VERTSKEBAP- East Riverside Location Austin, TX

I thought I would try something new out for today’s Date Night Blog Post, and share a good food place for couples and friends to try out who are living in the local Austin area.

This past Sunday, February 22, 2015 my Husband Daniel and I decided to try out a new restaurant that had opened up near our side of town. Vertskebap as it turns out happens to be a relatively new Chain restaurant that has popped up in the local Austin area. According to their website found here, they are also located in Dallas, Texas and will soon be opening up shop in San Antonio. Daniel and I were none the wiser to this refreshing chain until it recently opened in our area. The restaurant is unique not necessarily for what it serves (a variety of wraps, Kebaps, and Salads), but rather for the way in which its food is cooked. When I heard Kebap I initially pictured Shish-Kabob’s and assumed that’s what the location served.

This does look tasty!!!

This does look tasty!!!

It was a completely different experience upon entering the facility, behind the glass pained counter-top were four tall slowly turning longitudinal stacks of meat. My husband, always the chef, then informed me that Kebap is a way of cooking, and not necessarily a means of serving. The Kebap when ordered involves the filling of a thick pita type bread with your choice of meat, vegetables, and sauces. A variety of options are available including a vegan option. I was impressed with what was for me a new and unique way of cooking. Together my husband and I were both impressed at the level of customer service showcased by the staff. They were very quick to answer any and all of our questions. They moved the line through quickly not forgetting anyone’s extra side order of fries or Falafel (both of these items are considered extra in conjunction with the main Kebap, wrap, or salad entre. Drinks were also considered extra.

Here's a Copy of their menu!!!

Here’s a Copy of their menu!!!

The pricing was well marked thanks to a coupon Daniel and I had received in the mail we spent a combined total of a little over $20 for the two of us on our lunch date out.  Without the coupon we would have spent closer to $30, but either way the food was well worth it.

Our order included:

2 Beef&Lamb Wraps

2 extra charges of 75 cents to add Grilled Veggies

1 Bottled Natural Blueberry Soda (That was for Daniel)

1 Regular Fountain Drink for me

1 small side of fries

1 small side of Falafel

The food was delicious, so much so we actually went back the next day and tried the Kebap on bread. The second time around I chose the chicken and for me it was a lot lighter and easier to finish what with my pregnant belly causing so many issues with my digestion. Daniel enjoyed the Beef and Lamb combo so much he ordered it again.

Vertskebap

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Repurpose Old Recipes

Food can often become boring in college, after all having to spend weeks or months on end subsiding on Ramen noodles, coffee, cereal, and cut up hot dogs isn’t easy for anyone. We enjoy variety, but sometimes we’re just not sure how to get it. Today I have three recipes to help put an end to the same boring old College Kid meals.

if-the-203517_1280Remake Your Ramen:

Ramen is easily spiced up with the addition of shredded chicken, chopped vegetables, and/or the addition of a uncooked egg. How is this possible, with only a microwave?

Option 1: Buy a precooked rotisserie chicken from the store and shred off some of the meat mix in with your Ramen noodle of choice and voila you’ve added an extra dose of protein and changed up the consistency.

Option 2: Cut up some mushrooms or even a few carrots and celery pieces. If you want your carrots on the softer side I suggest boiling them in some water with your coffee maker. Another good suggestion is to saute the celery in your coffee maker with some butter. As for the mushrooms just chop them up and throw them on top of your Ramen and mix in. I really enjoy adding mushrooms to the oriental flavored Ramen noodle.  If you want you can even combine option 1 and 2.

Option 3: As you don’t want to risk any issues with Salmonella I do not recommend adding an egg to your Ramen unless you can do so over a stove top. However, if you are really craving eggs in your Ramen, with only a microwave as your tool cook the egg in a cup separate from the Ramen (just crack an egg into a microwave safe cup and put it on for about 30 seconds) and add it to your cooked Ramen.

Revamp your PB&J:sandwich-31956_1280

Tired of grape jelly, peanut butter, and mushy bread? Here are two ways to re-inspire your American Classic.

Option 1: Leave out the jelly and add some banana slices along and if you desire a drizzle of honey or a dash of cinnamon.

Option 2: Toast the bread using a toaster, so simple and so easy. It gives your PB&J a bonus texture that’s not so…well mushy.

Revamp your Tuna on Crackers:

Tired of the same Tuna mix? Spice it up. Think avocado and Cherry Tomatoes. Allow yourself to experiment and create new things.

If only our cracker toppings could all look like this!

If only our cracker toppings could all look like this!

Hoping, today’s post has brought about some inspiration for ways you can redo your college go to. Please share in the comments some of your re-dos on college classics.

10 Recipes Everyone Should Know

Even non cooks get stuck having to please someone or a group of someones with a dish every now and again. It’s important to know these ten recipes especially if you don’t want to get stuck serving store bought goods or worse takeout.

#1 Spaghetti and Meatballsspaghetti-507764_1280

Previously mentioned in my Valentines Day Blog this recipe is perfect not just for a romantic evening, but also for large crowds.

