Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Packets-Microwave Version

I was searching for an easy recipe that my husband could make for dinner.  He is wonderful at making dinner as long as I do the shopping, find a recipe for him, then clean up the kitchen.  I usually pick something simple with few ingredients, little prep (less mess for me to clean), and ideally involves cooking on the grill.

Grilled Pineapple-Chicken Kabob Packets

In my search I came across this recipe (See above picture) for Grilled Pineapple Chicken Packets . It looked good and sounded simple enough. I bought all the ingredients, printed the recipe and left him instructions. of course something came up and he wasn’t able to make it.  Since I am not allowed near the grill since that is the man kitchen, also it is so old and with my luck if I tried to turn it on it would probably rebel, blow up and catch the patio on fire. So I decided to adjust the recipe and cook it in my Covered Baker from Pampered Chef. I am not a Pampered Chef sales rep but I love their products. They are expensive but so worth the investment.  What I love about the covered baker is that you can bake in it or use it in the microwave and food comes out great. Because it is made from stoneware it also keeps your food warm longer while sitting on the table.

Pineapple Chicken 

  • 1/3 cup pineapple preserves- I used Orange marmalade because I had it in the fridge. 
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch cubes (1 lb)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks (Drain the juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

1. I placed the first 4 ingredients in my dish and mixed them together. In the future I would recommend doing this is a separate bowl and pouring on top of the chicken and vegetables but I was feeling lazy and didn’t want to dirty another bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Cut up the chicken and vegetables, mix everything together and add to dish. Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and vegetables.  I added broccoli since I am trying to eat more green vegetables. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Cook in the microwave covered for 14 minutes or until done. Every 4-5 minutes stir the chicken and vegetables to insure even cooking.  If you don’t have a covered baker bake in the over at 350 for 30-45 minutes. No liquid was added, the liquid all came from the chicken and vegetables.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Serve over rice and enjoy.

The recipe was quick and easy.  I think it would have been better on the grill but love that it is so versatile. A lot of liquid was produced by the chicken so you might want to add 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch in the beginning to thicken it while it cooks.  The chicken was still tender and juicy.

 

 

 

Pure Evil in a Jar

Have you heard of Biscof? If you haven’t you are so missing out. I first read about it on a blog by Susie Freaking Homemaker. After reading the blog about Biscoff Banana Bread, I was intrigued and made a mental note to look for the product. Then fate sent me a 15% off coupon for Cost Plus World Market, while perusing the aisles for something exotic to try I found this magical evil little jar.

Basically this is ground up cookies that are mixed to the consistency of peanut butter, or I should say cookie butter. What could be more delicious?  This creamy nectar is so delicious I almost ate the entire jar with a spoon. No joke, I couldn’t stop eating it. This is where the evil comes in. I find this is great on bagels, I melted it over some warm apple bread pudding, on toast, and my favorite, straight out of the jar. If you visit the official Biscoff website  you can find some amazing recipes and the history behind for this bit of heaven. This wonder spread out does Nutella with its deliciousness. Oh man imagine if Nutella was swirled with Biscoff? You got your Nutella in my Biscoff!  I think my taste buds just exploded at the idea.

So While I was licking any remnants out of the jar I thought perhaps I should read the label. I am so sad to say this product has no redeeming nutritional value what so ever. Evil, I tell you, pure evil. Nom, Nom, Nom.

Finally a cure for dandruff!

For most of my adult life I have had a terrible time with shampoo. I have a very sensitive scalp and at times will have severe allergic reactions to various shampoos. I also have very oily hair that needs to be washed almost every day.  My reaction to shampoos will be a mild dandruff to full on itching burning, flakey red skin. I get huge red blotches on my forehead and have scratched so bad I get sores.  The worst was one shampoo that felt like someone poured acid on my scalp.

