Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Happy National Poinsettia Day!

12/12/2018 0
With Christmas right around the corner I decided to go out this morning to find some fresh winter plants and crafts for the kids to do while they are home for Christmas break.  While I was at the floral shop I was pleased to see they had a deal on poinsettias, the most Christmas plant of them all. 
When I was checking out the nice woman wished me a “Happy National Poinsettia Day!”  Such a coincidence I was in search for holiday plants, and I am certainly not complaining about the deals I got on them either.

After I got home I was interested in learning about the plant that is so iconic to the Christmas season.

Little did I know that there was such a story behind this red plant.  According to the Mexican folklore it is a story about a little poor girl who had nothing to bring to her church on Christmas.  While she was walking she picked some plants along the road and as she entered the church the tips of the leaves turned into a bright and beautiful red flower, the poinsettia.

I had no idea that there was a folklore story behind poinsettia’s or how they became so popular in the US.  National Poinsettia Day was officially declared in honor of Joel Roberts Poinsett who was the first Ambassador to Mexico.  He brought this plant to his home in the US and gave them as Christmas gifts to his friends.  Since then the poinsettia has become one of the most popular Christmas plants.

There is no doubt that the sight of a poinsettia brings the Christmas spirit into the air.  I love how just a simple plant can bring so much life and spirit to a room.  After learning the story behind poinsettias, I went back and bought a few more plants to decorate the restaurant with. 

What a great way to bring the Christmas spirit into a home.  You still have time to go out and get your poinsettias for National Poinsettia Day

Go Green and Stay Keen,


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

3 Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes for Fall

10/03/2018 0
It is about that time of the year when you start craving the rich flavors and textures of fall.  There is no doubt that I look cooking in the fall, but sometimes with the kids schedules, working at the restaurant, and the millions of errands I have to run I don’t have time to cook a meal when I get home.  If you have kids you know, hungry kids equal crabby kids. 

I am not one to pick up food, obviously I love cooking I work in a restaurant, so I have mastered the slow cooker meals.  It is perfect, before I leave for the restaurant or after the kids leave for school I put some ingredients into the slow cooker and by the time I get home we have a wonderful meal to be had. 

Here are my family’s favorite slow cooker recipes for fall. 

Pumpkin Chili (Vegan)

•    1 bag of meat free crumbles (I use Boca Ground Crumbles)
•    1 medium onion, chopped
•    1 cup canned pumpkin
•    1, 28 oz. can diced stew tomatoes
•    1, 15 oz. can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
•    1, 12 oz. bottle of chili sauce
•    1-2 tbsp. chili powder
•    2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1tsp. pepper

•    In a crock pot combine all the ingredients and cook on low for 3-4 hours. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Buffalo Chicken Dip

•    1, 8 oz. package of seasoned meatless chicken style strips (I use Morningstar Farms Chik’n Strips)
•    2, 8 oz. packages of reduced fat cream cheese
•    1, 16 oz. bottle of reduced fat ranch dressing
•    1, 12 fluid oz. bottle of buffalo wing sauce
•    1 cup Colby-Monterey Jack cheese blend

•    Place the diced meatless chicken strips, cream cheese, ranch, and buffalo sauce in a slow cooker.  Cook on low for 1-2 hours until hot stirring occasionally.  Top with shredded cheese, let melt and serve.  Enjoy!

Vegetarian Crockpot Lasagna-

•    2, 24 oz. jars of Italian tomato sauce
•    9 think lasagna noodles
•    24 oz. part-skim ricotta cheese
•    3-4 cups chopped veggies of your choice
•    2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
•    Parmesan cheese for topping
•    Fresh parsley to top if desired

•    Spray the crockpot with nonstick spray and spread ½ cup of tomato sauce on the bottom, layer noodles to cover majority of the bottom.  Cover noodles with about 1/3 of ricotta, veggies, sauce, cheese, and then top with noodles again.  Cover noodles with a thin layer of sauce and cheese.
•    Cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5-6 hours.  After cooked let sit for 1 hour.  Serve and enjoy!

There is no shame in being a busy mommy, and slow cooker meals make preparing dinner so much easier.  So pull out your crockpot and slow cook away!

Go green and stay keen,


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Beans in the Pantry

I often write about how to make easy dinners and breakfasts when your family is running around like crazy.  If you have young children you know that being busy is just a part of daily life.  Prepping meals before and planning ahead can be hard when your mind is running in a million different places.  When I’m really desperate I turn to my pantry and find something I can throw together. 

Coming up with recipes using beans I find in the pantry has become somewhat of an art to me.  Luckily for me unlike most kids, Hannah and Liam love beans when they are disguised well.  I’ve come up with some really good recipes that are easy and can be thrown together with those extra beans you find pantry.

