Category Archives: Kitchen

New Favorite, High-Protein Snack: Peanut Butter and Honey Parfait!

My friend Mike Campbell introduced me to this new favorite treat! It’s so simple. It’s healthy. And it’s delicious! (And, yes, I told him it was going on my blog.)

photo-25

  • 3/4 to 1 cup Plain Whole Milk Yogurt (you can use the low fat if you really want to, but I personally think we need a little fat in our diets to help absorb certain nutrients, and it makes it creamier)
  • 2 Tbsp. All Natural Peanut Butter (or organic, if you can find it)
  • 1-2 tsp. Local Honey (or organic, if you can find it)

Just stir or whip the three ingredients together, and it creates a rich, creamy, high-protein treat that tastes as good as a parfait or dessert mousse. If you want, you can substitute a spoonful of your favorite jam instead of the honey and call it “PB&J Parfait”–great way to get kids (of all ages) to eat yogurt! Bon Appetit!

 

Tuttorosso’s Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes Ends Today

Tuttorosso just sent me a beautiful wooden spoon with their new slogan: “The most important ingredient is you.” Enter to win a new wooden spoon–or the grand prize of a Le Creuset cookware set!

How to enter? Visit Tuttorusso’s Facebook page and click on the “Cooking Spoon Sweepstakes” tab. (Note: commenting on this post will not increase your odds of winning nor enter you into the sweepstakes.)

Tuttorosso is Italian for “all red.” They’ve been creating 100% all natural tomato products since 1929, with the goal “to produce the freshest, best tasting tomato products in the world.” See their full product line and several recipes at http://www.redgold.com/tuttorosso.

 

Who Says Eating Healthy Costs More?!

I’m not sure why I don’t shop at Trader Joe’s more often! Probably because it’s a little bit out of the way to get there, but it’s still not that far out of the way. Can you believe I only spent $52.03 on all this, without using one coupon?! And it’s all either organic or at least all-natural and unprocessed! My plan is to shop at Trader Joe’s once a week through the end of the year and see if I can keep our budget to about $50 per week.

Here’s what’s I picked up yesterday (as seen in the picture above):

  • Flour Tortillas
  • Applegate Roast Beef Slices
  • Applegate Herbed Turkey Slices
  • Swiss Cheese Slices
  • Large container of Grape Tomatoes
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 bags of Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Sliced White Mushrooms
  • 1.5 lbs. Ground Turkey
  • Shredded Cheese Blend
  • Red Onions
  • Bananas
  • 3 lbs. Sweet Potatoes
  • Feta Cheese
  • Bok Choy
  • Orange Juice

I also picked up condiments for $1 each at Earthfare (stock-up sale) and got free chips and salsa with my $5 purchase!

And here’s how I plan to use it:

  • Breakfasts:
    • Orange Juice
    • Hard Boiled or Scrambled Eggs (a friend picked up 3 dozen Eggland’s Best Eggs during a buy-one-get-one-free sale, plus coupons for me last week for $1.20 total!)
    • Cereal and Milk (already had on hand)
    • Sweet Potato Hash with Edamame
    • Oatmeal with Raisins and Brown Sugar (already had on hand)
  • Lunches:
    • Roast Beef or Turkey Wraps with Swiss Cheese and Lettuce
    • Salad with Feta, Black Olives (on hand), Roasted Beets (on hand), Carrots, and Tomatoes
    • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches (on hand –  make homemade bread)
  • Dinners:
    • Enchiladas with Ground Turkey and Shredded Cheese (top with sour cream and red onion)
    • Baked Potatoes and Broccoli with Cheese
    • Grilled Chicken and Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
    • Stir-Fry with Carrots, Bok Choy, Onion, and Mushrooms and Rice
    • Breakfast for Dinner
    • Turkey Burgers and Potato Wedges
    • Sautéed Mushrooms with Garlic and Cheddar, served over Quinoa
  • Snacks:
    • Bananas
    • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
    • Carrot Cupcakes
    • Sweet Potato Fries
    • Chips and Salsa

 

Celebrating 40,000 Hits with a Giveaway! Joy Bauer’s “Slim & Scrumptious” Cookbook! WINNER ANNOUNCED…

And the winner is…Pam Fulton! Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address (at mel.mckinnon@gmail.com) and Joy Bauer will ship you a copy of this fabulous cookbook! Enjoy!

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On New Year’s Eve, My Journey To Lean hit 40,000 hits just before midnight! What a way to ring in 2012! And, in celebration of this moment, my readers have a chance to win a great cookbook for free (one winner will be drawn at random and will receive a free copy shipped directly from JoyBauer.com)!

