November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

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It’s much too easy to think of all the “things” in our lives that we wish we had, think we somehow need, or even foolishly think define part of our worth. On the contrary, it’s the “nothings” in our lives that truly matter most – the things that can’t be bought, that don’t collect dust, or whose value doesn’t fade over time. To my amazing husby, family and friends... I am so thankful to have each and everyone of you as a part of my life.


Thanks for No-Thing, and Happy Thanksgiving! ♥

November 20, 2012

Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Bananas

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I don't know about you but I get carried away with pumpkin this time of the year. It's healthy, versatile and sets the warm, cozy tone that is fall.

We are lucky to live in Connecticut (despite times like Hurricane Sandy). Being in a state that gets all four seasons, we are fortunate enough to enjoy the snow cuddled up in winter, relax lakeside in the hot days of summer and smell the delicious warmth of a fresh pumpkin spice latte in the crisp of fall. There aren't many places like New England where you get to experience such extremes all year long... it's a beautiful thing.
With this year being so busy, getting married (in less than 4 months), having a huge year with work and now preparing for for deployments, it's easy to say that I haven't had the time that I would like to play around in the kitchen with all the delicious recipes I see in magazines arriving at my door monthly. What a tease.
Did I want to make amazing pumpkin recipes like I did last year, of course. So now here we are the week of Thanksgiving and I am finally getting my hands dirty. We are going to be spending Thanksgiving at my husby's grandparent's house and then again this weekend at my brother and sister-in-laws so since we aren't hosting I decided to make a few side dishes and a special breakfast bake to get us in the spirit of the holiday.

I have been looking for oatmeal breakfast recipes that you can make ahead of time and is easy to put together. This recipe embrases both concepts and falls perfectly in line with my warm and cozy fall mood.

There were a bunch of bananas that we had bought that were a little past their due date which meant they were perfect for a bread or a breakfast bake just like this. The smell of cinnamon and pumpkin filled the house so you know I jumped at the first bite immediately. Sooooo good.

It's make-ahead convenience brands this perfect for breakfast around the holidays with a large crowd or you can just make this for you and your hunny-bun to cozy-up on the weekends. Either way... it's a keeper.
Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin and Bananas
Servings: 6 (Serving Size: 1/6th)

Ingredients
4 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 (15 oz) can organic pumpkin
1 tbsp honey
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 cup uncooked quick oats
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
1 cup original Almond milk (or any milk you desire)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 375°. Lightly spray a 9 x 9" ceramic baking dish with cooking spray or coconut oil (my favorite); set aside.

Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon, honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg and salt; stir together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, brown sugar, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.

Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas. Next, p
our the pumpkin mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the remaining nuts over the the top.

Bake the oatmeal for about 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Recipe adopted by SkinnyTaste

Calories: 226 • Fat: 6 g • Carb: 41 g • Fiber: 4.6 g • Protein: 6 g • Sugar: 23 g
Sodium: 77 mg (without salt)

November 16, 2012

Creamy Tuna-Loaded Sweet Potato Skins {and a Cookbook Giveaway}

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As you probably know by now, I am willing to try just about anything.... just about.

There was the Avocado Buttercream Frosting over Banana Cupcakes, Dark Chocolate Mousse made from tofu and who could forget the newest "never before tried" Apple-Cinnamon Clafoutis.

I still would looooove to know where that name came from? 

So when I heard from my girlfriend at Our Tiny Place about an Indian Baby Food book review and giveaway, you know I was curious enough to take the challenge.
Now I did have my concerns, trust me. I mean, her book is based on baby and youth food and with me not having children of my own {yet}, what was I going to be really interested in that I would like? More importantly, what you would be interested in reading about?

But that was also part of the fun, and the challenge

I am a huge fan of spices obviously, so while poking around Zainab's book I found so many "superfoods" and spices that I never knew were so good for me.

Garlic, of course I eat it and I know it's healthy.

Ginger, as mom taught me growing up, is good for easing your stomach. Insert "real ginger" in ginger ale, especially when I was sick.

But did you know that basil, coriander, nutmeg and even black pepper are also superspices? These, along with a bunch of others, are all perfectly integrated in all the recipes that are shown here in this cookbook and why they are all "superspices" when it comes to our bodies and the bodies of our little ones.
The book is broken up by stages: 7 months plus, 10 months plus and 1-3 years and up. There is an Avocado Whip recipe in there that I have been trying to get creative with how I can use it over a dessert or as a topping. It sounds that good, and so simple to make too.
Among other delicious choices I decided to land on this tunafish-loaded sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are like crack to me, they are so delicious and so good for you that it's a win-win all around.

Tuna... in a sweet potato??? Hmmm, how was this going to taste mixed together?

Well, when I saw dish and that it was made into a meal I was all over it, plus there are so few ingredients and it can be made in less than 10 minutes in the microwave. It's like the perfect "home-cooked" meal for lunch.
Zainab says...
"A great meal to coax your little one in to eating tuna, a hugely beneficial oily fish packed with essential omega 3 fatty acids, essential amino acids (protein) and B vitamins. A stronger tasting fish no doubt, but the sweet potato complements the strong flavour of the tuna beautifully making this an exceptionally scrummy meal. "

And I couldn't agree more.

