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Lime Cilantro Rice

If you are lime me and a big fan of the fresh Mex restaurants like Costa Vida, Cafe Rio or Chipotle give this recipe a try.  This saved us when we lived in Hawaii and there were no restaurants like this on any of the islands!

Makes 8 cups of cooked rice

  • 4 c. uncooked rice, (long-grain, white rice is best but you can use any rice)
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (or 4 tsp of minced garlic from the jar or 1 tsp garlic powder)
  • 2 Tbsp  freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 cups water (or up to the “4” line if using a rice cooker)
  • 1 Tbsp & 1 tsp “Better than Bouillon” chicken stock or 4 bouillon cubes

 

  • 4 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • ¾ cup fresh chopped cilantro

 

1-Put the first 6 ingredients in a rice cooker and start the rice cooker. (If you don’t have a rice cooker, put the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.)

 

2-In a small bowl combine lime juice, sugar and cilantro. Pour over hot cooked rice and mix in as you fluff the rice.

 

*This is perfect for soft tacos, burritos or taco salads.

Adapted from https://therecipecritic.com/2012/08/cafe-rio-copycat-cilantro-lime-rice/

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Shoyu Pork Roast

This is a very simple, fast to prepare & yummy meal. It’s a classic pork roast with a slight Asian taste to it from the added soy sauce.

Ingredients

1/3 c. Soy Sauce (I like Kikkoman)

2 Tbs Worcestershire Sauce

1 tsp Garlic Salt

1 Tbs Brown Sugar

1 or 2 small pork roasts (I like the ones from Costco)

Put the pork roasts in the crock pot (they can be frozen or not) and pour the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt & brown sugar over the roasts.

Cook on low for 8 hours (or 4 hours on high, if you don’t have that much time.)

Serve with rice or potatoes and some steamed vegetables.

*You can also add fresh, frozen or canned pineapple and juice to make this more of a Hawaiian styled pork roast.

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Black Bean Salsa

Ingredients:
-1, 15 oz. can black beans (drained) or 1 cup cooked black beans
-1, 15 oz. can black-eye peas (drained) or more black beans
-1, 11 oz. can kidney beans (drained)
-1, 11 oz. can white corn (drained) or ½ cup frozen corn
-2 medium sized tomatoes, diced
-1 diced bell pepper (red, yellow, orange green..whatever you have)
-½ diced purple onion
-3 diced avocados
-½ cup Kraft Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
-chopped cilantro (to taste)
-lime juice (to taste-I use fresh squeezed)
-garlic salt (to taste)

Directions:
Mix everything together and enjoy with lime tortilla chips, on a soft taco etc.

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My tried and true, amazing classic Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 8 Medium) Red Potatoes and Russets work as well, but Yukons are my favorite in this dish!
  • 4 whole Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup Real Mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip)
  • 1/4 cup Prepared Yellow  Mustard
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 8 whole Small Dill Pickles
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt (more To Taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped thinly (or 1 teaspoon dried chives)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery (optional, but I love the crunch it adds!)

    Preparation Instructions

    1-Boil your eggs (you can find really great and easy to follow instructions here) and let them completely cool. (I like to do this a day or 2 before if possible so there’s 1 less step.)

    2-While your eggs are boiling and cooling, wash the potatoes really well (no need to peel unless using russets.)

    3-Cut the potatoes into bite size chunks (the size you like in your potato salad), then boill until fork tender. Drain. And let them cool in large bowl in the fridge. (If you’re in a hurry you can run cold water over them, even adding ice, just be sure to drain them well and then put them in the fridge.)

    4-While the potatoes are boiling and cooling, wash and cut up your green onions and chives (kitchen shears work great for this!) If you’re using a yellow or golden onion make sure you dice it into really small pieces, unless you like bigger pieces of onion in your salad.

    4-Cut up your dill pickles and cold boiled eggs ans add them to the large bowl with the potatoes.

    5–In another smaller bowl, mix together the  mayonnaise, mustard, green onions, salt, pepper, and spices, saving a little of the chives and paprika to sprinkle over the top of the salad at the end.

    5-Pour this mixture over the potatoes, pickles and boiled eggs. Gently mix everything with out smashing the potatoes or eggs too much. Make sure all the potatoes are well covered in everything, being sure to check the potatoes at the bottom of the bowl.

    6-If you like you can transfer the salad to a pretty bowl now or keep it in the same bowl and sprinkle the salad with the rest of the chives and paprika.