Ingredients:

Favorite Spaghetti Noodles

Favorite Tomato Sauce

1 lb ground meat

1 garlic clove

pepper

salt

garlic powder

dried basil

dried oregano

dried parsley

Cumin

powdered ginger

spaghetti-47076_1280Meatball Recipe Directions:

Mince 1 clove of garlic (chop into small pieces)

Place ground meat into a bowl

Add 2 Tblsp dried basil, oregano,  and parsley

Add 1 Tblsp Cumin, black pepper, salt and Garlic Powder

Add 1 Tsp powdered ginger (note this is added more for the health benefit than the flavor, ginger is known to help with arthritis so I try and add a teaspoon or so to every dish I can).

Mix ingredients together well by hand (so make sure your hands have been washed with warm water and soap before doing this).

Once mixed make about 6 to 8 balls by grabbing a portion of the meat and rolling it between your hands, and cupping with your palms.

Sit in a glass baking pan and place in an oven Preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Allow to cook for about 30-45 minutes until inside is just barely pink or if preferred cooked all the way through. (I find they taste better when cooked to the point of a small lightly pink center).

Plate the spaghetti noodles with sauce add desired number of meatballs on top.

#2 Chicken Noodle Soup (from scratch not the can)

There are a hundred ways to make Chicken Noodle Soup. I have about three different ones myself, it really depends on what state the chicken you will be using is in. Is it a whole raw chicken, do you have extra baked cooked chicken in the fridge, perhaps you only have leftover chicken bones (excellent for broth). Here are a few links to get help get you started. Remember there is really no wrong way to make chicken noodle soup.

If using a whole chicken think about doing something like this:

http://www.health.com/health/recipe/0,,50400000124165,00.html

Do you have a bag of bones sitting in your freezer waiting to be turned into stock, try this recipe on for size:

http://www.chow.com/recipes/30332-easy-chicken-noodle-soup-from-a-leftover-roasted-chicken

Do you have some leftover cooked chicken breast this is a good recipe too:

http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/roasted-chicken-noodle-soup

Of course you don’t have to follow these recipes exactly feel free to use your imagination and make the recipe your own. I will include a post in the future with my own ways of doing these recipes.

#3 Awesome Side Salad

A salad is the easiest side dish a person can make, and it goes well with just about any meal.

My favorite way to make a salad

Ingredients:

Spring mix and/or butter lettuce

Chopped Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell pepper

English cucumber chopped in rounds and then halved

Salad Dressing (My favorite is Krafts Sun Dried Tomatoe, I also like their Roasted Red Pepper)

One of my many salad experiments!

One of my many salad experiments!

Directions:

Chop the vegetables

Rinse and tear up the butter lettuce (if using)

Mix the ingredients together and serve

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3

#4 Breakfast Sandwich

It’s as simple as frying an egg, toasting bread, and slapping on a slice of cheese. A quick and easy breakfast anytime, this recipe is more an individual lifesaver than a quick fix to a I don’t know what to cook, or I don’t know what to bring problem.

#5 A Baked Good from Scratch

This looks yummy!!!

This looks yummy!!!

As I was making this list, it occurred to me that this is something I don’t even know how to do, though I really should. I’m great at taking cake mix boxes and muffin mix and turning them into delicious baked goods, and I’ve made Christmas cookies from scratch by following a recipe once before. However, I do not actually know any recipes for baking off the top of my head. I would loose the desert round of any food competition as a result of this for sure.  One recipe  I would really like to learn to make from scratch is homemade banana bread.  Here’s a recipe that will teach us both how.

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/banana_bread/

#6 Pot Pie

I learned how to make this beautiful recipe as a vegetarian. Since returning to the world of the Omnivores however, I have perfected the recipe and added yummy chicken to the mix.  Be aware the recipe makes two pies.

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast

1 large potato chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 can Cream of Celery soup

1 can Cream of Mushroom soup

Pepper

Garlic Powder

2 boxes of the Pillsbury raw pie crust (a top and bottom is needed for each pie)

2 Glass pie dishes

Directions:

Preheat the Oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit

Chop the vegetables

Chop the cooked chicken

Place in large mixing bowl

Add both cans of soup

1 Tbsp of pepper

1 Tbsp of Garlic Powder

(*Note do not add salt as their is enough salt in the chicken and the soup mixture)

Stir the ingredients together until vegetables and chicken are well coated with the soup and seasonings.

Place a pie crust around the bottom part of the glass pie dish make sure the bottom and sides are all even do the same with the second pie dish.

Pour half of the bowls contents into each pie dish making sure its evenly dispersed and not forming a pile in the center.

Place the second pie crust over the top making sure all sides are covered press the edges of the two crusts together remove any excess pie crust from around the edges to prevent them from being too thick. Do the same with the second pie.

Cut three lines in the top of the pie (about an inch in length).

Wrap the sides of the pie with foil  to prevent burning.

