Tag Archives: Cook

Thriving Thursday: Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Happy Thursday to you all! It’s almost the weekend and I’m excited about it. This last couple months has been absolutely crazy at work. It’s really wonderful to see so many people starting their path to health but I’m a little glad that it’s starting to taper now. I was starting to miss my relaxation (and cooking) time. So here is a great recipe directly from my Momma’s kitchen.

My mom is a fabulous cook. She claims to hate it but how can you hate something you’re so good at?? I think she gets tired of cooking every single night (who wouldn’t) but goodness knows we would have been a MUCH less healthy family without her daily meals.

She is one of those people who can whip up a meal when the fridge and pantry are completely empty. If friends stop by for a chat, she has the most creative and delicious appetizers on the table within 5 minutes. She has mastered the art of feeding AND socializing with people. Those who have tried it know how hard that can be.

She taught me this recipe before I left for college and it quickly became my signature dish. She uses mashed potatoes from the box (understandable with 4 kids and no time) but I love mashing potatoes. They taste better and I get to let out my pent-up aggression on them. So I turned to my friend Alex for some further input. She is also an amazing chef and trained in the art of food.

So here is my combination from the two lovely ladies. My mom’s was quicker but slightly healthier and Alex’s was a little more time-consuming but richer and more savory.

ShepherdsPie-Published

Mom’s Shepherds Pie

Note: This is a delicious dish but if you’re trying to lose weight, do not eat it for dinner. You don’t want the potatoes sitting in your stomach all night. Unless you use the energy, it will turn into fat.

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1 cup organic butter
  • 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, coconut, whatever…)
  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 2 Tbsp high heat oil (like coconut or grape seed)
  • 1 onion
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 zucchini
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup gravy (I use Bisto but it contains trace gluten so be careful)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting.
  2. Chop potatoes into small pieces. Boil them in a large pot of water until soft when stabbed with a fork.
  3. While they’re boiling, chop the onion, carrots, and zucchini.
  4. Drain the potatoes and mix in a large bowl with butter and milk. Mash them all up! Set aside.
  5. In a large pot (yes a large pot) sauté the onions, carrots, and minced garlic on medium heat. Cook until onion is transparent, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add turkey and zucchini to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes then add gravy. Continue to cook until meat is browned.
  7. Spread out the turkey mixture evenly in the pot then layer the potatoes on top.
  8. Heat in the oven for 5 minutes to let juices mix.
  9. Enjoy!

I hope you’re all having wonderful days. Love and a grin. – Ash

 

DIY Friday: Meal Planning Board

So you’re trying to eat healthy? I bet you have tons of people in the wellness community telling you “it’s really not that expensive!” Well they are wrong. Eating healthy can be VERY expensive. To keep the cost manageable you have to do a lot of planning. You have you cook most of your own food and you can’t have any food waste. Unless you plan, IT IS time-consuming and expensive.

Mike and I have been gradually increasing our health factor over the last several months while trying to keep costs low. We have set up a system where, whenever either of us buys food, we put the receipt on the coffee table for the other to review. It holds us accountable and makes us analyze where money could be better spent.

Then I meal plan. I’m very organized and love to plan ahead so this isn’t too hard for me but I was lacking the necessary tools. That’s why I made this bad boy. My meal planning board.

photo 1 copy

 

My dinner system:

  • Cook double-portions every other day. This means only cooking from scratch 3 times a week! I cook half the meal only partially so it’s not overcooked when I reheat it for dinner the next day.
  • Eat leftovers on the days I don’t cook.
  • Have our “vacation meal” on the seventh day.

It’s quick and means that I can buy more in bulk. Our breakfast is the same every morning (Grainless Granola) and each of us takes care of our lunch separately. It’s a pretty nifty system but I was getting really confused about which meals I was going to cook and which food I needed on my weekly grocery shop.

So during our Simple Sunday this past weekend, the weather was nice enough to paint out on the porch. I finally did my Meal Planning board and I love it!

