, raspberry or cherry jam (highly recommend Trader Joe’s raspberry!)
  • walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.  Add buttermilk, orange juice, oil and vanilla; whisk to blend.  Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  4. Scoop half the batter into the prepared pan.  Drop a generous teaspoonful of jam into the center of each muffin.  Spoon on the remaining batter, filling each muffin cup completely.  Sprinkle with walnuts.
  5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15-20 minutes.  Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.  ENJOY! :D

 

Question: Do you ever eat breakfast on the go?  What are some of your favorites?

to tofu, with love

I once marched around the house with a picketing sign that read “I. Hate. Tofu.” in big, bold letters, while my sister who was making a tofu lasagna, pretended not to notice. 

I took one bite of the dreaded sauce & cheese imposter.  And then I declared it the best lasagna that I had ever tasted, while my brother went off to contemplate how he might disown me.

Let it never be said that I’m afraid to speak my mind.  Or afraid to change my mind as needed, for that matter. 

 

4 

Tofu is no light topic of discussion.  In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend discussing soy or tofu at the family dinner table, unless of course you’re looking for a good debate.  Everyone feels something about the little white blocks of soy.  Everyone has something to say about it.

“Ugh, it makes me gag.”

“Oh my word, I practically live on the stuff!”

“Well.  It’s kind of complicated.”

 

2

 

The lasagna was my very first delightful encounter with tofu.  And then I decided to experiment—just a little.  Gradually crossing the boundaries from being a McDonalds loving, cheeseball consuming, soda addicted kid to *gasp* a tofu eater.  I blame that on discovering good sauces and smart preparation techniques. 

And the rest is history.

 4

3

 

(p.s. The best part of this story is when my brother—the one who was planning on how he could disown me for going to the “dark side”—became the vegetarian of the family.  Go figure!)

 

2

 

The moral of the story is (a) don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and others.  Tastebuds change.  And so do we as individuals.  If you love a juicy hamburger now and then, admit it, and don’t feel shame or guilt.  If you’d much rather not eat meat at all, and stick mostly to vegetarian fare, that’s great too.  Be yourself.  Be you!  And find what works best for your own individual needs.  A healthy diet can be formed around either of the aforementioned.  Really!

(b) Try something new!  If you’re feeling like you’re somewhere in the “it’s complicated” category of tofu, then branch out and try a new recipe.  Different techniques yield different flavors and textures.

(c) This isn’t really a moral, but—as your friend—I feel I should offer the advice of always making enough of this BBQ tofu for seconds.  It is *fabulous* as a sandwich filler. :D 

 

1

BBQ’d Tofu

Both of these recipes stem from the Veganomicon cookbook.  I made just a few subtle changes to make the cooking process a tad bit easier, while also basing the ingredients on what I happened to have on hand (I didn’t have the called for smoke seasoning!)  The BBQ sauce makes quite a bit—about 4 cups worth.  It is incredibly easy to make, and it’s nice having the extra sauce for future sandwiches or tofu/chicken creations. 

Serve this tangy sweet tofu with rice or mashed, garlic potatoes and your favorite roasted veggie.  Enjoy! :D

BBQ sauce:

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 c. molasses
  • 1/3 c. white vinegar
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  1. Saute onions in oil in medium pan over medium heat, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic through sugar and cook for 1 hr. over low heat.  Add mustard and adjust flavors as needed. 
  2. Puree in a food processor and store in refrigerator.

Baked Tofu with BBQ sauce:

  • 1 lb. tofu, pressed for 30 minutes (I recommend freezing the tofu ahead of time and dethawing/pressing before using…this produces a much “meatier” texture)
  • 1/2 of above recipe
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  In a 9×18 inch pan, place 1/4 of the above recipe on bottom of pan.  Place tofu on top.  Cover in 1/4 more of the above recipe. 
  2. Bake for 20 minutes.  Flip.  Bake an additional 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately and ENJOY!

