Monday, July 30, 2012

Okra- Grilled and Sauteed

Are you guys loving Paulina's Cooking School? I had so much fun cooking with her and love that I have some healthy options for dinner with the family.

I love fried okra. Only fried okra. I hadn't ever known people cooked it in other ways. Just fried or slimy on the salad bar. Those were my options before cooking school. Because I like okra, Paulina offered me two healthier ways to cook fresh okra.

You can grill it! How easy is that! Just wash your fresh okra, drizzle it with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and place it on the grill with your meat. It will be done when there are grill marks on the outside, it was less than 10 minutes. Super easy to add when your steaks or chicken are cooking.

If you aren't grilling or want to add a little color to your plate, this dish was awesome! I'd call it Okra Succotash, a word I don't use often enough. Hehe!

Paulina's Okra Succotash

Chop the following veggies:

Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
Roma Tomatoes
Yellow Squash
One Pepper, jalapeno or habanero for spice, is optional

Saute onion, pepper, and garlic in a skillet until soft

Add okra and squash and 1/2 cup water

Place a lid on the skillet and allow to boil/steam for several minutes.

Here is the fun part.... okra has a slimy liquid inside. It is great for your skin, but it can be a little creepy for people to eat. Adding the water helps to pull out the slime from the okra while it cooks. To test that, pull out a piece of the okra from the skillet and check it with your hand or your tongue.

After the okra is done, add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve your succotash with a slotted spoon to leave the slimy water behind.

Enjoy your new okra dishes! Up next, delicious grilled fruit!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Kale Chips and Smoothies

When my friend Paulina and I got together to learn about cooking vegetables and kale, I didn't realize you could bake it and make kale chips! But, now I do, we did, and I would do it again :)

From the salad post, you'll remember there are different kinds of kale. She recommends the green kale on the right for salads and the dinosaur kale on the left for chips. 

The dinosaur kale is darker and is more narrow with long leaves. The green kale is more like lettuce. So, the picture above is the top of the dinosaur kale leaf and the picture below is the bottom. You don't want to eat too much of the thicker stem near the base of the leaves. We learned that during this process- it doesn't make the chip taste good and won't get to be crunchy like you would want.

To make kale chips, we tore the cleaned dinosaur kale up and in most cases ripped the leaves off the thick stems. Then you toss them with olive oil in a bowl. Lay them flat on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle your favorite seasoning mix on them- we used a brisket rub.

Bake them at 350 for about 7 minutes. They will darken and shrivel a little. When you pick them up, they will be stiffer than pre-cooking. The thinner pieces were the best- they have more crunch and grabbed the seasoning flavors better.

Kale chips are super easy and a great alternative to potato chips with a sandwich or burger.

We didn't have the ingredients to make kale smoothies, but Paulina recommends them. She has tried them numerous ways and thinks peaches, almond butter, kale and greek yogurt is best. Doesn't that sound good? Since kale really needs some seasoning to bring out the flavor, I have no doubt that you could throw it in your favorite smoothie mix and you would never know if was there!

Up next, let's talk okra! I had no idea it tasted good it is wasn't fried!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Massaged Kale Salad

When I met up with Paulina for cooking school I told her I wanted to know what kale is and how to eat it. I had heard so much about it, but I didn't know if it was green or purple, leafy or gourd-like. I was clueless!

So, I quickly learned that kale is not currently in season in Texas. It grows here in the fall, I think. But, our local Whole Foods store carries it so we stopped there on our way home. Kale is like lettuce, but way more beneficial to our bodies. It is low in calories and high in fiber. 

There are a variety of kinds- we bought dinosaur kale to make kale chips and green kale for our salad. More on the chips coming soon!

Because kale is so rich in fiber, it can be hard for our bodies to break it down, so it helps to break it up a little before eating it in raw form, like a salad. After washing the green kale, we placed it in a bowl with a little olive oil, the juice of a fresh squeezed lemon, and coarse sea salt. For about five minutes we tossed the salad, rubbing the liquids and salt into it. 

The kale will darken from the oils and becomes such a pretty shade of green. After you have massaged the leaves, you are ready to turn your bowl of kale into a yummy salad!

For our salad, we simply added fresh white peaches and toasted almonds. We also made a simple sweet homemade dressing from lemon juice, honey, olive oil and pepper. We let it all chill for about 30 minutes and dug in!

The salad might have been my favorite dish of the day. It was sweet and light and so nutritious. I ate a big bowl of it and I will not lie, I had a tummy ache later that day. I think my body was in shock to be eating something so rich in fiber! Super healthy kale!

Up next, kale chips and smoothies!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Eggplant Hummus

Our first installment of Paulina's cooking school (click here to learn more) is eggplant. When we arrived at the Farmer's Market on Saturday morning, there was a large eggplant in her CSA (the box of veggies they prepick for her each week). She traded it in for Japanese Eggplant. This form of eggplant is shaped more like a cucumber and cooks quicker than the larger gourd shaped eggplant. It is low in calories and super high in fiber and minerals.

