My Prayer

I sing and rock my little girl to sleep most nights. I usually have to make up my own songs because I am so bad at remembering lyrics. So tonight I sang to her my prayer for her. I pray, every word I pray will be true. It is always tough trying to raise a child in a Christian household, especially in today’s world. I never feel as if I am doing enough to set a good example for her, but every night I pray the same prayer for her. And every night I mean every word. I am by no means a professional, so don’t judge on quality. I know it is a very simple song, but it means everything to me as a mother.

~3 Minute Salsa~

We usually end up having a form of tacos or some Mexican or Cuban dish every week. After many trials and taste tests, I finally came up with a winning combination of flavors.

Andrew and I will sit down to watch a movie, and instead of popcorn, I will get chips (yes I know that is the unhealthy part)  and homemade salsa and eat the entire jar during the movie! But, you know? I don’t feel badly about doing that. I would much rather my family eat salsa instead of ice cream or cookies, etc. Don’t get me wrong, on occasion we will eat those items and love it, but when we have probably 2 movie nights a week in the winter, I much prefer us to eat salsa.

Anyhow, we eat this salsa, weather it be for a snack, or with our Mexican or Cuban meals every week.

The best thing about this salsa (besides it being so tasty and no preservatives) is it takes only about 3 minutes to make! and it makes almost an entire quart [4cups]! Can it get any better than that? =)

So here it is:

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You will need, a 28 oz can of tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, onion, garlic (or garlic powder), lemon juice, and jalapenos.

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In a food processor, dump can of tomatoes, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp sugar, about 1/2 Tbs minced garlic (or you can do 1 tsp garlic powder), 3 tsp lemon juice, and a half of a medium onion. Blend very well.

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Now that you have blended it very well, add your spice! Most of the time, like this time, I don’t make it too hot. Which equals out to be about 6 slices of pickled jalapenos, but we do LOVE hot things so sometimes I will put about 10 slices or more in. All depend on your taste.

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And then you have your product! Simple, quick, easy, and delicious!

~3 Minute Salsa~

Makes about 1 quart [4 cups]

Ingredients:

–          1, 28oz can of tomatoes

–          2 tsp salt

–          ½ tsp pepper

–          1 tsp sugar

–          3 tsp lemon juice

–          ½ medium onion

–          ½ Tbs minced garlic OR 1tsp garlic powder

–          Jalapenos to taste

Directions:

Add all ingredients except for jalapenos in a blender and blend well. Taste to make sure seasoned enough, then add jalapenos and blend to taste.

~Cucumber Tortilla Snack~

Snack time is a wonderful event in our household. We love to eat healthy, yummy snacks for our “in-between” meals. We experiment with different options, from hummus and peppers, to simple fruit salad, cheese sticks (a.k.a. chopped cheese of our choice), or we make sweet potato chips. We do simple stuff like that, but this is one snack we repeat often: Cucumber Tortillas! Oh they are so good!

A side note before I delve into it. I usually use neufchatel (a low fat cream cheese), and I would have like to use a reduced fat or low fat ranch, BUT we are a little low on groceries of that nature and I had to use what I found in the very back of the fridge 😉 We are in the middle of an ice storm and there is no way on this earth that I am dragging myself and my 10month old out in it!

With that stated, here we go:

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What you need is an 8oz box of softened cream cheese, about 3 Tbs of ranch dressing, 1- 1 1/2 Tbs of Dill (I like

fresh dill, but we were out), sliced cucumber, and your choice of tortillas.

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Mix the softened cream cheese, ranch, and dill.

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Take a spoon and spread a thin layer of the dill mixture all over your tortilla.

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Place your cucumber down the center. (I was making this one for my daughter. Usually I leave them as circle slices)

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Couldn’t resist! My baby girl LOVES feeling independent while eating. This is an easy snack for her to pick up and chew and a fairly healthy one too. Granted it is not a tidy snack in the least bit, but then again what are bath tubs, vacuum cleaners and mops for anyway?

