SUN-DRIED TOMATO ROASTED RED PEPPER CHICKEN

Ingredients:
8-10  roasted red peppers
1 cup Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette (Teresa’s is best I have found)
6-8 Boneless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place all but 2 of your roasted red peppers in a blender or small food processor (or in my kitchen the GE Rocket Blender). Pulse the peppers until pureed. Combine the peppers with the Sun-Dried Tomato dressing. Chop the remaining 2 peppers and set aside.
Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray and place chicken in pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Pour dressing mixture over chicken and sprinkle with chopped peppers. Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is done.

 The finished product

 Served with green beans and mushroom risotto. Found some fabulous mushroom risotto at Aldi that takes only about 20 minutes to cook and unlike most boxed so called risotto’s the Aldi risotto came out creamy like it should be.

SHAME ON ME AND MEET THE GIRLS

I have been a bad blogger the last couple weeks. But in my defense I have had good reasons. First we went to Hilton head, Savannah and Tybee Island for a long weekend on my birthday 2 weeks ago. Then when we came home I was busy with a new project. Which is where Meet The Girls comes into play. We have been building a pen/house and preparing for a new project we have considered for several years now. We now have  11 chickens….laying hens to be exact. So meet the Girls…….

 Above is our 2 Buff Orpington’s and 2 Americauna’s. We decided to name them after candy… The Buff’s are Butterfinger and Reeses and the Americauna’s are Kit and Kat.

 This is one of our baby’s a Silkie named Snickers.

And this is another baby Silkie named Twix and a baby Barred Rock named Patty (Peppermint Patty)
We got the above 7 chickens last Saturday. Then on Monday we got 2 more – Partridge Rocks

The Partridge Rock’s are named Hershey and Joy (Almond Joy).
And now today we got 2 more – Rhode Island Red’s this time….

The RIR’s are Baby and Ruth.
Our 1st egg – from one of the Americauna’s.
Our first week of eggs from the ones laying. Some haven’t started laying yet and some just started – that’s why some of the eggs are a little small. It looks like Easter eggs in the bowl – we have blue green eggs from our Americauna’s and then some brown eggs and 1 almost pink tinted egg. 
We are having so much fun with our girls and they can be so funny – take these pictures for example…our babies sun bathing – they sort of roll over on their sides, spread out 1 wing and stretch out 1 foot. If I had just walked up on them doing that I would have thought they were broken lol. 

  
So now we have 11 chickens to care for and watch and spoil. So I will probably be blogging about them as well as some of my recipes. 

   

  

FRUIT SMOOTHIES

Forget paying a insane 4.00 to 6.00 for a fruit smoothie at some mega chain restaurant/store. Plus, it is not just the price that might hurt you, the ingredient list for some of those smoothies may make you gain weight without even drinking one. Now don’t get me wrong I love me a good smoothie and I am sadly addicted to the mango-pineapple one at McDonald’s. If I could make one at home that tasted anything like it I would, but so far I have not been able to master that one. I will keep trying though, because maybe I can make it guilt free and have it more often. For now I get one occasionally as a treat.

Now for my homemade guilt-free smoothie. And yes I am using my favorite little GE Rocket Blender

Ingredients:
Frozen fruit (your choice) strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, mango, banana, raspberry, peach, blackberry.
1/2 c yogurt (Vanilla or honey – low fat or Greek)
1/3 c pineapple juice (or approx. 1/3 of a small can)
1 Tbsp Agave nectar
Light Vanilla Soy Milk

I fill the blender cup about 2/3 full of frozen fruit (my fave combo is strawberry and pineapple), then add the yogurt, juice and nectar and enough soy milk to bring it to the fill line on the cup. Then blend for about 10-15 seconds. Remove the blender cup and shake it up to help the fruit to move down to the blades and blend again for about 15-20 more seconds – this usually will be enough. When doing smoothies I do recommend that you blend in short intervals because the blender does seem to want to overheat if you blend too long.

