Monday Mixture

Things have been a whirlwind for the past few weeks and though it is summer and things are suppose to slow down.  Hence the lazy days of summer, it does not appear I am coming up for air quite yet.  Rather I am trying to catch my breath between last minute trips, dance recitals, swim meets and practices, and getting some work done around the house.

Regardless of how busy things get one thing remains constant, we eat.

1. What we ate this week June 8 – June 14

SaturdayFancy Grilled Cheese w/ basil pesto & Fruit Salad

Sunday – BLT Burgers and Creamed Corn

Monday – Red, White, & Greens Pasta

Tuesday – Taco Salad

Wednesday – Pretzel Chicken, Fried Potatoes, and Spinach, Raspberry & Goat Cheese Salad

Thursday – Packed Dinner of PB & J, Fruit, Chips (Swim Meet)

Friday – Leftovers

2. I had a small get together to attend this past week.  When you have a food blog and you tend to bake and cook quite a bit, I think you feel the pressure more than you should as to what to take.  The host requested a light appetizer, dessert, or bottle of wine.  It is the summer season and S’mores just speak summer taste, so I decided to make S’mores bites.  I made this recipe first last fall when I threw a 40th Party for Mr. Mixture.  They were simple, quick and easy to make and a perfect one bite.

Well things did not go as planned this week as they were an epic fail and with everything else going on I just did not have the time to put something else together.  So what does a mixture lover decide on, you guessed it my mom says ” it is your signature.”  Perfect I decided.  A simple yet satisfying mix of flavors sweet and salty.

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3. Pistachios – Last week I published Crack open some Goodness because as you know we like all varieties of nuts around here.  Funny thing happened as my parents recently returned from a cross country trip and brought us flavored pistachios.  Now we are all familiar with roasted nuts and different candied or coconut coated nuts, but these are unique.  The pistachios are from New Mexico and the flavors we received were Garlic & green chile, two levels of Red Chili – hot and XX hot.  I enjoy making my own nuts, but this is something I am not sure I can duplicate without altering.  The nuts are not roasted and they are still shelled.  This is an east coast southern girl has never seen before.

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4. Meatless Monday – Meatless Monday is a movement that was relaunched in 2003 as a public awareness program.  It actually began with President Woodrow Wilson during war times to encourage people to decrease their meat consumption, a staple food.  Today’s movement has been gaining momentum since it started appearing more routinely in the media since 2009 encouraging a meatless meal to improve health and help the environment.

Just like all groups and websites you must meet some criteria to be recognized as part of their movement.  Well take a look at my sidebar Let’s Have Mixture has new bling.  A meatless monday badge. You can also find my blog listed here.

Can you pledge to have a meatless meal every monday?  Start with trying it for one month, or throughout the summer.  You can browse recipes on this site and many others by the #meatlessmonday

5. Coming Soon

       What do you do with a recipe that fails?  

Toss it?  Eat it?  

Recipes for your Vitamix or Blender 

My all time favorite lunch

 

 

Crack open some Goodness and have a Pistachio

From the name of this blog and some of the pictures of mixture, I think you get the sense I like nuts.  Of course I have to like nuts come visit my household and family.  They are a bunch of nuts.  I am okay with that because nuts are good.

Sure there are a lot of people out their with nut allergies and the numbers continue to rise.  I honestly do not know what I would do if I had to give up nuts or incorporating them into our healthy living.  We are fortunate and so for those who can enjoy nuts and all their benefits.  Enjoy!

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Pistachios are one of those nuts that ebbs and flows in our house.  We can go long periods of time without them and then I find myself eating nonstop.  These unique little green nuts are part of the cashew family. They are one of the lowest calorie and lowest fat nuts, but they are packed with nutrients such as Copper, Phosphorous, Manganese, Thiamin, and Vitamin B6.   A single serving of pistachios (1/4 cup, approximately 49 kernels) can provide 6 grams of Protein and 3 grams of Fiber, which is 10% of the recommended fiber for the average person to consume each day.

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Pistachios can be eaten by the handful, tossed into to a mixture, tossed on a salad, made into a pesto type sauce, used to crust chicken or fish, added to a cheese platter and a number of other ways.  One of my favorite flavor combinations is Dried Cherries and Pistachios tossed into Greek Yogurt.  A balanced quick and easy breakfast or snack.

As a child I always loved what was called Watergate salad (not sure where the name came from), but it was pistachios pudding mix, combined with cool whip, crushed pineapple and mini marshmallows.  Not exactly the healthiest salad, but the unique flavor of the pistachios was always a favorite of mine.  Though I have yet to recreate that dish without all the processed items or at least improve it, here are some pistachio pins that are on my to try list.

Pistachio like other nuts can be costly to purchase.  Buying in bulk is generally cheaper but then you want to ensure freshness.  I have found the best way to buy pistachios is in the shell.  STOP! Before you start moaning and complaining how you do not want the hassle of opening the nuts when you want to use them keep these tips in mind.

