Thursday, February 26, 2015

Taking a Big Bite of Life (aka Biting Off More Than I Can Chew)

Well, the title says it all, doesn't it? LOL! I like to keep busy, it's just part of my personality, but this has somehow turned a corner into insanity. Oh well, who wants to be sane, anyway? ;-)

Currently, I'm doing a ton of recipe testing and tweaking - several days a week, my kitchen is my laboratory. When I'm working on a recipe, it's not just the ingredients and process I'm working out, I've got pen and paper for notes, and my computer for nutrition programming - I'm crunching numbers, along with herbs. So it takes a bit longer and more effort and attention. Which is fine - I love it.

In addition to the recipes, I work on my clients plans, the website, updating and tweaking, the newsletter (did you get yours today??), the special exclusives I include in said newsletter (this issue it was a full 7-day meal plan - 45 pages!!). There's travel - business, and personal (family). I have a ton (ok, there's 9) new cookbooks to go through and review, and 15 periodicals/magazines that also must be read and processed. There's the forum, this blog, the other blog - all of which I'm trying hard to improve my presence in. I have my Personal Training Course, which is slow going as I haven't blocked in stone my time to study (ugh). And there's general life... husband, kids, family. It's been busy. Which, again, is just how I like it.

However - in the midst of all this I've taken on a few more projects. One is learning about nutrition for healing and endurance for Chemotherapy patients. (random... did you know that if you can keep a patient properly fed, it'll reduce weight loss, thus increasing their chances of completing chemo on schedule by 80%? Tough to do when most patients struggle to choke down single bits or sips due to pain and/or lack of appetite).

The second project is actually a series of projects. I bought a sewing machine and serger. Back a million years ago, I sewed for hire, to feed my family. I'm not going to address the ex except to state that a new synthesizer or speaker is NOT more important than feeding your children. 'Nuff said. So, I worked at JoAnn's during the day and sewed through the nights. Costumes, wedding gowns, prom gowns, regular clothes, home dec stuff, crafts... I did a ton of it. So much, that when I came out to AZ, I put away those machines (which were later ruined in a move - and boy, was I mad!!), and swore never to sew in another zipper. EVER.

Fast forward to these days... I need window coverings, a window-seat cushion, and a ton of nursery items (for the future), as well as a line of cool aprons for Recipe For Fitness that I want to get done. So, after pricing stuff out for weeks, I realized it was stupid to hire out or buy what I needed when I have the skills to do it myself, the way I want it done.

So I bought the machines. And all the supplies for the window seat. And several patterns for other stuff. Now I am staring at my office with all this stuff staring back at me, and realizing that I need to get the desk no one uses out of that room, and replace it with a crafting table and storage cabinet. So.. yet another task added to my list.

What was I thinking??? Oh, and I need to get all our tax stuff together in a reasonable order, then over to our tax guy.

Oh!! And I have to go to the grocery store - we need general supplies, plus I have another recipe to test tonight. OMG. I think I'm going to go sit out on the patio (it's a beautiful 71 degrees!) and suck my thumb. Or have a big drink. Is it too early for wine?
Nope, Betty say's it's not to early, as long as I keep it to one glass. No problem, I'll use hers. ;-)

So... what do you all do when you've bitten off more than you can chew? How do you organize your time and priorities? What are your challenges? Your greatest tricks to keep it all together? SHARE!!! ;-)

Happy Thursday, folks!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Fajitas!!!

Have I got a treat for you!!! Fajitas!!!! Yummy, Filling, Mouthwatering, and HEALTHY Fajitas!! These are so good, so easy that you should make more than you need so you have leftovers! ;-) PLUS, I'm sharing my own recipe for Pico de gallo that ROCKS!!!

Here's all you need to whip up this amazing fajita feast!

  • meat of choice (I used beef and chicken) - about 6-8 oz per person
  • 1 packet Mrs Dash Fajita Seasoning
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1-2 yellow peppers (or whatever color you like, I just don't like the green ones)
  • 2-3 red onions
  • olive oil
  • fresh oregano (dried if you don't have access to fresh)
  • sea-salt
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 jalepeno, fresh
  • bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 a lime (use the other half on your finished fajitas)
  • Tortillas, if you must ;-)

Now, head on over to my other blog to put together this amazing meal :-) Why is it posted over there? Well, remember, the new blog is my more snarky side - and the experience of making this meal... well, there was some snark involved. ;-)
http://sarcastabitchkitchen.com/2015/02/17/dose-snark-fajitas/


Monday, February 16, 2015

Survey Time!!! Speak up and be heard!!