I make these smoothies as a treat after supper and sometimes as part of my breakfast.

Notice my much clearer pictures? I have been using my phone to snap the pictures because it is just so much easier than using my big bulky Nikon when cooking. I just got a new phone with an amazing 8mp camera on it.

Note: Check your Agave before you buy it. Some brands are not 100% Agave. Some have added sugars to them. So check the ingredients list for anything other that Agave listed. The Florida Crystals brand in the picture above only lists Agave.

CHOCOLATE EXPLOSION MUFFINS

This recipe is a variation of a low-fat muffin/cupcake recipe that has been around for a while. There are only 2 ingredients in the original recipe – Cake mix of your choice and 1 15oz can 100% pumpkin puree. You mix the 2 together and fill your muffin cups and bake. Most people use spice cake or carrot cake as those seem to work best with the pumpkin. And I agree as I have tried making all kinds of muffins from that recipe and unless you have a cake mix that can over power the pumpkin then you can taste it. I have always wanted to make a yummy chocolate version, but no matter the cake mix brand or chocolate flavor I use the pumpkin is still there. So I started to experiment with adding things to it and finally combined parts of 2 different recipes to come up with a very chocolate-y tasting muffin. I made two batches this time because I only had a large 29oz pumpkin puree. I also had two different cake mixes, however, both were a version of chocolate.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

Ingredients:
1 box of your favorite chocolate cake mix
1 15oz can 100% pure pumpkin puree (be careful not to get the pumpkin pie mix)
2 snack cups fat free chocolate pudding
2 envelopes Swiss Miss diet hot chocolate
4 Tbsp mini chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything together. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with cooking spray and fill each cup to almost full. Put muffins in oven and bake for time on box (each brand differs in time, but there should be a bake time for muffins as well as cake) Approx. 15-18 minutes. 1 box of cake mix will make 12 muffins.

For my muffins I had the milk chocolate cake mix in the picture above and a red velvet cake mix. So this was an experiment for the red velvet to see if it would remain red and taste super chocolate-y and it did. You can eat these as a dessert or do like we do and have them for breakfast.

OMELET BREAKFAST SANDWICH

Another yummy On-The-Go breakfast idea using my fave little egg skillet.

You basically just make your favorite omelet with 1 egg in the skillet. You don’t fold it, instead you just flip it.

The good thing about omelets is you can make them any way you want. Just be smart about your choices, use turkey products in place of pork and use plenty of veggies. You can have ham and cheese, all veggie, or a lean meat with veggies. You can make it southwest by adding salsa. It’s all up to you and what you want.

I used
Canadian Bacon
Mushrooms
Onions
Spinach
red bell pepper

First you need to cook the filling items you plan to use and then set them aside. Heat your pan over medium low heat. Scramble 1 egg with a fork, add about 1 tablespoon of filling (can also add cheese of your choice at this time).

Spray the pan with cooking spray and add the egg mixture to the heated pan and cover.

Covering it will help it to cook from the top as well as the bottom. When you are ready to flip it, it will be mostly cooked and only need about 30-40 seconds more.

Once it is mostly done with only a little raw egg in the middle of the top as in the above picture you can slide it out onto a spatula and flip it over to cook on the other side. This pan is small so it is hard to turn eggs over. That is the main reason for using the lid to help it cook and make it easier to flip by sliding it out onto the spatula.

When you are finished it should look like this. I allow them to cool and keep in a container in the fridge until ready to eat each morning.

My favorite way to eat these on the go is in a sandwich using deli flats.

I love the Flax Seed deli flats. And as you can see above the round omelet is perfect for the round flats. I love Mayonnaise and it is one thing I refuse to give up. So I compromise and use a little mayo on one side and Dijon on the other side of the bread.
Just reheat the omelet on the microwave for about 40 seconds. This is when I top mine with cheese instead of in it. I sometimes use Colbyjack or provolone, but my fave cheese to use is Havarti.
And breakfast is served….