Pistachios in their shell will keep longer than those without.  Always place nuts in an airtight container. They will stay fresh in the refrigerator for about 3 months and in the freezer for 6-12 months.

Shell them in batches so they are ready when you want them.  This is a great activity that can be done by you or your kids.  Excellent fine motor skill practice for the little ones.  I find the perfect time to shell some is while I sit at the kitchen table during homework time or summer workbook time.  Keeps me busy and I am not surfing the internet or flipping throw a magazine that little eyes find exciting or distracting to their studies.  The only distraction is a healthy snack.  Another great time to shell pistachios is while watching brainless television.  You know the show that sucks you in but really if you only half pay attention you still follow the show.

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Be sure to check out all the great pins I have with recipes for Pistachios.

Pistachio Pesto

Pistachio Truffles

Pistachio Bark

While the recipes are great, I find the best way to enjoy pistachios is mixed with some dried cherries and greek yogurt, or tossed into a mixture.

* Pistachio Health Institute can be credited for the top picture and nutrition facts.

Healthy Nutty Brownie

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Another week has flown by and I feel as if my to do list continues to build and the counter to try and get things done is getting shorter and shorter. 14 days left of school. 21 calendar days left before school is out, but we all know it is really only 2 days until Memorial Day weekend and isn’t that the starting point of summer.

Summer is the time at which motherhood becomes more enjoyable, at least for a few days. No early morning alarm wake ups, no lunches have to be packed unless they are for everyone to enjoy by the pool. However it also means a period of twelve weeks when a lot less gets done outside the necessary – laundry, cleaning, cooking because it is exhausting and time consuming watching the kids splash with their friends in the pool. Right?

Wow swim team practice began this week and the pools are open. Let me just say I am glad it is the kids and not me. The temperatures have been volatile this spring. No gradual warm up just big jumps and dips from winter rain to summer heat and the last few nights we have had lows in the 50’s. To some that may make for refreshing water. To me I have another term for it…COLD.

I find in the summer the children tend to get hungry from all that swimming.  It is so easy to toss a bag of chips or pretzels in the pool bag, but is that really the greatest snack?  Fruit is always a good choice, but depending on whether you take a cooler or not it can get warm and mushy.  Everyone loves chocolate especially kids, but granola bars or any mixture or anything with chocolate tends not to hold up in the summer heat.  So when I came across this recipe, I thought I would give it a try.

Who would not feel good about feeding their family a brownie that has five ingredients and provides protein, fiber, and some Omega 3’s.

This recipe was adapted from  5 minute espresso walnut brownies 

Healthy Nutty Brownie

1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, divided
1 cup raw unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
2 – 2 1/2 cups Medjool or Deglet Nour dates, pitted
3/4 cup cocoa powder OR raw cacao if you have it
1 tsp. instant espresso

Place 1 cup walnuts and 1 cup almonds in food processor and process until finely ground.
Add the cocoa powder or cacao, instant espresso  and pulse to combine and then transfer to bowl and set aside.
Add the dates to the food processor and process until small bits remain. Remove from bowl and set aside.
Add nut and cocoa mixture back into food processor and while processing, drop small handfuls of the date pieces down into the food processor spout. Process until a dough consistency is achieved, adding more dates if the mixture does not hold together when squeezed in your hand.
Add the brownie mixture to a small parchment lined cake pan or loaf pan and add remaining 1/2 cup roughly roughly chopped walnuts. Toss to combine and evenly distribute, and then press down with you hands until it is flat and firm.
Place in freezer or fridge to chill before cutting. Store in an airtight container to keep fresh. Will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks and in the freezer for at least 2 months.

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While I found the flavor a little too strong initially after sitting in the refrigerator for 24 hours they were better.  Unfortunately Little Miss Mixture was not a big fan and the consistency was too crumbly to make a good take along snack.  However if you are looking for a nice little bit (1×2 square) the Healthy Nutty Brownie is great for curbing hungry while satisfying your sweet tooth as well.

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Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter

As a family that eats a lot of mixture, obviously we like nuts and as much as I like them plain or tossed into a mixture, I enjoy them roasted, toasted, and flavored as well. Recently I was intrigued by an item at Costco – Coconut Cashews.

Of course I could have purchased them, but I was already purchasing two giant sized containers of cashews, regular and unsalted so why purchase a third container.  I figured I could make my own.  Well I have not yet perfected the recipe for Coconut Cashews as I have made two attempts but each time it has resulted in a great flavor, but the coconut just will not stick.

I have enjoyed my toasted coconut and cashews in yogurt and by the handful, but I am still working on the perfect recipe for coconut cashews.  I have found some recipes online, but I like more natural ingredients when I flavor nuts so I will continue my efforts toward the perfect recipe.

In the meantime I am going to share our new obsession from one of our failed attempts.  What do you do with a cup of toasted cashews and coconut but make it into homemade nut butter.  I am typically not a fan of different nut butters that I have purchased, but this homemade version is quite tasty.  I might have found a new obsession.

