Sleep in?

Sleep in?

Man, it’s pretty hard to be motivated to get outta bed when you’re staring at these two adorable faces between the sheets on a cold winter morning… This is my Sunday morning Kryptonite… What’s yours??

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Dill Chicken Salad Snack

Dill Chicken Salad Snack

Moving into the New Year, I’m really trying to make a conscience effort to snack more wisely. Sometimes at work I get so busy that I might not have time for lunch until 3 or 4 p.m. – and that makes for a cranky me AND the act of heading to the fastest place to get food once I have a break – healthy or not. I know that planning is key to success, so I’m making a little more effort to prepare more healthy snacks and have them at my disposal during the day. So far this week it’s helped (I feel better about my diligence if nothing else), and that just makes me all the more motivated to keep going!

Here’s my favorite (healthy) recipe for chicken salad so far. Combined with 4-6 all natural water crackers, this snack is less than 200 calories (according to my calculations in the SparkRecipes.com Recipe Calculator).

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Two 7 oz. packages of White chicken cuts (I used Valley Fresh because they were the most natural ingredients) – Fresh roasted or rotesserie chicken would be even better

2 stalks of celery, cleaned and cut into thin half moons

1/2 medium white onion, chopped (or shallots if you have them – 1/2 cup)

1 T. fresh dill, chopped (you can do more to taste)

2 T. light mayo

1 c. (approximately) plain greek yogurt (I used Oikos)

fresh lemon juice – about half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

sliced almonds (optional)

water crackers

 

In a food processor, combine chicken, celery, onion and greek yogurt. Pulse until combined. Transfer to a medium bowl and add dill, mayo, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Add almonds if desired, and stir until combined. If the mixture isn’t bound enough, add small amounts of greek yogurt and stir until you reach the consistency you desire. Portion into small containers for snacking size ( I like the Glad mini round ones), and pair with 4-6 water crackers for a healthy, tasty snack on the go!

 

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

Since I’m allergic to peanuts, there are limited protein-packed, healthy snacks that I can munch on during the day.  I was really excited to try this recipe, and I’m glad I did!  These roasted chickpeas SUPER delicious (and a healthy choice).  I added a little more garlic than the original recipe called for (because I love it), and I also thought adding some herbs might be a nice touch (maybe next time).DSC_0877

Garlic Parmesan Roasted Chickpeas

2 15 oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 T extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 t sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Spread chickpeas on paper towels (in layers) and let dry for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add cheese and stir until the oil is absorbed and you have a crumbly mixture. Add chickpeas and toss by hand to coat.DSC_0880

Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 45-55 minutes*, until golden and crispy.

*I cooked mine until they were pretty dark, because I wanted them really crunchy.  They reminded me of half-popped popcorn kernels, and they were delicious!

What’s your favorite healthy snack?  I’d love suggestions!

Recipe adapted from the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Clean Eating Magazine DSC_0910

 

Famous Chicken Noodle Soup

Famous Chicken Noodle Soup

Now, keep in mind… I’m no chef.  But since I get requests for my homemade chicken noodle soup pretty regularly (and I’ve probably made it once a week for the past 11 years), I’m going to refer to it as “famous” from this point forward.  It’s just down-home goodness.

Is it hard?  Not really.  Once you do it once or twice, you can do it once a week for the next 11 years too.  Seriously.  It’s simple, but since it’s homemade, it’s got that extra “love” that makes it extra delicious (or so  I like to believe).

First of all, this recipe does take some time, but it’s not really time in front of the stove or sink.  It’s just downtime.  I love to make this soup on Sundays, when I can get the recipe started, do a little laundry, tiny up my room, and get back to it a few hours later.  For a weeknight dinner, you can always prep the soup somewhat (by roasting the chicken the day/night before) to save time, but I believe it’s worth the wait (usually around 2.5-3 hours total).