SHRIMP AND GRITS

Tonight’s supper was a big hearty bowl of shrimp and grits minus the guilt. This recipe was given to me by a co-worker. She found it in a Southern Living Magazine. According to the recipe it only has 235 calories per serving and 6.1g of fat (that is for 1/2 cup of grits and 1/3 cup sauce). It was very good, had a little heat, but not much and once you started eating the heat went away..so if you like them spicy I would add more hot sauce or some cayenne. And of course I added my little touch to the original recipe, so the calories and fat may be a little more but not a lot. The basmati rice in the picture is for mama, she doesn’t eat grits….I’m sure she is not a true southerner. 

Ingredients
Grits:
1/2 tsp salt
2 c water
2 c skim milk
1 1/4 c quick-cooking grits
1/2 c fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
In a medium sauce pan bring salt, water and milk to a boil. Gradually whisk in grits. Cover and cook on medium low, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 8 minutes or until grits and done and thickened (you want them very thick so they will not be runny when the sauce is added). Whisk in Parmesan cheese and black pepper. Keep warm. 
Shrimp and Sauce:
1 T olive oil
1 8oz Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1 lb medium size raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (41/50 count)
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
non-stick cooking spray
1 T Olive Oil
1 T all-purpose flour
1 1/4 c low sodium fat free chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/2 c green onions, chopped
2 c firmly packed fresh baby spinach
Mushrooms:
In a nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil over medium high heat. Cook sliced mushrooms until tender and browned. (HINT: do not season mushrooms until they are cooked completely, they will turn watery in the pan if you salt them in the beginning.) Once mushrooms are browned you can season to taste. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside. 
Shrimp:
Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Spray your non-stick pan with cooking spray and add shrimp. Cook shrimp over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or just until shrimp turns pink, be careful not to over cook. Remove from pan and set aside. 
Sauce:
Reduce heat to medium. Add 1 T Olive oil, heat for about 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Whisk in broth and add garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, hot sauce and green onions. Cook about 3-5 minutes or until sauce starts to thicken. Add spinach, mushrooms and shrimp to sauce and cook for another 1-2 minutes or until spinach is slightly wilted. Serve immediately over grits. Can garnish with lemon zest, green onions and some fresh Parmesan cheese if you like. 

SWEET ROASTED CARROTS

I actually had a request that I post this recipe. So here is what was for supper tonight….Turkey breast, Sweet Roasted Carrots and steamed broccoli.

Ingredients
1-2 lb baby carrots
1-2 T EVOO
Kosher salt
pepper
all purpose seasoning (I use Miss Sassy’s Rub which is made and sold locally or you can buy online)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place carrots on sheet in a single layer. Pour EVOO over carrots and season to taste with salt, pepper and all purpose seasoning to taste. With your hands toss carrots around in the EVOO and spices to coat well. Bake for 40-50 minutes until tender, start to brown just a little and carrots have shriveled like in the picture. 
Note: When I mention all purpose seasoning, I don’t mean season all or season salt – it has too much saltiness to me, but can certainly be used. I used to use Stax Seasoning from a local restaurant, but they stopped selling in stores. I then started experimenting with Toni’s Greek seasoning, Mrs Dash all purpose, Emeril’s Bam and several others until I found Miss Sassy’s which works on meats and veggies (Has a little heat and little sweet). Just find a seasoning in your local grocery that states it is good for poultry, beef, pork and/or fish and it will probably be good in almost anything.
Special note: After you toss the carrots and your hands are covered in kosher salt and EVOO….rub the oil and salt into your hands before you wash them. The salt will exfoliate your hands and the oil will moisturize. 

ON THE GO BREAKFAST

On The Go Breakfast is my version of a grab and go breakfast that came about when i was trying to figure out how to make a Frittata more portable. And every time I make it I change it up a little. I just make little muffin egg cups, we grab a couple, reheat them and can go out the door with them or sit and eat before we go. But either way they are ready in about 30 seconds.