It couldn't be easier - just a few multiple-choice questions. See? EASY!! ;-)


Monday, February 9, 2015

Weekend in Review... Tombstone

Anybody do anything fun for the weekend? The hubby and I took off... ran away, though not far. We've lived in Arizona for almost 15 years, and have never been to Tombstone. I know - heresy, right?! Especially when you consider this... I'm related to the Earp Family on both my Mom and Dad's sides. Lots of rich family history there - fascinating, all of it, but still I've neglected to do the deed and visit Tombstone. And it's only 3 hours away.

What makes it even worse, is that when I worked at my previous job, one of the projects we were marketing (I did all the websites and marketing stuff for a large real estate company), was the Earp land finally being available to sell. I built their website (the initial one), did their marketing materials, and was generally swimming in Tombstone lore for 2 years. Still never visited.

Well, we finally went. Friday we packed up and headed out. We drove through Tombstone and on to Bisbee where we toured the copper mine - it was really neat!

Being me, though, I did not leave unscathed. We donned our protective gear, including a handy hardhat. We were instructed to board the train-thingy, where I promptly knocked myself silly on the overhead beam. The guide saw this, made sure I was ok, then said for the benefit of the 20 other tourists, "And this is why we wear hardhats". Gee, thanks. Lol.
See that board on top of the train?
That's what I whapped myself on.
Bisbee AZ
The tour was great, very informative and a lot of fun. From there, we swiftly got lost on our way to the hotel, The Copper Queen. Tiny, tiny, TINY streets that are not on a grid. We eventually found our way, and can I just say that parking is a challenge in Bisbee?? Lol! We checked in, then headed out to explore, where we discovered that the whole town shuts down at 5pm. Yep. Everything but the bars and restaurants. That was... disconcerting.

The restaurant at the Copper Queen was fabulous - I enjoyed a tasty grilled chicken breast over spaghetti with their truly spectacular marinara and asiago cheese. Serious yummage there! Bill had the spaghetti and meatballs - the meat just melts in your mouth! We highly recommend eating there if you visit!

Alas, we encountered none of the resident ghosts, and the next morning, packed up and headed to Tombstone. Our first stop was the Western Heritage Museum - what a GREAT place!!! Along with an abundance of Earp, local and outlaw info, I learned about WAVES - an all female Navy program during World War II. It was fascinating! Why isn't there a movie about those gals??

Another fascinating tidbit... there is no grocery store near/around Tombstone. Nope. Not one. And no one carries Aleve. Oy! Yes, I had a raging headache from my encounter with the crossbeam from the mine tour. Lol. Actually, the impact was so hard that my neck and shoulders ached - this led to an inflammation chain reaction - less than 12 hours after it happened, every joint was on fire. Fabulous. We finally found Aleve tablets at a gas station. Ahhhh, a modicum of relief!



We toured the town, visited the Bird Cage (again, the ghosts were MIA), shopped, ate Buffalo at the OK Cafe, toured, retraced the steps of the big shootout at the OK Corral, and just generally had a great time. Oh, and I did get to see my work still on display at the SilverStone Ranches storefront on the main street. ;-) We also headed out of town to visit Gleeson - another ghost town. Recently someone had purchased the old Jail and turned it into a museum. While we were wandering through, the owner popped in and we had a great chat with him about the area, and his family (his dad had owned the Mercantile across the street from the jail, and he'd grown up in Gleeson!). It was neat! 

 

Back in Tombstone, we had a drink at Big Nose Kate's, then headed over to The Longhorn for some dinner. Sunday we packed up and headed back home. While we didn't get to see any gunfights in the street (evidently they now save that for Western Days), it was a terrific getaway and a lot of fun.

I'd like to go back sometime with all the kids (and my folks, so Mom can give me the inside family scoop while we tour, lol) during their Western Days or Helldorado events. That'd be a blast!