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Ingredients:

1 whole fryer chicken

1-2 Wyler’s chicken boullion cubes (optional – if you’re making your own stock)

Equal parts celery, diced carrot, and celery (I fill a 4 cup container with all three, but you could do less if you want).  For me, it’s around 2 sticks of celery (sliced into half moons ’cause I like them that way and roughly chopped), 3-4 large carrots (peeled and chopped), and 1 medium onion (diced)

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

approximately 4-6 cups of chicken stock **note:  you can use either water + boullion cubes OR you can make your own stock, which is what I try to do (recipe below)

egg noodles (I use No Yolks because they have no cholesterol)

extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

parsley and/or celery leaves for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Place the whole fryer chicken in a large stockpot, along with enough water to cover half of the chicken and one chicken boullion cube (optional). ** Bake for approximately 1.5 hours, depending on the size of the chicken.  You’ll know it’s done when a) it starts to smell delicious and b) when the legs start to fall away from the body.

photo(35)**At this point you are going to make your own chicken stock, this is when you would start it.  If I’m adding a rotesserie chicken to the soup to save time (and not baking my own), I’ll at least use the chicken carcass to at least  flavor the stock.  Otherwise, I might use a chicken breast to help flavor it, along with one onion (quartered), a few carrots (sliced and roughly chopped into 2 inch sections), 3-4 cloves of garlic, some black peppercorns, dash of kosher salt, and 2 bay leaves.  Let these flavors simmer on the stovetop in a stockpot until the chicken is done, around 2 hours.

As the chicken is nearing completion (aka, smells really delicious), in a stockpot over high heat, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil and the minced garlic.  Once it’s nice and fragrant (about a minute or so), add in the diced onion, carrot, and celery.  Reduce heat to med-high and frequently stir the vegetables until the onions are translucent.   At this point, add in the chicken stock (if you’ve made your own, use a strainer to weed out the larger veggies, peppercorns and bay leaves.  If you haven’t, just add 4 cups of water with one chicken boullion cube).  While that is coming to a boil, debone the chicken and either chop it into bite sized pieces or shred the meat and add it to the pot.  Bring the entire soup to a boil, then add a handful or two of egg noodles.  Once they are done, according to package instructions (time-wise), I like to  add a little chopped parsley (or celery leaves) for garnish, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

I serve this soup with good old Saltine crackers, just because they’re the kind I grew up with, but it would also be good with artisan bread slices or in a homemade bread bowl.

photo(33)Is it delicious?  Yes, I can guarantee that.  Is it hard?  Maybe the first time, but not so much after afterwards.  I can almost promise you that once you get this one recipe down, you’ll be making it  forever.  And your family will request it often!  Good luck and happy cooking!

5 Items You Should Always Have in Your Fridge

5 Items You Should Always Have in Your Fridge

20130122-232708.jpgAs a single gal, I think having a few items in the fridge is crucial. At all times. Here are the top 5 necessities that I think you should have in your fridge at all times:

1. Champagne – If a celebratory situation arises, you simply MUST have Champagne on hand to toast! It might sit there for2 weeks or 2 years, but when the occasion arises, you’ll be glad it’s available (and already chilled)!

2. Eggs – Whether you need a snack or a meal, eggs offer the perfect option. No plans for dinner? An omlette makes for a chic and resourceful dinner option.  A boiled egg also makes for a great snack – packs a punch with protein and it’s easy to make!

3. Dijon Mustard- On a sandwich or used in homemade salad dressing, dijon mustard is a the perfect staple to have on hand.

4. Spinach – I love the versatility of spinach… it’s great for making a salad (as a main course), but it’s also great for wilting as an easy side dish. Cooked in a skillet over med-high heat for 3-5 minutes and drizzled with a little lemon and salt and pepper, it’s an addition to dinner that you can make in less than 5 minutes.

5. Soy Sauce – It’s great for adding a little zest to a last-minute stir fry or for livening up plain rice or noodles. Soy sauce is so versatile… and delicious!

Do you agree with my picks?  What other items do you think are a must-have?