Blueberries – A Super Food

If you have ever seen Dr. Oz, than I am sure you are familiar with the turn “Super Food.” Blueberries are one of my favorite “Super Foods.” Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants which help keep you healthy. They are also loaded with vitamins K and C.

I got this recipe at a Taste of Home Cooking School I attended with my friend Jan. I went straight to the grocery store after the event just to pick up the ingredients to make this muffin recipe. I hope you also enjoy this recipe.

Sour Cream Blueberry Muffins

2 c. biscuit/baking mix (I use Bisquick)
3/4 c. plus 2 T. sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream (I used light)
1 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

In a large bowl, combine Biquick and 3/4 c. sugar. In a small bowl, combine eggs and sour cream. Stir it into the larger bowl of dry ingredients. Fold in blueberries.

Pour into muffin cup and sprinkle with remaining sugar. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpik comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to eat or placing on a cookie rack.

Notes:

  • Don’t use fresh blueberries unless you have to. It turns your batter all blue.
  • You could probably substitute plain yogurt for sour cream. It would decrease fat content. I like light sour cream because it has some fat which helps the recipe set correctly.
  • You can also omit the extra sugar on top. It is just decoration.
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An American Classic

Yes, this is a picture of my actual cupboard. I stock up when they are one sale for $1 and I have a coupon.

One of my old co-workers once told me she had never had Hamburger Helper. Actually, she retracted her statement and said she had only tired it once. She acted like something was wrong with this dish which has been a staple in my life since childhood.

I remember my mother sometimes making it for church potlucks in her orange oven safe dish. But mostly, I remember my dad cooking it. I love my dad but cooking isn’t his best attribute (or at least when I was a child.) When my mother started working outside the house, dad became response for dinner during “busy season.”

As I have explained in previous blog posts, my Grandpa and Grandma Fletcher owned a fertilizer company. In the springtime, they work long hours. The day began before the sun was up and didn’t end until after the sun had gone down. This is of course so the farmers could get their fields planted. In my family, everyone knew better than to plan events during “busy season”. That meant no weddings! Anyone who graduated or gave birth during this time was subjected to limited attention. That is, until it rained. This was the one time the guys couldn’t get into the fields to spread or spray fertilizer. And back in the day, they even worked Sundays.

Like I said, my dad cooking meant little food options for dinner. My dad could make anything on the charcoal grill, Potato Buds, scrambled or sunny-side up eggs, and Hamburger Helper. Of yeah, he could also cook food from the Schwan’s Man like chicken strips or single serve mini-pizzas. Hamburger Helper was a welcomed change to our dinner routine. Think about it, you can cook an entire dinner in about 30 minutes? My dad didn’t get home from the station until 6:30 and he had to clean-up before he could make us dinner. My bedtime back then was like 8:30PM. And we had to have leave enough time to wash dishes and make popcorn (saltine crackers for me) for our after dinner snack.

Even today, I still make Hamburger Helper. It’s a cheap dinner if you buy it and the meat when they are on sale. I totally impressed my ex-boyfriend M by cooking him Potato Stroganoff one night. But I have to admit, I probably prepare more Chicken and Tuna Helpers these days. The Chicken Fried Rice is really good and way easier to make than any other from scratch recipe I’ve tried.

Komen Munch

While at training for work in Dallas, I met a co-worker with a similar passion for cooking. Our training class asked what her best dish was that she makes. Her fellow co-workers from headquarters immediately replied, “that party mix you make.” They called it “addictive.” I, of course, had to have this recipe.

While enjoying a few vacation days, I decided to test some of the many recipes in my repertoire. I wanted to make this one for my fellow Komen co-workers with pink M&Ms I had left over from Valentine’s Day. Oh my goodness, this recipe is amazing! It combines salty, sweet, and crunchy. What mouth wouldn’t love that? Bon Appétit!

Komen Munch by Rebecca Gibson

20-24 oz. (one package) of Almond Bark
3 c. pretzels sticks
4 c. Golden Grahams
1.5 c. M&Ms (I used plain Milk Chocolate)
1.5 c. mini-marshmallows

In a large (popcorn/That a Bowl), combine pretzels and cereal. In a small bowl, combine M&Ms and marshmallows. In a microwaveable bowl, empty contents of almond bark package. Melt according to package instructions. Once bark is melted, our over pretzel mixture and stir. Add M&Ms mixture (do this so you don’t melt these ingredients) and stir. Pour onto wax paper coated cookie sheets and let harden. After it is harden, break into chuck sized pieces.

