Help-I’m Looking for Tofu Recipes

tofuI’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of a plant-based diet and am considering giving it a try for health reasons. I don’t think I’m ready to go all vegan or even meatless. But I have been trying to eat a few vegan meals each week. Yesterday the grocery store had tofu on sale. I don’t ever remember having tofu, so I thought I’d give it a try.

The problem? I don’t know how to cook tofu or what to make with it. So I’m asking for your help. Please send my any helpful tips or recipes you love with tofu. I am excited to give this a try and looking forward to your ideas!

Easy Jam and Jelly Roundup

jelly I love jam and jelly. It’s great with so many things, from PB&J to oatmeal, to peach-smothered pork chops(as a bonus I’m sharing that recipe at the bottom, too). I was surprised to learn that homemade jam is incredibly easy to make, and even better, you know exactly what’s going in it. About a year ago, I ended up with all kinds of fresh produce that was locally grown. I knew I’d never use it all before it went bad, so I started looking up recipes, and of course jelly recipes came up.

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite jam recipes from around the web, made from apples, pears, pumpkin, peaches, and even hot peppers for those of you who like a little spice . Some of these are so easy they can be made in the slow cooker! It doesn’t get muc

 

h better than that. And none of them are made with pectin. It may just be me, but I don’t like jams and jellies made with pectin.

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

jelly

This recipe is super easy and tastes amazing! Find the recipe here. You can make it a little on the chunky side or blend it if you prefer it smoother.

Spiced Pear Butter

This is another one that’s made in the slow cooker. This is one of my husband’s favorites and is great on toast. Get the recipe here.

jellyPeach Jam

This is my personal favorite and is made with only 3 ingredients. It tastes just like summer in a jar! You can also use almost any fruit in place of the peaches. The recipe is here.

Hot Pepper Jelly

I am not a fan of spicy foods but my husband loves this one. Here is the recipe.

Spiced Pumpkin Butterjelly

This recipe is fantastic! I like to make it with fresh pumpkin that I’ve prepared myself. Get the recipe here.

Bonus: Peach Smothered Pork Chops

These are hands down the best pork chops I’ve ever had. I love to cook these up with homemade peach jam.

What are your favorite homemade jam and jelly recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

Vegan Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup

veganYesterday I shared some of my favorite slow cooker recipes from around the web. You can check it out here. One of my readers asked for vegan recipes, so I’ve been scouring the web and I have picked out a few. I am not vegan and have not tried these recipes, but they sound fabulous and I look forward to trying them out. Click on the titles to see the original recipes.

Chipotle Tacosvegan

This one caught my eye because we love to cook Mexican food. And it couldn’t be any simpler-toss everything in the slow cooker and a few hours later, enjoy!

Puttanesca Pizza

Pizza in the slow cooker…what?! I eat gluten free, so I would substitute gluten free flour. Otherwise, this is another recipe I’m looking forward to trying.

veganQuinoa and Black Bean Chili

I included a recipe in my original post for slow cooker chili. I love quinoa, so I’m dying to try this one out. And bonus-it includes a how-to for vegan cashew sour cream.

Bourbon Maple Baked Beans

My mouth is watering as I read this recipe. My first post included a recipe for baked beans, but these look even better.

Sweet Potato Lentils

My husband does not like sweet potatoes, so this one may be a little tougher to get him to taste. But I’m going to give it a try!

Do you have any favorite vegan recipes for the slow cooker? Or have you given these a try? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup

slow cookerI love to spend time in the kitchen. My favorite hobbies include searching Google for new recipes, cooking new recipes, trying new kitchen gadgets, eating new foods, and just about anything else food related. I especially love making as much of a meal as possible from scratch. But I do not have unlimited time at my disposal and cooking from scratch takes time. So on busy days, my slow cooker is my best friend. Today I am sharing some of my favorite slow cooker recipes from around the web. Click on the titles to see the recipes and enjoy!

Honey Garlic Chicken

This recipe is AMAZING! I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make and how delicious it was. We ate ours over noodles because my husband doesn’t like rice. I think it would be great with sticky rice, too.

Barbecue Ribs

slow cooker

These ribs are fall-apart tender and only take 3 ingredients. Plus you can use bottled sauce or homemade. I adore this homemade sauce and it’s easy to make.

4-Ingredient Orange Chicken

This is another insanely easy recipe that packs amazing flavor. I’ve made this one with homemade orange jam or barbecue sauce, too. I like to serve it with fried rice, another easy dish to put together.

Baked Beans with Baconslow cooker

You can make these beans heartier by adding seasoned ground beef. You could also start with dry beans. I know I always have several bags in my pantry and it’s a great way to use them up, which leads me to the next recipe.

Easy Chili

I make a big batch of this chili when it’s cold outside. There’s something very comforting about a bowl of hot chili. We love to mix in some sour cream and top it with green onions and pickled hot peppers (which I make myself.)

Breakfast Casserole

slow cookerI like to make this recipe when we have to be somewhere early. I start it the night before and when we get up, breakfast is made. And bonus, it’s very filling.