I love making dinner in a skillet so my Cheesy Bean Enchilada Skillet is one of my family’s favorites, I made it tonight! 

•    1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions
•    1 tbsp. olive oil
•    2 cloves garlic, minced
•    1 small onion, diced
•    1 bell pepper, diced
•    1 cup canned corn kernels, drained
•    1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
•    ¾ cup mild enchilada sauce, I used the Old El Paso brand
•    ½ cup mild green enchilada sauce, I used the Old El Paso brand again
•    ½ tsp. chili powder
•    ¼ tsp. cumin
•    ¼ tsp. oregano
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    1 cup Mexican cheese, shredded
•    2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped

•    In a large skillet heat the olive oil, garlic, onion, and bell pepper stir for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the rice, corn, black beans, enchilada sauces, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and stir until mixed.  Stir and cook for about 5 minutes then add the salt and pepper to taste. 
•    Remove from the heat and top with the cheese and cover until it is melted, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

My family loves Mexican food so when I have extra beans and the “crew” doesn’t want enchiladas, Cauliflower and Chickpea Tacos are always a hit. 

•    2 tsp. chili powder
•    1 tsp. ground cumin
•    ¼ tsp. garlic powder
•    ¼ tsp. onion powder
•    1 tsp. sea salt
•    1 tbsp. lime juice
•    1 tbsp. olive oil
•    1 tbsp. water
•    1, 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
•    1 small head cauliflower, washed, and cut into small florets
•    Tortillas
•    Toppings of your choice, we like using jalapeños, avocado, cilantro, and salsa

•    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
•    Mix the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, lime juice, olive oil, water, chickpeas, and cauliflower in a bowl.  Pour the contents of the bowl on a greased baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes until the chickpeas are almost crispy and the cauliflower is crispy, stirring occasionally.
•    Assemble the tacos in the tortillas and top with your chosen toppings.  Enjoy your yummy tacos!

When I have a little more time, Double Bean Burgers with Avocado Cream are my no fail dinner that everyone will enjoy!

Ingredients for avocado cream-
•    2/3 cup sour cream
•    1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and chopped
•    10 basil leaves, finely chopped
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    Pinch of pepper

Instructions for cream-
•    Mix all the ingredients in a bowl with a fork thoroughly,  I sometimes use a food processor to really get a cream.

Ingredients for burgers-
•    1, 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
•    1, 15 oz. can of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
•    1 large egg and 1 large egg white, lightly beaten with the whole egg
•    ½ cup bread crumbs
•    3 tbsp. olive oil
•    3 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
•    4 garlic cloves, minced
•    ½ tsp. paprika
•    ½ tsp. onion powder
•    ¼ tsp. salt
•    ¼ tsp. pepper
•    6 whole wheat buns, or buns of your choice

Instructions for burgers-
•    Mash the beans in a large bowl.  Add the cilantro, garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. 
•    In another bowl mix the eggs with olive oil and bread crumbs.  Add the mixture to the bean mixture and combine well.  Form the mixture to 6 patties, I use my hands. 
•    Heat a skillet with about 1 tbsp. olive oil and cook the burgers until they are golden on each side. 
•    Top with avocado cream and toppings of your choice on the bun.  Enjoy!

Next time you don’t know what to make and you have a few kinds of beans in your pantry, use one of these recipes!  I am sure your family will love it!

Go Green and Stay Keen,


Friday, August 17, 2018

Make Your Own Main Ingredients

Ever since I began growing my herb garden in 2014, I always try making my own spices and ingredients and try using natural herbs to achieve that flavor I want.  I have been getting pretty creative with combining herbs, spices, and natural ingredients in recipes and my family loves it.

I was talking to my mother today about my spice mixes and how I have been mixing herbs to make a unique flavor and she said she always used to made her own while I was a kid, I had no idea.  It makes a lot of sense making your own because not only does it save money, you can make it in bulk and make your own special blend.

Here are five ingredients and spices I have recently been making-

Homemade Brown Sugar

•    1 cup granulated sugar
•    1 tbsp. unsulfured molasses

•    In a bowl mix the sugar and molasses together with your fingers until the molasses is fully absorbed into the sugar.  Seal your brown sugar in a storage container for later use.

Homemade Taco Seasoning

•    2 tsp. chili powder
•    1 ½ tsp. paprika
•    1 ½ tsp. cumin
•    1 tsp. onion powder
•    ½ tsp. sea salt
•    Dash of cayenne pepper

•    Combine all the ingredients in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware and thoroughly mix and store for later use.  (In recipes 1 package of seasoning equals 3 tbsp.)

In the fall I love making my own Pumpkin Pie Spice

•    ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
•    1 tsp. ground cloves
•    2 tsp. ground ginger
•    4 tsp. ground cinnamon

•    Combine all the ingredients in a Ziploc bag or Tupperware and thoroughly mix and store for later use.