    7-Cover the bowl with a tight lid or aluminum foil or plastic wrap and put in the fridge. (Potato Salad is great after it’s aged a day so if possible, make it a day a head of time and let it chill in the fridge.)

    8-Make sure your potato salad stays cool when you’re serving it and store any leftovers (not likely!) in the fridge for up to 5 days or so.  A good way to keep it cool at a picnic is to put your bowl of salad in a larger bowl that is filled with ice. You can also buy a variety of bowls that stay cold for hours, here are some examples on Amazon.

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Popping Popcorn using a glass bowl in the microwave

This is one of those “Why didn’t I know about this awesome thing earlier?!” things. We love popping popcorn seeds at our house and usually eat this snack several times a week. I love that it’s whole grain, real food, super cheap and  totally versatile so you can top it with whatever you like. (We won’t even bring up all the ways that prepackaged microwave popcorn is gross and not healthy!) My organization loving heart is always so happy when you can eliminate a kitchen appliance and use things you already have!

For those of you who don’t know about this tip, here are the instructions:

Super Simple Microwave Popcorn

1-Get a large glass bowl and pour 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into it

2-Put a microwave safe, ceramic plate or do what I do and use your microwave cover (If you don’t have one of these you really should pick one up-very cheap (I got mine at the dollar store) and they keep your microwave nice and clean!)

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3-Microwave for 3-4 minutes, listening for when the pops are slowing down. Since the bowl and cover are clear, my girls love watching the kernels pop.

4-Enjoy with some melted butter and salt, dark chocolate drizzled over the top or whatever you like.

*Cool tips:
-If some of the kernels don’t pop, you can take them out of the popped kernels and microwave them again until most of them pop!
-If you want to easily get the unpopped kernels out of the popped ones, put a cooling rack over your bowl and hold the rack tight to the bowl while you turn them upside and shake until the unpopped kernels fall out!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (also has alternate real food option with honey & whole wheat)

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It’s the pumpkin time of year and I love it!  We are all big pumpkin fans at our house and pumpkin pie gets made several times through out the year for birthdays and special occasions but this time of year just begs to have pumpkin goodness as often as possible!  I’ve been on the hunt for a great pumpkin chocolate chip cookie recipe that isn’t too moist but not too try, doesn’t use shortening and is of course, simple.  I found this great one at Sallysbakingadiction.com where she has gone to great lengths to avoid the typical cakey pumpkin cookie and make a delightful chewy version I can really appreciate that!  I made it as written first (with just a few tweaks) and then also made a real food version batch that replaced the sugars with honey and the white flour for whole wheat flour.  Both versions were amazing and actually turned out quite similar.  My official taste testers (my girls and their friends) all liked both kinds equally well and couldn’t really tell the difference, which is kind of fabulous.  Now, I don’t think ALL dessert recipes have to avoid white sugar and white flour but it’s good to have a few that are a little more nutritious and filling, such as my Chocolate No Bake Cookies in your arsenal.  My kids (and my husband) think it’s so great when I let them eat this healthier cookies for breakfast.

Makes about 18 cookies

Ingredients
-1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
-1/4 cup brown sugar (or substitute 3/4 cups honey for the 2 sugars)
-1/2 white sugar
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-6 Tablespoons canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 tsp ground cloves
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
-1 1/2 cups white flour (or substitute 2 cups whole wheat flour-more because the honey adds extra moisture)
-1 cup chocolate chips

Directions
1-Melt the butter in the microwave and pour into your mixing bowl. (I use my Kitchen Aid for this but you can do it by hand too.)

2-Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until no brown sugar lumps remain on medium speed and then mix in the vanilla and pumpkin until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3-Add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves and mix on medium until combined.  Then add the flour and mix lightly until it is all combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

4-Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes or up to 2 days. The regular dough will be softer than regular chocolate chip cookie dough and the honey/whole wheat dough will be even softer.

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Regular dough on the left, honey, whole wheat dough on the right

5-Take the dough out of the fridge.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

6-Scoop the dough into balls, about 1 to 1.5 Tablespoons of each. Slightly flatten the dough balls because these cookies won’t spread much in the oven.

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7-Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies will look very soft and underbaked. Keeping them in the oven for longer may dry them out.  Remove from the oven and press a few more chocolate chips onto the tops, if you like and  flatten out a little bit too, if you like.

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*Sally says “Allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes on the cookie sheets before transferring to a wire rack.  The longer the cookies cool, the chewier they will be. I let them sit out for at least 1 hour before enjoying.  I find that their chewiness and pumpkin flavor is more prominent on day 2. Cookies stay soft, moist, and chewy stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.”  My children had to try the cookies right away so we know they are delicious with out the wait too 😉

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My Food Philosophy (for me and my family)

1-Keep it simple! (big surprise there) No crazy fad diets or strict eating plans or avoiding entire food groups etc.

