Spinach & Rice Bake

What a crazy week it’s been. We got some pretty bad storms on Sunday night. Tornadoes touched down in our neighboring cities and left nothing but devastation behind.  I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose everything, including lives of loved ones in a matter of minutes. Those victims are constantly in our thoughts and prayers.

Tornado damage in Mayflower, AR.

Tornado damage in Mayflower, AR.

Besides the horrible storms, it’s also prom season. Let me tell ya, things get cray cray for tanning salon owners during prom season. It’s the good kind of crazy, but still.  Needless to say my poor husband has had to scrounge around the kitchen to find something decent to eat. I feel horrible about that, but when I get home after 7 pm, there’s just no time or energy left in me to cook. Luckily he’s a pretty cool dude and hasn’t complained a bit. I’ve never been so thankful for a frozen pizza! (And thank’s to Simple Truth and Amy’s brands, we can still eat pizza and stay organic!)

Yesterday I had a little break at work and decided to make a quick run to the grocery store. I knew I needed something quick and easy, and we’ve seriously been lacking in veggies lately. Pizza is great and all, but it doesn’t quite cut it in the veggie department. Without a recipe, I attempted to create my own little dish. It was quick, easy, and totally delish if I may toot my own horn. *toot, toot*

This would make a great Meatless Monday meal, or just any occasion that you need something filling, quick, and nutritious!  You could really add any vegetables that you like into this dish. I wanted to have a variety of colors and I used up some peppers that we already had at home!

You could also whip this up in the morning and bake it when you get home from work. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Spinach & Rice Bake

Ingredients:

10 oz fresh organic spinach (I used Simple Truth, of course!)

1/2 yellow organic onion, finely chopped

1/2 orange or yellow organic bell pepper. chopped  (I cut up the leftovers and freeze for later!)

1/2 organic red bell pepper, chopped

3 organic celery stalks, finely chopped

1 cup organic brown rice, cooked (measurement is after cooking. I like to cook mine in chicken broth for added flavor.)

2 cloves minced garlic

3 large organic eggs, beaten

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, and a little extra for topping  (don’t buy the packaged stuff!)

1/3 cup organic whole milk

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Seasonings of your choice. I used..

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp lemon & pepper seasoning

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, saute the onion with the peppers and celery until tender. Add the spinach by the handful and cook until wilted. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 more minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, add the spinach mixture, cheese and all other ingredients. Mix until well incorporated.

Transfer to a lightly greased 8×8 baking dish. Bake, uncovered for 35-40 minutes until firm.

Ya’ll know by now that we love cheese in our household, so I added an extra sprinkle of cheese on the top, and broiled for 5 min until lightly browned. Yum, yum goodness!

I served it up with a side of canned mixed vegetables and our bellies were full and happy! Enjoy!

 

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Earth Day 2014

earth day

I have to admit that when my husband and I made the change to clean eating, I wasn’t thinking much about the environment. We changed because of the health benefits, and ridding our bodies of all of the harmful chemicals that have we have been eating.  It didn’t take long to realize that there is a strong correlation between clean eating and the environment.

We’ve had fun learning to make our own bar soap from the fresh goat’s milk we got at Goatroper Farms, we’ve tried our hand at homemade mozzarella (that didn’t turn out so great), Andrew has been making our laundry detergent and hand soap, and I have several other projects in line to try. We’re saving money, we’re saving our health, and we are also saving the earth.

I’ve decided to come up with my own little list of how Andrew and I can improve not only ourselves, but the earth that we live on. Some things on the list we are currently doing, and the others are goals that we want to start doing.

Grow a garden

I’m so proud of my husband for spending his extra time and (not-so-extra) energy on planting our own organic garden this year. While I completely support our local and organic farmers, it will be so nice to be able to walk into our backyard and grab the veggies and spices that I need for dinner!

Make a compost pile

There’s only 2 of us, so it’s difficult at times to buy ingredients, cook, and not have a ton of leftovers that just go to waste. I try to freeze what I can, but we still have items that spoil. I always felt guilty just throwing that food in the trash. Now, our spoiled food goes into our compost pile that helps feed our garden!