Notes:

  • This makes A LOT! If you aren’t sharing, half the recipe.
  • Rebecca suggest you change the name based on the color of M&Ms you use – Reindeer Munch, Cupid Crunch, Bunny Bites, etc. Love it!

Golden Grahams are actually healthier than I thought – only one gram of fat in a ¾ c. serving. I think you could probably substitute honey flavored Fiber One cereal or Cheerios if you think they are healthier. Another friend suggested Life or Chex cereal.

OKC or Bust

This is one of those recipes that I would say I can’t remember when I started eating it. I do recall my grandfather really enjoying it so my mother would sometimes make it for him as part of a Father’s Day or Christmas gift.

Probably my best memory related to this summer sausage happened a few years ago. My sister, nephew, and I have started working our way through the Midwest for our annual vacations. In 2010, we decided to go to Oklahoma City. We had never been but I once went on a date with a traveling comedian who said OKC and Omaha were some of the fast growing Midwestern cities with lots of things to do.

I asked everyone I knew who had once lived or visited OKC for advice on where to go. We got lots of great suggestions. We went to Pops – this really cool store/restaurant with over 500 different types of soda pop. Of course, this was Brock’s favorite. Stephanie loved the American Banjo Museum. Not sure if it was because she is a music teacher or because my Great-Grandpa Fletcher used to play a banjo in a band. I had the best plain steak ever at Cattleman’s Steakhouse. We got a filet, baked potato, dinner roll, and salad for around $18. This place is so good you have to wait for a table at 3PM on Saturday afternoon in the middle of summer. And of course, we were so moved by the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum. We spent the better part of a day and half at the museum. While in the exhibit where you hear a recording of when the bomb hit, the power went out. And it wasn’t for dramatic effect either. The power didn’t come back on so we were evacuated and returned the following day. It’s truly an amazing museum both inside and out that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime.

As a way to save money on our trip, I suggested we bring some food with us for the trip. Our Marriott hotel room had a fridge so why not use it, right? On the way down, we stopped for gas and had a picnic lunch on the green space outside the Kansas Visitor’s Center. We all had summer sausage sandwiches, a bag of baked chips, fresh fruit, and a bottle of water. It was actually pretty fun and way healthier than eating fast food.

May this recipe bring you happy memories with friends and family.

Homemade Summer Sausage by Kathy Bourek

2 lbs. ground beef
½ tsp. coarse ground pepper
½ tsp. mustard seed
1 c. water
½ tsp. garlic powder
2 ½ T. Tender Quick Salt
1 ½ tsp. liquid smoke

Mix all ingredients together. Lump into two logs on foil. (Make sure the shinny side is toward the meat.) Refrigerate for 24 hours. Next day, place foil logs in a 13 x 9 plan. Add ½ c. of water to pan. Poke several holes in the foil. Bake for 90 minutes at 325 degrees. Remove from foil using gloves and tongs so you don’t burn yourself. Place on a cookie rack to cool slightly. Re-wrap in new foil and refrigerate until use. Slice on a cutting board with a sharp knife.

Note: This sausage is good alone, on crackers, or with Miracle Whip in a sandwich.

Healthier Tiramisu

My ex-boyfriend P and I were trying to eat healthier. We both loved Italian dishes and dessert. Hope you enjoy this recipe for found in Kraft Magazine for tiramisu. I’ll not going to lie, it isn’t the real thing but it taste pretty good.

Easy Tiramisu for Two

1 tsp. instant coffee
2 T. hot water
4 Snackwell’s Sugar Free Shortbread Cookies, crushed
2 Jell-O Vanilla Flavored Sugar Free Reduced Calorie Pudding Snacks
1/4 c. Fat Free Cool Whip, thawed
1 tsp. cocoa powder

Mix coffee granules and hot water until coffee is dissolved; set aside. Sprinkle crushed cookies evenly into two dessert dishes; dizzle with coffee. Top with contents of 1 pudding snack each. Cover whipped topping; sprinkle cocoa powder. Serve immediately.