Have you ever been to Tombstone? Was it what you expected? Did you like it? See any ghosts? ;-)

Now back home, I've been working on catching up, laundry, recipes... all the usual, lol.
 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Superbowl Recap (the food, I mean)

By now we all now which way the game went. Frankly, I couldn't care less - I watch for the commercials ;-) You may or may not have already been witness to my vent about the hullabaloo over a certain commercial (if not, you can read it here). This year's commercials were a bit... odd. Did you think so? A lot of dark, sad stuff. Anyway, moving on to the FOOD!

I spent quite a bit of time planning out this year's party eats... I wanted to be free to enjoy the day (and the food), so it had to be self-serve, healthy, and have a long counter-life, lol. Enter the Nacho Bar! Wooohoo! I'd seen quite a few nacho bar ideas on Pinterest lately, and had a LOT of fun building my own. Even Dex got in on it!

The day before the big game, I precooked the taco meat and the chili meat, shredded the cheeses, and made the cheesecake (my once a year treat).

Sunday morning, I chopped the veggies, started the crockpots, set stuff up and was a little shocked to find myself done! It was so easy!

Here you can see my crockpots - one had bison chili, the 3-top had bison taco meat (ground bison browned with Mrs Dash Taco Seasoning), refried beans and shredded chicken, and the last one kept our real nacho cheese sauce (recipe below) warm all day.

Here's what the table looked like with all the toppings in place...


Fun, right? I had a tray of lettuce, one of shredded cabbage, then all the veggie fixings. Filling, tasty, healthy. BOOM. Mission accomplished. It was actually kinda funny - one of our friends said late in the day, "Chelle, I'm really glad you didn't decide to do something healthy for the food... this is fantastic!"

Bwahahaha.

Here's the lineup...
bison taco meat, shredded chicken, and bison chili were the protein stars, then I had sliced mini peppers, Tostito's scoops (for the kids), and Tostito's Natural Corn Chips. Toppings included clean sour cream (no crap fillers or chemicals), plain greek yogurt (I use that instead of sour cream - same flavor but more protein), 3 different salsas, hot sauces, sliced olives, green onion, red onion, tomatoes, black beans, corn, cilantro, guacamole (clean - just avocado, onion and spices), limes, refried beans, shredded sharp cheddar & pepper jack, and homemade nacho cheese sauce.

In addition, I whipped up a new recipe from Pinterest - Beer candied bacon. It went so fast that I didn't even get to taste it! LOL!

Beer Candied Bacon
by Tide and Thyme

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. thick cut bacon (I used applewood smoked, uncured bacon)
1/2 cup brown sugar (I used Wholesome Sweeteners Fair Trade Organic Dark Brown Sugar )
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp dark beer (I used this )

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 F, then mix together brown sugar and beer until it forms a thin syrup.
Now line a baking sheet with foil, place a wire cooling rack on top - lay the slices of bacon over the rack, overlapping a bit if necessary.
Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and brush your syrup over the tops of the strips, then flip them over and brush the other side.
Return to oven and repeat process every 5-10 minutes, until the bacon is crispy and browned.
Cool on the wire rack for at least an hour before serving.

It's all about the beer on this one... I would imagine Guiness would be an excellent choice, though I went with a coffee-flavored stout I found at Whole Foods in the single-bottle area. I hear the final result was phenomenal, I'll have to make it again sometime so I can try it, lol.

The other big star recipe was the Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce. OMG! I don't think I've ever had a real nacho sauce - just the canned crap or the velveeeta stuff. I really wanted to do a clean and whole-food one, but have always been a little afraid to try - cheese is so touchy when you cook with it. Well, over on Fifteen Spatulas, I found this gem of a recipe and it was incredible! It only took 10 minutes to cook!!!! I made 2 batches, poured them into my dip crockpot, and by the end of the game it was all GONE! Everyone raved over it.

You can easily switch it up by changing what cheeses you use, I went with a simple sharp aged cheddar, but you could do pepper jack, smoked gouda and sharp cheddar, gruyere... lots of options. The key is to buy your cheese in block form (mine was only $3 for 8 oz at Albertsons), and shred it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese has stuff in it to keep it from clumping - that'll inhibit the creamy melty'ness you're going for here.

I used my trusty cast iron, and was amazed at how quick it came together!