For grilling Lemon Pepper Seasoning tastes wonderful-

•    5 or more lemons, zest’ed
•    About 1/3 cup of crushed peppercorn
•    ¼ cup kosher salt

•    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; spread out and mix the lemon zest and pepper and back on your ovens lowest setting until the lemon is completely dry.
•    Place mixture in a spice grinder and grind until your desired texture.  Mix with the salt and store for later use.

My favorite dressing is Italian, so when I found a recipe for the Italian Dressing Mix I was thrilled!


Italian Dressing Mix

•    1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
•    1 tbsp. onion powder
•    2 tsp. oregano
•    1 tbsp. dried parsley
•    2 tsp. sea salt
•    1 tsp. pepper
•    ½ tsp. thyme
•    ½ tsp. dried celery flakes

•    Mix all the ingredients together and store in a jar. 
•    To make the dressing per serving- mix 2 tbsp. of the mixture with ¼ cup red wine vinegar, 2 tsp. water, and ½ cup olive oil.  Enjoy!

Do you make any of your own spices or ingredients?  I would love to learn to make more!

Go Green and Stay Keen,


Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Easy 30 minute meals for busy moms

It is that time of the year where the kids are almost done with school and beginning all their summer activities.  Liam is continuing to play soccer and Hannah decided to join him and play in the girls league.  We had our “parents meeting” last week and the kids began practice this week. 

You would think because they are both playing for the same league they would have practice and games on the same day…that is wishful thinking on my part.  We are going to be doing a lot of running around, Liam has practice and games on Mondays and Wednesdays, and Hannah has it on Tuesdays and Thursdays…oh the joys of summer sports leagues. 

After this week of constant running around on top of their school work, they are exhausted and so are my husband and I.  I quickly figured out that if we don’t want to have fast food every day, I need to rediscover my quick 30 minute recipes; we have one hour set aside for eating.  I dug out some of the kids favorite recipes that are easy and can be made in 30 minutes or less.

If you are running around this summer like we are, I am sure you will love these.

Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

•    1 ½ lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
•    4 tbsp. olive oil
•    1 tsp. cumin
•    1 tsp. paprika
•    ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
•    Salt and pepper to taste
•    1 small yellow onion, diced
•    1 clove garlic, minced
•    1, 14.5 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
•    1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
•    3 tbsp. honey
•    3 tbsp. lime juice
•    2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
•    Tortillas
•    Any toppings you would like; we use lettuce, cheese, avocado, and some salsa

•    Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
•    Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the sweet potatoes and coat with 3 tbsp. olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and toss to coat the potatoes.  Bake for 12-20 minutes and let cool.
•    While the potatoes are baking, heat the 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the onion and sauté until caramelized.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, black beans, corn, honey, and lime juice.  Heat in skillet until everything is warmed.  Remove from heat and add the potatoes and cilantro, toss and serve in the tortillas with your toppings of choice.  Enjoy your yummy and quick tacos!

I don’t know any kid who doesn’t like a quick and easy Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Stovetop Mac & Cheese

•    8 oz. dry pasta
•    3 tbsp. butter
•    3 tbsp. flour
•    1 ¼ cup fat-free milk, heated
•    1 cup shredded cheese of your choice
•    Salt and pepper to taste

•    In a large pot bring water to boil and cook pasta accordingly.  As the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and then add flour and whisk into the butter for about 5 minutes.  Add ½ cup of the heated milk into the saucepan and continue to whisk thoroughly mixing together.  Add the rest of the milk and continue to stir to the constancy of your liking.

•    Reduce the heat and mix in the cheese and cook until melted and smooth.  Pour over cooked noodles and stir together.  Add salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Caprese Pasta

•    ½ cup white onion, diced
•    1 tbsp. olive oil
•    2 ½ cup dry pasta
•    1 package grape tomatoes, halved
•    5 fresh basil leaves
•    2 ½ cup water
•    ½ tsp. slat
•    ½ tsp. black pepper
•    1 ½ cup fresh mozzarella
•    2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
•    Chopped basil to garnish

•    In a large skillet sauté the olive oil and onions until soft. Add the pasta, sliced tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, water, salt and pepper, and stir to combine.  Bring to boil and cook until pasta is done and water is reduced.  Top with the mozzarella and over the pan so the cheese melts.  Top with balsamic vinegar and basil.  Enjoy! 

Go green and stay keen,


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Homemade School Snacks

It is so important to keep my kids stomachs from growling, especially while they are at school learning.  Today Liam and Hannah helped me make some granola bars for them to keep in their backpacks and pack in lunches.  Making granola bars is a fun and easy way to make sure there are good nutrients to keep your kids focused all day long.

