Happy fall weekend!

FallTree2

 

After dropping BME back off at work after a lunch date last week, I drove past this tree in the business park.  I was struck by how amazingly this tree encompassed the transition of the season: it’s full of fall colors like orange and red, but stands against a background of lush, summery green.  Fall is a’comin’, guys!

The weekend clearly got the memo with its chilly temperatures and crispness in the air.  However,  while I am thrilled about the arrival of fall, my throat is less than thrilled with the new chilly temperatures.  This led to a weekend of marathon watching 30 Rock and a strong craving for some fall comfort foods (and a strong desire to realign my life to be the female Jack Donaghy).  Luckily, I found not only one, but two! amazing fall recipes that also fit within the confines of my modified Paleo diet.  And one iffy fall-versionized hot toddy recipe.  As such, I leave you with this:

BananaMuffin2

Banana Raisin Bread Muffins (makes 8-10 muffins)

Recipe originally posted as “Paleo Banana Bread” by Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations; Thank you, Civilized Caveman!! THIS WAS PERFECT! I made a few substitutions given ingredients I had on hand.

INGREDIENTS:
– 4 bananas, mashed (yellow are fine)
– 4 eggs
– 1/2 cup cashew butter (or any nut butter really)
– 4 tablespoons grass-fed butter, melted
– 1/2 cup coconut flour
– 1 tbsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp vanilla
– pinch of sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Combine bananas, eggs, nut butter, and grass-fed butter in a mixing bowl.  If you have a hand-mixer, USE IT.  I did this by hand and it was a little tiring, especially the mashing of bananas.
3. Once blended, add in coconut flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, and sea salt; mix well.
4. Grease a 9×5 glass loaf pan with a fat of your choice or, as in my case, grease two metal 6-muffins tin with a fact of your choice.
5. Pour in batter and spread it evenly.  Cook for 55-60 (glass pan) or 35-40 minutes (metal pan); start checking at 35 minutes to make sure the muffins are not getting dry.  Cook until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
6.  Once baked, take out and run a knife along the outside of each muffin.  DO NOT REMOVE YET.  I attempted to remove the muffins before they were cooled and I ripped a few in half.  Wait a bit, then try to get them out using a spoon or other instrument.

These are delicious heated up, sliced in half and devoured with a slab of butter.

BananaMuffinCloseUp2

Also, does anyone else remember this movie?  It’s my go to background noise once it gets chilly.

Healthy Living: Who is it for? (and a tutorial!)

A quick and full-of-goodness scrambled egg tutorial at the bottom! I promise the read is worth it but feel free to skip down. 🙂

On Saturday, September 20th, NBC’s TODAY show held “Shine A Light” Health Fair in Baltimore City, MD, in conjunction with Living Classrooms and the Baltimore City Health Department.  The event was part of the year-long “Shine a Light” campaign, dedicated to helping the city improve its health and fitness by showing city residents how to exercise in creative ways; encouraging and teaching healthy cooking and eating; and empowering the city residents to improve their lives on their own.  All in all, a great message and goal that I could analyze and discuss for multiple posts so I’ll move on for now.

A little background: part of the reason the TODAY show selected Baltimore is because of the city’s high rates of diabetes, obesity, and residents who smoke.  However, the problem is greater than just the simple “health + fitness” formula: Baltimore’s easy access to drugs, lack of conveniently accessible grocery stores, abundance of gas station convenience stores, high infant mortality rate, and lack of funding in public schools for gym class or sports makes it one of the least healthy cities in the country.  And those items aren’t even the entire list! As a resident of this fine city for over 2 years, I see this clearly.

But on the other hand, I also see the exact opposite lifestyle all over the place.  Indeed, we are a city of contradictions! Personally, I experience farmers markets and exercise fanatics.  People who choose to bicycle to work instead of drive. And the best part, group fitness classes in parks scattered throughout the various Baltimore communities. These things are what I see and experience in Baltimore.

I went running Saturday morning around 7 a.m. and on Sunday morning around 8 a.m.  My favorite time of the day in the city is the morning (on weekdays it has to be about 6 a.m. to get the same effect); no one is outside, no sirens or panhandlers, the harbor is quiet and pretty, and the only other people out and about are the other runners.  It’s a strong community, the people who jog around Baltimore city and explore the history on foot, whether within a Meet Up! group, a community oriented group like Friends of Patterson Park, or just neighbors and friends.  However, it is clear that the young middle-class adult exercise community lives in a city that is functionally miles apart from the city residents the TODAY show focused on.