We began with 3 or 4 japanese eggplant and after washing them, sliced them lengthwise. With the cut side up, we drizzled them with olive oil, sea salt and fresh pepper on a foil lined cookie sheet.

We then turned them over and did a little more oil.

After roasting them on 350 for about 25 mins, they began to look like sausage. They are done when the skin can easily be pinched off from the meat of the eggplant.

Using a spoon, separate the meat from the skin and place the meat into your food processor. It worked best to wedge the spoon at one end between the meat and skin and run it down the length of the eggplant.

Once in the food processor, add 1 clove garlic, a little olive oil and some salt. 

Blend away until it is the consistency you like. Taste it and add more seasonings if needed. If I were serving this at a party, I think it would be fun to add a little food coloring to make it more purple.

Serve with fresh tortilla chips and you'll have a healthy way to eat eggplant!

 Up next, the amazing world of kale!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Paulina's Cooking School

If you spend much time on the blog, you know that I love to bake. I am not the healthiest cook- I like casseroles, desserts, breads and sweet tea. But, I recognize as I get older that doesn't provide for my body like it once did. Every blog, Pinterest, and online cookbook is full of the yummy stuff, but I need the basics when it comes to vegetables. What is kale? What does it even look like much less how do you cook it?

Enter my friend Paulina who once posted "low fat equals chemical sh*t storm". She is a working wife who still finds time to eat well. I asked her if she would be willing to go veggie shopping with me and then teach me how to cook it all. She was, so we did!

We spent about 4 hours last Saturday at the Farmer's Market, Whole Foods, and her kitchen. She let me pick our veggies and she showed me what to do with them. It was fun, healthy, and educational.

Her and her husband are foodies. I love this huge print in their dining room!

So, for the next few weeks I am going to share with you. We'll talk kale, okra, squash, bell peppers, peaches, figs and more! I wouldn't say the blog is on a diet, but she is going to be healthy for the next few weeks. I hope you'll join me for Paulina's Cooking School.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Our Dates

I saw a vendor on Facebook selling art with the major dates of the couple's life. And for a moment, I thought to buy it and then realized how easy it could be made. So, I pulled out my fun fonts and made our dates for the bedroom dresser.

I just color printed it on white cardstock (always on hand for my printable obsession!) and tada!
Isn't it fun! This would make a great wedding shower gift. I love the story it tells.

I also learned that everything important in our lives seems to happen at the end of the month!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Favorite New Fonts

I have become a font downloading junkie! I love finding them on blogs, Pinterest, and font factory websites. Here are a few of my new favorites!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Abby's New Canvas

When I saw this canvas on Shannon's blog, I wanted to make one with Abby Lu. So, we grabbed a new canvas on our next trip to Hobby Lobby! I had lots of random stickers from my paper scrapbooking days. I put the stickers on the canvas, gave Abby two Ceramcoat paints to match her room and let her go to town!

Unfortunately, the strength and excitement of a 3 year old beat out the sticking ability of year old stickers and we ended up with a mess! Once I removed the stickers, I had part of words, missing letters, you name it!

So, I gave her a second round and let her paint over the white that remained when I peeled off the stickers. And, then I splurged (hehe!) and spent $3 on new stickers. I wish I had bought them in the first place!

We ended up with a great piece of art that she is so proud of! I sing this song to her and she calls it Momma's song. It just made sense to add it to her room.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Peach Pie Popsicles

I am loving trying out all the fun popsicle recipes online right now! For 4th of July lunch, we made a batch of Peach Pie Popsicles. Seriously, peaches and cinnamon together. It works!

Abby thought they were yummy and it led to a classic motherhood line, "Stop slapping your tongue with it". Those are words I never thought I would say!

Make your own batch and enjoy slapping your tongue too :)

Peach Pie Popsicles
1 Cup almond milk
1 Frozen banana, peeled chopped
2 Large peach, seeded diced
½ Teaspoon vanilla
1 Tablespoon agave
Pinch of cinnamon
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth or desired consistency. Pour into popsicle tray and freeze until set (3-6 hours) enjoy.
Thanks to I Eat Grass for the recipe!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Gift Wrap with Fabric Scraps

I have lots of fabric scraps from making Me and Lulu bracelets. So, I decided to use them recently as part of gift wrap! I bought 10 small craft bags for $4.99 at Hobby Lobby. I then grabbed about 10 matching scraps, ripped them into scraps and tied them onto the bag.

To make it more personal, I used remaining fabric to cut out the letter of the recipient's first name. I just draw a block letter (think junior high doodles!) and then cut it out. I used a black sharpies to make a dash outline giving the illusion that I had sewn it on. I then attached the letter with glue dots from my scrapbooking supply.

Beyond birthdays, I think this would be super cute with Christmas fabrics and cut out a cross, Christmas tree, angel, ornament, etc. You could have lots of fun decorating!