Place both pies in the oven for between 30 and 45 minutes. The tops should be golden in color.

20150120_183637#7 A Juicy Burger

There are many burger recipes out there, but the key to getting a juicy one is mainly proper timing, you don’t want your burger to cook for too long or too short.

This article provides a great measurement for time no matter what the ingredients.

http://www.addictedtogrilling.com/grilling-times/how-long-do-you-grill-hamburgers

#8 A Dip Recipe

If your a regular here at my blog than you are already aware of my super easy 2 Ingredient 4 Step Salsa Recipe.

turkey-152050_1280#9 Baked Chicken

I’m lucky enough to have a rotisserie, however baked chicken can also be cooked in a baking dish, just know that its going to take longer this way.

Step 1: Fill the center cone with flavors of your choosing, I recently used pineapple circles from the can.

Step 2: Place the whole chicken over the rotisserie prongs (if your using a baking pan skip this step).

Step 3: Mix whatever seasonings you want to baste the chicken with in a bowl, use a basting brush to lather the chicken with. Most recently I used pineapple juice and pepper with a dash of salt.

Step4: Set in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 2 to 2 in a half hours. The skin will become nice and crispy.

#10 Deviled Eggs

The center of your eggs should look like this when cut in half

The center of your eggs should look like this when cut in half.

A great appetizer or side dish at any party even if you don’t like them yourself its always a good recipe to know when your asked to bring something to a gathering of people.

Step 1: Boil eggs I recommend doing the whole dozen if your going to a party (this will give you a maximum of 24 servings).

Step 2: Allow eggs to cool, so peeling off the shell becomes easier.

Step3: Peel the eggs and slice in half long ways.

Step 4: Remove the yolk placing the yolk is a mixing bowl

Step 5: Add mustard, salt, pepper, and if you desire relish (also include any broken white eggs that will no longer work as little bowls. ) Mash and stir the ingredients together till they form a thick yellow  paste texture.

Step 6:  put one spoon full of the yolk mixture into each egg white bowl. If desired you can sprinkle the tops with paprika.

Step 7: Place on a platter and either refrigerate or serve.

How to Create a Foodie Bucket List?

I received this idea from a fellow WordPress Blogger Kassie, back in January she posted an article about her Bucket List and upon reading the article I was moved to create one related to my own blog theme. Please be sure to check out Kassie’s blog Here as it is really inspiring.

Just about everyone has a bucket list, you know that list of things you would like to do before you “kick the bucket.” Many people may not view eating as a big priority on that list, after all there are so many different things to see and do in the world, why worry about the food you consume along the way?

Well not only will eating the right foods keep you alive longer, certain foods will make your life more enjoyable as they release those good feeling hormones into your system. Also there are certain cuisines that not everyone gets a chance to taste, and if your goal is to visit some country in the middle of Africa wouldn’t you want to know you had the fullest cultural experience imaginable. Especially if you only get to visit that place once before you…well die?

So here is how I went about creating my ultimate Foodie Bucket List.

Step 1: I grabbed my hand written Bucket List

20150224_134533

My Bucket List

My Bucket List

My Bucket List

Step 2: I examined what items would require fuel (of the edible sort of course).

My List was crunched down to:

Travel to Spain

Travel to France

Travel to Italy

Backpack my way across Europe

Hiking in the Mountains with my Nana

Walk the Camino

Visit India

Enjoy Christmas in the Mountains with Snow

Vacation in the Caribbean

Travel Across the United States (Road trip)

This cut my list down to 10 in particular goals. However, upon further review I realized some of these goals were intertwined with one another. My planned trip for the Camino is supposed to take me from France all the way across Spain. This cuts out two of my stops, unless I plan to also do an individual excursion in addition to the Camino trip. Looking at my life in its current state its likely I will have to choose between individual visits to the countries or one BIG WALK as the Camino translates to.

As it is a Backpack trip across Europe could easily bring me a visit to Italy, and a back pack trip could also be my Camino trip after all I do plan to walk the full 1500 miles or so as a means of achieving or at the very least getting closer to my spiritual enlightenment.

20140409_132244

As it stands my list now consists of:

Backpack across Europe

Hiking the Mountains with my Nana

Visit India

Christmas in the mountains with Snow

Vacation in the Caribbean

Travel Across the United States

So how am I turning these six rather obtuse goals into a foodie Bucket List? I’m thinking about the amazing food rather than the beautiful artwork, architecture and culture I’m sure to experience.

Europe has a wide range of dishes to enjoy

In Germany its my goal to try sauerkraut for the first time.

In France I will likely give escargot a dare I say nibble? Not to mention the cheese, I must eat the cheese and possibly send some home for later.

In Italy…well lets just say I will be trying everything from wine to pasta to melon. There is nothing I want to miss about Italy’s food including the Naples pizza.

In Spain I’ve heard they serve up some of the best street food, and I don’t plan to miss out on the experience.