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Toasted Coconut Cashew Butter

1 cup unsalted or raw cashews or cashew pieces

2 tsp coconut oil

1 Tbsp maple syrup

2 Tbsp honey

3 oz. unsweetened grated coconut

2 tsp honey – reserved

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Mix all ingredients together and ensuring the cashews are coated. Spread onto a prepared pan or foiled line baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until the coconut is lightly browned.  Allow to cool.

Once cool scrape all the coconut and cashews into your food processor.  Add the reserved 2 tsp honey and puree.  Nuts break down in different stages so the process takes a few minutes and may require scraping the sides of the food processor to ensure everything is pureed.

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Store in airtight container. Enjoy as a spread on fruit, bread, or mixed into some yogurt or a smoothie.

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Monday Mixture – Spring Break, Travel, Pecans, & More

Spring Break is here.  What should be a relaxing no routine type of week actually started out with a busy hectic weekend.  I feel as if the school bell rang and we have been on the go nonstop.  It is all good though.  The weekend was filled with friends and family and some adventures.  Now today is the calm before the storm as I have decided to take a last minute trip with Little Miss Mixture, so there is a lot to get done and take care of before we head out for a few days.  RELAXATION will come once I get through the twelve hour drive.  I think I can I think I can….

As I look ahead to my week, I may be a little late on getting a new post each day.  Being new to the blogging world this is my first experience with kids home and technical vacation while I still want to keep up my writing and build an audience.  The other challenge writing this week is I will not be in my kitchen and as we all know when we are not at home eating habits can vary.

How do you eat differently on vacation?  Do you allow yourself to enjoy or do you try and eat as you usually do at home?

I find it depends on the situation.  I am not one to pick the “healthy” item on the menu at restaurants because it is “healthy” or “low fat,” if I eat out I eat what I want as I find myself more satisfied.  That being said I have found in the last few years I take my own food along more and more, especially on road trips.  I actually do not enjoy stopping at a fast food restaurant and find it more of a chore and truly do not enjoy it enough to justify the extra fat, salt, calories, etc. that I consume from those meals.  I also hate taking the time to stop.  Once in the car, or for that matter the day before I leave to go somewhere, I am just ready to go.

What will we eat on our road trip?  I have been known to take a variety of things in an effort to clean out the refrigerator, but Mr. Mixture will be at home so no need this time around.  I will be driving so what I can eat must be manageable since I prefer not to stop and like to eat on the go.  Hummus and veggies do not fit into the easy to eat as you drive category.  Mixture, of course, once again is healthy, easy, and very much something you can snack on as you pass those exits along I-95.  Cut up cucumber, peppers, maybe some apple slices and your trusty go to peanut butter sandwich travel nicely.

Little Miss Mixture and I will be visiting family, but I like to bring snacks for the duration of the trip to, so my cooler in the car will include bags of dried fruit, nuts, my preferred coffee, organic chocolate milk boxes, water bottles, peanut butter, and our own honey.  We probably need something sweet as well twelve hours is a long time.

1. Today is National Pecan Day.  So I whipped up a batch of these uniquely flavored pecans that Little Miss Mixture enjoys for us to take along.

Chili Lime Pecans                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 heaping teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
3 cups pecans

Stir together lime juice, olive oil, paprika, salt, chili powder, and ground red pepper. Add pecans; toss. Spread in a lightly greased aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan. Bake at 350° for 12 to 14 minutes or until pecans are toasted and dry, stirring occasionally. Cool completely.

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*Adapted from Southern Living Chili Lime Pecans

 

2. Cooking with Kids.  Tomorrow is a big day for Little Miss Mixture.  She enjoys cooking and for over a year, we have promised her a cooking class.  No, I am not that bad with fulfilling my promises.  In fact it is just the opposite. I have signed her up twice before at the local Whole Foods and each time she has been disappointed by the Cancellation email.  Here it is late afternoon on the day before and we have not received any emails, so it seems she will be participating in the “Around the World” cooking class.  Check back for a report on how her first formal cooking class went.

3. The Vitamix phenomenon continues.  In one of my first post, I referenced my reluctance to spend the small fortune on a Vitamix.  However after the sticker shock was subdued by the delightful easy concoctions I have continued to enjoy it day after day.  Recently I feel as if the fad continues and I have to ask myself how long will this go on?  On two different occasions this weekend the conversation revolved around the machine and how it transforms food. I am looking forward to sharing some newly created smoothie recipes.

4. A new playlist is necessary for a road trip and Little Miss Mixture has reached that age where she is starting to enjoy real music.  Spring Break, Warmer Weather, and Fun Music of course means we needed to download HAPPY.  As I was working on uploading some photos, I ran across one of my first food photos from a few years ago when I considered the whole blogging thing and then never acted upon it.  Everyone loves rice krispies treats, and who could resist one that puts a smile on your face.    

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Happy Spring Break

Happy Passover

Happy Spring