Eating Healthy And Paying Too Much?

Face it, sometimes, eating healthy can up the grocery bill a bit. I notice that these days there are more vegetables than carbs and meat when we check out at the grocery store and we have grown to enjoy the meals that transpire from healthy shopping.

One item I’ve been wanting to try but couldn’t bring myself to put out the cost for has been Kale chips. I’ve seen small bags going for three to five dollars for a handful of the stuff. I’m one of those people who like to solve problems, however, so did some research and discovered that crispy, toasty Kale is easy enough done in the oven. Simple recipe! Clean and pat dry a bunch of Kale and pull the leaves from the woody stems. Toss the stems and tear the Kale leaves into smaller pieces. Put in a large bowl and put in a bit of olive oil – just enough to put a light shine on both sides of the leaves. You soak it in oil, you add calories IF you can eat the soggy results!

One you have your Kale LIGHTLY shining with good olive oil, add a tiny bit of salt, pepper to taste, whatever herbs and spices you have and like in the cupboard and toss to coat evenly. I also like to add a few good shakes of nutritional yeast to the mix.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the Kale. In a 350-degree preheated oven, bake the Kale for approximately eight minutes or until they are crisp to the touch.

Let the Kale cool a minute and enjoy. We often make a batch for a dinner vegetable. It isn’t much trouble to make for a snack for the children either once you get the process down and second nature to you. And, when you see how much Kale you can make vs. the few shreds you get in a bag at the health store, you would gladly pat yourself on the back . . . if you weren’t already busy eating free Kale chips.

Easy Cream of Mushroom Soup

Every time we get just a bit of cool weather in California, I start wanting warm, comfort food and Cream of Mushroom Soup is usually at the top of the list. A side of cheesy garlic bread and a bowl of hot soup is perfect for a cool California evening . . . You know, when the temperature dips all the way down to, maybe, 65 degrees!

Easy Cream of Mushroom Soup
1½ pounds firm white mushrooms, cleaned
1 medium lemon
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 Tablespoon minced shallots
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
Dash of chili flakes
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Cups heavy cream
2 Cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 teaspoon of water
1 Tablespoon minced parsley
Sprinkle the mushrooms with lemon juice. In a food processor, coarsely chop them. Melt the butter in a heavy sauce pan and lightly sauté the shallots. Add the mushrooms, thyme, chili flakes, and bay leaf and sauté over moderate heat for 20 minutes, or until the liquid disappears. Add the salt, pepper, cream, add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the cornstarch to the soup and continue to simmer 10 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Burnt Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Burnt Butter Banana Oatmeal Cookies

A favorite around our house is most any kind of oatmeal cookie. The only argument is whether to add raisins or not. This recipe always comes to mind when I notice the bananas aging rapidly on the kitchen counter.

1 cup softened butter (2 sticks)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed, dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 cup very ripe, mashed bananas
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal*
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup chopped walnuts
½ cup mini-chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking pans with parchment paper or use vegetable oil spray.

Cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, and eggs. Mixture should be well-combined. Add bananas, vanilla, orange zest, ground cinnamon oats, flour, and baking powder. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop teaspoonfuls (a cookie scoop comes in handy about now!) onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies set a few minutes before removing to cooling rack. You will get 3-4 dozen cookies depending on the size.

California Cowboy Cookies

Did I ever mention that I love oatmeal cookies of most any kind? That might explain why I always seem to have another oatmeal cookie recipe to post.

California Cowboy Cookies

This is a fun cookie and is open to most any change you’d like to make to it. If you like to make it more spicy, cinnamon works here. You can use any flavor of chocolate chips you prefer. I like walnuts but if I have pecans on hand, you will find that change in my cookie.

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup white baking chips
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Blend the dry ingredients together and set aside. Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, extract, and zest. Mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Stir in baking chips and walnuts.

Form dough into 1/4 cup balls. Place on greased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Flatten to approximately 3-inch rounds. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies are lightly golden and browned around the edges. Cool on wire racks. Makes about 30 cookies, depending on size.

Gluten-free at your house, too? King Arthur’s Cup for Cup Gluten-Free Flour Blend works well here, too, as does BetterBatter Flour Blend.

 

Easy Side Dish

Ever have those days when dinner is coming together except for what kind of potato dish would be easy, taste great, and be quick to do? My favorite choice are ‘smashed’ potatoes.  The recipe is easy: Purchase small potatoes, either red or white is fine. Boil them in heavily salted water until JUST tender. Let them cool so you can handle them easily. Now, take a cup or small dish and press down to ‘smash’ them until they are still about a half inch thick but with lots of cracks.  Heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan and place the potatoes in, one deep, and fry until they are brown and golden. Turn them over, season with some salt and pepper and finish off the other side to the same  buttery brown. Serve.

As for seasoning, salt and pepper can be your basis but garlic or onion powder can add a nice flavor, too.

Watermelon Hints

The best part of the summer season for me is that it is watermelon season, too. Yes, in California, you can find a watermelon most any time of the year but the summer ones are always the best. We discovered one problem, however. Since we revamped our diet and now indulge in more fruits and vegetables, our refrigerator is always full with absolutely no room for a watermelon. Not wanting to deal with a watermelon addict in withdrawal, my husband came up with the idea of keeping the melon in a cooler with four or five frozen bottles of water. Every evening, he switches out the bottles for the back up one in the freezer and this has kept my watermelon in a healthy state of coldness leaving room in the refrigerator for that pesky broccoli, squash, and carrots.

Also, an annual word to the wise. Always thoroughly wash the melons you bring home from the store before storing them either in a cooler or refrigerator. It is not enough to merely use a clean knife for cutting a delectable piece of melon as the knife is cutting through the ‘dirty’ outside of the melon and scraping any germs/virus right across that slice of deliciousness you are about to enjoy. Just think about where that watermelon has been on it’s way to your home! I use a dab or Dawn dish detergent as it rinses clean, doesn’t have a lingering scent and really gets the surface of the melon clean.