I draw a lot of inspiration from many mags and sites, but I think AllRecipes is my favorite of all. Whenever I am bored with what’s in my fridge or out of ideas, I just get lost in the digital catalog of delicious/authentic/comforting/creative dishes. My success rate with AllRecipes is pretty high, so when I stumbled across this diddy, I knew I was onto something great.
Let me set the scene: it’s a snowy, freezing cold day in Connecticut. My boyfriend, his family and I were on our second round of missed flights, and we had been cooking elaborate meals for days thinking we would be leaving town. Seeking something quick, easy and warm for lunch, I started trolling AllRecipes in search of something that would comfort us in the cold… and impress the ‘rents of course.
So I came up on the genius idea to make BLT Biscuits. There is something about a biscuit that just warms the soul – or maybe it’s just my southern upbringing. My Aunt Woowa used to hand press her biscuits with lilly white flour. Her soft little hands would guide me through the process and then voila! Biscuits were born! And then slathered with butter, jam, gravy, you name it.
Unfortunately, lilly white flour is not available in this part of the country, and we were in a pinch. So Pillsbury had to do. And surprisingly, they were great! Cheap, convenient, and the perfect size for a high pile of B, L and T.
The key to making these is baking the bacon in the oven – trust me, it makes a HUGE difference!
It’s amazing to me that even while the rest of the country is freezing their buns off, we still have it so easy here in San Diego. Sure it’s no surprise that we have pretty perfect weather, world renowned waves and an active lifestyle, but we reap the benefits of nature’s wonders in less superficial ways too. Our valleys are caked with crops, boasting some of the finest fruits and vegetables in the country. In no other state is the occupation of a farmer as popular, and in no other state can you get plentiful produce year round.
My aunt likes to spend her down time celebrating these gifts from the earth with her amazing cooking. Her dishes are vibrant, well balanced and always changing, but every fall I look most forward to her pear preserves. She has explained to me how easy they are to make, that any fruit can really be preserved. I filed the thought away for a rainy day, until I found some inspiration in an unexpected place.
My boyfriend and I took a bike ride to our local produce stand to pick up some veggies for dinner, and there were stacks of cartons of sweet berries at an insanely affordable price, glowing in the summer-like sun. I began researching different jam recipes that day, and after pondering many different varieties, I stuck with my guns and planned to make some simple mixed berry jam – without pectin [ick]
**side note: pectin is a soluble gelatinous polysaccharide [aka carbs] that is present in ripe fruits and is extracted for use as a setting agent in jams and jellies. There are already carbs in fruit, so adding pectin – although helpful – makes jam stick to your ass. Luckily, there are good people in the world who avoid using pectin in lieu of more natural ingredients and processes.
Valentine’s Day was right around the corner, and I wanted to spread some love to my friends – no pun intended. Rarely do I use jam in my own life, however PB&J is one of my guiltiest pleasures, and it’s a great thing to have in the fridge if you have guests over for brunch.
I carved out a few hours to make my first batch of homemade jam, but discovered it was a lot easier and more fun than I had expected. Sure, my jam could have thickened a little more, but most of my friends finished their jars before the end of the month, so maybe I will keep my version of the recipe exactly how it is
4 cups each of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
3 cups of sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Have ready 8 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids. I boiled mine ahead of time, and then popped them into a baking dish and kept them warm in the oven @ 250 degrees while I made the jam
In a large non-reactive saucepan, gently stir together all of the ingredients. Bring saucepan to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently. The original recipe said it should take about 15 minutes for the jam to thicken. I went for about 30 – 45 minutes and it probably could have stayed on longer.
Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving 1/4 in. of headspace. Wipe the rims clean and seal the lids on tightly.
Place the jars in a bath of boiling water for ten minutes. They can go right into the pantry from there, but must be refrigerated once opened. Enjoy on your favorite gluten free pastry, pancakes, or in a good ol fashioned PB&J.
There is something about the Pioneer Woman that reminds me of the cooks in my family. Whether it is her sweet southern demeanor or her knack for making classic comfort foods, I always find myself turning to her for my not-so-healthy-but-raveworthy-recipes.
I was so sick of chicken breast the past couple weeks, I completely ODed. My old roommate was more comfortable cooking with chicken thighs, which I found to be surprisingly delicious (I was always more of a white meat girl, but chicken thighs changed my perspective forever). As I was sitting at the car dealership a couple weeks ago with my dad, I was watching the Pioneer Woman in all her glory at the local super store, stocking up on chicken thighs. I was so eager to see what she was going to make, that I actually hung out in the dealership lobby a little longer after the car was done just to watch LOL.
Long story short, I found the most finger lickin chicken thigh recipe in the land. All you need are some peach preserves, barbecue sauce, green onions and good ol fashion bourbon whiskey. The rest is pretty household stuff, but I did need to buy a new pot just to fit all these juicy thighs.
Ingredients (yields 6 servings)
12 whole chicken thighs
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter
1 yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 cup whiskey
12 fl oz barbeque sauce
1 jar peach preserves
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
3 whole green onions, sliced thin
Preheat over to 300 degrees. Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. Place chicken thighs, four at a time, in the pot (skin side down if yours have skin). Brown both sides, then set aside on a plate.