Slim & Scrumptious: More Than 75 Delicious, Healthy Meals Your Family Will Love by Joy Bauer, “New York Times Bestselling Author and Nutrition Expert for the Today Show.” Published by Harper Collins in 2010, this book contains over 200 pages of beautiful photographs by Joseph DeLeo, delicious, easy recipes from Joy Bauer, as well as helpful tips on what to shop for (and avoid) at the grocery store (from economical and nutritional perspectives), how to get kids interested in cooking at all ages, and basic necessities for every home kitchen. Retail value of this book is $24.95! It contains some inspiring recipes, including healthful brunch and dessert options! Here’s a sneak peek:

Front Cover Snapshot

Table of Contents Preview (that's only half of it)

Sample of Recipe Format and Photos

So, are you ready to kick off the New Year with a free cookbook from Joy Bauer? All you have to do is tell me one of your New Year’s Resolutions (or why you laugh at those of us who make resolutions) in the Comments section. Ready, set, go! You have until Thursday, January 5th at 5:00PM EST!

Great Eats from the Farm

I always love cooking with my mother, so getting to spend two full days creating delicious meals for dad and Bryan was a real treat! We arrived at the family farm for a late lunch on Monday that consisted of Homemade Chicken Salad with Red Grapes and Diced Celery, Chips and Dip, and a Fruit Salad.

Dinner that first night was Salad with Pears, Apples, Pomegranate, Cashews, Pecans, Swiss Cheese, Green Peppers, Celery, and Shallots with a Warm Black Raspberry Vinaigrette dressing along with a delicious Beef Stew with Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Celery and Mushrooms.

Tuesday's Breakfast was Roasted Acorn Squash with Brown Sugar and Butter, Bacon, Eggs Cooked to Order, Grapefruit, OJ and, of course, Coffee! Yum!

We went on a short walk before the flurries began! Yes, I saw my first snowflakes of the season! We came in for lunch, which was full of various and sundry leftovers along with deli sandwiches. And we munched on crackers with cream cheese and Mom’s homemade Raspberry Habanero Jelly! Caution: this jelly is not for the faint of heart! But it is SO good!

Tuesday's Dinner was London Broil, Green Beans with Feta, Slivered Almonds, Crumbled Bacon and a splash of vinegar, Wild Autumn Rice with Onions, Celery, Mushrooms, Apricots and Dried Cranberries, and a Warm Apple-Cranberry Chutney. Delicious and so colorful!

Wednesday morning, we ended up eating at a little local place for a hearty breakfast before heading back to town on our last day off work for Thanksgiving break! I am so thankful for a chance to use up so much of our produce from our weekly Milk and Honey Organics basket and to try out some new recipes! I always hate leaving the farm. It’s one of my favorite places in the whole world – a retreat from the normal hustle and bustle of life (especially life around the holidays).

I hope you all had a great holiday full of family and great food! So, what was your favorite dish you prepared or tasted this Thanksgiving season?!

Sunday Lunch and a Flower Arrangement

This morning after church, I stopped by Publix to grab some fresh flowers to add to the pumpkin that’s been on my front porch for the fall. I cut the top off the pumpkin and scooped out the seeds before adding water and the fresh blooms. Something about fresh flowers in my house makes me smile!

Lunch consisted of Potato and Leek Soup, a hearty slice of Five Grain Bread, and a Salad with Granny Smith Apple Slices, Dried Cranberries, Walnuts, Feta and a Balsamic Vinaigrette. It was delicious!

After lunch, I went over to my friend Jan’s house for a walk. Six miles later, we had pretty much caught up on the last month of life! Yes, I said six miles! I am definitely going to feel that in the morning! I came home, showered, and woke Bryan up in time for us to make it to church for a wonderful message from Ephesians 6.

Coming up this week: Homemade Pumpkin Puree, Roasted Pumpkin Seeds, and Pumpkin Pie from Scratch!

Q & A with Melissa…and a great tip for helping kids eat their fruits & veggies!

I recently got an email from my friend Molly, who has two children under the age of five and is expecting their third child. I thought it was a really good question and asked if I could share it (along with my answer) on the blog. Molly graciously agreed, so here it is.

Molly’s email:

Hi Melissa,

Just finished reading In Defense of Food.  I saw it on your blog and found it at the library.  Very interesting and well written I thought. For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to make little changes for us.  More fruits and veggies, whole grains, basically trying to use less stuff from boxes and cans.  I’ve given myself a “mandatory” fruit and veggie weekly budget that I “have” to spend.  Just having yummy options to snack on is helpful for me.  I’ve found that cutting/peeling all at once and using tupperwares helps me be able to grab good snacks for Will and Kate.  If I had to cut/peel every time they wanted a snack I’m sure I’d get annoyed and lazy.

I have a question though.  I’m thinking about the fats/oils that I use.  We’ve never used margarine.  I tend to use butter the most.  Vegetable and corn oil seem to be out, right?  Olive oil is ok, right?  All I have right now in the house is butter, vegetable oil, and olive oil.  What do you use?  And along with that question, what do you use for salad dressing?  Will eats carrots and celery and occasionally peppers if he has ranch dressing.  Do you have any alternative suggestions to ranch dressing?  I’m going to try to make some non-spicy hummus for him.