Over the years I have tried cheap shampoos, expensive saloon shampoos, Tar shampoos(man those stink), special scalp treatments, washing my hair more and less often, even dish soap. I would get some relief but then after a week or two my scalp would flair up again and my sholders would look like I just came in from a snow storm. After spending a ton of money on expensive shampoos I came across a pin on pinterest about using apple cider vinegar to cure dandruff.  The pin lead me to this article 4 Reasons to Use Apple Cider Vinegar on Your Scalp Treatments by Josh Peterson, Planet Green

I had the vinegar so I thought why not. I had an old applicator bottle I kept from the last time I colored my hair. I liked the bottle because it has a comb tip that was easier to use. I recomend you buy some Loreal Excellence hair color just to get this great applicator bottle,  I filled the bottle with half vinegar and half water. After washing my hair I used the applicator bottle to apply the  vinegar rinse  directly on my scalp. It was a little hard to do so I took a bit of conditioner add it to my hair and the applicator ran through it easily. I let it sit while I finished my shower then rinsed.  Cider Vinegar is supposed to be a natural hair conditioner and helps to close the hair cuticle to cut down on frizz and breakage. My hair felt dry so I added another bit of conditioner and rinsed. My hair felt clean and smooth but I smelled like a salad.  This scent worried me as I didn’t’ want to spend the day smelling like vinegar. Later that day I was worried so I asked my co-monkeys and my favorite husband if I smelt funny and they said no funnier than usual.

A bit about dandruff. Dandruff can be caused by multiple things dry scalp, skin irritation, fungus/yeast, and/or a build up of oils.  Vinegar helps to clear away the excessive oil and is a natural anti-fungal. It is also supposed to restore the ph level to your scalp which keeps it healthy and prevents dandruff.

After I dried my hair my scalp felt great, my hair was shinny and smooth and my head didn’t burn or itch! Yeah! There were still some small flakes but I was thankful my shoulders didn’t look as if I had a staring role in an Al Pacino movie.

I continued to do some research on several sites and put together this treatment plan.  I used an old dish soap bottle to keep the vinegar mixture well stocked in my shower. In the picture you can see the applicator bottle that I love, the comb makes it so much easier to get the vinegar to my scalp.

Prep hair – Wash hair as normal, apply a small amount of conditioner and rinse, this helps the applicator bottle go through your hair easier.  Use an applicator bottle to really get into the scalp, you may want to massage in slightly so it gets in. If you don’t have an applicator bottle you can just use a cup and pour it slowly onto the scalp.  Let the vinegar sit on your scalp 5 minutes or longer. Rinse with cool water.  Warning! Be very careful to not get any in your eyes, believe me it is not fun. 

Week 1 -Start with a 50% vinegar solution (1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water). Use the vinegar rinse each time you wash your hair. I found I only needed about 1 ounce of the rinse to cover my scalp. I wash my hair every other day and noticed that with this treatment my hair seemed less oily on the second day. If this irritates your skin you may want to add more water.

Week 2 –  Use the rinse every other shampoo.

Week 3 – Use once a week.

Week 4 – Use once a month or as needed.  If you notice your dandruff acting up use the rinse more often.

Amazing! After all the money and experiments I had tried something that costs just pennies cleared up my dandruff. My skin reaction to shampoos has even calmed down a bit. It still flares up but no where near as bad as it used to be!  The best part is no one can make fun of how flaky I am! Well, perhaps just a little. 🙂

For even more dandruff fighting power try adding some dry herbs or essential oil to the vinegar rinse. Thyme, Rosemary, and Sage are supposed to be great for dandruff as well as Tea Tree oil.  Place herbs in a cheese cloth and let steep in the vinegar overnight. If you don’t have cheese cloth just strain before using.

Slow Cooker Apple Pie for Breakfast

OMG!!! This is amazing, I am in love with this recipe!

Reasons I love this recipe

  1.  I love the idea of using my slow cooker to wake up to a nice warm breakfast
  2. There are only 5 ingredients, (plus water).
  3. It is not sickly sweet.
  4. It is super easy
  5. It can be made ahead of time as a freezer meal.
  6. It is super versatile
  7. SO much better than store bought instant oatmeal.
  8. It is healthy and delicious!!

Ok enough hype on to the recipe. The original recipe I found at goodrecipesonline.com but I tweaked it a bit. The original recipe did not have any sugar but I thought it needed a touch more.