2- Make a meal plan so we can enjoy healthy, yummy, inexpensive meals that are easy to prepare and don’t stress me out.  If I want to I can go all out and make something extravagant (and I DO love to do that sometimes!)but those kinds of things won’t be on my go-to meal plan so they don’t become an excuse when I’m tired or sick to order pizza.

3-Eat real, unprocessed food.  And make it local and organic as much as I can. (I adore local farms! My favorite one in the Salt Lake area of Utah is Peterson Family Farm and on the leeward side of Oahu is Kahumana Farm.)

4-Make eating out a special occasion that doesn’t happen often and is somewhere we really love and enjoy.

5-Eat together as a family at home. the same meal (no “kids food”). at the same time. At the table with out TV.

6-Eat lots of whole grains, vegetables, fruit.  Eat some whole milk, cheese/dairy , eggs and fish.  And a little meat.  Mainly drink just water and lots of it.

7-Eat sweets and desserts sparingly and when you do eat them make sure they are amazing and don’t feel guilty!

8-Avoid fake food like: shortening, margarine, artificial sweeteners, fast food and most packaged food.

9-Completely avoid, alcohol, coffee, tea (except non-caffeinated types) and soda.  (I chose to do this for religious and health reasons)

10-Don’t let food control my life by over eating or always stressing about eating too much, losing weight etc. Enjoy it, be thankful for it and enjoy feeding others.

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When in Doubt, Freeze it!

You can freeze a lot more things than you think (at least I was surprised when I started researching and experimenting with this.-Yes, I’m nerdy like that!) Hopefully a few of these tricks will be helpful for you…

Freezing food, tips and tricks
Even when you don’t have a lot of freezer space, like me right now, you can still fit a lot in your freezer!

1-Slice up your onions and bell peppers with a knife or a food processor and put those in separate freezer bags and keep in the freezer so you can shake out a little onion or bell pepper to use in Crustless Quiche, fajitas, Taco soup,  or maybe just eggs in the morning for breakfast.

2-Split your huge bag of shredded cheese that you get from Costco (or the store you go to) into 2 or 3 gallon Zip Loc freezer bags and freeze all the cheese you’re not going to be using in the next 2 weeks.  Shredded cheese defrosts so quickly on it’s own that you don’t need to do it before you sprinkle it on your lasagna or make your quesadilla.  Cheese does not freeze well in a brick so it either needs to be shredded or sliced (I freeze slices of Swiss cheese to use later for my Swiss Cheese Chicken recipe) I wouldn’t recommend using the slices for a sandwich or anything else that you won’t be cooking or baking though, use fresh cheese slices for that.

3-Squeeze fresh limes or lemons into ice cube trays and freeze them.  Once they’re frozen, pop the juice cubes into a labeled freezer bag and you’ll have them ready to add to Lime Cilantro Rice, Lemon Curd or simple lemon water.

 

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Cook Chicken in bulk (freeze and use for meals all month long)

1-Put some of your frozen or fresh boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts in the crock pot with a cup of water and 2 tsps (or cubes) of chicken bouillon (I like “Better Than Bouillon” that you can buy at Costco.)

2-Let the chicken cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 5 hours.

3-Shred or cut with kitchen shears (or two forks) and let it cook for another hour or so to soak up the juice.

4-You can then use a slotted spoon to put the shredded meat on a plate to cool for a little bit and then in a freeze bags to pull out and use for Taco Soup or Hawaiian Haystacks or whatever you need precooked chicken for.

 

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My Mom’s Whole Wheat Pancakes

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2 cups whole wheat flour (or half white, half wheat)
1 Tbs Baking Powder
½ tsp Salt
1 egg
1 cup Milk
1 cup Water
1 Tbs Oil

 

1-In a big bowl combine all of the dry ingredients, mix well and set aside.
2-In another bowl mix the egg, milk, water and oil.
3-Combine the 2 bowls and mix only until combined (it will still be lumpy.)
4-Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat (about 350 degrees.) Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. (A soup ladle works great for this!)
6-cook until bubbles appear on the surface like this…


7-Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

 

-This recipe makes 10 to 12 pancakes so I cook up all of the batter and freeze or refrigerate the extra pancakes to eat later.  To reheat just microwave the pancake for 30 seconds to a minute.
-I love these pancakes with almond butter and or applesauce.