The point of this rambling is that healthy living comes in all shapes and sizes.  I believe that a person’s affinity for healthy living comes from how you were raised and where.   My parents don’t exercise but due to living on and running a farm, they never stop moving.  When I moved to a city, first Columbus, OH,  then Baltimore, I had to find a way to be just as active but without the built-in exercise that is living on a farm – hence, now I marathon!  I have friends who exercise because they hate only having law school in their lives.  Others have health issues that need to be controlled.  And for The Pilot, if he doesn’t exercise and get all the extra energy out, it leads to some cranky times in the house.  (Admittedly, I have the same issues – I once had a temper tantrum because I didn’t have time to run the 12 miles I was scheduled to and could only do 6.  Pathetic, I know. #nojudging)

So, who is healthy living for? Everyone. But in their own way. You can’t force someone who has been taught that Doritos and Sprite are dinner to shop only at the farmers markets any more than I can make my roommate train for a marathon with me or The Pilot make me do a Triathlon next weekend. We all should live healthily on our own terms! With that said, the TODAY show’s message of demonstration, encouragement, and teaching is a wonderful vessel to bridge the gap and show an alternate healthy living style to those who may not have been taught the basics of healthy eating and working out.

I’m passionate about this because I have seen the disparities, and how much they can drive a wedge between people, communities, and specifically, socio-economic groups. I’m from a mid-western farm; you think that working criminal defense in Baltimore only taught me how to file paper work? Nope! So much life learning came with it.

So, work with what you have! Don’t ever feel like you have to buy specific, organic things at the store. Empty out your fridge and put together the things you love anyway to do some healthy eating and a little treat will be that you’re wasting less food! Cha-ching!

Scrambled Eggs with Peppers, Tomatoes, Ham, and Cheese (aka: the stuff that was going bad in my fridge)

I had all this stuff in the fridge and it was starting to go bad.  I don’t eat an egg a day, I get sick of them easily so sometimes they sit too long.  Mix it up to make it more exciting!

First: chop up your veggies and put them over heat.  Whether you brown them or just soften them up, they just taste better with the soft eggs when they are a little soft too.  Then, I chopped up the ham and tossed it in with the veggies.  I browned it all up and when it was good and crispy like I prefer.  When it was done, I put it aside.

Next: mix together some eggs and milk (salt and pepper if you are a fan of that).  Put it in the same hot pan you just used for the veggies and ham.  Make the eggs however you like and when they are almost done, add in the veggies and ham.  Mix together.

Finally, the cheese!  I had sandwich cheese so I laid it on top and put the lid on for a minute but if you have shredded you can probably mix that in with the veggies!

Finish it all to your preference, make a fresh cup of coffee, and enjoy! You just prepped a great meal, you saved some food from being thrown out, and you are still on your healthy living trek!

L

For more information on the “Shine a Light” program: http://www.today.com/allday/tag/shine-a-light

And how it is at work in Baltimore:

http://www.today.com/health/shining-light-weekend-todays-baltimore-health-expo-2D80163205

http://www.today.com/allday/todays-weekend-team-shine-light-healthy-lifestyle-habits-2D11897190

 

 

Sustainability … Kind of

I enjoy green juice (romaine lettuce + celery + cucumber + green apple + lemon + spinach).  Unfortunately, my bank account hates green juice because when I’m good about it, I drink 2 mason jars full.  This ends up with me buying A LOT of produce.  OFTEN.  However, I saw something that just amazed me: YOU CAN GROW CELERY FROM ITS ROOT.  Thank you, 17 Apart.  You are saving me a little bit of money, hopefully.  Check it out, they wrote a wonderful article about growing celery: http://www.17apart.com/2012/02/growing-celery-indoors-never-buy-celery.html .

It’s sprouting quite well!  I just put it in water a week ago! (Also forgive me for not having it all delightfully planted — that is a MOMA coaster underneath though!)

Celery

Fall!