Drive Less

We used to spend our weekends getting a cup of coffee and riding around. First it was to find business locations, then to find a house, then it just became an afternoon activity. Now, we spend less time on the road and more time in our home and yard. When we aren’t working at our jobs, cooking, or working on our garden, we are sitting on our deck enjoying the spring weather! Saving money, less fuel….win win.

Recycle

Sadly I have to admit that this is something we don’t do, but plan to start. I’ve done little things like washing Ziploc bags and reusing them instead of throwing them away, but we really need to start recycling all bottles and cans that we use.

Utilize Natural Lighting

Instead of turning on lights, open some blinds (while it’s not too hot outside!) and enjoy the bright natural light. I’ve noticed that when I open the curtains to our amazing bay window and lift the blinds in the kitchen on a sunny day, I’m actually in a better mood! When it’s really nice outside, turn your air conditioner off and raise some windows.

Have you made any changes to help our environment? Any ideas that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear your thoughts!!

 

 

 

 

 

Clean Homemade Cheese-Itz (Or Goldfish)

It’s been a great weekend! The rain today was the perfect excuse to spend the day in the kitchen, and the hubby being right by my side was the icing on the top!

Ok, I didn’t actually make anything that needed frosting, but I did make some amazing chocolate chip cookies, and my favorite addiction…..wait for it….Cheese-Itz!! For ya’ll that don’t know me I’m a small woman. Actually, I’m so short and  small that people think I’m a kid. I’m quick to correct most people for assuming that I’m a child, but when it comes to Cheese-Itz or Goldfish crackers I’ll play along!

I’m much closer to 30 than I am 20, I don’t have kids, and I’m usually buying a pack of dark beer for the hubby, so the cashier now has to view the DL. I can’t blame my cheese cracker addiction on kiddos.  So….I’ll  just make my own! It’s ridiculously easy, and I had all of the ingredients on hand.

You can make these in any shape you want! If you have kiddos that like goldfish crackers, cut up a soda can and form your own fish mold.  Since it’s just the two of us, I wanted them to resemble   Cheeze-It’s or Cheese Nips. We rolled out the dough and cut into squares with a pizza cutter. I took a fork and pressed the edges, and a tooth pick to make a small hole in the middle. They looked just like Cheese-Itz! You definitely don’t have to go through the extra effort if you don’t care what they look like! Just do what you, or the kiddo’s like! They taste awesome no matter what they’re shaped like!

This was seriously a fun recipe to make! I’d imagine it would be a great project to enjoy with kiddos!

Ingredients:

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese

4 tbsp. butter slightly colder than room temp, cut into cubes

1 cup unbleached whole wheat flour

3/4 tsp salt (I used organic sea salt)

2 tbsp. warm water

Directions:

Pulse all dry ingredients in a mixer or food processor until it resembles coarse sand.

Pulse in water, a small amount at a time.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface into desired shapes. (The thinner the dough the crispier the cracker! My first batch was thicker and was more like a cheese straw….. the second batch was thinner and turned out more like a cheese-it!! It tasted great either way!) or use a cookie cutter, or  make your own “fish”  out of a cut coke can, or just slicing into square with a pizza cutter (what we did)…whatever you want will work! I got “fancy” and used the tip of a fork to imprint the edges, and a tooth pick to cut a small hole in the middle to resemble cheese-itz! Again,  totally not necessary if you don’t care what they look like!

Preheat oven to 350.

Chill dough in the fridge while the oven preheats.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until crackers are crisp.

 

Homemade Fried Rice

I’ve been pretty quiet in the blog world this week. Whatever lovely stomach bug it is that’s going around, it hit me too! Sooo not fun, and writing about food was the last thing on my mind.

Even though I didn’t feel well and slightly neglected the blog, I still cooked! Not just because I knew that the hubby would be hungry, but because cooking seriously relaxes me and makes me happy. I’ll admit I didn’t eat most of those meals (crackers for me please!), but Andrew wasn’t complaining!

