Thursday, July 26, 2012

Banana Soft Serve Ice Cream

Hi friends! So excited to see my sister and nieces today. They are flying in from Alaska for a week & we're looking forward to catching up with teenage girls!

I linked to this recipe a few weeks ago.  Branny Boils Over featured this ice cream on her blog.  I also saw this recipe in the Oprah magazine last month.  It's been the buzz for awhile and in case you missed it or haven't given it a go I would like to encourage you to try it (if you like bananas).  It is amazing! Really! I love that you don't need to fuss with an ice cream maker to enjoy homemade ice cream.

Here's what you need:

4 bananas
1/2 cup chocolate chips or a chocolate bar
food processor

Serves: 4 people

How to:

Peel the fresh bananas and slice into pieces.

Place the slices in the freezer for at least a few hours or up to weeks in advance. Remove from the freezer and place in the food processor for 2-4 minutes or until creamy.

This is how the bananas look after about one minute

In a mere 3 minutes the amazing soft serve ice cream is ready!

This is creamy goodness with no sugar added (yet)!

Place chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Mircowave on high for 30 seconds. Stir.  Then place back in the microwave for another 15 seconds. Stir again then pour over your ice cream & serve!

* I had some left over as Ava and Kirc won't eat anything banana related. I discovered that it's easy to freeze the soft serve in a plastic container, however, enjoying it the second go round proved to be icy and not as creamy as the freshly made version.

           Do you make your own ice cream or yogurt?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

S'mores Packages for a Group

We just began week 5 of Insanity. It's our "Recovery Week" Core Cardio and Balance. Somehow I thought that "Recovery Week" meant a lighter workout. Boy was I wrong! It wasn't what I expected at all. My hips were on fire!

 I'm thrilled to share an update on the workout/nutrition plan & results so far.  I've lost 6 1/2 pounds in a month & my blood pressure is down near normal levels again.  I feel stronger, more confident and eager to jog a few miles, go on long hikes or take 6 mile hilly bike rides with my kids. 

Beyond the Insanity buzz we're prepping for an upcoming boating & camping trip with my folks, siblings and their families.  I can already smell the salt air and campfire,taste the morning bloody mary's, imagine the football games, volleyball burn on the forearms, hikes around the island & lazy moments on the beach.  It isn't really summer until we have had our Sucia Island time.

If you camp in large groups and divide up food like we do I hope this "How to" will be helpful.  This method helps to avoid having to  "police" the s'mores consumption.  Each child receives their s'more pack on the first evening and can choose to ration their goodies for each night or *gasp* eat most in a couple evenings.

How to pack S'mores for a group camping trip:

  • 18 Chocolate bars
  • 10 Peanut butter chocolate bars
  • 2 bags marshmallows
  • 3 boxes of graham crackers
  • zip lock baggies
  • newspaper- I chose the funnies, crosswords & sports sections to encourage kids to read a little. 
  • twine or crochet thread (anything cotton based that can be burned over the camp fire)
Yield: 4 nights camping for 6 kids plus an extra bag of marshmallows, graham crackers and chocolate + peanut butter bars for the adults

Place 10 marshmallows in each zip lock baggie. Portion 2 chocolate bars, 1 peanut butter bar and 1 package of graham crackers.  Place those items vertically on an opened newspaper. Using both hands roll the newspaper over the S'mores.  Using cotton based thread tie each end of the packet to mimic a candy. 

   What tradition marks the beginning of  summer for you?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Glow in the Dark Glass Jars for Camping or Patio Parties

We're gearing up for a summer camping trip and here's a fun way to add a subtle glow to the evening.  It's easy & inexpensive.

Here's what you'll need:

Glass jars. The jars that I used are a Ball canning jar (orange), Mayonnaise jar (green) & a pickle jar (blue).
Disposable gloves
2 Glow sticks per jar

How To:

It's best to prepare this project on the ground or a paper lined table. You can expect a little spillage.

  1. Snap the glow stick in multiple locations to activate it.

1. Place gloves on hands
2. Place glow stick part way into the jar.  Take scissors and snip in numerous places. Allow the glow stick pieces to fall to the bottom of the jar.

3. Place lid on the jar and shake pieces thoroughly.
4. Remove lid and discard glow stick pieces

                 The glow will last for about one hour.

         Do you have a fun camping tip? I would love
                             to hear about it!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Jicama Salad

Day 21 of Insanity.  Tuesday's are our day off and as usual I miss the workout. The nutrition side of things is going a tad better but I'm going to flashback quickly to Christ the King Elementary School Church in the 3rd grade (no, the green plaid uniform is not included). I'm here to confess that I have eaten chocolate & unlike that 3rd grader who was so bashful and unassertive, I'm here to say that I will be eating it again. Sorry Shaun T. there are just some foods that I must eat.  I'm digging deep, alright. Digging deep into the tub of Kirkland Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Clusters! 2 clusters a day keeps me sane!

I found inspiration for this recipe at one of my favorite sites,  Here's the link to a different version of this salad, named Shrimp, Jicama and Chile Vinegar Salad.