Supplies:

  • Pretty frame (mine was $5 at Goodwill)
  • Spray paint (for color)
  • Spray paint (for chalk or whiteboard coating)
  • clothespins
  • some cardstock to label the pins
  • fabric to hold the labels
  • hot glue gun
  • a little sandpaper to prep the frame glass
  • painters tape (if you want to do a pattern)
  • an old sheet to protect your floor

Instructions:

photo 2^ Make sure you have a surface to stick the pins to. This frame had lots of dips in it so I blocked it out with some chips of cardboard I had in the recycling bin.

photo 3^ Separate the frame and glass. Sand the glass so it will hold the paint. Spray down all pieces with however many coats they need. *I started with chalkboard paint but it didn’t work all that well. I went back and exchanged it for whiteboard paint and repainted the glass.

photo 4< If you want to paint a pattern, wait until the base layer is dry and then tape it off and spray. *I originally had yellow stripes in mine but it was just too much with the raised dots AND baby yellow. After I finished it I went back and repainted it all white.

Stick the clothespins down with hot glue. If that doesn’t hold, graduate to the messier but much stronger Gorilla Glue.

photo 2 copy^ Cut out your cardstock. And write out any of your favorite dishes. Hot glue your fabric pockets to store them in. Then label the pins with the same cardstock. Mine are for each day of the week and then Snacks to take to work for that week. Here’s the template I made for my labels:  MealBoardLabels

Another idea, for complicated meals, write the ingredients on the back of the card so you don’t have to look back to the cook book every time.

photo 1 copy

And now you have a meal planning board! I’ve only been using mine for a week and I already love it. It takes the strain out of meal planning and makes cooking SO much easier. I will say it looks a little sad and bland with all the white and gray but I’m hoping I can paint the walls our next kitchen so it will just be a pretty accent on a sunny yellow wall. 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions. And HAPPY FRIDAY! Love and a toothy smile. – Ash

 

 

Tasty Tuesday: Chunky Eggplant Sauce

I hesitate in calling this dish a “sauce.” It’s chunky with creamy eggplant and can almost be eaten on its own. But the flavors are so strong in their deliciousness that it has to be paired with something more basic.

It was an adaptation from a Veggie cookbook I haven’t opened in years. It’s hard to find yummy eggplant recipes that aren’t coated in cheese! But I found one, this is a winner.

Eggplant Sauce- Published

 

Chunky Eggplant Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I keep a jar in the fridge at all times)
  • 1 Tbsp tahini (also keep a jar of this)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • meat if you want- I used chicken breast leftovers from Indian takeout.
  • something for the base- I used quinoa

Instructions:

  1. Trim the ends of the eggplant. Cut it further into 1/2″ slices. Cut those into quarters.
  2. Steam the eggplant 6-8 minutes or until softened.
  3. While it’s steaming, chop onion and tomato. Sauté them on medium heat together with the olive oil. Now add the meat if you want.
  4. When the eggplant is done steaming, strain it in a colander. Press the juice out with a spoon.
  5. Add the strained eggplant and tahini to the sauté and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Add it to something basic like quinoa and Enjoy!

Let me know how it goes. Love and a giant smile. -Ash

 

Simple Weekends Are In.

We did it. I know it doesn’t seem like a huge feat but it felt incredible. We turned it all off. We turned off our phones, computers, and TV. No technological communication with the outside world for an entire 24 hours.

But we were productive still! We managed to go thrift shopping, learn backgammon, reorganize the kitchen, clean the apartment, cook breakfast and dinner, and start an awesome new project (more on that to come). I woke up this morning feeling like I’d had a full 24 hours rest. When we succumb to the TV  all day, I feel like the day passed without me noticing.

So we’re committing. Every Sunday that we are at home, it will be a Simple Sunday. We’ll spend the day together doing everything and nothing. I can’t wait 🙂

photo 2 photo-6

On a different note, we went back to line dancing on Saturday night! My regular followers will remember this date a few weeks ago when we spent the evening at Stone Country Saloon. Well I fell in love with line dancing and have wanted to return ever since. I got the hang of a few more dances and am set on going back until I’m a line dancing pro. I’m still working on getting Mike out for the two-step (he’s getting there).

So, in conclusion. Simple Sundays are officially in. Line dancing is officially awesome. And I am officially relaxed. How were all your weekends?

Love and a smiling face,
Ash

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Fries

Sweet potato fries. I’ve only had them once or twice in restaurants but I ALWAYS love them. So when I saw this post from Snack Girl, I figured I’d try it. Holy Bajolies these things are good. I did it a tiny bit differently from Snack Girl’s original recipe so here is my version:

photo 1

We ate them with Santa Fe style scrambled eggs: eggs, almond milk, red pepper, spinach. Then salsa and avocado on top. YUM.

photo 2

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (yams)
  • coconut oil or grapeseed oil (because it’s high heat)
  • cumin
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Peel sweet potatoes then cut them into thin lengths. The thinner the cuts, the more crispy and delicious the fries.
  3. Lay out the sweet potato in single layers on the baking sheets.
  4. Sprinkle them with oil then with all the spices. Be conservative with the spices.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes then grab some tongs (or burn your fingers) and flip every fry. Continue cooking for 5-10 minutes or until the fries are golden brown.
  6. Enjoy!