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Here is how we adults eat ours =) Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

–          8oz package of cream cheese, softened

–          3 Tbs of ranch dressing

–          1 to 1 ½ Tbs of dill (depending on your taste)

–          Sliced cucumber

–          Tortilla shells

Directions:

Mix together cream cheese, ranch, and dill. Spoon mixture onto a tortilla and spread a thin layer all over the shell. Lay your cucumber down the center. Fold tortilla. Enjoy!

Spicy (or not) Tomato Sauce for everything!

Andrew and I decided to tackle a completely Whole Foods diet. Even while we were dating we knew we wanted to have a “Mediterranean” diet, so once we got married, we eat ourselves into a box. We didn’t know what a Mediterranean diet consisted of besides olive oil, salt, fish, and grains. Yes, that is what we think of when we say Mediterranean, but that isn’t all of it.

Just last month we were talking to Andrew’s parents, they told us they had watched Forks Over Knives (it is on Netflix), and gotten on board with eating Whole Foods. We watched it and a light bulb came on. Oh! That is what we wanted, not just a Mediterranean diet. We began cooking a whole foods way after that, and it was so much easier to think of meals and to search the internet to find them!

Anyway, I was trying to think of something to fix my hubby for lunch the next day. We hadn’t gone to the grocery store in quite a while, and had almost nothing. All I had were onions, garlic, mushrooms, canned tomatoes, some cooking red wine, spices galore, and pasta. Okay, I can work with that. I got out my sauce pan and proceeded to saute the onion in olive oil, then added mushrooms and red wine. After that I cracked open the can of tomatoes and added in some crushed red pepper flakes.

It looked a bit watery to me, so I figured I would let it cook down some. So after about 15 minutes it began to look more like a sauce to me so I added some salt, pepper and basil. It tasted sooo yummy! but it was really chunky for a marinara sauce.  So, I put it in the food processor, and it turned out perfectly!

Now, we like spicy food, but I know not all people like it as spicy as we do, but that is such an easy fix. Just don’t add as much crushed red pepper!

Recipe with Pics:

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Ingredients: 2 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 1/2 Tbs Minced Garlic (or 5-6 pressed garlic cloves), 1 sliced med-small onion, about 7 mushrooms or equivalent of sliced, 3 Tbs Red wine, 1 can 28 oz petite small tomoatoes, 1/4 to 1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper (1/4 being mild, 1 tsp being spicy hot), 1 Tbs dried Basil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper

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Saute the garlic in the olive oil.

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Add the sliced onion and cook until almost caramelized

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Add mushrooms and red wine and cook completely

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Add the tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Remember, 1/4 tsp is very mild (no runny noses), and 1 tsp is very spicy (runny nose).

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Stir, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remember to stir occasionally!

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After it has simmered, remove from heat and add basil, salt and pepper.

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Now here is where you decide. You may either leave it chunky and serve it over pasta or whatever you can think of, or you can do as I did here and puree it. This batch I was making into a pizza sauce, so we didn’t want it to be chunky.

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Here is a link to the pizza I make with this: Pizza Time!

This recipe is Whole Food, Vegan, and Gluten Free!

We put it on spaghetti, pita pizzas, sandwiches…okay, we just put it on everything. It is so yummy and versatile!

Ingredients:
1. 2 Tbs Olive Oil
2. 5-6 cloves of pressed garlic
3. 1 medium-small onion
4. about 7 mushrooms
5. 3 Tbs Red cooking Wine
6. 28oz can of tomatoes (or equivalent of fresh tomatoes, I just didn’t have fresh on hand)
7. 1 tsp crushed red pepper (for a very mild spice only add 1/4 tsp)
7. 1 Tbs dried basil
8. 1 tsp salt
9. 1/2 tsp pepper
Directions:
In a sauce pan, pour olive oil and saute garlic. Chop the onion and put in pan and cook until almost caramelized. Once onions have cooked down a bit, add sliced mushrooms and the red cooking wine. Cook this until mushrooms are fully cooked. Add tomatoes and red pepper. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for 15mins. Add basil, salt and pepper. Pour into a food processor and puree, or you can leave chunky if you desire.