My version:

  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 2 tablespoons minced serrano chiles (seeded)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 cups peeled and shredded jicama
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 2 tomatoes sliced

In a medium sized bowl, mix rice vinegar, agave, serrano chiles, salt, pepper and cilantro. Remove about half of the marinate and save it for the salad.

 Mix well then add shrimp & toss. Allow the shrimp to marinate for 2-4 hours (or all day).

Soak wood skewers in water for 30 minutes.

Remove marinated shrimp and place on wood skewers. Grill on medium for 6-8 minutes.

Take shredded jicama and mix with the remaining marinate.

Slice tomato's and serve with salt and pepper

Friday, July 13, 2012

Lundberg Brown Fried Rice

My son asked me last night "Can we have that talk now". After much horsing around during the day and jokes on Mom I had my opportunity by replying with "The birds and the bees talk?"  There's nothing like a one liner that lets you unleash a belly laugh.  He's been working hard on his 5th grade math workbook and he's considering working ahead with the contingency that once he's done with his workbook he won't have to do any more math this summer. Kirc and I discussed it & agreed with the exception of brushing up on multiplication facts during idle times (driving in the car and so on).

One of his favorite meals is fried rice. I normally use white sushi rice but we're eating healthier & I love the nuttier flavor of brown rice.    I've also replaced the brown sugar with Agave nectar.

Garlic scapes are amazing!

  • 6 cups uncooked Lundberg brown rice
  • 3 cups chopped broccolli
  • 1 cup diced or sliced red onion
  • 8 egg whites (scrambled)
  • 6 carrots (peeled and diced)
  • 8 large mushrooms sliced
  • a bunch of garlic scapes diced
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 1/2 cups diced bbq pork or other protein
  • 3/4 cup  Bragg's Liquid Amino or soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all ingredients.  Cook brown rice according to package instructions. Place oil in the fry pan and add veggies. Fry on medium for about 8 minutes.  Add scrambled eggs, water and rice. Add Bragg's and Agave. Fry for another 5-10 minutes. 

Perfect for leftovers!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Jicama Cherry Orange Salad

We have the coolest friends. We're living and breathing Insanity for 60 days & our friends haven't divorced us, in fact, our workout group keeps growing. 4 friends woke up at the crack of dawn & drove to our house for Day 16's Plyometric Cardio Circuit. Oh, and did I mention that one person is out of town on business and Skyped in to work out with us. 7 of us! Thanks friends! We appreciate you.

Summer salads are here but green salads can get boring pretty quickly. Try this green salad variation. I LOVE it and hope you will too!

  • Peeled Jicama
  • Peeled Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Oranges
  • Cherries
  • Cherry Vinaigrette (scroll below for recipe)

Using a grater, shred the jicama and carrots. Tear lettuce leaves and add to a large bowl. Peel then remove whites from the orange.  Pit cherries & slice in half.  Add all ingredients and toss.  Serve cherry vinaigrette on the side.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cherry Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

I'm counting my blessings around here as the temperature is finally worthy enough to say that it's summer. Our hydrengas are mid-bloom, our rhubarb is nearly ready for a second pick and landscape projects abound at our one acre park.

 Last year we were all about bark chips. This year the buzz word is rock!  7 yards of rock arrived and we are turning weed patches into rock beds.   Maybe next year my husbands wish will come true and we'll concrete the rest! Ha!

Weeds 1  Us 0

Yards and Yards of Rock

Back yard beauty! 

In the meantime, seasonal cherries are on sale at stores and sold at road side stands. We had some cherries that started to soften and I didn't want to loose them.  Here's how to make a light & flavorful cherry vinaigrette to liven up your green salad.

  • 2 cups of pitted cherries
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinagrette
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pit the cherries using a cherry pitter.

Place pitted cherries in a juicer. Remove then
add balsamic vinegrette, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Mix well and pour into salad dressing containers. I purchased the containers below at the Cash and Carry store.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Orange Garlic Basil Chicken

Day 12 Insanity.  The massive pool table in our family room has been moved to the side of the room. We are now a group of 5 meeting 6 days a week at 6 in the morning.  Like clockwork or a well oiled machine. If you were a fly on our wall you'd see the dedication and sweat.  You'd hear the grunting, an occasional burp and ensuing joke. You'd hear a few encouraging words. You'd see high fives at the end of the 40 minute workout and a sense of accomplishment by all.

    Here's my latest dinner dabble in the land of healthiness:

  • 8 chicken breasts
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Zest of half an orange
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of fresh green beans
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light butter spread or coconut oil
  • brown rice
  • almonds to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the brown rice according to package directions. Zest half of the orange. Juice the orange. Peel and slice the garlic cloves.

Pour 3/4 of the fresh orange juice & zest over the chicken breasts. Add 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Add a bunch of garlic (but save some for the green beans). Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss the chicken well and marinate for 30 minutes or longer if you have time.

Steam green beans and remaining garlic. Pour remaining orange juice over the green beans. Toss in the teaspoon butter spread.

Grill chicken breasts for about 25 minutes depending on thickness.

Place basil in a bowl with a light mist of water and microwave for 30 seconds. 