170 Cal, 5 g. Fat

Note: I think we used a 100 calorie packet the Keebler shortbread cookies instead of the Snackwells.

Salsa con Queso

One of the things my ex-boyfriend P and I had in common was a love of food. Most nights, we had some sort of marinated grilled meat for dinner. On nights I actually left work close to on-time, we usually would cook dinner tonight. The goal was to be done with our dish in time to watch Family Feud together, probably the one show we could agree on watching together. P was always willing to try new dishes. P’s parents were both Honduran but he didn’t like things that were too spicy. I found this recipe in one of Simple and Delicious cookbooks while we were dating. I thought this “kid-friendly” version was the perfect level of kick. This was probably our favorite new dish we ever made together – and something we cooked more than once. P got such a kick out of the name “salsa con queso” because it translates literally to cheese salsa.

When my dad’s wife was battling cancer, Steph and I cooked them lunch the day of my cousin’s graduation. We served this dish with a side salad and the round crescent rolls (in another blog post). Sandy was a tremendous cook; both she and my dad loved this dish. I hope you find it tasty too.

Chicken Penne with Salsa con Queso

1 pkg. Penne Paste (16 oz.)
2 c. cooked cubed Chicken
1 jar Salsa con Queso
1/2 c. Milk

Grill chicken and cube it. Cook pasta. Add chicken, queso, and milk to pasta. Cook until hot.

Recipe Modifications:

  • You can jazz up this recipe up by topping it with black beans, fresh tomatoes, and/or sour cream.
  • I like using the pasta above because it has 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Round Crescent Rolls

When the round crescent rolls came out, I ran across this recipe. I think it was in a Taste of Home magazine. It is the perfect compliment to a pasta dinner.

Garlic Poppy Seeds Spirals

1 pkg. round Crescent Rolls
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. dried Minced Onion
1/2 tsp. Poppy Seeds
3 T. Butter, melted

Place crescent rolls on baking sheet. Mix remaining ingredients and brush on rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.

Candy Bar Cookies

At Halloween time, the management of our building came trick-or-treating to our office. The great part, they delivered us the treats. Surprisingly, no one in my office was really eating the Milky Way bars. I’m not sure why – chocolate and caramel are two of my favorites. They also make me think of my Great-grandma Kingston who always had Milky Ways in her fridge that smelled like perfume.

I asked Pam if I could take them home and create a recipe I thought everyone in the office might sample. The result was Candy Bar-Frosted Chippers from an old Pillsbury cookbook. It was the first time I ever made them but they were awesome! I posted a pic on FB and lots of people emailed me for the recipe. I hope you enjoy these yummy treats.

Candy Bar-Frosted Chipper 

1 (18-oz.) roll Pillsbury Refrigerated Chocolate Chip Cookies
3 (2.05 oz.) Milky Way, original candy bars
¼ c. butter
1 T. milk
1 c. powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Shape cookie dough into 20 (1 ¼ inch balls); please 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and let cool for 15 minutes.

In a small pan, combine 2 chopped candy bars and butter. Cook over a low heat for 2-3 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add milk and powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Frost cooled cookies and sprinkle with remaining chopped candy bar.

Notes: I used a container of cookie chip cookie dough and made about 2 dozen cookies. It’s a great way to support a kid’s fundraiser and create a delicious treat.

Minor steps

A few weeks ago, I wrote in my blog about how I final made my way back to the gym. I am happy to report I have made it every weekday for the past two weeks. Most days, I set my alarm clock for 6:30AM. Heading to bed earlier, I usually find myself awake before the alarm goes off. I’m not going to lie, that doesn’t always mean I don’t hit the snooze button at least once.

Most mornings, I try to do 30 minutes on the treadmill and about 20 minutes of weights. This past week, I was really swamped with work. I had the debate – “Do I get up early and start working or do I go to the gym?” I’m really proud of myself because I finally figured out how to take care of my health and still get my work done. I set my alarm close anywhere from 30-45 minutes earlier. I cut out the weights but still got in 30 minutes of cardio walking. And the best news, I got everything done at work too.

The other day, I noticed my t-shirt was a little looser when I pulled it over my hips. I have never been one to weigh myself because I often get frustrated with the lack of weight loss. And hearing words from others like, “You are gaining muscle, it weighs more than fat” doesn’t seem to help. But I can tell I feel better after my morning workout. I also noticed I seem to have a lot more energy throughout the day. I even enjoy reading the closed captioning version of 41 Action News while listening to power music mix.