(Originally posted on Tiny Girl Eats at tinygirleats.wordpress.com)

It’s finally fall.  It’s finally getting chilly.  I can finally drink and eat pumpkin spice EVERYTHING without being judged by random strangers (BME still judges me without abandon).  As such, I am introducing a new category: PINTEREST TRUE: a section where I will attempt all of those amazing “cooking hack” recipes on Pinterest and inform you, my small pool of readers, of the results.  To start us off, I made super easy Gluten Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!  Mine came out a bit dense and not fully cooked in the middle (which I was fine with since there were no eggs in the recipe), so maybe try to add a little water to thin out the dough.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Ingredients:
1 box gluten free cake mix (I used Betty Crocker Yellow Gluten Free Cake mix)*
1 14.5 oz can pumpkin puree (I use Libby’s for everything pumpkin related)
2 tsp vanilla extract*
.5 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

*Check your cake mix box when using GF rather than regular.  The Pinterest recipe originally called for a box of cake mix (not GF) so I compared the ingredients needed for both (oil, water, eggs, etc).  The only difference between them was that the GF mix required 2 tsp of vanilla extract.  So I figured the recipe should still work using a GF mix,  I can just add the vanilla extract.

Instructions:
– Preheat the oven according the box’s instructions and grease two 6-cupcake pans.
– Pour the dry mix into a bowl.  Add the can of pumpkin and vanilla extract (if needed).  Mix, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.  Be careful when you mix, it takes a little bit (my arm was tired afterwards) and the dry mix kept poofing up into my face and all over the oven I was mixing on top of.  Once the mix and pumpkin are thoroughly mixed, add a little water if the dough seems a bit thick (mine was and I will add a little water next time).  Then stir in the chocolate chips.
– Spoon the mix into the greased cupcake pans; bake according to the box.
– Enjoy!

Minus the density of the cupcakes (and that they were not all the way cooked through), the recipe came out GREAT!  They were a delicious mix of pumpkin and gooey chocolate.  I am glad the recipe only yielded 12 because we ate them continuously until they were gone.

Happy fall! – TGE

Settled.

(Originally posted on Tiny Girl Eats at tinygirleats.wordpress.com)

I apologize for not posting sooner.  I was really trying to get back on a posting regular schedule, then the bar and moving across the country occurred.  However, given my recent unemployment status and terrible job market, I now have tons of spare time to work out, cook, and perfect my cover letter and resume writing skills.  Joy.  As such, I figured it would be the PERFECT time to try and make something out of these random ramblings.  Also, I have a recipe!

So this dish came together a few nights ago when I was really craving something with tomato sauce. Warning now: I love sauce.  So there will be a ton of sauce recipes here.  #sorrynotsorry  I call this (very imaginatively) Chicken & Tomato Sauce.  Again, sorry, I really don’t have a name for this.  You’ll see.

CHICKEN & TOMATO SAUCE
INGREDIENTS:

– 2 tbsp or so of olive oil
– 1 defrosted pack of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins (containing 6-8 tenderloins)
Optional: 3 chicken sausages, sliced down the middle and cut into 8 bite size pieces (we used Aidell’s Chicken & Apple — I only added it because BME likes more meat, less sauce and I didn’t defrost a second chicken pack)
– 8 oz tomato sauce (I use Hunt’s because they are typically 10/$10)
– 14.5 oz stewed tomatoes (again, Hunt’s)
– 4 cloves of garlic, as finely chopped as you can
– 1 orange bell pepper, diced*
– Dried Italian herbs (I used rosemary, parsley flakes, garlic-onion powder, salt and black pepper)

*You can use whatever bell peppers you like.  I used to eat green peppers liked it was my job but have found lately that they upset my stomach too much.  You could also add diced white/yellow onion but again, hurts my stomach.  For less crunchy/more tomato sauce-y veggies, sauté them and drain all the excess oil before adding them to the sauce.

INSTRUCTIONS:
– Put 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan, swish it around a bit, then drop in the cloves of garlic. Heat (keep an eye out and don’t burn the garlic).
– Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and sausage pieces and brown well.
– Once the meat is done, add the stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, pepper, and dried herbs.
– Leave the pan on medium heat and bring the mix to a low bubbling.  Once bubbling, turn the heat down and let the sauce simmer uncovered a couple hours (mine only ended up simmering for about an hour and a half).
– Stir every 30 minutes or so.  If anything is sticking, the heat is too high; turn down a bit more.
– Check the meat after about an hour to ensure they are cooked through and if the meat cuts easily.  If not, keep on for a bit longer.