Ingredients
Lean Meat – your choice – Turkey sausage, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, ham, turkey, etc.
Vegetables – your choice – peppers, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, spinach, asparagus, etc. 
Cheese – your choice – cheddar, Colby jack, feta, Parmesan, goat cheese, etc. 
10-12 eggs
1/2 c milk 
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your meats and veggies. In my case I used Canadian bacon, onions. mushroom and shredded potatoes.
1/2 medium onion, diced; 8-10 mushrooms, diced; 12 slices Canadian Bacon, cut into small pieces; about 1 1/2 cups shredded potatoes.
Shred and soak the potatoes in water to remove some of the starch. While the potatoes soak cook the bacon, onions and mushrooms (or your choice of veggies and meats) in just a little EVOO until done. Set them aside to cool in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain any fat. Drain the potatoes, rinse them and squeezed out any excess water by putting them in a clean towel and squeezing it until most of the water was gone. Cook them in a little EVOO and a tbsp of light butter (Brummel and Brown), be sure to season your potatoes with salt and pepper. Cook them until almost done. Let them cool so you can handle them. Spray a 12 cup muffin pan with non stick spray and then layer the potatoes, meat and veggie mixture and some cheese in each cup. 
Beat the eggs and milk together and pour it into each muffin cup. You do fill these pretty full so place a baking sheet under the muffin pan in case any spills over when cooking. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over each cup and with a fork or even a toothpick mix the eggs and filling together a little. I don’t combine the fillings with the eggs because you usually end up with one full of potatoes, another with almost nothing and another with meat and no potatoes. If you put the fillings in first and then mix in the eggs in each cup you can control the fillings more. Bake in 375 oven until set and begins to brown.
Allow to cool completely and then store in refrigerator in a gallon sized zip lock bag or a large container with a lid. In the morning pull out 2-3 egg muffins and heat in microwave for 30-40 seconds and breakfast is served. 

BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

A few months ago I was at a local restaurant and one of their special was a Black Eyed Pea Soup. It was so good. That is why i decided to try my hand at making my own version of the same soup.

This is my only picture I made. It of course shows what we had for supper tonight – the soup, grilled boneless pork chops and mashed potatoes. I was not sure the soup would be good, when it turned out delish I knew I would have to share it. 
Ingredients
1 lb dry black eyed peas, sort and rinse
1 small onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 can diced tomatoes with chilies and onions (Rotel tomatoes)
2 cans broth, your choice, I used beef
2 T cumin
1 tsp all purpose seasoning (I use Miss Sassy’s)
salt and pepper to taste
1 T EVOO
Heat a skillet with EVOO over medium heat. Once hot add diced onions and peppers, cook until just tender but not done. Put rinsed and sorted peas in a large (at least 8 qt) stock pot with a lid. Add the onions and pepper, tomatoes and 2 cans of broth (you can use any broth beef, chicken, vegetable). Fill the pot the rest of the way with water to almost 3/4 full. Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until peas are tender. Once peas are tender reduce heat to low and add seasonings. Simmer on low until ready to eat, but at least 20 minutes.  

PERFECT OMELETS

It’s Saturday morning! That means no precooked on the go breakfast. I had time to cook myself a delicious omelet. Unfortunately I was out of some of the things I wanted to put in my omelet, so I made do with what I had.

The secrets to a perfect omelet….

1. A really good nonstick pan with rounded edges. You don’t want a pan with a flat bottom and straight sides. And I prefer a 10 inch pan; most pans designated for omelets are 8 inches. I have also seen omelet pans as big as 14 inches. I can’t quite wrap my head around a 14 inch omelet, but maybe if you are cooking for the Jolly Green Giant, the Brawny man or Mr. Clean you might want a 14 inch skillet. Omelet pans also come in stainless steel, for the home cook and if you are watching what you eat I suggest good quality nonstick. You will need to use more fat/butter/oil in a stainless.