Of course no matter where in Europe I stop its my goal to hit up at least one open air market to purchase fresh produce straight from the people. When creating a foodie list keep in mind what is important to you. Do you like tasting the weird and the strange than find the craziest local cuisines of the area like scorpion, snake, or I don’t know maybe to you it would be weird to eat goat or lamb. Give it a shot there are no boundaries when it comes to the strange and unique of food.

If your the type who loves fine dining and eating in the five star of five stars, do your research know if the vacation spot you have always dreamed of also has a Micheline star rated restaurant in the area.

What I imagine to be the perfect view.

What I imagine to be the perfect view.

When I go hiking with my Nana, I have an ideal menu that I would like to have packed for the trip.

Nature Maid Granola Bars (The Honey ones and the almond ones)

Beef Jerky (I’ll probably make my own since its cheaper, healthier and so uber tasty).

Fresh apples

and Water

For me this is the perfect hiking trip snack and meal. Its also what we used to eat all the time when I was growing up and would go on hiking trips at the national forest.

On a trip to India I would probably be very nervous about the food situation after all it can be quiet spicy and depending on the region there can be concern for the level of hygiene and care taken in its preparation.

What I definitely want to try during my India trip however, is lots of vegetarian options. Its my goal to come back with at least five new recipes to try out at home.

Christmas in the Mountains with Snow.

Being a Texas girl, I’ve never seen”real snow.” Though I have had a few chances to see flurries and we once had just enough to make a mini snow man and a dirty snow angel. Haha.

My little snowman

My little snowman.

My ideal Christmas Dinner with such a beautiful setting would be popcorn, hot chocolate with lots of marshmallows, smores freshly made over the hot crackling fire, and a beautiful pot roast with potatoes and carrots on the side. So delicious. I’m drooling just at the thought.

As for my amazingly warm Caribbean trip I plan to eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as humanly possible, not to mention suck down a well made pina colada right out of a coconut. Of course I also plan to score through the local food scene and locate some of the island cuisine that comes highly recommend by who else other than the locals. No one knows their own country better than someone who has lived in it their entire lives. I want to try the food everybody else is eating. Even if that means eating pig face…or snout.

coco-607349_1280

Last, but certainly not least my trip across the United States, its hard to know where to begin with this one after all the U.S has so many nutritious and delicious foods to test out. Not to mention the way in which food changes from North to South and East to West. Just about every state has there own way of doing things. For this event I will be making a full map with flags marking the different things that I must try while I’m in any state it is that I find myself visiting.

map-294521_1280

My Pregnancy Must Haves: Stocking the Kitchen

Every pregnancy is different and no one craves the same foods, this list is a product of those food items I currently don’t know what I would do without.

In order to consume the right amount of daily calories I’m required to consume on the daily, I keep around a variety of healthy snacks. My calorie requirements are around 2450 based on my height, pre-pregnancy weight, and activity level plus the 300 additional calories required for baby.

Snacks list:

Yogurt

Cereal

Carrots and Hummus

Chips and Salsa

Canned fruit

Fresh fruit

My most common cravings have been raspberry sorbet, pickles, and Doritos. (Though not usually at the same time).

I also try and eat three main meals a day. For Breakfast I try and keep around the following items.

Breakfast:

Oatmeal (instant)

Fruit

Yogurt

Muffin mix (That I bake into muffins generally the night before, these also make great snacks)

Cereal

Eggs

Turkey bacon (regular bacon is expensive and has an overpowering smell that can sometimes be too much)

Toast

I tend to eat similar lunch and dinner items so I will combine these lists into one. However, I will note that my cravings tend to change day to day, and as a result I try and keep around a multitude of ingredients in order to combat with them.

Taco supplies i.e chicken, black beans, tortillas, shredded cheese, and salsa

Spaghettio’s

Salad Makings (This baby loves their fruits and veggies)

Chicken is a big staple these days

Baked Potato makings i.e potatoes, shredded cheese, butter, and sour cream

Of course I also have my typical household staples that my household was never without even before I became pregnant.  These items include: canned beans, spaghetti sauce, and spaghetti noodles.

Lunch/Dinner:

Mardi Gras Celebration

Mardi Gras- New Orleans biggest block party of the year, kicks off this coming Tuesday February 17, 2015. People from across the United States and even the globe will flood the cobbled streets decked in beautiful masks, and cheap colored beads. The entire street will be rithing with the movement of bodies as music from the nearby bars, strip clubs, and dance floors flood the streets. Undoubtedly a fair few will take it upon themselves to put on the most self-deprecating show of boobs, butts, and sexual organ flashing in attempts to collect the flashiest and largest number of beads unlike those seen by anybody else.

For those of you who can’t make it to what is sure to be the best and biggest party in New Orleans this year no worries it isn’t difficult to throw a crazy fun shindig of your own. In this article I supply you with an amazing Party supply list as well as a few unique ideas for party food.

20150214_153358

What you Need?

Multiple colors of streamers red, yellow, green, blue, and purple use the above image for ideas of the right shades.