It's almost done! Whew, that was FAST!!!
Homemade Nacho Cheese Sauce
by Fifteen Spatulas

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp flour (I used King Arthur All Purpose Unbleached Flour )
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp sea-salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS
Melt the butter in a medium size skillet over medium flame. Once the butter is melted add the flour. Whisk until it combines into a smooth blond paste and starts to bubble around the edges.

Add the milk to the skillet and continue whisking. Once the milk is incorporated, raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once the milk has reached a boil, quickly lower the heat and reduce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly.

Add the cayenne pepper and salt and whisk to combine.

Add the cheese and gently stir, allowing the cheese to melt. When the cheese is completely melted and the mixture smooth in consistency, the nacho cheese sauce is ready to serve. Enjoy immediately, as the sauce will get firm as it sits.

Fifteen Spatulas has a photo step-by-step on their site here. And again - this is so easy and so incredibly tasty!!

And then of course, there was the Cheesecake. This is the cheesecake that I make once a year. It takes 2-3 days to put it together and set properly. It takes a lot of time in the kitchen. It includes a whole lotta sugar. Lol. This is a serious treat, hence the once a year aspect. In fact, I've got over a half of it left in the fridge and no one has touched it - I think we're all still in a sugar coma from the sliver we each had on Sunday. Yeah, it's that rich. What is that beast? It's a White chocolate, raspberry, sour cream, fudge cheesecake. Even typing that out gives me a sugar rush, hahaha! And in case you're wondering... nope, not gonna share the recipe. It's my secret. At least for now ;-)

So... that was our Superbowl Yum-Fest. What was yours like?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Ah, NUTS!! Yummy Seed & Nut Crackers Recipe!

photo:  https://nuts.com/nuts/almonds/flour.html 
My family and friends will be quick to tell you - I'm a little nuts ;-) And, well, that's true. BUT I'm also nuts about nuts and seeds! There are so many varieties, textures, tastes - and they all pack a nutritional punch that you can, haha, go nuts over! ;-) See what I did there? Yeah, I made you as nuts as me! Ha! But seriously - seeds and nuts are chock full of antioxidants, healthy fats, protein, and have the added benefit of helping you feel "full" - which is super beneficial when you're working to reach weight goals!

This recipe is my go-to for a healthy snack. It's quick and easy to whip up, you can customize it however you like (see the notes below), and... it's even competition diet friendly! So bake up a batch today and join me in the nuthouse! ;-) Also, if you're looking for more great nut options, check out Nuts.com! They've got a whole page just of Almond products! YUMMY!

Gluten Free RecipeNut and Seed Crackers

"This recipe is my go-to for a healthy snack. It's quick and easy to whip up, you can customize it however you like (see the notes below), and... it's even competition diet friendly! So bake up a batch today and go nuts!!"
Gluten Free Nut and Seed Crackers
Makes 12 crackers
Prep Time:
Cook Time:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups seeds (My mix typically contains flaxseed, hemp seed, raw pepitas, raw sesame seeds)
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp sea-salt
  • *optional - seasonings of choice (see tips below)

 

Directions

  1. Mix together all seeds, flour, seasonings (if using) and sea-salt.
  2. Add water and mix well.
  3. Spread over baking sheet (greased). I wiggle the sheet to spread out the mixture evenly.
  4. Bake 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
  5. Cut into 12 pieces, then reduce heat and bake at 300 for 30-45 minutes. Check crackers often to be sure they're not burning.
  6. Allow to cool completely.
  7. Store in container or baggie.


Nutritional Information

Amount Per Cracker  Calories: 137 | Total Protein: 6 g | Total Carbohydrate: 4 g (net carbs: 1 g) | Total Fat: 11 g | Total Fiber: 3 g | Total Sodium: 12 mg

TIPS:
*Seasonings - Make 'em savory or sweet! Add onion powder, garlic and rosemary. Or try a little honey and cinnamon! Experiment!
*Spread them with cream cheese (or if you're dairy free, try Daiya brand spreads!). A refreshing dip is a container of Daiya (or cream cheese) Onion & Herb spread mixed with 2 shredded cucumbers (peeled), 1 Tbsp GF Worcestershire sauce, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, and 1/2 tsp garlic salt. YUM!