Ashley Life Update: It’s snowing here again! The second storm in a week! Since I can work from home most mornings and my workouts are all here too, I’m loving this. I can just sit at our dining table, working and looking at the pretty snow 🙂

photo 3

 

Thriving Thursday: Zucchini Boats

Grains and sugars before bed are bad. Grains hit your tongue and turn into sugar. Sugar is digested and stored in your body until you use it. If you don’t it turns into fat. In that vain, I’ve been trying to cut pasta and other grains out of our dinner plates and limit the amount of dessert I have. How do you make a delicious dinner with a base of vegetables rather than pasta??

Most of the recipes I have posted fulfill this requirement but Zucchini Boats are some of my favorite. (check out the panel at the top of this page for “recipes”) Zucchini Boats are fun to make, really tasty, and the name is just awesome. I adapted this recipe from my Maximized Living Nutrition Plan book.

photo 1

Zucchini Boats (2-4 servings, I doubled it for the next night)

Ingredients (As many organic as possible! Especially the meat)

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 3/4 lb ground turkey
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Butter or line a baking pan with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. Trim the ends of the zucchini then cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Scoop out pulp, leaving a 1/2″ thick shell. Chop the pulp.
  4. Over medium-high heat, cook zucchini pulp, ground turkey, onion, mushroom, and peppers. For about 10 minutes, until meat is brown. Drain the juice.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  6. If you’re saving some for tomorrow, seal up half the boats in a glass container (or plastic if you must)
  7. Place the remaining shells in the baking pan. Spoon the mix into all the zucchini shells.
  8. Bake the boats for 20 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

 

Tasty Tuesday: Gran’s Veggie Soup

Have you ever tried to make soup? The ingredient list can be long but the process is so easy! Soup is delicious (especially in the winter), freezable, and cuts way back on the dishes. I encourage anyone with a big pot and cutting board to try it. This specific recipe is from my Gran.

My Gran is incredibly healthy. She could kick my tail in the gym and sticks to eating mostly veggies and other deliciousness that keeps her immune system rock solid. She’s definitely an example for me and where I want my health to be over the next couple decades.

A few weeks ago she sent me this recipe. It’s for a low-heat Veggie Soup. It doesn’t look that yummy but I made a massive batch and Mike and I have been guzzling it down. So tasty!

Gran’s tips: If you can, buy organic pre-cut veggies or bring in some extra help (in the form of a boyfriend or husband?); the chopping can take a long time. Cook a double batch and freeze the extras for soup next week!

So without further ado, here it is:

VeggieSoup

Gran’s Veggie Soup (6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small carrot
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups veggie or chicken stock
  • 2 lbs broccoli
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/8 cup flat leaf parsley
  • 5 oz spinach, fresh
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom (only buy what you need, it’s $79 a lb!)
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Chop up the onions, carrot, broccoli, and tomato into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Cook water, onions, carrot, and garlic in a large pot over low heat for 10 minutes, until wilted.
  3. Add the stock, broccoli, tomatoes, and parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and all spices. Cook for 1 minute then remove from heat.
  5. Let cool for 5 minutes then blend/puree everything.
  6. Return it to the pot. Add lemon and serve it warm.
  7. Enjoy!

Thanks for this one Gran! Everyone else, let me know how it goes 🙂

 

Thriving Thursday: Sweet Teryaki Salmon

Confession: I HATE fish. I actually really dislike seafood in general. I’m not one of those picky, “I hate the consistency” people but oysters?? Truly the consistency is like snot. And fish? Any kind of fish is just so salty and YUCK. I’ve disliked it since I was a kid. When my mom made her delicious fish for dinner, I would eat a bowl of cereal.

However, (this is how I know I’m an adult) I LOVED this fish I cooked last night. Everyone always talks about how good fish is for you so I figured I’d give it another try. Teryaki was the closest I could get to make it taste like chicken. Haha. So I adapted a recipe from one of my cookbooks and came up with this. It is SO delicious. Sweet and tangy all at the same time.