One of the best things I made this week was fried rice!  Andrew’s co-worker ordered Chinese takeout a couple of weeks ago, and he has been craving Chinese style fried rice ever since. Challenge accepted!

I made this earlier in the week as a side dish to pork chops, so I didn’t add any meat. Hubby LOVED it and the rice was gone by the second day! He also loved that it was easy to reheat in the microwave at work and tasted just as good as it did when it came straight out of the skillet!

I am thankfully feeling much better now, and since we’re stuck in the house under tornado and hail warnings, why not cook?  Yes, I made the same thing twice in one week, but when we say something is good, we mean good!!!!!

I did add some teriyaki chicken this time since I served it as a main dish. It’s great either way. It is super easy and would be a great weeknight meal for a busy wife or mom! Another thing worth noting is that it is not only delicious, it is also pretty inexpensive even with the organic ingredients.

Andrew says he won’t need or crave take-out again! That’s a pretty big deal and a total win for me! Yes!!!

The longest part of the preparation is waiting on the rice to cook. (I let my rice cooker do the work, but brown rice takes longer than white. It takes about 45 minutes for my rice cooker to finish brown rice.) The good thing is that you can cook the rice the day or night before and have it on hand to throw into the recipe!

I also had my favorite broccoli and cheese soup cooking at the same time. We are going to visit my mother in law this weekend and the only food available in her small town is chemical laden fast food. I’m learning to plan ahead so that we can still eat clean on the road and as a bonus, MIL gets a home-cooked meal too!

Fried Rice

Ingredients:

3 cups of cooked rice (I used long grain, organic brown rice)

1 cup frozen mixed vegetables (I used carrots, peas, and chopped green beans)

1 organic yellow onion, finely chopped

2 1/2 cloves organic minced garlic

3 organic cage free eggs

3 tbsp. organic sesame oil

1/4 cup organic soy sauce

Instructions:

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat (sesame oil burns easily when heated too high)

Add chopped onion and frozen veggies. Stir fry until tender then add garlic.

Crack 3 eggs directly into the pan and scramble throughout the veggies. When eggs are done, add the cooked rice and mix well.

Remove from heat and stir in soy sauce. Serve immediately!

Embarrassingly easy, but SO good!!!

 

Clean Supreme Cajun Chicken Pasta

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Cajun Style Tilapia

I’m still new to the blogging world, but I am having so much fun with it! I love documenting my successes and even my failures, and knowing that I’ll look back on it and remember those exact moments. I feel like I’m a grown-up who now keeps a diary like I did when I was a kid. At heart, I’m a little bit of both; I get excited like a kid when something turns out great, and the adult kicks in when I make mistakes or have to spend an afternoon grocery shopping, or when I have to work late yet we still need something for dinner.

I love hearing that my readers are actually trying my recipes. I’m not going to lie, it’s a pretty awesome feeling. So thank you! Earlier tonight I was talking to my husband’s cousin (a.k.a my sister) who sent me a text of the Zesty Italian Chicken recipe that she made tonight. She even sent me pictures of it with the caption “Ta-da! Very good!!” Yay! It makes me incredibly happy to share recipes that make not only my husband happy, but other people as well.

My “sis-in-law” is a busy lady like most of my readers. There’s always kids to take to basketball practice, errands to run, just life in general. She enjoyed the Zesty Italian Chicken recipe because it is quick and simple. Not everyone, including myself, has hours to prepare a meal every night. But, it’s still possible to have a quick and easy weeknight meal that is clean, healthy, and delicious!

So this recipe is dedicated to my “sister” who requested a tilapia recipe that disguises the “fishy” taste.  I love tilapia in any form but the hubby won’t eat it any other way than this. And that’s a pretty big deal!

There are several things that are great about this recipe! For one, from start to finish this is done in less than 15 minutes. Two, it is healthy, simple and delicious and clean up is minimal!