 

 

 

What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Healthier Snack Choices

healthier snack choices healthier snack choicesIt’s hard to eat healthy, especially when it comes to snack time. Convenience foods are easily available and, well, convenient. But the added sodium, chemicals, preservatives, food dyes, and artificial sweeteners are anything but good for you. Not to mention that the super unhealthy foods are generally more expensive than healthier choices.

Another effect of eating junk food is that you start to crave it. I personally have an awful sweet tooth. So what healthier snacks should you reach for if you’re craving a specific type of junk food? Hopefully this list will help the next time you’re tempted to reach for something you know isn’t good for you.

When You Crave a Sweet Snack

What if you have a sweet tooth? Sugar cravings can be hard to beat. Instead of reaching for candy or cake, try these:

  • Fruit, fresh or frozenhealthier snack choices
  • Dark chocolate (in moderation, it has many health benefits, though you can still overdo it if you’re not careful)
  • Frozen bananas (even better if you mash them up in the food processor until they’re the consistency of ice cream)
  • A yogurt parfait made with Greek yogurt
  • Smoothie made from your favorite fresh fruit
  • Graham crackers or apples with peanut butter

When Your Favorite Snack is Something Salty

healthier snack choicesIf you lean towards chips or french fries at snack time, try these:

  • Mixed nuts
  • Olives
  • Pickles
  • Cheese
  • Trail mix
  • Baked sweet potato fries
  • Air-popped popcorn (minus the salt and butter)
  • Hummus and carrots
  • Avocado with cottage cheese
  • Sliced bell pepper

Snack on Something Chewy

What if you like something on the chewy side? Try these:

  • These amazing Loaded Breakfast Bars (they’re also a great breakfast on the go)healthier snack choices
  • Raisins or dried cranberries
  • Beef jerky
  • Fruit leather (make your own or be sure it has no added sugar)

A couple more ideas to make sure your snacks are healthy:

  • Take snacks to work or school with you so you’re not tempted to hit up the vending machines.
  • If you prefer to make your own snacks, prepare them for a week in advance to save extra work during the week.
  • Mix it up so you don’t get bored with the same snack all the time.

What are your favorite snacks and how do you be sure to make healthier eating choices? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

Loaded Breakfast Bars

loaded breakfast barsLooking for an easy, make-ahead, grab and go breakfast? These bars are easy to make and mostly healthy!

Loaded Breakfast Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp oil (we prefer coconut)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups cereal of choice (we like Honey Nut Cheerios)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups dried fruit (cranberries are our favorite)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Spray a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, peanut butter, oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Stir and cook until mixture just begins to bubble, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

  3. In a large bowl, combine oats, cereal, ground flaxseed, dried fruit, and salt.

  4. Pour peanut butter mixture over oatmeal mixture and stir gently with a spatula until well combined. Transfer to baking dish and press firmly into dish. (I find that using a potato masher is the most effective way to do this.) 

  5. Allow to cool completely (they cool faster in the refrigerator). Cut into squares or bars.

10 Ways to Jazz Up Your Water

jazz up your waterMy husband hates to drink water. He knows he needs to drink it, but he has a hard time with anything that has no flavor. (He doesn’t like rice either, but that’s a topic for another post.)

The general consensus is that we should drink eight 8 ounce glasses of water per day, or a half gallon. It might seem like a lot to try to swallow every day, but there are so many health benefits to making sure you drink enough water. Water flushes toxins from your body, improves your complexion, increases energy, promotes weight loss, and more!

So if you have trouble drinking enough water because it tastes like nothing, here are some husband-approved ideas:jazz up your water

  1. Drop in a cinnamon stick
  2. Add fresh fruit to your glass (you can buy an infuser for this purpose, but it’s not necessary)
  3. Cucumber slices and a splash of lemon juicejazz up your water
  4. Frozen orange slices
  5. Essential oils (there is some controversy over ingesting essential oils, so use this one with caution and always be sure your oils are labelled as safe for internal use)jazz up your water
  6. Drop in a peppermint stick or peppermint candy and swirl your glass every so often
  7. Include a splash of lemon or lime juice, or both
  8. Mash up some berries, place in the bottom of your glass, and add your water
  9. Add unsweetened cranberry juice (Alternatively, you can make ice cubes with fruit juice)
  10. Steep fresh mint or basil leaves in water overnight

 

My husband says these all taste better cold, but you can drink it however you like. So stay hydrated and enjoy the taste!

How do you make sure you’re drinking enough water? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Seafood Grill Packets

seafood grill packets

Seafood grill packets are a great way to enjoy grilling. Not only are they simple, they make cleanup a breeze. We recently picked up several types of seafood and came up with this recipe. We used shrimp, catfish, and crawdads with mushrooms and bell peppers. This recipe is super easy, and can be used with just about any mix of veggies and seafood.

seafood grill packetsWe started by heating the grill. We built our grill out of a 55 gallon drum and cook over an open flame. While the grill was heating, we prepped the veggies. We sliced one red, one orange, and one yellow bell pepper and mixed them with whole mushrooms.seafood grill packets

 

 

 

seafood grill packets

Next, we tore off two large squares of aluminum foil. We put half the veggies in the center of each foil. Then we layered the catfish fillets, shrimp, and ready-to-eat crawdads on top. We sprinkled on some lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Then we closed up the packets, making sure to leave room for steam to build up.