This was filling, flavorful and tastier than expected. I am a big tuna fan however I shy away from it at times because I want to avoid all the heavy fats from mayonnaise but this is a perfect solution.
Creamy Tuna-Loaded Sweet Potato Skins
Total time: 10mins  
Yields: 2 servings  
  
Ingredients
1 medium sweet potato  — scrubbed, washed, pricked all around   
3¼oz (90g) tinned tuna (in spring water) - drained  
1 tbsp full fat cream cheese   
Pinch of ground black pepper  
Pinch of dried mixed herbs (optional; I used chives) 
  
Place the sweet potato in the microwave and cook on high for 6-7mins until tender to the touch. Once cooled (but still warm enough to melt the cream cheese), cut the potato in half lengthways, scoop out the flesh and place it in a bowl.  

Flake in the tuna and add the cream cheese, black pepper, and mixed herbs. Combine and mash all of the ingredients together whilst ensuring some soft lumps have been left. Spoon the mixture back into the jackets if you wish, although it is not essential (I like to do this because it makes the meal look nicer). Serve to baby warm.  

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Recipe by Zainab Jagot Ahmed 

Indian SuperMeals: Baby & Toddler Cookbook
by Zainab Jagot Ahmed

This book has so many delicious and healthy options for your babies, toddlers (and grown-ups) ... and the really exciting news is that I am giving away two e-copies... which means you can download it to your iPad, iPhone, PC, laptop, Kindle, or Android phone! So is accessible to EVERYONE!"

This book has every last detail that you could possibly need to know about the appropriate ways to cook for your baby, plus 60 recipes for babies 7 months and up.

Enter below for your chance to win.

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can't wait and want to buy the book??
You can find Zainab's book on Amazon.com and Booksamillion.com

November 12, 2012

Veteran's Calling For The Cavalry: {Brewing Co. that is}

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In honor of Veteran’s Day I wanted to share something truly awesome with you all.


Husby is an Army veteran, serving 11 years (thus far) and two tours in Iraq, so when it comes to honoring our military, nothing is closer to my heart. Our soldiers, past and present, give so much to our country and they deserve our utmost respect and appreciation.

The Brewer:
Mike McCreary, Owner and Brewer of Cavalry Brewing, Co., is also an Army veteran. Mike was serving active duty for three years and in the Army reserves for 19 years when he was deployed to Iraq in early 2003 with husby. Mike also happened to be Paul's former executive officer.
As Mike mentions through his companies About Me section, “He went overseas with some of his best friends and we all make it back alive despite many close calls.” Cavalry Brewing, Co was born when Mike was laid off in 2008 in the recession and decided to combine his love for beer with his stories in the military and the friends he served with.

His brew line is a tribute to them and all the soldiers that fight for this country.  
Fortunately, Paul and I have the pleasure of living not too far from the brewery and we’ve stopped down a couple of times to say hello {…and enjoy a few beer tastings}. Mike is such a warm and welcoming man who truly has a love for beer. You get the warm and fuzzies just knowing the background of the company but the really exciting part comes when you actually taste his beer.

Cavalry Brewing uses a traditional English brewing method on American equipment to create fresh and flavorful ales and stouts that all palates would enjoy. Each beer is a balance between barley and hops to provide an easy drinking ale or stout.” Calvary produces authentic, delicious, and most importantly, fresh delicious examples of English beer. 
We have been buying Cavalry’s line-up since they opened and each day more and more stores are selling his product.

Paul and I ordered two quarter kegs for our rehearsal dinner for our close family and friends to enjoy, Hatch Plug and Article 15. We also got a 30-pack of the traditional Bud Light (normally Paul’s favorite) for those that didn’t want to be adventurous. The next day and two empty kegs later there was still the full 30-pack of beer floating untouched in the barrel. Needless to say it was a huge hit and is now requested for all family reunions and get-togethers.

Upon returning the keg before we left for our honeymoon, we got to chatting with Mike and decided to pick up another quarter keg to bring with us, this time the XLimited Edition. We were spending the first couple of days with friends so there we thought it would be a great addition, and we were so right. It’s the perfect beer to sit back and enjoy. So much body and flavor with a crisp clean finish, delicious.

In bringing back this last keg, I wanted take a few pic’s of the brewery so that I could share this wonderful company with you all. The symbolic history, patriotism and the pour are all reasons to go pick up a six pack of Cavalry labeled beer and see for yourself why this local brewery is growing and growing. 

The Line-up:

Article 15 Ale

Article 15 is a non-judicial punishment administred by a commander in the military. It usually results from someone getting caught doing something very stupid. The operative term is "getting caught". This beer is dedicated to those that dodged the Article 15 bullet and to those that did not.

X-Limited Eddition

Like a missile, this beer will be launched only if YOU the drinker deem it so. In the military an "X" means it's experimental. Critique this beer by using the lot number on the side of the label. Click on "X-Limited Edition", input the lot number & leave your comments. Let us know if it's a Patriot or a Scud!

