Monday, August 25, 2014

Oven Baked Brown Rice


I never thought there was a special trick to making brown rice versus white rice.
I was wrong.

The first time I ever made brown rice, I made it just like white rice, and I swear my husband and I almost chipped a tooth. (Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration, but it WAS pretty bad.)

In this post, I will show you a trick I found for making perfect brown rice. Every time. In the oven!

It still has the texture and nuttiness of brown rice, but it's also soft and fluffy and not mushy at all.

I usually make this batch (it's a pretty big batch for just the two of us!), we use what we need, then freeze the rest in a big ziploc. It's so handy to have cooked rice ready to go and it holds up perfectly in the freezer.

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How to make perfect brown rice:

First of all, pour about 7 cups of water in a dutch oven.
(You could also use a different baking dish, just be sure it's big enough and can seal up well. Maybe a 9x13 with aluminum foil tucked tightly.)


Add 3 cups brown rice.


Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and your desired seasonings. 
(I did salt, pepper, and some cumin for this batch.)


Stir it up well.


Cover and place in a cold oven.


Turn the oven on to 450 degrees.
Turn your timer on for 1 hour.


Do NOT check it during that hour or you will release too much steam.

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That's it!
When the hour is up, remove the rice from the oven and uncover. 


Fluff with a fork.


Serve and freeze any leftovers, if you'd like. :)







Friday, August 22, 2014

Cauliflower "Alfredo"



I have mentioned in past posts that I am very excited for my little sister's wedding.  I can't believe my little sister is getting married!!  I feel so old. :/

Despite all the excitement, some inevitable events go along with weddings that are no so enjoyable (at least for us women out there who aren't a size 2).  I am talking about dress fittings.  I know I'm just a bridesmaid but, come on ladies, we all want to feel "prettified" if we are in a wedding!  The dreaded dress fitting.  Eeeeek.... I cringe just thinking about it.  

Even though I understand that all eyes will be on the bride, and maybe on the groom a little bit ;), I still don't particularly want to feel like a bloated mess.  So in preparation for the wedding...and the dress fitting...I have been, once again, trying to watch it.  Mikey and I have been doing rather well. Healthy meals, packing lunches so we don't eat out, 'good for you' snack options, etc.  The only problem... we have both been craving more MEAL type foods versus a variety of healthy snacks.

I was scanning Pinterest and I came across this recipe.  It peaked my interest.  "Alfredo" sauce with no cheese. You do have to go in it with an open mind.  It's not so much an alfredo pasta, just a yummy pasta dish.  I feel like it has many possibilities, especially since cauliflower can take on different seasonings so well.   
So, in trying to stick to our healthy eating and hoping to fit a little better into my bridesmaids dress, this was a great choice.  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

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Cauliflower "Alfredo"

1 head of cauliflower, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 purple onion
1/2 green pepper
1 T. minced garlic
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
Fettuccine noodles (4 servings)
Cherry tomatoes, sauteed, optional


1.  Chop a head of cauliflower.


2.  In a large saucepan, place cauliflower and 3 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. 


3. Chop veggies.


4.  Boil for approximately 15 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. 


5. Right after putting the cauliflower on, start your water for the fettuccine.


6.  Prepare noodles per instructions on the box. 


7. Heat the butter and olive oil. 


8.  Saute onion and pepper until tender. 


9.  When peppers and onion are done, add minced garlic. Saute another minute. 


10. Once cauliflower is tender, using a slotted spoon, place cauliflower in a food processor (or blender-that's all I have). Add 1 cup of the remaining vegetable broth.  Top with cooked veggies.  Add more seasonings if you prefer.  Blend until smooth.  Add a little bit of the extra broth if it needs to be thinned out. 
(I apologize...I somehow lost the picture in the blender.)

Strain your noodles.
Add your sauce.
Top with sauteed tomatoes.

Fast, filling, and mmm mmm good. 


The color is not the most appetizing, but I definitely enjoyed this!




Monday, August 11, 2014

Roasted Chickpeas


While visiting my sister in Tennessee this summer, we were talking about healthy snacks we could make. (Mostly so I wouldn't return home with five pounds more than I went down there with. That always seems to happen...) I had recently heard of roasting chickpeas for a crunchy snack, so we decided to give it a go. Not only are they good for you, but there are so many potential flavor combinations you could try!  We all really like buffalo flavors, so we decided to try this mixture first. Big hit! :)

Best part? It only takes a few ingredients!

1 (15 oz.) can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
buffalo hot sauce
garlic paste 
ranch seasoning (optional)

THAT'S IT!

This recipe is so easy, you don't even have to measure.  Throw a little of this, sprinkle a little of that and then wait.  
Let us know if you think of some yummy flavor combinations to try!

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First off, you're going to want to rinse and drain your garbanzo beans. 


Transfer the beans to a mixing bowl.


Douse the beans in hot sauce and squeeze a little garlic in there.

(We used a combination of Louisiana Hot Sauce and Frank's buffalo sauce because that is what we had on hand, but your favorite hot sauce would work, too! You can also use fresh pressed garlic if you don't have the paste.)


Gently stir to mix.

Add a little more hot sauce if you feel like it needs more!


Sprinkle on the ranch seasoning.


Gently stir again.

Cover with plastic wrap and let it marinate for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.


After it's done "marinating", drain the beans off.
(If there is too much excess liquid, they get mushy rather than crunchy.)