Once the grill was hot enough, we put the packets over the flame and cooked them for about 20 minutes. Once the shrimp were pink and the catfish were cooked through, they were ready to eat. Neither of us had ever eaten crawfish, and we loved this simple grill recipe!

Seafood Grill Packets

Ingredients

  • 1 pound shrimp
  • 1 pound ready to eat crawdads
  • 6 fillets catfish
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 12 oz mushrooms, whole or sliced
  • lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Heat your grill.

  2. Tear off two large squares of aluminum foil.

  3. Mix veggies and place half in the center of each piece of foil.

  4. Layer seafood on top of veggies.

  5. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

  6. Close packet, making sure to allow room for steam to build up.

  7. Place on the grill for 20 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and catfish is tender and flaky.

Recipe Notes

You can use almost any combination of seafood with this recipe, so use what you love.

You can also vary the vegetables you use. Try any mix of bell peppers or add cubed potatoes that have been boiled ahead of time. (If you don't boil the first, they won't cook.) You could also add green onions or baby carrots.

Let me know in the comments what you think and any variations you tried!

Sour Cream Enchiladas

We all had favorite meals growing up. You can remember the excitement when mom said that’s what was for dinner. And your mouth would water when you smelled it cooking; you couldn’t wait for dinnertime! One of my husband’s favorite dishes as a kid were his mom’s sour cream enchiladas. Every time I make this dish, it takes him back. Made with chicken breast and a creamy sauce with just a hint of spicy, these enchiladas are great anytime. Along with this recipe, I’ll include variations as well as how to make the ingredients yourself instead of using premade.

Cooking the Chicken

I find this recipe is easier if you prepare the ingredients ahead of time. Start with 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast. Cube them or cut them into strips. They’re easier to cut if they’re partially thawed. Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a pan and heat over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add chicken. Once browned, season with taco seasoning. You can use packaged or make your own here. Finish cooking chicken.

For the Sauce

sour cream enchiladasMix 16 ounces of sour cream with 2 cans cream of chicken soup. (Or make your own cream of chicken soup here, including gluten free and dairy free options.)

 

 

 

sour cream enchiladas

 

Chop 5 green onions and add to sauce along with diced chilies. (You can prepare your own chilies, too. Find the recipe I like here.)

 

 

Final Prep

sour cream enchiladas

 

 

You will also need to grate about a cup of cheese and cut 12 strips in addition to what is grated. Extra sharp cheddar is our favorite for this recipe.

 

 

 

sour cream enchiladas

 

 

And of course, you will need 12 tortillas. The original recipe used flour tortillas, but I use corn since I need to eat gluten free. You will need more than 12 if you use corn. I don’t usually count; I just keep going until the pan is full.

 

Assembling the Enchiladas

Once the chicken is cooked, the sauce is ready, and the rest of the ingredients are gathered, you are ready to put these enchiladas together! Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Put chicken, one strip of cheese, and one tablespoon of sauce in each tortilla and roll up. Place in casserole dish. Once all tortillas are placed, cover with the rest of the sauce and and the grated cheese, and bake at 350° for 30 minutes.

Sour Cream Enchiladas

Servings 4 people
Author jcantral

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 16 oz sour cream
  • 1 can diced chilies
  • 1 dozen flour tortillas (you can also use corn)
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 12 strips cheese
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • nonstick spray

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cube chicken or cut into strips. Once oil is hot, add chicken to pan.

  2. Once chicken is browned, season to taste with taco seasoning and finish cooking chicken. Turn off heat and set aside.

  3. In large bowl, mix sour cream, cream of chicken soup, diced chilies, and green onions to make sauce.

  4. Spray 9x13 casserole pan with nonstick spray. Place chicken, a strip of cheese, and approximately 1 tablespoon of sauce mixture in each tortilla and roll up. Place in pan.

  5. Once all tortillas are filled, top with remaining sauce and cheese.

  6. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, or until enchiladas are hot through and cheese is melted.

A couple of variations:

You can use 1 pound of ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning instead of chicken for beef enchiladas.

I am somewhat of a lazy cook, so I will often assemble these enchiladas like a casserole. Rather than rolling each tortilla, I will simply stack everything in layers and then bake.

 

Here is a quick list of the links to homemade versions of the ingredients used:

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pickled-peppers-366722

http://jlyns.com/cream-chicken-soup/

jlyns.com/easy-taco-seaso/

Let me know what you think of this recipe and any variations you tried!

Easy Taco Seasoning

easy taco seasoningI  prefer to make my own taco seasoning to buying premade. It’s quick and easy, and you control the ingredients. No chemicals or words you can’t pronounce, and it’s a great idea for those who need to be careful of their sodium intake. It can be made ahead of time, too, so it’s ready to go when you need it.

Easy Taco Seasoning

Author jcantral

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregan
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container.