~Nothin’ Better than Homemade Crusty Bread~

I LOVE bread in just about any form. I am a carbohydrate junky! But since we switched to a whole food diet, I realized that a lot of breads were not as they appeared. My momma would make bread on occasions growing up, and I could eat an entire loaf by myself! (will have to get her recipe and post it here too)

Now, as a married woman and mother, I decided that I want to make my own bread again. That way I know what is going in it and I can make sure all the nutrients are there and haven’t been bleached out. I was looking at Pinterest for some bread recipes, and stumbled upon an AMAZING recipe that is so simple but so good!

And you want to know what? There are only FOUR ingredients in it! Crazy, I know: yeast, water, salt, flour. That is all! Here is the link to where I got it, but I modified it (a.k.a. halved it and made it into a loaf) to make it work for my family.

Here we go…

IMG_0545List of ingredients: 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water, 3/4 Tbs active dry yeast, 3/4 Tbs salt, 3 1/4 cup unbleached bread flour (or unbleached all-purpose flour).

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Mix water, salt, yeast together in a mixing bowl and let set for about 20 minutes.

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You can do this by hand, but my lovely sister bought me this KitchenAid mixer, in my favorite color, and so I mix the bread in it =)

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After the initial 20 minutes, add the flour.

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Mix just until wet (so no dry ingredients visible). I usually have to add just a little bit of water to get it to a dough consistency.

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Now cover the bowl in plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours.

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This is what it will look like after two hours.

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Grease a bread baking dish and set aside.

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 Flour your hands and pick up the dough and form into an oval bread shape (Haven’t a clue what else to call it). Don’t kneed it, just form into shape then place into greased pan.

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Allow to rise for another hour. 45 minutes into rising, make your slashes in the top.
About 1/4 inch deep.

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Also, 45 minutes into the rising, place a metal lipped pan into the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.

(Can’t really take a picture of this part) After it has risen for an hour, place into oven. Take a cup of hot water, pour into metal lipped pan in the oven and close the door very quickly. This traps the steam in the oven and allows the bread to have a nice steam bath. Bake for 30 minutes.

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Here you go! Delicious bread that is perfect for sandwiches or just plain butter, jam, apple butter, etc. It is AMAZING! My hubby, loves it too and takes at least a slice to work every day no matter if he is having a sandwich or not.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Breakfast Cream Smoothie

Andrew isn’t much of a breakfast eater, and I get tired of the whole cereal rout. Typically, Andrew doesn’t even eat breakfast, but then he is STARVING by around 10am, so he eats his lunch. Well, that is okay, but then he has no lunch to eat and has to work until 5, then commute 40mins home. He is one starving boy by that time.

So, I had a dilemma: how to keep Andrew from starving so he doesn’t eat everything and leave nothing for dinner when he gets home.

Duh! A smoothie! Andrew and I both love fruit, and always loved going to Smoothie King on our college campus when we could afford it. It is light, healthy, and fits right in with our whole foods diet.

There are MANY variations of smoothies, and it is honestly just a “whatever you feel like” kind of dish, but here is one the both of us love. On the plus side, even though it tastes creamy, it’s dairy free! (at least the way I make it).

What you need:

I use Almond milk, as a personal preference, but it does have more calcium than milk and is easier to digest!

I use Almond milk, as a personal preference, but it does have more calcium than milk and is easier to digest!

For this smoothie, I use 1 mango, about 2 handfuls of cut up strawberries, I only use half a banana, and about 1/2 cup almond milk (or regular milk if you wish). I personally don’t put any sugar in it, but if I were I would probably put 1-2Tbs depending on how sweet you want it.

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Cut up the mango, and strawberries (the night before) and place them in a freezer baggie. Put them in the freezer and you are good to go until the morning!