Apple Pie for Breakfast 

  • 1 cup of steel cut oats
  • 3 diced apples
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 cups water

Place all the ingredients in a slow cooker, mix, set and walk away. Bake for 8 hours on low. Wake up to the wonderful aroma of apple pie.

That’s it, the hardest part was pealing the apples.

Now some hints:

  1. I used me new slow cooker with a timer, after 8 hours it switches to warm so my breakfast was not over cooked or burnt. I highly recommend you have some type of timer on your slow cooker if you use this recipe.
  2. I added an extra cup of water to the original recipe to also help avoid the dish from becoming dry and burning.
  3. I took the left overs and packaged it in freezer containers so that I have several healthy breakfasts ready when I am running late.
  4. I made it without the sugar this time, hubby loved it and thought it was perfect. I thought it needed a bit of sweetening so next time I will add 1/4 cup brown sugar and some nuts! Definitely some nuts.

This is such an easy recipe that can easily be changed up.

  • Try using bananas and nuts instead of apples, or any type of fresh or frozen berries.
  • If making a freezer meal don’t add any liquid until you are ready to cook.
  • Use milk or coconut milk in place of some of the water
  • Top with milk, maple sugar, nuts, fresh fruit, whatever!

If you have not had steal cut oats you so need to try them.

  • The have a heartier texture and are less mushy than regular oatmeal.
  • They are harder to breakdown then regular oats so they help to stabilize blood sugar.
  • Only have 150 calories per 1/2 cup.
  •  Good source of complex carbohydrates
  • Provides 10 g of soluble fiber, which works to lower cholesterol per 1/2 cup
  • Provides 14 g of protein per 1/2 cup
  • Good source of Vitamin B and Iron   Read more: www.livestrong.com  

Update: My lovely brother was balking at the 1/4 cup of brown sugar but I don’t think he realized that this was not a single serving.  To help him out I used fatsecret.com to figure out the nutritional information.  I estimated six 3/4  cup servings in the recipe.

Main points: 190 Calories, 4 gm of fiber, 3.5 gm of protein, 9% of your daily Iron- Not bad for something that tastes like dessert.

I ate a doughnut today and I didn’t like it

I ate a doughnut today and I didn’t like it, so why did I eat it? I don’t know why, perhaps I’ll die. (channeling old nursery rhymes)

Seriously, Why did I eat it if I wasn’t enjoying it? Don’t get me wrong, I love doughnuts, I could eat half a dozen of them on my own. I can’t walk past the doughnut shop without drooling uncontrollably.

Today I walked into the break room at work and I saw a box of these evil fried and sugar coated spawns of Satan and I felt compelled to take one.  I took a bite and found it stale and overly sweet but I felt compelled to finish it. When I was done I started thinking why didn’t I just stop. Why didn’t I just throw it away.  I started to think about all the food I had eaten and not enjoyed but ate it anyway then felt guilty about it.  I remembered another dessert I had recently eaten only to think that it wasn’t worth the calories, yet I finished my plate.

Is it that I felt that since I had taken it I couldn’t waste the food by throwing it away? Previous food came to mind, was I afraid of insulting the hostess or someone else? Was I afraid it would be my last meal and I would be forced to eat only Brussels sprouts and protein shakes the rest of my life? Was it that I was forced to clean my plate when I was young because their were starving children in China? Never quite got that one and could only think about how I would gladly send those poor starving children my vegetables.

It makes me wonder about all the food choices I have made over my life. How many calories were wasted on food that I did not enjoy?  How many times did I feel compelled to finish my food? How many of us have sat in a restaurant, fully satiated only to continue to eat because there was food on the plate?

I think it is time to start looking at what I eat, how I eat, and why I eat the things I do.  It is time to just say no to finds I don’t enjoy and to not feel compelled to finish. I say that it is ok to throw out food that you do not like. It is ok to ask the waiter to clear your dishes so you don’t continue to pick at a plate. It is ok to give yourself permission to not eat/finish/taste/try something that you do not enjoy.

It is ok to just say NO!  