Marauder

Not for the weak or fainthearted. Marauder IPA is a tribute to all rangers past and present that have been arriving at the cutting edge of battle since 1776. This beer is dedicated to the rangers that have sacrificed their lives for our country. Have one for the airborne ranger in the sky. Rangers lead the way!

Hatch Plug Ale

A happy tanker is a fat tanker and a real fat tanker is a Hatch Plug. This beer is named after a 1st Lieutenant that was traded for six M-16’s to another unit prior to departing for Iraq in early 2003. Hatch Plug went on to run the Baghdad airport and helped establish the telecommunications system in the region. Despite what we did to him he remains a good friend to this day.

Dog Soldier Golden Ale

Dog Soldier covered the eastern Baghdad area of operations and was made famous by a reporter who published his disdain for those running the war. Despite his faux pas his performance was exemplary and he was instrumental in providing water and food to thousands of Iraqi’s in his AO. DSNQ

Nomad Stout

Nomad is a good friend that led a team in eastern Baghdad with a base at the Al Rustimayah war college in southeastern Baghdad. He was the only officer in our group to be wounded and this came from an Iraqi ceiling fan. We promptly shot the fan and transported the wounded soldier to the aid station where he received three stitches.

Big Wally Porter

Big Wally Porter is named after our commander in Iraq during operation Enduring Freedom/OIF 1. He was and still is an excellent leader that was even handed but, at times loud (hence the name). Through his leadership and concern for the soldier we managed to leave Iraq with many close calls but, no losses.

Oxford, Connecticut
(203) 262-6075

To find them outside of Connecticut, go to BeerJobber to have Cavalry delivered to your door. 

November 11, 2012

Happy Veteran's Day to my Husby!!!!

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To my Husby,

You have given up weekends, weeks months and years for our country. You have given up time with your family and friends over and over again to defend whatever your country asks of you. You are there for your soldiers at home and down range.  You have had the heart of an American soldier for as long as I have known you and never fail to jump at the chance to defend our country.

I couldn't be prouder of the man you are and I am eternally grateful for all you do and continue to do. 

Love you!!!!!
xoxo
Our freedom doesn't come free.
To those that have served our great country and to those that still serve today... 

Thank You!!!

November 05, 2012

Crisp Garlic and Parmesan Brussels Sprouts

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I know what you must be thinking.... brussel sprouts, really?? Why would I want to make, eat or even read about brussel sprouts?

Well, because they are AWESOME.
Seriously, I love my greens and try to eat them everyday however brussel sprouts were never on that list. My mother used to give them to us when my brother and I were kids but what kid ate all their veggies? Nevermind "sprouts". 

I saw this recipe and I have to say that the picture got the best of me and I thought if I've tried some crazy recipes in the past like Brown Sugar Banana Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting, then I could muscle up the courage to make my feared green veggie.  
These sprouts were so flavorful, nutty and delicious. We served them up hot with grilled chicken and then I had them again cold the next day for lunch. They heart of the sprout stayed crunchy while the outer leaves were baked up soft and fragrant. 

I am an official "sprout" lover now and I am not looking back. I am telling you they are perfect to add to any lunch of dinner menu, and it's a delicious way to get that daily dose of healthy greens.
Crisp Garlic and Parmesan Brussels Sprouts
Serves: 6



Ingredients
1 lbs brussels sprouts, trimmed, and halved
1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp grated lemon zest plus lemon wedges for serving
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup grated 
parmesan romano (1 ounce)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss brussels sprout leaves with oil, garlic, zest, and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Roast until sprouts are crisp and golden around edges, 10 to 12 minutes. 


Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with lemon wedges.

Photos by A Healthy Jalapeño 
Recipe adopted by Everyday Food


Enjoy!

November 03, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Support {All The Way From Iowa!}

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It's amazing what you can learn from a friend and what random friends can do to touch your heart without them ever knowing.

A great blogger and foodie friend Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats, hosts a "Friday Favorites" piece about all her favorites in a plethora of topics from around the web. Yesterday she reached out to us out East with her concern and support.

"Favorite help: American Red Cross Disaster Relief. As I mentioned, the devastation on the east coast caused by Hurricane Sandy continues to sicken and sadden me. Please consider donating to the American Red Cross’ disaster relief fund to help our friends in need, if you are able!" Read more Here

Luckily for my husband and I, we never lost power... but we must have been in the small 1% because all of our friends and family weren't as lucky. We had my sister-in-law staying with us as well as a few friends this week to share the wealth of a hot shower, hot meal and of course plug-in's so that we could all keep trekking along with our day-to-day jobs. It was the least we could do after last years storm when we were without power for 8 days during the Noreaster blizzard that whipped through Connecticut last October, and our friends and family opened their doors to us. 

The storm has been devastating to the Northeast, to say the least, but with people like Kristin sharing compassion and support, the gesture is overwhelmingly appreciated.  

Thanks Kristin!!