Question: Tofu Feelings?  Love?  Hate?  It’s kind of complicated?

so long sorry

I’m not rude.  I don’t block the grocery isles with my shopping cart so that nobody else can walk through.  I don’t cut people off on the highway or honk my horn because you didn’t go through the green light fast enough.  I don’t snub people–ever–even when I’m being treated rude in return.

So why am I constantly saying “sorry”?

As my sister and meandered through Barnes and Noble, we found ourselves saying the “s”orry word at least a dozen times.  It’s the way we were raised.  Always be polite.  This thought process has traveled with me even into adulthood, where I find myself sheepishly saying “sorry” for everything.  Sorry for the inconvenience in asking you to move so that I can gently squeeze through the grocery isle.  Sorry that it took me just a little too long to move forward in the service line at the book store.  Sorry that I’m confusing you on my coffee order even though you’re being overtly rude to me.  Sorry.

Sorry. 

Here and now, I am setting a pact.  I refuse to be sorry.

Wait.  That sounds a little silly. 

I don’t mind being sorry.  Really, I don’t.  I’ll be the first to jump up and apologize if I’m truly in the wrong.  But I’m realizing more and more, the importance of standing up for yourself.  Because the instant that you say that you’re sorry, you’re also saying “I’m in the wrong.”  This opens up not only a feeling of disrepect for yourself, but also an opening for people to walk all over you.

In other words, I’m saying “so long to sorry” when it’s unnecessary and wrong.  I choose to respect myself enough to stand up for the fact that I’m not always the one who should be apologizing. 

So long “sorry!” :D

Pumpkin “Un”Overnight Oats

Pumpkin is one of my favorite oat mix-ins, especially now that the fall weather is officially here to stay.

Summer and fall collided this morning, as I mixed together a sliced, frozen banana into a bowl of “un”overnight, pumpkin oats.  The combination was delightful, and I plan on doing it again tomorrow.  Sorry to be so repetitive (pun intended.) ;)  

  • 1/2 c. uncooked oatmeal
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger
  • 6-oz. plain, nonfat yogurt
  • 1 banana, frozen and sliced
  • toppings: 2 T. walnuts, sweetened & dried coconut, Trader Joe’s apple cranberry butter

Today’s Challenge: Respect yourself!  Don’t be afraid to say “I’m sorry”, but also don’t be afraid to realize that you’re not always the one in the wrong.  Stand up for yourself, respect yourself, and don’t let people walk all over you.  You truly do deserve better, and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently!

Weekend Post: Caramelized Banana Pancakes

I often think in terms of all or nothing.  Hence the reason I like to ask you guys questions such as, “if you had to eat but one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?”  Or, “if you had to cook one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?” 

You see?  All or nothing.

But maybe that’s because when I land on a recipe that I really, truly love, I can think of nothing I want more.  I’ll usually fall so deeply in love that I continue to make that certain something, over and over and over again.  Until—finally—I either tire of it or something else that’s just as wonderful comes along and takes its place.

Today I discovered caramelized banana pancakes.

 This wasn’t an e-n-t-i-r-e-l-y new discovery.  It’s not like I’ve never had a banana before (HA!)  And I’ve had more than my fair share of puffy pancakes smothered in syrup. 

But there’s something quite miraculous about the combination of a doughy, cinnamon infused pancake and caramelized bannas.  The bananas were anything but ordinary.  The heat from the pan helped them develop a delicate, crispy skin and a plump, marshmallowy center.  It is bliss.  Pure, sweet bliss.

This pancake recipe is much heartier than your standard pancake.  In fact, it reminds me very much of a muffin.  Thick, doughy, and very, very carb-y.  I foresee these becoming a regular at my breakfast table, as they quickly become a member of the all or nothing group:D

Caramelized Banana Pancakes
Serves 1

  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle of ground nutmeg
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 T. rolled oats
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp molasses (optional)
  • 1 banana, sliced thickly
  1. Mix together flour through oats.
  2. In a separate bowl, combine milk through molasses.  Add wet ingredients to dry and beat  just until smooth (don’t overmix).
  3. Heat a griddle to medium heat and spray well with cooking spray.  Add batter to pan and cook until browned.  Flip and cook until desired doneness (I like mine doughy on the inside!)
  4. Meanwhile, in the same pan, add the bananas and flip once browned on one side.  Cook until warmed and oozing with sweetness.
  5. ENJOY! :D

Meanwhile—on the family front—Nicole and Nate’s brand new couch arrived today! 