Ours turned out delicious, BME had more than one serving!  The chicken meat could be parted with only a fork and the sauce/stewed tomatoes thickened up a bit.  I even had a bit for breakfast the next morning.  The only thing I could think to add would be a thick and hearty gluten free loaf of bread.  However, I am still on the search for such a perfect loaf.  If you can have gluten, by all means, have this over some spaghetti.  YUM.  Or if you are gluten-free, use quinoa spaghetti or other bf-alternative.  I bet it would even taste good over some rice.

Gluten-Free Chicken Pot Pie Muffins

(Originally posted on Tiny Girl Eats at tinygirleats.wordpress.com)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

INGREDIENTS:
– Bag of frozen mixed veggies, thawed (I try to go for the one that has peas, carrots, and lima beans)
– 2 or 3 cans of Hormel canned chicken, rinsed off to decrease sodium & large pieces shredded (OR alternatively, if you have left over chicken breasts, 1 to 3 cups of chopped up, cooked chicken)
– 1 can of Cream of Chicken (ALLERGY WARNING: a L-O-T of cream of chicken, mushroom, etc not only have gluten but also have MSG.  Read the back.  If you can tolerate those, then you suck. Buy whatever you want, the food brand is typically the cheapest.  Otherwise, you might have to pay a bit more to get an organic, GF version. Sorry :/)
– Milk (you’ll need approximately 1/2 cup or more, just in case you make a mistake the first time around)
– Eggs (you only need 1 but hey, eggs are good protein — eat more of them)
– Box of gluten free Bisquick mix
– Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:
1.  Preheat your oven to 400 degrees & grease up some muffin tins.  We only have 2 muffin tins, six indents each; I end up cooking a batch and then popping them out to cool onto a plate before making more batches in the same tins, newly oiled each time.
2.  Mix together 1 cup GF Bisquick mix, 1/2 cup milk & 1 egg; drop about one spoonful of batter into each greased indent.  Set aside the remaining Bisquick batter.
**As for layering: eyeball it — you want enough in the bottom that it forms a bottom layer of yummy Bisquick biscuit but you are going to layer the chicken/veggie/cream mix on top of that and finally, some more Bisquick on top, so you estimate best on how much of each you want.  I try to make the bottom two layers equal and the top layer I envision as a little biscuit hat on top.**
3.  Mix together about half of the thawed bag of veggies, the can of cream of chicken, and at least 1 can of Hormel chicken/1 cup of chopped cooked chicken.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
**I typically end up adding 2 cans, if not more, so there is more meaty substance to the food and so its less soupy.  But again, its up to you.  ALSO MAKE SURE THE VEGGIES ARE THAWED.  Frozen veggies will melt, adding water = not good.  Been there. Done that.**
4.  Drop spoonfuls of the veggie/chicken/soup mixture into the indents.  Set the remaining mixture aside.
5.  Drop spoonfuls of the Bisquick batter on top of the veggie/chicken/soup layer.
6.  Bake 30 minutes or until “gold and bubbly!”  (Steel Magnolias. Watch it. Love it. Sob over it.)  Seriously, it will get golden brown.
7. ENJOY!  The “pies” end up tasting like these delicious, moist biscuits with an infusion of delicious chicken, which chunks of chicken and veggies.

FULL DISCLOSURE:  I have not frozen them before.  However, after making a large batch, we typically put them in a large tupperware and keeping them in the fridge for about a week, eating them for lunches, snacks, really, whenever.  If you DO freeze them, I suggest cooking them, letting them cool, wrapping them in saran wrap and then freezing them.  When you are reheating them at work, or wherever, they should be mostly defrosted and to keep the biscuit moist, wrapping a damp paper towel around the biscuit before microwaving should work.

FOR MORE OF A “PIE” TYPE MUFFIN: toy with the layering!  Or buy individual sized tins or even those tinfoil muffin liners.  Having the bottom layer of the bisquick batter helps in keeping it all together (and what pie doesn’t have a bottom), and there is probably even a way of indenting into the batter some to make “sides” of the mini pies and less of an infused biscuit.  Try different ways out and let me know! =]