2. Your eggs should be at room temperature. Nobody ever tells you this on TV. I think the eggs beat smoother, you don’t end up with clumps of whites that just refuse to incorporate with the rest of the egg. I also think it helps the cooking of the omelet. I mean think about it you have a very cold beaten egg that you are putting into a very hot skillet…you just cooled the skillet some. I also think the eggs get tougher, almost as if they seize up or something. And if you forget to lay them out a half hour to an hour before you are cooking them or you don’t have time to lay them out…put them in a bowl of very warm water while you prep everything. Check the water after a few minutes, it will have turned cold, just pour it out and add some more warm water. this should do it, by the time you finish prepping/cooking your fillings your eggs should be warm.

3. Beat the eggs well. You want them to be a little frothy when you beat them. You know they are beaten well if you lift some of the egg up with your fork or whisk and you don’t see clumps of unbeaten white plop back into the eggs. Also the more you beat them, they fluffier the omelet will be. I don’t like mine too fluffy so I just beat them until a light froth appears.

3. Patience is a virtue – at least when it comes to omelet cooking. You don’t want to cook it over a high heat and make it too brown and rubbery. You need to cook them over a medium low heat which will take time.

The Omelet

Ingredients
2-4 eggs, beaten until frothy
1 tsp of water or skim milk per egg used
salt and pepper
cheese, your choice
fillings, your choice, chopped if needed

First you want to prepare your fillings. This morning I used turkey bacon, onion and mushrooms. I will discuss filling ideas a little later. I chopped all my fillings items and cooked them in my skillet until done.

Remove you filling items from the skillet and set aside. You may want to clean the skillet out with a dry paper towel, to give the omelet a good clean surface to start on. I list 2-4 eggs for a reason – this is up to you. For a 10 inch skillet I think 3 eggs is perfect, not too thin or too thick. If you want a thick omelet use 4, for an 8 inch skillet 2 would be perfect to me, 3 would be thick. Heat the skillet over medium low heat and spray it well with nonstick cooking spray, you might also add just a little low fat butter spread like Brummel and Brown (1/4 – 1/2 tsp) for flavor. Slowly pour in your beaten eggs. As they start to cook pull the cooked edges up and tilt the pan to allow a little uncooked egg to go under it. Do this around the skillet until the egg starts to firm up and doesn’t wont to move under the cooked egg any longer. (Hint: if you are worried about getting your egg completely cooked, then you might want to put it under the broiler on low for just a few minutes but watch it closely. This is easier than trying to flip the omelet over to cook both sides). Now is when you put your filling in it. I put mine kind of off center but not all the way to the edge and on the side of the omelet that is farthest away from the handle (you will see why later0.

I do this because I like to kind of trifold my omelet (think trifold wallet) , much like you see in most restaurants. Top with cheese.  Now using a spatula go around the edges and under as much as possible to make sure your omelet is not sticking. Now is the time to turn off your heat and just use the heat left in the egg and the pan. I then fold the smaller egg side of my omelet over the filling ingredients. Then fold the larger side over and let it sit for a moment with a lid on it. This will help set any remaining uncooked egg and melt the cheese. Now just turn it out onto a plate and enjoy.

Filling ideas:
I use lean meats such as turkey sausage, turkey bacon, Canadian bacon, or even lean lunch meats like turkey and ham. 
For veggies, the sky is the limit, use what you like…onions, peppers, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, avocado the list could go on and on. Just be sure to cut your filling items small or thin…you will be less likely to tear your omelet as you fold it over. 
Cheese – again use what you like – cheddar, mozzarella, feta, goat cheese, Colby jack, Havarti –  if I had some feta and spinach this morning, both would have been in my omelet. Just use your cheese in moderation. That is actually hard for me to say because I LOVE cheese.
Here is a great video that shows how to fold (trifold) and omelet and shows how to lift and tilt to move the uncooked egg under the cooked. 
Enjoy your breakfast!