It’s adorable, cozy, and super comfy to boot. :D

So far, the cats have been behaving themselves with the new furniture addition.

Let’s hope Stitch can stay out of trouble. ;)

Question: Favorite kind of pancake?  Aside from bananas, I love, love, love a good pumpkin pancake, dabbed with butter and drizzled with maple syrup.  It may just be my favorite autumn meal. :D

breakfast in a hurry

Sometimes I like to spend hours in the kitchen. 

Throwing together homemade samosas and carrot soup, all on a whim.  Just because I can.

And then there are times when I need short-cuts.

Let’s take steel cut oats as an example.

Steel cut oats take a good 30-40 minutes of your attention.  This is fine for lazy weekends, but not so much for a busy week day.  What’s a busy girl to do?

Well, duh.  There are rolled oats for people like us.

But, really, sometimes you want steel cut oats.  They impart a deliciously nutty bite, and may even keep you full longer since the digestion time is increased.  I like to think of it in this way: steel cut oats > rolled oats > instant oats.  In regards to the fullness factor, anyways.

I’ve discovered that there is indeed a short cut to having steel cut oats during the week.  And that is simply to prepare one heeping batch at the beginning of the week and pop it in the fridge.

Four servings worth of steel cut oats.  Just cut it, pop it in a microwave safe bowl, throw in your favorite fillings and heat to desired temperature.  In 3-4 minutes, you’ll have steel cut oats for a busy, week day breakfast!!

This morning I had to drive in early for a Food Service Director’s meeting, which meant that breakfast needed to be extra, extra quick to throw together.  Cha, cha, chilly oats became my breakfast of choice.

  • 1 serving of steel cut oats (about 1/4 c. uncooked)
  • 6-oz. plain yogurt
  • cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 T. craisins
  • toppings: granola and almond butter

Served with hot tea for a lil’ warmth on a chilly morning. :D

Another busy day tomorrow.  But hopefully by the end I will be ServSafe certified! :mrgreen:

Question: Do you have any “secret” shortcuts for meals/snacks/breakfasts that would normally take a long time to make?

building menus

I slept in this morning!  And I loved every delicious minute. :mrgreen:

There are some times when it’s necessary to kick yourself out the door and into your regular workout routine.  And then there are other times—such as today—when the healthiest option is to just rest.

I’ve been playing limbo with a lingering cold this past week.  It’s like my immune system is playing tug-of-war with a stuffy head.  My bets are on my immune system.  It’s just taking a little longer than I would like. ;)  Needless to say, the extra sleep felt good.  Amazing, actually.  Sometimes you just have to listen to your body. 

My bowl of oat bran was exceptionally creamy this morning.  I think it’s due to the ripe banana and chia seeds.  So yummy!

  • 1 c. lowfat milk
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • cinnamon + nutmeg
  • 1/4 c. oat bran
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 T. dried cranberries
  1. Bring milk, banana, and spices to a boil.
  2. Add in oat bran, chia seeds and cranberries.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 6 minutes, whipping every so often.

Creamy.  Creamy.  Oh so creamy!

Today, my internship involved grocery shopping.  And I loved it. :mrgreen:

Yesterday involved a meeting with a mom whose son has celiac disease.  She’s concerned about what he can eat, his own personal self esteem issues related to this new diet, being able to still “fit in” with the other kids, etc.  It was awesome being there to listen in on the conversation between her and the food service director.  I can’t wait until it’s my turn to educate someday. 

At least I had the opportunity to create a brochure and a 2-week cycle menu for the boy with celiac.  I had to keep the school’s budget in mind, as well as making it as easy as possible on the food service workers.  Thankfully, there was a little wiggle room to be able to purchase special gluten-free products, which instantly helped with helping him still “fit in” with the other kids.  This is where the grocery shopping came in. 