On a plate, place grilled chicken on top of brown rice. Top the chicken with cooked basil and garnish with almonds. Serve green beans on the side.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Southwest Salad & The 4th of July

Our son asked yesterday, "What is 4th of July?".

We consider ourselves Patriots. We even have a bathroom adorned with proud American flare; framed poster art displaying weapons of the Old West & The History of American Flags,the quintessential Uncle Sam pointing "I Want You for the US Army" & a metal star that says  "I Love the USA".

 His question took me surprise and made me ponder how to answer him properly.  Do I rattle off what little of the Declaration of Independence that I still remember from History class, circa 1989?

The question made me realize that I've got some homework to do. I can't give him the canned little kid answers anymore. He's asking because he's interested and wants to know more (Yay!).  I printed off the Declaration of Independence & plan on leaving on the table.  We'll see where the conversation takes us.

For now, we are preparing our side salads, dips and pita chips to party hop. Today we celebrate both this great country we live in and my super awesome & soon-to-be ripped husband's birthday.

We're thankful to be free. In honor and respect to those that have served or are serving to protect our freedom, Thank You.

Happy 4th of July to You!

Healthy Southwest Salad

  • 2 cans black beans
  • 8 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 red peppers, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, remove seeds and dice
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes juiced
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 avocado
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together except the avocado as it is delicate.  Last, add the avocado and toss lightly to coat it in the lime juice (this will ensure that it won't turn brown). This salad can be made up to a day in advance.

Serves: 12-14

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chicken, Avocado & Orange Quinoa Salad + Kid Friendly Chicken Sandwich Rolls

We're on Day 7 of Insanity & this means we have a day off from Shaun T.  I still woke up early, ready to workout. Amazing, in just one week, I'm conditioned in this new routine.

Now if only my salivating glands would get on board. I felt like one of Pavlov's experiments yesterday when my sister dropped by with homemade berry muffins.  Thankfully a recipe appeared on my Facebook Page news feed that looks like a cure for my sweet tooth cravings. Here's the link for Banana Ice Cream, courtesy of Branny Boils Over.  There I go again, always thinking of sweets and desserts first!  A hearty & healthy salad could be the perfect prelude to banana ice cream. We brought this salad to a picnic and it felt good to get positive feedback. We weren't the only ones steering clear of the mayo!

Here's a great meal choice for the whole family. Even if your kids don't like Quinoa.  Just place grilled chicken on dinner rolls with mustard (and lettuce).

  • 3 cups Quinoa
  • 5 chicken breasts
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 oranges peeled and whites removed with a paring knife
  • 6 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1/2 cup of lime juice
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook Quinoa according to the package directions.  Remove and place in a large bowl.

Mix cumin, lime zest, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place chicken breasts in the bowl and coat well. Grill chicken until  fully cooked. Remove and slice.

Place the rest of the ingredients in the Quinoa. Toss well & serve.

Serves 12-14

Monday, July 2, 2012

Turkey Mushroom & Egg Breakfast Sandwich

We completed our first week of Shaun T's Insanity program & as challenging as the workouts are each morning, we are finding that the meal planning and prep is just as difficult.  We attended a birthday party picnic at the beach and found that it takes BIG self control not to have a little potato salad or just a small piece of birthday cake.  I'm thankful to be working out with my husband and our friend who is as dedicated as we are to get healthy (husband says ripped) and feel better.

I can't take any credit for this recipe...other than the fresh orange juice made with the juicer.  Hubby made this sandwich and it's really really good. Here's what you need:

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 4 slices low fat turkey 
  • 2 Multi-grain rounds
  • 4 eggs
  • Non stick spray
  • Montreal Seasonings
Place the mushrooms in a small fry pan (sprayed with non stick spray) and sprinkle with Montreal seasoning. Pan fry for about 6 minutes on medium. Toast the multi-grain rounds. Fry your eggs as desired.  We like ours over medium, that yolk must be runny!

To assemble:  Place turkey on the rounds, next add your perfectly cooked egg & top with mushrooms.  Here's our calorie count for the sandwich & juice: 436    

          Have you tried Insanity or a similar work out program? What tips can you share?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cilantro Lime Slaw

Ohh summer bridge learning with kids! It's been one of those weekends that has challenged my husband & I.  Our kids' summer routine includes reading for an hour a day and  completing 2 pages in a math workbook.  The reading part is easy & often times our kids read for longer than an hour. The math, not so much.  We hear things like "It's too hard"  or "We haven't learned this in school yet" or my favorite "It's summer, we shouldn't have to do school work".  Overcoming objections in both business and parenting can be tricky.  I try to stay open minded, but firm. Acknowledging feelings quickly while offering encouragement and support.  On a lighter note, this slaw recipe is full of creamy goodness. 

          This is a good choice for a potluck or taco night

  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 serrano chile (seeded and minced)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (chopped) + extra to garnish
  • 5 green onions, minced
  • 8 cups green cabbage (sliced)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Mix lime juice, lime peel, chile,cumin, mayo, sour cream, garlic until smooth and creamy.Add cilantro, cabbage and green onions.  Toss well and place in the fridge up to a day in advance.

                                 What's your favorite potluck food?

                                                 & / or

                  How do you navigate summer learning?