One more thing worth noting: DO NOT BUY FARM RAISED TILIPIA! Always buy wild caught. Find out why here.

I like to serve this with my easy oven roasted potatoes and any other quick and easy veggie! 

Ingredients:

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

4 tilapia fillets

Organic olive oil cooking spray (I use Simple Truth found at Kroger)

Directions:

If your tilapia is frozen, quickly thaw it by submersing in hot water for 1-2 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix all spices in a small bowl. Place fish in a baking dish sprayed with a little organic cooking spray.  Season each side with a sprinkle of salt and pepper, then coat with the spice mixture.

Spray the tops of the fish with a little more cooking spray before placing in the preheated oven.

Bake until the fish is golden brown and begins to flake, about 7-9 minutes.

You can’t get any easier or quicker than that! And it is t-a-s-t-y!!!

 

Zesty Italian Baked Chicken Recipe

I get such an amazing feeling when I create a new dish that is super tasty and makes the hubby swoon. Tonight’s dinner did just that! We both even stepped out of our comfort zone and tried mashed cauliflower (like mashed potatoes). I’ve had a couple of recipes pinned but never had the guts to try it. To us, there was no way that cauliflower could taste like potatoes. We were wrong and it was delicious!

I plan on sharing my recipe for mashed cauliflower later this week. But the star of  tonight’s show was the chicken! It would just be cruel of me to keep it to myself! I do feel obligated to give you a “taste” of the cauliflower though!

Is your mouth watering yet?! It should be!

I had our meals for the week all planned out during our weekly grocery shopping trip over the weekend. We were going to have some delicious pork chops with the mashed cauliflower and green beans. Andrew bought local pork chops from the farmer’s market that we had in the freezer. I took them out and sat them on the counter to defrost.  Then, in all honesty, I completely forgot about them. So they thawed and sat at room temperature a little too long for comfort.  Needless to say, our 4 fur babies were very happy that night! Oopsie! Sometimes we just have too many things going on and things get forgotten. It happens to the best of us.

So after work today I went to Kroger in search for clean Simple Truth brand pork chops. They were out! Sad! I bought chicken breasts instead. I didn’t think that my planned recipe for pork chops would work well with chicken, so I had to come up with plan B.  The chicken had to be moist (is it just me that doesn’t particularly like that word?), it had to be tender, and it had to be full of flavor. Thus, Zesty Italian Chicken was born!

For the record, I LOVE chicken. Andrew’s cousin Elaine calls me Chicken Little because that’s all I’d order at restaurants when we went out to eat with her. When everyone eats steak at family get-togethers, his uncle Johnny always has a chicken breast to throw on the grill just for me. Yeah, his family is pretty awesome! After saying all of that, this newly created recipe just made it into my favorite top 5 chicken recipes ever! It was that good!

Ingredients:

1 lb Simple Truth Organic chicken breasts, halved

3/4 cup organic plain Greek yogurt

3 cloves organic garlic

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 tsp white pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

1 cup organic Italian bread crumbs

Directions:

In a medium sized bowl, mix the yogurt, garlic and all seasonings. Adjust to taste. We like quite a bit of spice so I added a pinch more cayenne and red pepper flakes. This is your dinner so season it how you like it!

Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Place the chicken in a single layer and spread half of the yogurt mixture on the top of each. Flip over and spread the remaining mixture on the other side. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Coat each side of chicken with a generous amount of bread crumbs.

Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Uncover, and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn the oven to broil and continue until the bread coating is slightly browned.

After broiling, some of the bottom coating stuck to my pan. If that happens to you, don’t leave it!!! Scrape that goodness off of the pan and put it on the chicken. It is slap-yo-momma good!

I call this  “Zesty Italian Chicken” mainly because of the hint of spice and the Italian seasoning. It just seemed appropriate. But really, this is southern goodness in a healthy and baked form. If Andrew can’t have his favorite fried chicken from a gas station (ick! But he loves it!), this is the next best thing!