I found a gluten-free pizza crust, along with some tortilla wraps for deli sandwiches.  Pastas, gluten free cereals, rice cakes, cheesesticks, sun-butter, and other such foods found their way into the menu too.  Fun!

On my own lunch menu for today: 2 slices Arnold German Dark Wheat Bread, 1/4 c. roasted red pepper hummus, grated carrot and thinly sliced green bell peppers

I always forget about bringing yogurt for snacks! 

Today I packed up some plain yogurt with a chopped orange and a sprinkle of pumpkin flax granola.  This kept me full between an early breakfast and a later lunch. :D

I also snagged an apple and some chopped carrots, bell peppers, and cherry tomatoes for an afternoon snack.

My Food Service Preceptor told me that the Au Bon Pain chicken noodle soup from the school was delicious, and it sounded so perfect for my sore throat.  I grabbed a small dish to accompany my sandwich and it was absolutely perfect.  Not too salty tasting, like some other chicken noodle soups out there, and the carrots still had a nice firm bite to them.

Fun.  Lunch.

The rest of the afternoon zipped by in a flash. 

Menu planning, union meetings, and making brochures left me (a) ready for a walk and (b) ready for dinner.  I ate dinner first and went for a 3-mile walk afterwards.  Both were amazing. :D

Veggie Pizza Slice #1 (see recipe page)

Veggie Pizza Slice #2

Plus greenage! 

Mesculin greens, carrot, cucumber, tomatoes, olives.  Drizzled with EVOO.  I like my salads kept plain and simple these days. :D

I am now off to unwind a bit before another busy day begins tomorrow.  I have a seminar class with my fellow interns, and I’m excited to see what everyone’s been up to.  :D

Question: How do you treat a sore throat?  Ideas?  My mom is convinced that gargling with salt water is key, but I just can’t do it.  Usually I stick to teas and hot bowls of oats.  It’s a temporary fix, but it still makes me feel better. ;)

workin’ hard in the kitchen

I woke up at 5:15 this morning. 

No alarms were needed to wake me up.  Just the warm and comforting thought of a hot shower and a hot bowl of oat bran.  Mmm…

Using my basic oatbran method in the recipe page, I also added in some dried cranberries and topped it all off with some lightly salted mixed nuts (ah-mazing!!)

Trail mix meets oat bran.  In one yummy, delicious bowl.  Worth.  Waking.  Up.  For. :mrgreen:

The kitchen of the High School was b-b-b-busy this morning!  I immediately threw on some gloves and got to work.  After pouring out 1/2 c. portions of peaches, I helped make pizza.

It was so much fun stretching out the dough and swirling on the red pizza sauce.  The olive oil and herb mixture that was placed around the crust smelled absolutely heavenly!  I also made some calzones, which was the “special” of the day.  Fun! 

All of this working in the kitchen immediately brought me back to my days of working at an assisted living facility.  It was hard work, and at the end of the day I would always be physically and mentally exhausted.  Completely.  But there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing people enjoy the food that you worked hard to put together.  Especially when they actually enjoyed it…haha. ;) 

Four hours into working at the high school, and I was oh-so-ready to dig into my lunch bag!

First, a morning snack: an apple and a cheesestick

I like to use up leftovers.  This explains my lunch. :mrgreen:

  • 1 c. cooked brown rice (leftover!)
  • about 1 c. of sauteed summer squash & zucchini (leftover!)
  • about 1/2 c. roasted turnips (leftover!)
  • 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • salsa and parsley

Brown rice is so versatile and makes for an awesome lunch when mixed with veggies and a protein source.  I devoured every last, delicious bite.

Afternoon Snack: 6-oz. yogurt + 2 T. Pumpkin Flax Granola + Almond Butter

 Return Of The Tofu Press!!!

Wait.  That’s not tofu.  Oh, you’re right.

That would be frozen, dethawed spinach.  I’ve heard that the tofu press works well with those kinds of things, but I’ve never actually tried it.  Until tonight, that is, while making a spaghetti pie. 