It occurred to me this morning that I have been working out for 12 days. At 1.77 miles per day, I have walked over 21 miles in the last two weeks that I otherwise would not have done. I was really proud of myself.

Recently, I made this salmon dish for dinner. I remembered that a portion of meat isn’t supposed to be any bigger than the palm of your hand. For this reason, I cut the slice of meat in half creating twice as many meals. Plus, salmon is “super food”. This healthy meat is loaded with omega-3 and monounsaturated fat. These combinations are good for lowering your risk of heart disease, arthritis, and lowering cholesterol. Plus, they think salmon is good at helping prevent memory loss.

I hope you like this dish as much as I did the first time I prepared it for dinner. It is helping me get ready to participate in the Diva Dash 5K with my co-workers and volunteers on March 24th.

Baked Strawberry Salmon by Taste of Home

¾ c. soy sauce (I used the low sodium version)
2 T. lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard (I used Honey Dijon)
¼ tsp. pepper
4 salmon fillets (6 oz. each), skin removed
2/3 c. strawberry preserves

In a large baggie, combine soy sauce, lemon juice, mustard, and pepper. Add salmon. Turn to coat meat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to marinade.

Discard marinade. Place salmon on foil coated dish. Spoon preserves over and bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Notes:

  • I brought frozen salmon filets at Sam’s Club. Much cheaper per piece and they thaw in the fridge overnight. I also noticed they are on sale at Super Target this week for an even cheaper price.
  • I halved this recipe. Cutting into 3 oz. pieces of meat I still got four servings.
  • I served this with a serving of Thai Jasmine Rice. Fresh green beans or a romaine salad would also be delicious with this fish.
  • I really like Grandmother’s Pantry jams. They are a local company who prepare their jams at home so you’ll have to look for them at events like the Craft Patch craft shows. They don’t add sugar to their jams so they are great for diabetics like my grandparents.

Fresh Basil

Usually, I have some sort about a special memory about the recipe I am providing. Today’s recipe doesn’t really have a great story. A few months ago, I made this amazing Basil Orzo Pasta with Shrimp at Social Suppers. I think part of the reason I loved this dish was because it had fresh basil – my favorite spice. I was telling the women at Social Suppers how it was one of my favorite dishes. They were telling me how they might start making it without the shrimp as one of their side dishes. What a great idea.

For today’s recipe, I am including two separate recipes. The first one is what I remember being in the Basil Orzo dish. (So my vegetarian friends can enjoy this lovely side.) I am also combining it with a recipe for Basil Shrimp I got from Taste of Home. I think both recipes compliment each other nicely.

Basil Orzo

1 small package of Orzo pasta (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)
Fresh basil, chopped (I found it in the produce section of the grocery store)
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1 small container of feta cheese

I cooked the recommendations for three serving of orzo pasta according to instructions. After draining water, I poured pasta into a small glass bowl. I added maybe half the can of tomatoes, probably 1/3 of the package of fresh basil, and a handful or two of feta. Stir together. Then, I sprinkled the top of the dish with feta. Cover with foil and put in a 350 degree oven for approximately 20-25 minutes to warm cold ingredients/melt cheese in this dish.

 Tomato Basil Marinade for Shrimp

1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. tomato sauce
2 T. minced fresh basil
2 T. red wine vinegar
1 1/2 t. minced garlic
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
2 # uncooked jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a Ziploc baggie, combine the first six ingredients; add shrimp. Seal bag, shake, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Drain and discard marinade. Thread onto six metal and soaked wooden skewers. Grill, covered, over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until shrimp turns pink.

Notes:

  • This recipe is for six servings. Cut in half if you are combining the dishes.
  • I have also served this shrimp on top of Thai Jasmine rice (the type of rice they serve in Indian restaurants). Again, you can find this type of rice in the freezer section at Trader Joe’s.
  • As in previous posts, I would encourage you to check out Social Suppers. This is a variation on their dish so their recipe tastes a little bit different. The original recipe is in my top three favorite dishes I have made there so please check them out. I recreated this just because it only makes it into their normal rotation once or twice a year.