Pour off half of the grease in the pan, then return pan to stove. Add onions to the pan and stir, cooking for 2 mins. Pour whiskey into the pot, being careful if you’re using an open flame. Stir and scrape the bottom of the pan, allowing the whiskey to reduce for a couple of minutes. Pour in bbq sauce, peach preserves, water and worcestershire sauce. Throw in the whole, peeled garlic cloves. Stir until combined, then return the chicken to the pot (skin side up). Cover and put pot in the oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Used the sliced green onion as a garnish, and serve with your favorite potatoes, quinoa and/or greens!
You know what the hardest part of working out is?
Holding yourself accountable.
Seriously, any other excuse is basically an extension of this principle. Can’t get out of bed… don’t have time today… I’m too sore… blah blahh blahhh. Holding yourself accountable can be tough, but there are great tools these days to help us with this problem.
Between apps and social media, we can track every morsel we intake and every calorie we burn. We can break down our BMI with the click of a mouse. We can create fitness goals to help us continuously strive to be better. We can share these goals and hold each other accountable for our achievements and mistakes.
But programs entirely reliant on the users data entry don’t work. At least not in my experience. I need something that is a constant reminder of what I have set out to accomplish and a tool to help track my day to day activity between work, sleep and incessant errands.
Meet my new bff, my fitbit.
I love this little rubber wristlet. Granted, you do have to input details of your diet and workouts, but it tracks my steps, monitors my sleep, is waterproof, and comes in a bunch of cute colors. I have the flex in this teal blue, which has the smallest screen and the slimmest look. My bf got them as a gift for us both, and because we are friends on fitbit, can now motivate each other to walk more, eat better, get to bed earlier.
I hate fad diets, and prefer lifestyle adjustments. Along with some other stuff I will be incorporating into my everyday life, this will help me see where I am at on a regular basis and figure out how to exceed those goals.
For instance, I log around 8k – 10k steps a day when I am working a full shift and either run a few errands or hit the gym for an hour. On a sick day (which I have unfortunately had a few of post-sinus op), I barely walk 3k. But I already know I have a long road ahead of me now that I’m in the clear to work out again, so this is a great tool for me to find out the best routine for myself.
Tracking sleep is also super cool. I thought I woke up a lot on a night where I stirred 4 or 5 times. On average, I wake up 11 times a night! I have yet to figure out how this little rubber band can determine the difference between light sleep and REM sleep, but I am already going to sleep earlier, and the daily hydration goal helps me sleep much better – especially when I’m sick.
I just got my first 15k step badge and can’t wait for the next one! What types of programs do you use to hold yourself accountable for your health??
As the weather in most of the country cools, warm homestyle dishes takes precedence at the table. Summer salads are a thing of the past, and instead we switch gears to hot sandwiches and hearty soups. Although “cooler weather” in San Diego merely means a misty afternoon in the mid to high 50′s, I have always appreciated the art of being cozy and all the things it comes with… warm drinks, soft blankets, chunky sweaters.
But the most warm and fuzzy feeling comes from eating a big delicious bowl of soup. It is funny how certain soups can stir up many fond memories… ski weekends with a daily fix of chili, lunch dates at the mall with my grandma and Nordstrom’s famous tomato soup, sick days eating my mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup in between naps. Even when I was in college I would make my mom’s chicken noodle soup just to have a taste of home. But the egg noodles became the focus of the dish and I wanted it to be slightly more rustic, so I made a few adjustments to come up with a new school take on chicken noodle soup.
First of all, I’ve got something grandma didn’t when she first came up with this recipe…
A crock pot.
This lifesaver of an appliance makes all recipes – especially soup – easier than ever. All you have to do is find a basic chicken soup recipe you like, add whatever other veggies and herbs you like to it, and hit HIGH for 8 hours. And that is literally it! You come home after a long day at work and your house smells like mom’s kitchen after little to no effort. If that isn’t efficient cooking, I honestly don’t know what is.
A few other things that make soup recipes a cinch:
-boneless skinless breasts: skip all the junk in the rest of the bird, this is the leanest cut and can easily be shredded before devouring.
-Trader Joe’s Mirepoix: pre-cut celery, carrots and onion to go right into the stock without all the mundane chopping.
-other yummy veggies like white cannellini beans, roasted red potatoes, green beans, spinach, whatever you want really.
-fresh herbs: if you have em, they always add a fresh flavor unlike their dry versions in the spice cabinet.
-great grains: these days, pasta isn’t your only option… quinoa, barley, farro, brown or wild rice. I decided to use ditalini, or small bits of sliced tube pasta that is commonly used in minestrone or Italian wedding soup. If you do go this route though, make sure to save the grains until the last 30 minutes! Otherwise the pasta will overcook and get super soggy and gross.
Enjoy fresh or store in mason jars and keep in the fridge until you are ready to eat!
OH! And if you are wondering why there’s no final photo of the finished product, that’s because we devoured it all! woops
My favorite fruit is easily the banana. It is versatile, full of potassium, and is easy on the tummy. Whenever I have a banana going bad at the end of the batch, I throw it in the freezer for a rainy day. And when that rainy day comes, I make a delicious banana bread to have breakfast with my coffee for the week.
Every cooking site known to man had a handful of recipes to offer, but I decided to go with the simplest of them all. The fewer the ingredients, the better IMHO. And Real Simple had just the recipe for me. I had all the ingredients, and got tons of compliments at work
3-4 ripe (brownish) bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
No electric mixer necessary! Preheat your oven to 350. With a wooden spoon, mix melted butter into mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the top of the mixture and then mix in. Add the flour last, and mix one last time. Pour the batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for one hour. Cool on a rack and slice to serve!