Money Saving Tip: Wild-caught salmon can be really expensive ($13 for 2 fillets??) so we ate small portions with lots of veggies to make it last for the next day’s dinner too.

SweetTeryakiSalmon-Published

Sweet Teryaki Salmon (3-4 servings)

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 Bragg’s liquid aminos (healthy soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp. stone ground mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 wild-caught salmon fillets or steaks
  • Whatever you would like for your side (bed?). I used leftover mashed sweet potatoes (from the Sherpherds Pie) and added sautéed red peppers and mushrooms (YUM). It would also be really good with a spinach salad, roasted veggies, and/or quinoa.

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, mix first 6 ingredients until combined. Set aside 1/4 cup of marinade in fridge for basting.
  2. Combine salmon and marinade in a plastic bag and marinate in fridge for 1 hour.
  3. While it’s marinating, cook your side.
  4. Lay marinated salmon on parchment paper in a deep baking pan.
  5. Broil or grill for 4-5 minutes on each side.
  6. Brush with reserved marinade.
  7. Enjoy!

We’re getting very close to the weekend. I hope you all have happy Thursday’s! 🙂

 

Tasty Tuesday: Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

Sweet potatoes are flippin’ awesome. They are fantastic for digestion, heart health, skin health, and blood sugar levels. Specifically, they are high in Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Fiber, Potassium, Vitamins C and E, and Manganese.

This recipe was my attempt at making my mom’s amazing shepherds pie but without the starch of potatoes. With that in mind, it was GROSS. But once we stopped thinking of it as Shepherds Pie and started thinking of it as a dish on it’s own, SO DELICIOUS. Isn’t it weird how your brain can trick you like that?

This was incredible easy to make and I just kept it in a crockpot in the fridge and reheated it (on the lowest temperature possible) for 3 nights straight. Thank you bulk-cooking!

SweetPotatoPotPie-Published

Sweet Potato Pot Pie (6-8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 7 organic sweet potatoes, chopped into small chunks
  • 3/4 cup organic milk (almond, coconut, dairy, whatever)
  • 1 organic yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds organic ground turkey
  • 1 package of organic gravy mix
  • 8oz organic frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, etc)

Instructions:

  1. Boil sweet potato chunks in a large pot until soft. While they are cooking, mix gravy. 
  2. Drain water from pot add the milk and mash it all together. Set aside.
  3. In a separate, deep pan, sauté onions and garlic for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
  4. Add turkey to pan and cook until brown.
  5. Add gravy and frozen veggies to pan and mix together.
  6. Either in the large pot or in a crockpot, layer the meat mixture, then the mashed sweet potatoes. Heat in the crockpot or oven on low for 10 minutes. This allows the juices to mix together. YUM
  7. Enjoy!

Tasty Tuesday: Roasted Chickpeas

I’ve been keeping a pretty tight watch on Pinterest lately. Yesterday I spent an hour friending people and looking through their pins. It was AMAZING. So many cheap DIY ideas and pretty house stuff. I can only imagine what it will be like when I actually have something to plan for like a new house or a wedding or a baby or something. One question I have, with all the time people spend on Pinterest, do they ever actually do any of the things they pin??

Here the link to my Pinterest if you’re interested in following me.

On that note, Pinterest has become my online recipe book and I finally made something from it on Sunday: Roasted Chickpeas. I found the recipe on one of my favorite blogs: SammieKennedy.com. Here is the link for her post of the recipe.

So I had a couple of cans of chickpeas with every intention of making them into hummus, then I thought, why not fry them instead? These were so tasty warm out of the oven but even better when I toasted them again the next day. So savory with just a little crunch. And actually pretty good for you. And for the financial restricted, they’re cheap too!

RoastedChickpeas-Published

 

Ingredients

  • 2 12oz cans of organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (ok because this will be medium heat only)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas with water. Dry them on a paper towel.
  3. Add chickpeas and all spices to a bowl and stir until chickpeas are covered.
  4. Pour oil in pan then heat it in the oven for a few minutes. Take it out and shake the pan to distribute the oil.
  5. Spread the chickpeas in the pan in a single layer.
  6. Cook for 10 minutes shaking the pan every 3 minutes to ensure the peas don’t burn.
  7. Enjoy!

Tip: These will dry out over night. Stick them in the toaster for a couple of minutes for an even tastier, crispier snack.

Thanks for the recipe Sammie Kennedy! Everyone, please check out her site for more awesome recipes and health info.

And let me know what you think after making these 🙂