Here are three easy granola bars that we made today.  I promise, they are kid friendly!

Chocolate Brownie Granola Bars

•    1 ½ cup rolled outs
•    1 cup chopped nuts
•    1 cup walnuts- food processed into small pieces
•    2 cups pitted dates
•    ¾ cup cocoa powder
•    ¼ cup natural peanut butter
•    ¼ cup agave nectar

•    Use a food processor and process walnuts until they are in small pieces, add the cocoa powder and process to combine together.  Remove and set aside.
•    Process dates until they are small chucks and have a dough like consistency then add the walnut and cocoa mixture and process.
•    In a large mixing bowl, empty the mixture and add the oats and nuts and stir to combine thoroughly.
•    In a small skillet warm the agave nectar and peanut butter on medium heat until it is pourable and pour over the mixture.  Mix thoroughly, I like to use my hands.
•    Spread in a lined small pan to your desired thickness and press down to compact.  Freeze for about 15-20 minutes then chop into bars. 
•    Store in the freezer or fridge.  Enjoy your brownie granola bars!

Easy Peanut Butter Pretzel and M&M Granola Bars

•    2 cups old fashioned oats
•    1 cup rice krispies
•    ½ cup pretzels, chopped
•    ¼ cup mini M&M’s
•    4 tbsp. butter
•    ¼ cup honey
•    ¼ cup peanut butter
•    ¼ cup brown sugar
•    1 tsp. vanilla extract

•    Mix the oats, rice krispies, pretzels, and mini M&M’s in a large bowl.
•    In a medium saucepan melt the butter, honey, peanut butter and brown sugar and bring to a boil then simmer on medium for about 2-3 minutes constantly stirring.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  Pour the mixture over the oat mixture and stir together until everything is well combined.
•    Pour the mixture in an 8x8 inch lined pan and press and pack everything down.  Sprinkle extra M&M’s if desired and refrigerate for about 30 minutes, remove and cut.
•    Store in the fridge.  Enjoy!

Easy 30 Minute Granola Bars

•    2 cups old fashioned oats
•    1 cup brown sugar
•    1 cup whole wheat flour
•    ½ tsp. baking soda
•    ½ tsp. baking powder
•    1 tsp. cinnamon
•    1 tsp. salt
•    1 tsp. vanilla
•    ½ cup honey
•    Any dried fruit or chocolate chips you might have on hand

•    Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
•    Mix all the ingredients and press into a greased 11X13 pan.  It will be crumbly but press down really hard until a little resemblance of dough forms.  Bake for about 20 minutes until the edges are lightly browned.
•    Let cool and cut into bars.  Enjoy!

These are my “growling” fixes.  What are your favorite granola bars?

Go Green and Stay Keen,


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Easter Bunny Bait

It is almost Easter!  Although it is not one of our favorite holidays it is a sure sign that spring is coming and I couldn’t be more excited.  A few weeks ago we all decorated the house with bright colors and eggs; it is amazing how bright decorations can really bring a sense of cheerfulness into a home.  Today Liam and Hannah decorated some eater eggs and made “Easter Bunny Bait” so that the Easter Bunny will bring them their baskets tomorrow.

I found this recipe years ago and use it all the time because it is so easy and delicious.  If you need to entice the Easter Bunny to hop to your house, here is the recipe for Easter Bunny Bait.

(the M&M’s, peanuts, pretzels and sprinkles can be changed to other candies or have more of one than the other depending on your sweet tooth preference)

•    1 package white candy melts
•    10 cups air popped popcorn or 2 packages of micro-wave popcorn
•    1 ½ cup pastel M&M’s
•    1 ½ cup salted peanuts
•    1 ½ cup twig style pretzels, I break them in half or thirds to have more
•    Multi-colored sprinkles

•    In a large bowl mix the popcorn, M&M’s, peanuts, and pretzels.
•    In a glass measuring cup microwave the candy melts, checking and stirring every 30 seconds until it is fully melted.
•    Pour the melts over the popcorn mix and immediately stir coating the mixture.  Add the sprinkles and continue to mix.  Dump mixture on a flax surfaced covered with wax paper and let cool and harden.  Your Easter Bunny will like your bait!

Liam and Hannah has so much fun making the bait, although they did eat a good portion of it while mixing…  I think they had more fun getting messy and painting eggs.  We always wait until the day before the dye eggs and I always realize on that day it is a bad idea; the kids have dyed hands for Easter.  It makes for interesting photos.

Hannah, as always, got really creative using jewels, stickers and sparkles to decorate her eggs.  They were beautiful.  Liam on the other hand was dipping them and painting them with all the colors…they turned out “delightfully Liam beautiful.”  I have to laugh when they do crafts together, they are so opposite. 
Hope you had fun decorating and getting ready for Easter!

Go Green and Stay Keen,