Cheap plastic masks with elastic strings that can wrap around guests heads

Feathers

Balloons (optional)

A bucket full of beads

Awesome dance playlist

Brightly colored table cloth that matches one of the streamer colors

Brightly colored plates, forks, spoons, cups, and napkins

Brightly colored serving trays (note some dollar stores sell Mardi Gras themed trays this time of year)

Mardi Gras theme fonts

Here are a few of the fonts that make me think Mardi Gras Party!!!

Now that you have the decorations its time to make the invitations, using a beautiful/Mardi Gras looking font, type up your invitations and print them out on the computer. Role each invitation up wrap with a mask and a couple of feathers. This is how your guests will gain entry, using a decorated mask.

Now that your invites are out and people are on their way lets talk about food.

New Orleans is known for their Cajun cuisine, mainly Gumbo, Craw-fish, and large hot Hoagies. Of course you can’t forget the alcohol infused Hurricanes and Hand Grenades available for purchase every few feet along Bourbon Street.

For Instructions on how to make the above mentioned drinks please see the following web links.

Hurricane

Hand Grenades

Note you will want to be careful serving this very high alcohol content beverages and make sure no one who consumes them drives themselves home that evening. If you worried about serving something so strong stick to fun party drink favorites like Margaritas and Daiquiris which while still high in alcohol content do not possess quiet the same level as is found in the New Orleans classics.

crawfish-169694_1280

If you are going to be serving alcohol you must also be serving food. Make a big pot of gumbo, in fact make two pots a seafood and a non seafood you can choose whether or not to have a vegetarian option as well.

Another fun food option is to make Hoagie sliders.

Ingredients:

Hawaiian King Rolls (or any preferred dinner role)

Mozzarella, provolone, or Swiss-cheese slices

Shelled shrimp or craw-fish tales if you can find them

Marinara sauce

Cajun spice Mix

Butter

Green Bell Peppper

Yellow Onion

Directions:

Saute the shrimp or craw-fish in butter and Cajun seasonings

In a separate pan saute the peppers and onions till well caramelized

Once cooked through combine Shrimp, and the peppers and onions with the marinara sauce in a pan till well mixed and sauce is well heated.

Toast the dinner rolls slightly in the oven

Cut the rolls in half so you have a top and bottom bun place a table spoon or two of the fix with a half slice of mozzarella, provolone, or Swiss-cheese.

Finally, the centerpiece of any true Mardi Gras Party is the Mardi Gras cake if you bake your own, be sure not to forget the miniature baby that’s meant to be inside.

5 Recipes Every College Kid Should Know

Every college kid should enter college knowing how to make at least five recipes. Below are my suggestions for the five every college kid should know.

3 Step Casserole

Ingredients:corn-544720_1280

1 Can Ranch Style Beans

1 Can Corn

1 chopped bell pepper (any color works though I prefer red, or orange)

Butter

½ cup favorite shredded cheese Cheddar and Monterey Jack works best

Directions:

Step 1: If you haven’t already, chop your bell pepper into small square pieces. If you don’t have a hot plate and/or stove use your coffee maker to sauté your peppers. Turn on the coffee pot, place a small tablespoon of butter into the bottom of the coffee pot (note be sure your coffee pot is clean before doing this). Add your peppers; pull coffee pot out to stir the peppers every minute or two. When peppers are soft and have begun to caramelize remove from the heat source.

Step 2: Mix the sautéed peppers, one can Ranch Style Beans and one can Corn in microwavable safe dish. Top with Cheese.

Step 3: Place in microwave for about 1.5 minutes to 2 minutes until contents are hot and cheese has melted.

Enjoy!

Growing up, I used to always love Tuna Helper. Today I still love the stuff, though on a little macaroni-42556_1280more adventurous side as I’ve tested the addition of seasonings like dill and garlic powder as means of making it taste different. However, for the college kid it may be best to stick to the classic Cheesy noodles with tuna. How do you accomplish this with only a little microwave as your heat source?

Tuna Helper

Take Kraft’s macaroni and cheese microwave cups and a can of tuna.

Follow the instructions as directed on the Macaroni and cheese cup. Once cooked open the can of tuna and add half the contents to your Macaroni and cheese. Stir and enjoy.

For an added vegetable bonus, add a third of a can of peas.

Veggie Wrap

I expect every kid knows how to make a sandwich, but what about an delicious and healthy veggie wrap. This great alternative to its bready cousin can be transformed into a multitude of fashions. For instance a great Breakfast option, or a hearty Dinner option.

Breakfast:apple-33709_1280

Instead of Veggies fill a wheat tortilla with peanut butter, sliced apples, and a drizzle of honey. This is a great on the go snack as well.

Lunch:

The typical Veggie wrap which can be done in multiple ways. My favorite is below.