This chicken is super flavorful by itself but if you like a dipping sauce, Andrew used Annie’s organic Tuscany Italian dressing, and I tried it with Annie’s organic Dijon mustard. Both were great!

What’s your favorite chicken recipe? Do you prefer it grilled, fried, or baked? I’d love to hear your go-to recipe!

 

Banana Bread

Don’t you just hate when a perfect weekend comes to an end? We greatly enjoyed having our windows and doors open, sitting on our back deck watching the fur babies play and the birds on the feeder, and even basic chores didn’t feel like work. Andrew even planted organic seeds in our garden and hopefully we’ll have plenty of fresh produce soon. I can’t believe how excited that makes me!

Of course my weekend (or any day for that matter) wouldn’t be complete without a little quality time in the kitchen. After my successful attempt with homemade bread and brownies, I decided I wanted to bake something that was both bread and a sweet treat: Banana bread!

The best thing about this recipe is that there’s no added sugar, but it’s plenty sweet! The sweetness come from the natural sugar in the bananas, honey, and vanilla. It is so moist and absolutely delicious. Judging by how quickly we’ve devoured this, I’ll be making it again very soon! I may even get a little adventurous and add nuts or dried fruit!

Recipe adapted from 100 Days of Real Food

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups unbleached whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
4 very ripe organic bananas, mashed
1/4 cup plain organic Greek yogurt
1/4 cup honey (I used locally sourced raw honey)
2 large organic eggs
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 tsp all natural pure vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a loaf pan.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mix the mashed bananas with yogurt, honey, eggs, oil, and vanilla.

Fold the banana mixture into the dry mixture until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

*If making these as muffins, bake 15-20 minutes.

Spinach, Onion & Feta Quiche

“Quiche” always sounded so scary to me. Everything I’ve heard about quiche sounds so intimidating, scary, and time consuming. Really, it’s not! The only thing that’s super important is to drain the spinach! Like, as important as remembering your anniversary. If you forget it..all is lost.

Ingredients:
4 cups fresh organic spinach, rinsed
2 cloves organic minced garlic
Organic Cooking spray
1/2 organic yellow onion, finely chopped
4 large organic cage free eggs
1 cup organic whole milk
2 oz feta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
sea salt and organic ground pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

 

Directions:Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat 4 cups of organic spinach over med/high heat until slightly wilted. Set aside.

In the same pan, heat onion until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook 3-4 more minutes, careful not to burn them.

Spray a 8X8 baking pan with organic cooking spray. Spread the spinach in an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Spread the onion/garlic mixture on top of the spinach and top with feta cheese.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together 4 eggs, 1 cup of milk, 1/4 cup parmesan, and plenty of pepper. Pour over the spinach, onion and feta mix.

Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the top of the mixture. Place in the preheaated oven and bake until it is golden brown on top and the center is solid…between 45 min-60 minutues.

Homemade Tortillas

It’s kind of sad that before we started this journey I didn’t know how to make anything from scratch. Brownies came out of a box (not anymore!) bread was store bought (again, not anymore), and I never even thought to make my own tortillas!

I always just assumed that things like bread and tortillas would be too labor intensive to make at home, or that they required a bunch of ingredients that I didn’t already have. That is so far from true! In the time that it would take me to drive to the grocery store and read all ingredients of every package of tortillas they have, I could already have fresh homemade ones.

These took no time to throw together. And with the help of the hubby these were ready to go into my Mexican Chicken Casserole in less than 15 minutes!

You’ll get about 10 medium tortillas out of this recipe.

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Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached flour

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup water

Directions:

Combine the flour and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until dough forms.

Divide the dough into 10 golf-sized balls. Place them back in the bowl and cover with a damp towel so that the dough doesn’t crack.

Place a small skillet over medium heat. Working with one at a time, place the dough onto a floured surface and with a lightly floured rolling pin and gently roll the dough into a thin circle. (about 6 in in diameter)

At this point, the hubby rolled out each dough ball for me as I heated each one in the skillet. Team work!

Heat until just browned on each side.