This baby worked like a charm. :D

Mom and I both had the late afternoon off today, so we both got our hands dirty in the kitchen.  It was fun having a cooking companion. :D

On the menu: Vegetarian Spaghetti Pie (hint: call it Spaghetti Pie if you have family members who are still wary of eating vegetarian dishes ;) )

Vegetarian Spaghetti Piecourtesy of Eat Well, Live Well Cookbook…with some tweaking

  • 8-oz. whole wheat spaghetti noodles, uncooked
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 c. part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded and separated
  • 1/2 c. onion, chopped
  • 1/4 c. green pepper, chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 c. fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 can (6-oz) tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1-10 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cook spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions; drain.  Add oil, eggs and 1/4 c. of mozzarella cheese.
  3. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 14-inch pizza pan coated with nonstick spray.  Build the edges high to form a crust.  Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. In a nonstick skillet cook the onion, green pepper and garlic until tender.  Stir in the tomatoes, water, tomato paste, basil oregano, and salt.  Set aside.
  5. Spread ricotta cheese over top of spaghetti crust.  Layer mozzarella cheese on top.  Layer the spinach on top of this and then the tomato mixture.
  6. Cover the pie with foil and bake for 12-15 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 2-3 minutes.

Makes about 6 servings.

Meanwhile, while the spaghetti pie was baking, I threw together a larger than life salad.

Complete with yellow & red tomatoes, EVOO, sea salt, black olives, ‘shrooms, carrots, cucumbers and celery.  Fresh, fresh, F-R-E-S-H!!!

About 20 minutes of baking time later, and this came out.

Melty.  Ooey-gooey.  Saucy.  Rich.  Fresh.

Not even being a pasta fan, I am in love with this recipe.  It very closely resembles a vegetarian lasagna, with the red sauce tasting much like a marinara.  So yummy.  I think the overall recipe could use some extra vegetables (mushrooms, summer squash, etc.) to reach perfection, but it’s well on its way.  Feel free to mess with this recipe and make it your own. :D

I get to go in an hour later tomorrow (8’oclock vs. 7’oclock!), so I have high hopes for a morning run.  I’m not at all looking forward to running in the winter, but I’m absolutely loving my chilly autumn runs. :D

Question: What was your favorite job that you have ever had?  For me, it was definitely working at a service dog training facility.  Playing with & training golden retriever puppies all day and getting paid for it?  Um…yeah.  It doesn’t get better.

(not) meant to be

Eight hours of sleep and feelin’ good! :mrgreen:

I forgot how deliciously creamy oat bran is, when cooked with chia seeds!!!

  • 1 c. lowfat milk
  • 3/4 c. water
  • seasonings: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla
  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran
  • toppings: FEED apple granola, walnuts, maple syrup
  1. Bring milk, water and seasonings to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add in oatbran, apple, and chia seeds.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Once beginning to thicken, add wheat bran and cook for one more minute.
  4. TOP as desired! :D

Morning Snack: Orange and mixed nuts

A morning headache converted my original plans of a 5-mile run into a 4-mile walk.  I welcomed the change in pace.  Despite taking yesterday off from running, I just wasn’t feeling it today.  A walk felt 10 times more refreshing for this morning’s workout.

That being said, I’m going to need to really do some schedule tweaking for this upcoming week’s workout routine.  I think I foresee many “night runs” in my not-so-distant future. ;)

My morning walk left me hungry, and I was completely ready to eat by noon.

Brown rice.

Roasted Turnips.

Leftover Bruschetta Chicken (from yesterday.)

The Bruschetta Chicken is my new favorite recipe.  I first tried it about a month ago, when Nicole had us over for dinner.  She served it alongside her homemade foccaccia bread, caesar salad and a zucchini stir fry.  Home cooking at its finest.  My Memere would have been proud. :D

This chicken dish is worthy of being served for company but quick enough to get on the table for any day of the week.  Best of all, it’s kept healthy with a few simple ingredients, including lycopene rich tomatoes.  Lycopene is an antioxidant known mostly for its effect in reducing cancer risks.