Ingredients:

Wheat Tortilla

Hummus (pick your favorite flavor, I prefer roasted red pepper or tomato basil)

Spinach leaves fresh

Bell pepper sliced (any color works I prefer orange, red, or yellow)

White mushrooms sliced

This is an English Cucumber, they require no peeling as their peels are very easy to consume unlike their common cousins. Though a little more expensive each, they are all well worth it as they are larger in size and taste way better.

This is an English Cucumber, they require no peeling as their peels are very easy to consume unlike their common cousins. Though a little more expensive each, they are all well worth it as they are larger in size and taste way better.

English cucumber sliced

Directions:

Place Tortilla on a plate

Swipe the desired amount of hummus across the center about 1 or 2 tablespoons should do it.

Add small handful of spinach leaves, two or three slices bell pepper slices, about four slices of mushroom, and 3 to four slices of cucumber rounds.

Wrap like a taco or burrito whichever you prefer and eat.

Dinner:

For a heartier wrap take chicken strips and cook them in the microwave

Add Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. (Sliced)

Drizzle your favorite ranch or Caesar dressing

spaghetti-507764_1280

Spaghetti

Yes even when all you have is a microwave, you can still make spaghetti.

Take a package of spaghetti noodles; grab one small handful enough to make one serving.

Place in large microwave bowl. Fill bowl with water

Cook in microwave about 5 minutes until noodles are soft.

Stir a couple times to prevent noodles from clumping and sticking.

Strain the noodles from the water once noodles are fully cooked. (Trick test noodles for doneness by tossing a single noodle against the wall to see if it sticks. Just remember to remove it when it does and place it in the trash.)

Next take a single small can of tomato sauce and poor into a bowl heat for about 30 seconds in the microwave before adding to the pasta.

For extra protein, you can add chopped raw mushrooms or canned black or kidney beans. (Just remember to drain and rinse the beans before adding. You will not need the full can).

Peanut Butter and Banana SandwichPeanut butter and banana

When peanut butter and jelly has you down try this awesome recipe

Toast two pieces of wheat bread.

Spread Peanut butter on both slices

Slice a banana and place between four and six slices on top of the peanut butter on one piece of bread.

Place the bread pieces together like a sandwich and enjoy.

How to Reduce and Reuse the Waste that comes from Chopping

Happy How to Tuesday, spring is just around the corner and not far behind it is beautiful summer. During this time of year, you might find yourself eating a lot more fresh vegetables, and meat products including chicken, celery, carrots, broccoli, onions and those very tasty bell peppers. However, did you ever notice how much of all that you actually wind up throwing away? We cut up our vegetables and theirs always those pieces that may still have a decent amount of edibles on them that is thrown into the trash. Why? Did you know it’s possible to save those pieces?

Use all of it!

Use all of it!

Yes, all those nasty supposedly in-edible pieces can be used too, and I’m not talking about composting here, I’m saying you can actually use those pieces for food. Now don’t go out and buy a pig, the food I’m talking about isn’t pig slop either.

In the winter, my family tends to make a ton of different soups, after all what better way is there to warm your insides than with a big bowl of yummy hot soup. Soup always requires some sort of base or stock, and we often go out and for two to five dollars a soup, we buy premade vegetable, chicken, and beef stocks just to make soup! However all spring and summer you were throwing away the very ingredients used to make your own.

So how do you stop throwing away money, first get yourself either a big box of Ziploc baggies and/or a plastic tub with a lid that can easily fit and remain in your freezer year round.

Now next time you are chopping up vegetables and meat before you go throwing those bones and pieces that still contain edible parts on them into the trash. Place those parts in a Ziploc bag, and if your super organized you will include the date that you placed them in there on and stick them in the freezer (make sure the bag is sealed with as much air removed as possible to save space). If you want to just throw everything into one tub, no problem add to it throughout the spring and summer till it’s full, and come winter you will find yourself with a nice stock pile from which to make…well stock.

Not 100% sure how to make stock? No worries I’ll cover this topic and more as the year progresses.

Wishing you a happy Tuesday!

Leeann

Valentine’s Day Dinner Menu

Happy Friday! In honor of date night and with Valentines Day being a mere 8 days away I thought I would help all of those Happy Planners out there design the perfect Valentines day Menu for that special someone.

Rule Number One:

Really simple know your guest. Do they have certain dietary restrictions or preferences? If so be sure to keep this in mind when planning the menu.

Rule Number Two:

Know your limits. This includes culinary skill as well as time. If you have only 30 minutes to prepare the dish then don’t set your heart on a 2 hour long pot roast (unless of course your planning to slow cook it all day for 8 hours while your at work). In addition, don’t attempt to make something that you know exceeds your capabilities as a cook. For instance if you know baking isn’t really within your realm of first time successes then avoid such recipe’s as muffins, yeast rolls, or any other pastry type foods.

Rule Number three:

Pick a dish you love and enjoy eating. After all if you love it, the easier it will be to make sure the other person loves it too.

Finally, if even after considering all of the rules noted above your still not sure what to serve at your Valentines day dinner allow me to provide you with a few options.

