Friday, August 26, 2011

Turns out I can grow a garden after all!

I realized today that I have not added a gardening post since spring when my baby plants were stuck in the windowsill.  Since then, my husband has built me three magnificent raised beds and the produce has gone wild.

  • Radishes:  We have planted twice and eaten them up the moment they were ready.
  • Lettuce:  Had plenty the first time around.  They were supposed to be the cut and comeback variety, however, they did not come back so well.  Perhaps because of the heat.
  • Carrots:  Simply amazing
  • Onions:  Still growing, but we are using them already.
  • Peas:  They were awesome and we enjoyed them with homemade ranch dip.
  • Green Beans:  They are ready now and we cannot seem to pick and eat them fast enough.  May need the neighbors to help in eating them.
  • Squash:  So far we have harvested one and it was delicious.  Waiting for more.
  • Zucchini:  What can I say except WOW!  It is doing what zucchini does best....producing lots of zucchini.  May need more creative ideas for zucchini recipes.  
  • Tomatoes:  My poor poor maters.  I babied them and nurtured them along and all of the sudden when they went outside they got blight!  They are still producing tomatoes but the plants are pretty scary looking.  Need to figure out how to keep them in better shape next year. 
  • Strawberries:  We started out with 36 little strawberry plants and they have flourished and are spreading throughout the bed.  No berries this year, but should get a good crop next year.
I have loved everything about my garden.  The planning, planting, weeding, watering, and of course the harvesting.   The fact that it not only survived, but flourished makes me exceedingly happy. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Easy breezy lunch idea!

Once in a while I really get in a rut planning out meals, especially when trying to keep the meals in the anti-inflammatory range. A couple of days ago I was extremely tempted to go out to eat with my husband rather than coming up with a new idea.  As usual I opened the refrigerator door and stared at the contents.  I saw sweet peppers and two kinds of tortillas.  White flour tortillas for my husband and multi grain with flax tortillas for me.

Hmmmm.... the wheels began to turn.  I went out to my garden and picked a beautiful white onion and headed back into the kitchen. 

I chopped up the peppers and onion and placed them in a saucepan that was drizzled with some good ole anti-inflammatory olive oil.  Look how beautiful and fresh the colors are. 

After sauteing the peppers and onion I placed half of the mixture onto each tortilla.  Then I shredded a little bit of Dubliner cheese.  This is one of our favorite cheeses lately.  Well....honestly I just love cheese in general, but this one is what is in the refrigerator right now.  I lightly sprinkled a little cheese over the veggies and covered with another tortilla.  Then I pulled out one of my favorite kitchen tools......

....... and one at a time cooked the Veggie Quesadillas in there.  They turned out scrumptious!  

Veggie Quesadillas

1 onion, diced
4 sweet mini peppers, diced
1/4 cup shredded cheese (your favorite)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 small tortillas

Sautee the onion and peppers in a medium pan drizzled with olive oil over medium heat.  Stir occassionally and cook until tender.  Add the salt and mix together. 

Lay out two tortillas and place half of the mixture on each tortilla.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the veggies and cover with another tortilla.

Cook one quesadilla at a time by placing on a pannini maker that has been lightly coated with cooking spray.  Close the top down over the quesadilla and cook for about 2 minutes or until golden griddle marks appear on the quesadilla and the cheese is melted.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or my Sundried Tomato Hummus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Chicken Corden Bleu--The anti-inflammatory way!

Chicken is pretty much a staple around our house.  I can do grilled chicken on the outdoor grill more ways than you can imagine.  Thankfully, chicken is not horrible on the inflammation scale.  It has a very low rating and therefore I can enjoy it on a regular basis.  When you add to it the proper anti-inflammatory spices you instantly have a chicken breast that will help calm inflammation in your body.

The other day my husband asked me if I knew how to make Chicken Corden Bleu, which I do.  However, I wanted to make it anti-inflammatory.  I made a couple of adjustments to the typical way of making this dish and I am pleased to say that it was a success!  Since garlic and paprika are very anti-inflammatory I made a rub out of them and rubbed it into my chicken breast, both sides, after pounding out the meat.  I used canola oil to fry it in since that is an anti-inflammatory oil.  I also made sure to use a very low-fat cheese and to use it sparingly.  I served the chicken with sauteed zucchini fresh from our garden.  No need to miss out on delicious food while eating the anti-inflammatory way!  Give this a's delicious :)

Chicken Corden Bleu

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 slices of lean deli ham
2 slices of low-fat Swiss cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 egg whites

Place the chicken breasts on a large wooden cutting board and cover with saran wrap.  Use a meat mallet (or rolling pin) and pound the chicken until flattened to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Throw away the saran wrap. 

Mix together paprika, garlic powder, and salt.  Sprinkle over chicken breast and rub into both sides.   

Place one slice of ham and one slice of cheese on the rough side of the chicken breast.  Roll the breast up while keeping the ham and cheese in the middle.  Fasten by sticking a couple of toothpicks down through the chicken to hold together. 

Put the egg whites into a bowl and whisk with a fork until frothy.  Put the bread crumbs in another bowl.  Dip one chicken roll at a time into the egg whites first and then rolling in the bread crumbs, coating all sides. 

Place the rolled and coated chicken into a frying pan with hot canola oil over medium heat.  Fry for about 10 minutes per side, watching closely to keep from burning.  Turn down the heat a little if it is cooking too fast.  Test for doneness before serving. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

Taking grief into the kitchen

The last couple of weeks have been rough!  I have been grieving for two families who have each lost a son within the last year.  The most recent loss was just last week.  There are moments when I feel the air is actually being sucked from my lungs because I hurt so bad for them.  It has hit me really hard and my prayers are with them constantly.

I have been living with such a heavy heart, so in an attempt to just function, a few days ago I went out to my garden that I love so much and thinned out the rhubarb plant.  I cleaned the rhubarb and placed it on the kitchen counter where it stayed for 2 days.  (I never let anything sit on my counter for more than an hour). 

Yesterday I walked by and noticed the rhubarb in the kitchen.  It was beginning to get limp at the ends so I figured I better take action whether I felt like it or not.  I cleaned up the rhubarb again and set about making my husband the Rhubarb Sauce he loves so much. 

For me cooking is so therapeutic.  I was at peace in the kitchen and my breathing seemed to come a little easier.  I was even humming by the end of the project. 

Life is full of unexpected moments, both joyful and tragic.  Finding a way to be strong and keep moving forward is key.  I draw my strength from God, first and foremost.  He is always wise, always knowing, always there.  I am thankful that He has given me the ability to find peace and joy with something so simple as working in my beautiful kitchen :)