 

Today I feel Skinny!

Today I feel skinny. Why? I don’t know but it is a good feeling.

I haven’t weighed myself but I don’t look any skinnier than yesterday, my clothes aren’t looser, I didn’t eat salads for every meal, or work out like a maniac, but I feel skinny.

I think I can attribute the feeling to several things and a general sense of well-being. Last week was a very hectic and stressful week at work. It was a good kind of stress though, the kind of stress that keeps you busy, pushes you, tests you. When the stress is over you can look back and say with pride look what I have accomplished! It was a good week.  Sadly with the stress I did let some things go, I wasn’t cooking healthy meals, packing healthy lunches, or doing my morning yoga. All I could think is I have to get to work and finish a million things.

Today I only had half a million things to do at work so I took time to make my morning green smoothie, remembered that today would be a good day because I woke up (and only had 1/2 a million things to do) packed a semi healthy lunch and was on my way. I made sure that I took my morning break and got away from work for 10 minutes. Boy what a difference this 10 minutes makes.  I use my morning break to take a quick walk around the block. I listen to fast paced music, and just breath. I don’t think about work, home, anything except the music, the sunshine, fresh air, and breathing.  I come back to work refreshed and ready to go.  I love my morning break and find I am much more productive when I get back.

After work I came home and decided not to just sit and watch TV and play on the computer.  I decided that I was going to accomplish 5 things before I let myself relax and turn into a couch potato.  Here is what I did.

  1. Finally went to the laundromat and cleaned my giant comforter that has been sitting in the laundry pile for weeks.
  2. Set up the security features on my phone and caught up on my email while at the laundromat.
  3. Made a meal plan for the next week.
  4. Went grocery shopping for the meal plan.
  5. Prepared dinner for tomorrow, a freezer meal, and breakfast in the slow cooker for the morning.

While I was at the grocery store I was walking around, my back was hurting so I was making a point of standing up straight and tall and that is when it it, I felt really skinny today. I felt good, I had done something to make my life better and healthier, I had come home and was active instead of just giving in to being tired and turning into a couch potato, I felt skinny and I felt good.

p.s. I didn’t clean the kitchen after making three meals but dang it I was tired and that’s what husbands are for. 

 

 

Sunshine in a glass (Green Smoothie)

I first read about this green smoothie on Oprah or Dr. Oz or one of those shows. I decided to try it since I don’t eat nearly enough vegetables and I fell in love with it.  It is really easy to make. It may not look that great in fact my co-monkeys make fun of me and call it green sludge. It is just one of those things you have to try to believe.  On the show is was described as tasting like sunshine in a glass.

Green Smoothie

  • 1 cucumber
  • Juice from 1 lemon and 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh spinach or kale
  • 1 apple
  • 1-2 stalks of celery
  • Any other vegetable you would like such as carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.

This is so easy, no need to peal anything! In fact leave on the peels because that is where the vitamins are.  Just slice into chunks and put in the blender.  I do remove the seeds from the apple but that is it.

The key to this smoothie is the apple for added sweetness. If you don’t have an apple feel free to use other fruit such as grapes or berries but I prefer the apple.

I put hlaf the ingredients in the blender and let them blend while I prepared the remaining vegetables.  Be careful not to add to many ingredients that are acidic such as tomatoes as the smoothie can get too acidic.

  • If the smoothie is too thick you can add water

some water, make sure to blend it well. In the pictures below mine was very thick so I poured some into 1/2 pint jars add water to the blender and blended some more. This also helped get all of the blended vegetables out of the blender.  I then put the jars in the freezer so that I would have smoothies ready to go each morning. By freezing them I was able to use the smoothie as an ice pack to keep my lunch cold on the way to work.  By break time the jar would be thawed out enough for me to drink.

I like to add more water to the glass to help increase my water intake. I find this works well to tide me over from breakfast to lunch and stop snacking.

Here is a picture from my desk, my sippy cup with some water down smoothie, my tea gotta have hot tea in the morning, and a delicious green smoothie for the afternoon.

 

Looks like green sludge but tastes delicious!