I followed the recipe—almost completely—but modified it just a bit by using real egg whites, whole wheat flour/breadcrumbs in place of white, and cutting back just a bit on the salt.  This meal turned out delicious and reheated well for the use of leftovers.  It makes for the perfect autumn meal. :D

Bruschetta Chickencourtesy of Taste of Home

  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c. egg whites
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (4-oz. each)
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. dry breadcrumbs (I made my own, toasting whole wheat bread in the oven until dried out and processing with basil & oregano for spices)
  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 3 T. fresh minced basil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Place flour and eggs in separate shallow bowls. Dip chicken in eggs, then in flour; place in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, coated with cooking spray. Combine the Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs and butter; sprinkle over chicken.
  2. Loosely cover baking dish with foil. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 160-165.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Spoon over the chicken. Return to the oven for 3-5 minutes or until tomato mixture is heated through. Yield: 4 servings.

Can I just say how excited I am to see turnips in my kitchen again? :mrgreen:

Autumn, how I love you.

Post-lunch sweetness!

Afternoon Snack: cheesestick and whole grain pretzels

I’m telling you, it was not meant for me to go running today.

First, there was this morning’s headache that turned my intentional run into a walk.

And then there was tonight—before dinner—when I decided that a 3-mile run sounded like a good idea.  I was one mile in, feeling strong, and suddenly—out of nowhere—it began to rain.  You guys know me by now.  I love running in the rain.  It was completely lovely.  But then I saw a lightning flash and heard its companion (aka thunder) bark with an incredible fierceness that made my heart skip a beat, my hair stand on end, and my feet feel as numb as an icecube.  I sprinted through puddles and dirt, bolting towards home.  It was probably the quickest 2-miles I’ve done in a long time. :mrgreen:

I love rain.  I’m scared of thunder.  And that’s the truth. ;)

Time for dinner!

  • mixed greens
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • black olives
  • 1/2 c. whipped, 1% cottage cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil

+ kashi crackers.

I love a fresh, crunchy salad for dinner! 

I also love dark chocolate for dessert.

I just bought a new binder and planner today!  I tried getting myself used to the Google Organizer features, but—honestly—I have to write it down with a pen to make it work.  There’s something about holding an actual notebook and crossing my To-Do list out with ink.  It feels so rewarding. 

Tomorrow is going to be an early morning!  My preceptor for Food Service wants me in at 7 o’clock.  Setting the alarm for 5:30 sharp!

Question: How do you keep yourself organized?

in the groove

And so it’s back to work I go.

Slowly but surely, I’m finding my morning groove. 

30 minutes for breakfast
30 minutes for working out/yoga
15 minutes for showering
15 minutes for getting dressed, throwing on a bit of makeup, and grabbing my coffee to go

Breakfast and working out are not to be messed with.  They do wonders for tuning my day to the right note. :D   

“Un”overnight oats became my quickie breakfast of choice this morning.  With the nice addition of chia seeds and a scoop of almond butter.  Delicious.

Last night I threw together a random rice, veggie and tempeh concoction for today’s lunch.  It turned out quite yummy, although garlic would have made this stuff shine.  Unfortunetly, chewing gum is not allowed in the food service.  So, well, garlic was thrown out of the picture.  ;)

  • 1 c. brown rice
  • 1/2 block of tempeh mixed with 2 tsp. lite soy sauce
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/2 tomato, diced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • pepper, cumin and cayenne to taste (ADD garlic if you can!! :mrgreen: )

Snacks: apple, orange slices and almonds

I’m close to finishing up the job descriptions.  I never realized how much work goes into doing these things until now.  Especially when the Union is involved.  Everything needs to be clearly marked and job oriented.  Otherwise, people get in trouble and things can get pretty ugly.  ;)

On the non-business-related front, I’ve also been taking a peak at the monthly menus for the school.  They stay pretty similair month by month, with the occasional change in fruit options, lunch options, etc.  Apparently, chicken is the big selling point for the school.  Whether found as a breaded chicken patty or chicken nuggets, these things s-e-l-l.  I wonder what it would be like to introduce a completely new meal.  Healthified.  Delicious.  Kid-approved.  What would that take?  I would love to find out. :D

Afternoon Snack: yogurt with flax, bananas and granola

Have you ever roasted a chickpea?