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Vegetarian/Vegan Valentines Day

For a simple yet fabulous Valentines day dinner make a vegan stuffed Bell Pepper. There are plenty of different ways you can do this, but just in case here is my favorite.

Ingredients:

2 – 4 Red Bell Peppers (make sure they are of a good shape to stand on their own).

Spanish rice mix (choose your favorite stove top brand)

If the Rice mix doesn’t already call for it 1 can of diced tomatoes and jalapenos

1 can Black beans unsalted

1/2 cup chopped portabello mushrooms

2-3 cups Cheddar Cheese (they also have vegan options for this)

Directions:

Stuffing Mix:

Follow instructions for the Spanish rice mix on the stove top

If not already included in the stove top recipe add 1 can chopped tomatoes and jalapenos

Drain the Black Beans and rinse

Combine Rice, Black Beans, mushrooms, and cheddar cheese in a bowl and mix

Bell Peppers:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Take between 2 and 4 Red Bell Peppers (make sure they are of a good shape to stand on their own).

Cut the tops of the bell peppers off removing the seeds, but without ruining the shape of the pepper.

Fill with rice mixture and if desired top with cheese

Place the peppers in a glass baking dish

Place in oven  cook for 15 -20 minutes until cheese on the top has melted and peppers are soft.

Plate and enjoy.

If you would like an appetizer or side dish option my go to is always

Asparagus lightly oiled with olive oil add sea salt as desired before placing in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10-15 minutes (until slightly crispy).

*BONUS Asparagus is an aphrodisiac.

As for desert pick out a delicious sorbet or your favorite chocolate treat.

Remember to keep plating in mind when serving up a beautiful dish, you don't want to just dump food on the plate.

Remember to keep plating in mind when serving up a beautiful dish, you don’t want to just dump food on the plate.

Gluten Free Option:

My experience with a Gluten free diet back in the days before it became so popular involved a lot of fish, however today its easy to find thousands of every day cooking products that are 100% gluten free everything from pasta to lunch meat can now be found in a gluten free variety so keep this in mind when trying to make a gluten free dinner.

Still not sure what to make check out this great Salmon Recipe from allrecipes.com

Asian Cuisine

Make a deliciously fresh stir fry (Little hint, if running short on funds and you have a number of ingredients on the verge of being over ripe making a tasty fried rice is an excellent option as well).

Here is my favorite way of making stir fry.

Ingredients:

2 Chicken Breast (De-boned)

1/2 a Broccoli head

1-2 full sized Carrots about 1 cup chopped (to save on chopping try and buy a package of the chipped variety)

1/2-1 cup Yellow Squash

Yellow, Orange, and/or Red Bell Peppers (1/2 to 1/4 of each if you plan to use all three if only using one then use entire pepper)

1/2 small Red Onion

1 cup White or Brown Rice (I prefer white)

Soy Sauce

Sesame Oil

Butter

Garlic Powder

Black Pepper

Optional Ingredients include:

Pea Pods

water chestnuts (you can buy these in a can check the canned vegetables isle at your local grocery store)

rice-498688_1280Directions:

Cook the rice

Chop the chicken breast into cubes

In a large skillet or wok if you have one add about one TBSP of Butter for oiling then add cubed chicken saute until cooked through about 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the cubes. (Heat should be on Medium)

Put chicken in a separate bowl to the side

Chop the following vegetables into even strips:

Bell peppers, Yellow squash, red onion

Chop the broccoli into bite sized pieces

Chop the carrots into thin rounds

saute the carrots for about 5 minutes with a TBLSP of butter

Add the rest of the vegetables to the mix and saute with 2 TBLSP of butter for about 5 minutes until slightly soft

Add the chicken

1/8 cup soy sauce

2 Tsps of sesame oil

1 Tblsp black pepper

1 Tblsp Garlic Powder

Saute cook for about 10 minutes

Serve over Rice

Italian

This has to be my favorite recipe to serve for valentines day, its just so classic and every time I eat it with a special someone I can’t help, but think of that memorable scene from Disneys’ Lady and the Tramp.

Spaghetti and Meat Balls

Ingredients:

Favorite Spaghetti Noodles

Favorite Tomatoe Sauce

1 lb ground meat

1 garlic clove

pepper

salt

garlic powder

dried basil

dried oregano

dried parsley

Cumin

powdered ginger

Meatball Recipe Directions:

Mince 1 clove of garlic (chop into small pieces)

Place ground meat into a bowl

Add 2 Tblsp dried basil, oregano,  and parsley

Add 1 Tblsp Cumin, black pepper, salt and Garlic Powder

Add 1 Tsp powdered ginger (note this is added more for the health benefit than the flavor, ginger is known to help with arthritis so I try and add a teaspoon or so to every dish I can).

Mix ingredients together well by hand (so make sure your hands have been washed with warm water and soap before doing this).

Once mixed make about 6 to 8 balls by grabbing a portion of the meat and rolling it between your hands, and cupping with your palms.