Sorry to bug you with questions!  Thanks!

Molly

And my answer:

Hey Molly!
No problem at all! I love this! I put olive oil at the top of the good fats, and vegetable or canola second. I haven’t done enough research on corn oil, but I’d stay away from anything hydrogenated. Butter is fine in moderation. It is a saturated fat, but not a trans fat. I usually use 50/50 butter/olive oil: butter for the flavor and olive oil for the good fat (and the oil helps keep the burning temp down on the butter).
For dressing, I use balsamic vinegar and olive oil, but kids don’t normally like that. For Bryan, I mix 50:50 honey and Dijon mustard. I love the hummus idea too. Here’s my hummus recipe and some other variation ideas. Greek Yogurt is a good dip too. Maybe let him try small spoonfuls and have him mix in different spices that he thinks smell good so he can learn about different seasonings.
Glad you enjoyed In Defense of Food! I thought it was well written too.
And I love your ideas about “mandatory” produce budgets and prepping the veggies ahead of time. Hint: add a little lemon juice or OJ to the cut fruit to prevent browning.
Thanks! Have a great weekend!
Enjoying the journey,

Melissa
I hope this was helpful to you. Do any of you have any advice or answers to Molly’s questions?! Please share your feedback!
And if you have questions of your own, please feel free to email me at mel.mckinnon@gmail.com!

DIY All-Natural Dish Detergent

Picture from New Nostalgia (click on picture for alternate recipe for DIY Dish Detergent by Amy)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 c. Arm & Hammer All-Natural Baking Soda (or Washing Soda)
  • 1 c. All-Natural Borax
  • 1 Tbsp. dried orange peel (optional)
INSTRUCTIONS: Mix the above ingredients together until evenly distributed. You can do this in a gallon ziploc bag or your mixer. Store in a pint size jar.

TO USE: For wash cycle, use 3-4 tsp. of the above mixture in the same place you would put your liquid detergent. Fill the rinse cycle with white vinegar.

TIPS:  1) I use the dried orange peel because citric acid is also a natural cleanser and it helps me know if the mixture is evenly mixed. 2) Add lemon and/or lime juice to the pre-wash cycle, if desired. 3) White vinegar also works well to clean your dish washer. Just throw a cup in the bottom of the washer and run a short cycle. 4) As a final tip, it’s always best to rinse your dishes prior to loading your dishwasher.

For an all-natural anti-microbial spray and an all-natural disinfecting spray, check out Frugally Sustainable’s post here.

Irish Pub Party

We host Book Exchange parties on a regular basis (kind of like White Elephant Gift Exchanges, but with books that you actually like instead of pranks). It started with everyone bringing a book and a snack to share. Then the food part evolved into a themed party. This last theme was by far my favorite to date: an Irish Pub Party! The food was fabulous! But then, how can you go wrong with an array of comfort food?!

Inspiration Behind the Irish Pub Party

Mini Corned Beef Sandwiches with Swiss, Sauerkraut or Slaw, Pickles, Horseradish, and an assortment of Mustards

Vegetable Tart by Rachel that featured an assortment of Potatoes, Parsnips, and Cheese, caramelized and baked to perfection! And it went well with the Loaded Baked Potato Soup by Ashley and Ben (not shown). Yum!

Toast with Pickled Beets and Soft Boiled Eggs, drizzled with a Dijon Dill Vinaigrette (recipe from the Irish cookbook) - apparently traditional, this was a surprising hit at the party.

Fresh Fruit brought by Daryl & Adrianne, used in combination with fresh veggies and bread for dipping in the Pumpkin Beer Cheese Fondue (not shown); the Fondue recipe can be found here.

Bread Pudding with Raisins by Catherine and Greg (perfect with a cup of coffee and some Irish Creamer) - I can't wait to add this recipe to my permanent file!

Are you inspired to host a themed party yet?! I highly recommend this theme. Remember, keep it simple and let your guests bring some of the food, so you can enjoy your guests during the evening and not have to spend the entire evening in the kitchen. So, do you have a favorite party theme?

All-Natural Chung’s in the Freezer Section

Here’s a new All-Natural Chinese option I found in the freezer section at Publix this week: Chung’s All-Natural! We tried the Teriyaki Chicken (it was okay, but had a few too many red peppers for me), the Vegetable Egg Rolls (very good!) and the Vegetable Pot Stickers (little dumplings that are also quite good). The freezer packages come with little individual sauce packets as well!

The Egg Rolls came in a box of four and each pair was wrapped together, and the Pot Stickers came with a resealable bag, so you could easily stretch it to make two meals (like we did). Better for you than take-out but every bit as fast. The Egg Rolls were the most time-consuming, and they only took 12 minutes in the oven (3 minutes if you use the microwave, but we don’t own one). Dinner is served!

This is the full box of Teriyaki Chicken, half box of Vegetable Egg Rolls and half box of Vegetable Pot Stickers (chopsticks not included; fortunately, we keep them on hand).