Transfer to a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper.


Don't they look yummy already?!


Spread them out evenly.


Bake at 300 degrees for about an hour, or until they reach the degree of crunchiness that you like.  


Check them periodically and stir them up.


We made a few batches and tried it at different temperatures for different amounts of time.
The "crunch level" definitely depends on how long you leave them in there. 

To test them, pull a couple out and let them cool for a minute before eating. You'll get an idea on how crunchy they are.

If you leave them in long enough, they almost get like "corn nut" crunchy, but you also have to be careful not to burn them to get them to that point. :)


Have fun with it! They taste good either way! :)






Friday, August 8, 2014

How to: Pack Your Shoes


In a past post, I told you about my husband and I taking a last minute trip.  That was when our 'spontaneous getaway bag' started.  Since then, we randomly decide we are taking off and heading to a hotel near Nashville.  In fact, we just did that very thing a couple weekends ago.  We really enjoy doing this.  Because this has become a regular excursion, we have come across many little items to throw in said bag.
  
On this last trip, I was thrilled to see a shower cap.  I'm a little strange but, hey, it wasn't just q-tips and lotion.  I get excited about the small things.  

I was checking out Pinterest yesterday and came across this great idea.  It wasn't actually what I had in mind when my face lit up seeing the cute shower cap box, but a great idea, nonetheless.  

This idea is going to be so handy when I'm packing for our 'mini vacations'.  Also, I will be traveling for my sister's wedding soon.  Who knows how many pair of shoes a girl will need for a week like that!   






Thursday, August 7, 2014

Berry Lemon Iced Tea

Summer means beautiful weather, the beach, vacations, outdoor bbq's, and....iced tea

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a tall glass of plain iced tea, sweetened or not, but I was in the mood to try something a little different. This is what I came up with. :) 

Try it.... if it isn't quite what you are looking for, it is so easy to change it up...
Less (or more) honey, 
more (or less) lemonade, 
more (or less) tea bags...you get the idea! 


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    In a slow cooker, combine the following:

    7 cups water
    3 cups natural lemonade
    1/4 cup honey
    2 cups frozen mixed berries
    9-10 tea bags

  After combining all ingredients in the slow cooker, heat on LOW for 3 hours. 
  Serve in a tall glass with lots of ice. 
Garnish with lemon slices :)
 Mmmm... refreshing!





Thursday, July 31, 2014

Canning Green Beans


Summer is here, and we are having an abundance of beans! So, I thought I would blog canning our green beans! 

In the beginning of our marriage I was the one who did the canning, and now my hubby and I do it together.  I enjoy the time we spend together each season.  He is the one that gives me the inspiration to continue doing it! So, I just wanted to take a moment to give him credit here.....I know if it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't pressure can like we do. 


On to the Project....

I realize I may not do this the 'correct' way, but this is how we do it!
First, of course, you pick the beans.......that is the fun part!



 2. Crack the beans.  We take both ends off, and then break them in usually 3 pieces.  You can do it anyway you want.




3. Wash the beans.




    

4. Then you get all the supplies around that you need.  We use basic items such as a plate, towel, fork, funnel, salt, and of course you will need the lids and rings to your jars that you will be using.  I also use a glass 4 c. measuring cup, which is not pictured.
 



We are canning in quart jars, but you can use pint jars if you would like.  Make sure all of the jars are free of any chips. 

5. To sterilize them we put them in the dishwasher on Saniwash. 




6. Pour 2 qts. of water in your pressure cooker. (This is a very important step)





7. In the meantime I put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.  You will use this hot water to pour over your beans before placing your jars into the pressure cooker.





8.  Place your lids in a small saucepan filled with water and simmer on low the entire time you are canning.




9. Using your funnel place the beans in your jar leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  You don't want to over pack your beans....Just loosely fill the jars.






10. Add 1 teaspoon salt to each jar.





11. Pour the boiling water over your beans.





12. Using your fork lift the lid out of the simmering water.





13.  Wipe the rim of the jar with your finger, place the ring on the jar and tighten snuggly.




14.  Place your jars in the pressure cooker, which has been put on your stove already. You aren't going to want to move it after you place all your jars in it.





15. Fill your canner with jars.  I believe most large pressure canner fits 7 quarts.





16.  Place your lid on the pressure cooker and put the pressure valve on to 10 pounds. 




17.  I have a gas stove, so it is easy to regulate.  I start off on high, and wait until it starts to "rock" and make noise.  As soon as I hear it, I start timing it for 35 minutes.  I then start to turn it down slowly, letting it rock until it is down to low (and continuously rocking) and wait for the duration. Be sure it continues rocking for the full time!




18.  After your pressure cooker releases pressure (usually a good half hour) you can gently take each jar out and place on a towel.  Then you can hear the "sweet sound of success" as my mom called it as the lids start to 'pop' as they seal. 


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I absolutely LOVE canning beans...it is truly simple and I think it is so rewarding!  Our children help us plant the seeds for the garden, and they help us weed it.  They also help us pick the beans, help us through the entire process of preserving them, whether we freeze or can them.  In the middle of the winter when we are enjoying our harvest.... I just love it when they recall our time spent together in the garden!  I thank God for the times like  these and I am able to realize that a simple life is something I appreciate so much! I believe that something as simple as canning green beans can give a child (or adult) a sense of what is truly important in life!