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Before you have to go to work, school, etc. Take the mango and strawberries out of the freezer and place them in the blender/food processor (it would probably be easier if I had a blender since that is what they do, but I don’t so I make it work). You will have to break up the mango and strawberries by hand to make it easier on the blender.

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Next add the banana. Why I usually only do half a banana, in my opinion, it can usually over power the rest of the fruits. By only putting in half, you still taste it, but it isn’t only a banana smoothie with sub-fruits! IMG_0506

Next, add in the almond milk. I would start with half a cup and then add more to get the texture you desire.IMG_0510Then you are done! Serve and be happy and healthy! This makes approximately ‘3’ cup servings so about 24oz.

This is great for even babies (over 9 months considering the almond milk, also be careful because strawberries can be a serious allergen). Our daughter loves these. Especially when she is teething. The cold feels good on her gums!

Servings: Approximately 3 8oz servings
Calories per Serving:
about 75.5

Ingredients:

~ 1 mango, sliced, peeled, pitted
~ 2-3 handfuls of sliced strawberries
~ 1-2 Tbs sugar (optional)
~ ½ Banana
~ ½ cup to 1 cup Almond Vanilla Unsweetened Milk

 

Directions:

Night before, prepare mango and strawberries and place them in a freezer bag then into the freezer. In the morning, take out the frozen fruit, break apart with hands and place into the blender. Add banana, and ½ cup almond milk (and sugar if desired) and blend until smooth. Add almond milk until desired consistency.

New Year, New Life

Beginning in December of 2012, my hubby, Andrew, and I decided that 2013 was going to be our new “beginning.” We were going to improve our selves totally, mind, body, soul, and wallet; and so far we have been doing well, all 12 days of 2013. I will explain how we are improving ourselves.

Mind:

This year we are being happier, and we are trying to communicate better. Having an almost 10 month old is one of the best things in the world, but it can be a bit stressful especially when that little one doesn’t want to sleep! So, we are going to bed earlier, and sleeping when our little one sleeps, which helps improve everyone’s moods.

Body:

We are exercising almost every day. Andrew plays basketball while he is on his lunch break or does weights in the gym at work. I usually put Caroline, our baby, in the stroller and walk to our complex’s gym and run a mile and do light weights, or if it isn’t nice outside, I do Blogilates and some basic exercises with my baby girl, who thinks it is the most fun! We also changed how we eat. We have always been “good” eaters, but this year we switched to eating Whole Foods. It is crazy at how much more energy we have had already with the combination of exercise and eating whole foods.

Soul:

God never forgets anyone no matter how far away his children have strayed. This year we have decided to get back to being close with God. My mother-in-law gave us a book, Experiencing God (by Henry and Richard Blackaby, and Claude V. King), which allows us to just take 15mins to a half an hour a day for a daily devotion, then we pray afterwards about things going on in our lives, or others who have asked for prayer. Our main goal is to listen to God, and do as He wishes us instead of doing what we, as humans, want to do. That is NOT an easy task for sure! but we are committed!

Wallet:

Finally, wallet. Andrew and I have always been savers, and thankfully we made it through college without taking any loans or having any debt in general, for that we are both very thankful. When we got married, we decided to read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover which Andrew had already read and I knew a little about. Once we had read it together, that was the beginning of us becoming “one” in our married relationship. We got through the first few baby steps and now we are on to saving for a house! So that is how we are improving ourselves financially this year, so that we can hopefully, within a year, buy a house. We have decided to put the money we want to save away at the beginning of the month instead of waiting until the month’s end to put what we have left into saving. This puts a bit more pressure on the savings aspect. I think of saving money on groceries and other items like a game. I see what coupons I can use and see what deals are going on. That is how I view it.

As I post (or sometimes my hubby when he wants to), I will update on how we are doing, and post recipes that I sometimes create, or crochet projects, or other crafting projects, etc. You will never know what I might just post!