For dinner, I roasted 1/2 a cauliflower with some diced, fresh beets together at 425 degreesF, for 10 minutes.  I then added some salt, pepper and 1/2 c. chickpeas.  Ten more minutes and voila!  Bursting chickpeas that popped when you bit into them.  They grew tougher.  Meatier.  And I liked them.  A lot.  :D

The rest of my salad was kept pretty standard.  Olive oil with sea salt.  Bell peppers.  Avocado.  And a slice of deliciously chewy, whole grain bread.

Time. To. Relax.

First with a 4-mile walk.  And finished with some journaling and chocolate mint tea.  Mmmm….

Question: What was your favorite (healthy) meal to eat as a kid?  I’m looking for ideas. ;)

transition phase

Yesterday was all about fall.  And—if this is at all possible—I’ve become even more excited about its upcoming appearance, after reading all of your ‘fall-filled’ comments.  Beautiful.  Absolutely beautiful.  Bring on that cool, hoodie & jeans styled weather! :D

But around here, we’re still in that silent transition phase.  That point where you’re not really sure if fall is just a tease, or if summer truly is on its last running stretch.  Days that offer a little bit of summer, a little bit of fall.  I like to think that this phase gives us the best of both seasons, all in one day.

With today being Labor Day and all, my family needed to celebrate.  Outdoor style.   

Any good celebration includes (1) a picnic table (or anything that allows you to eat outdoors, really…a picnic blanket would do just fine :D ).

(2) A grill to cook off of.  And hopefully someone who knows how to cook on one.  Let me tell you right now, I am hands off when it comes to the grill.  Too little temperature control, too much a mind of its own.   Scariness!

But then again, maybe I should add ‘master the grill’ to my bucket list?

Lastly, any good celebration involves (3) family.  The more, the merrier.  My Pepere and Nicole came to join us for good food and fun conversation. 

Mom and Nicole

One of my favorite things about cookout fare in the late summer/early fall is that it’s absolutely a-okay to grill up the meats, veggies, corn, etc. on the grill, while simultaneously turning on the indoor oven. 

These babies were baked in the oven (325 to 400—temperature was increased for timing reasons ;) ) for a good 2 hrs.  Roasty.  Crispy.  Perfect. 

I went for a sweet potato version which went through this whole ooey, gooey, caramelization phase.  It was lovely. :D

Let’s talk corn.

For the full experience of enjoying corn on the cob, corn must be grilled in its husk at least a few times a year.  Yes, you can boil it for decent results.  But for that really sweet, “I can’t resist your love” type of feeling, you simply need to grill it.  Just soak the corn in the husk for about 15 minutes to prevent scorching and then throw them on the grill, rotating every so often.  It takes about 15 minutes (longer or shorter depending on your desired results.)

I chose tempeh for my protein of choice today.  I’ve never been a steak girl (I know, I know…many grill masters would cry over this fact—sorry!), but tempeh and tofu are extra nice when grilled.  Using weber’s tofu method for grilling (spray a sheet of foil, plop the tofu or tempeh on the sprayed sheet, and grill for about 10 minutes, flipping once), I first basted 1/2 the block of tempeh in some Bone Suckin’ Sauce.  The sugars in the sauce helped contribute to those nice, golden markings and rich, smoky flavor.

Delicious.

And, really, no celebration is complete without my sister’s focaccia bread.  It’s quickly becoming that secret recipe which everyone begs for at every. single. family. gathering.  Summer, fall, winter, spring.  It really doesn’t matter what the season, somehow this bread always works.  Always.

The meal was considered complete when this local, last-of-the-season watermelon was brought out for dessert. 

Sweet perfection. :D

I love the seasons’ transition phases. 

Enjoying the foods of both summer and fall.  Taking in the warmth that the summer sun still has to offer.  Enjoying a cool breeze.  Wearing a hoodie and a pair of flip flops.

*Sigh*

Life is good. :D

Time to get organized for tomorrow’s busy day at the school!! :D

Question: Did you celebrate Labor Day?