Sit in a glass baking pan and place in an oven Preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit

Allow to cook for about 30-45 minutes until inside is just barely pink or if preffered cooked all the way through. (I find they taste better when cooked to the point of a small lightly pink center).

Plate the spaghetti noodles with sauce add desired number of meatballs on top.

As for sides avoid the garlic bread instead try a nice vegetable dish such as my previously mentioned asparagus or a nice salad.

For desert if you can even handle it after this hearty meal I always recommend a light sorbet or frozen yogurt.

cactus-152014_1280Mexican

I absolutely love the idea of doing a taco salad for valentines day its simple and there are so many ways to make it fun and delicious.

Choose your favorite taco fillings

Buy a bag of shredded ice burg lettuce or chop your own

Make a batch of my famously easy 2 ingredient 4 step salsa just click here.

Oh and don’t forget to buy Tortilla bowls (you can find them next to the hard taco shells at your local grocery store).

Directions:

Cook and mix up the filling just like you would if you were making a taco.

Heat the taco bowls for about 5 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit just so they get a little warm, but keep an eye on them as they are known to burn easily

Place the taco bowls on a plate, add lettuce, and place your favorite taco ingredients on top.

Then as a dressing drizzle on the salsa and serve.

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY

American

There are so many different options to choose from when making a valentines day meal and just to make sure I’ve covered all the basis I’m including this option.

Make Valentines Day Dinner Simple by serving up your favorite Soup and Sandwich Recipe. Its perfect for those who want to get warm as well as for those who just want to enjoy the company of the one they love without too much fuss.

My favorite Soup Recipe is a Chunky Tomato Vegetable Recipe of my own design and my favorite sandwich is a croquet-madam.

A croquet-madam is fairly simple to make and goes well with any tomato based soup recipe.

Ingredients:

Sliced wheat bread

2 eggs (1 per sandwich)

4 slices mozzarella cheese (this is my preference, you can exchange it for your preferred cheese) (2 slices per sandwich)

Butter

salt

pepper

Directions:

Much like you would when making a grilled cheese, butter both sides of the wheat bread

Place two slices of cheese in the middle

Place in skillet on medium heat (Takes about 5 minutes per side max)

Flip when the cheese is just starting to melt

Set sandwich aside on a plate

Make the second sandwich

Lower the heat to a medium low temperature

Add about a tablespoon of butter to prevent sticking

Cook both eggs sunny side up, should take between3 and 5 minutes while cooking add a pinch of salt and pepper to each egg for flavor.

Place one egg on top of each sandwich.

Requires a fork to eat, and tastes delicious when dipped into tomato soup.

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Hope you enjoyed! Sorry for missing you all on Wednesday, hope this extra long post makes up for it.

Super Bowl Party

Happy Saturday, tomorrow the entire United States will be parked in front of the T.V to watch the 49th annual Super Bowl Patriots vs. Sea Hawks. Some of you might be die hard fans of the sport and others just like the commercials and half time show which will be performed by Katy Perry and Missy Elliot this year. However, everyone enjoys the refreshments that a low key or big time Super Bowl Party brings.

Still can’t figure out what to serve at your party, that’s okay I’m here to give you last minute advice to throw together an awesome Super Bowl party. Whether your expecting a crowd of 20 or 2 you will find everything you need here.

First know your crowd are they sided towards one team or the other, is it a mix, or are the majority just there to see what funny commercials the companies are putting out for this years sports show. Pick out plates and cups with the big teams colors, if you can’t find the right color for the party, pick a neutral color that plays neither towards one side or the other. No football themed party is complete without football shaped serving trays and platters easily found at any dollar store.

Second make a menu to keep it family friendly choose finger foods that are both healthy and delicious, some helpful hints include Chips, dips, fruit/veggie trays, cheese and crackers, hot dog makings, chicken nuggets or hot wings (get a package or three that you can pop quickly in and out of the oven).

Third refreshments, no party is complete without something to drink if the party is all adults and you know the crowd is responsible enough NOT to drink and drive then grab a couple of packs of your crowds favorite community beer.  I know the crowd favorite in my group is Modelo’s, Austin Beer Works, or any finely brewed Beer from the other locals in the area. If you really want to have a good time pick up some quick mix margarita mix. If your expecting a crowd where kids are running around at your feet be sure to have some kid friendly staples such as Caprisuns, Koolaid, Lemonaid, or soda (have a both a caffeine and non caffeine option). Another great drink option is sweet tea.

Besides that all you really need is a comfy couch and a T.V to have a great time at your super bowl party.

Note: If the only ones watching are you and your significant other, keep things low key plan a menu that is more meal/snack oriented. Some great examples are sandwiches with all the toppings, nachos, build your own pizza, or have a  junk food evening where you grab all of your favorite no no foods and pig out during the game. As for drinks pick up your favorite relaxing refreshment whether that’s wine, beer, soda, sweat tea, or juice. Enjoy after all the Super Bowl is meant to be the nations biggest party of the year.

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