cooking, essential oils, oils, recipe, recipes, seed to seal, young living

Peppermint Chocolate Chip Cookies

November means it’s time for Peppermint Mocha Lattes and Hallmark Christmas movies (here’s the line up!) and warm socks and holiday baking! Hey, if Starbucks can release their holiday cups, seasonal drinks, and cranberry bliss bars on November 1st, I can certainly add a little peppermint to my life.

One thing I am really passionate about is my Young Living essential oils so when I can combine them with my love of food, it’s a match made in heaven. Young Living has a Vitality dietary essential oils line that I love especially for this. Plus only $10 for a 5ml as a member is a great deal since the oil is 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oil. But really, it’s all about the taste and judging by how few peppermint chocolate chip cookies I have left (looking at you Joey!) something must be very right.

My recipe is listed below for but if you have your own favorite recipe, simply follow it and add 3-5 drops of Young Living Vitality peppermint essential oil.

If you want to know more about Young Living, their seed to seal process, and any other questions, check them out here. If you want to become a member, click here and earn your 24% member discount. 

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avocado, cooking

Arrachera Taco Tuesday

In honor of #tacotuesday I am going to share my recipe for arrachera which is Mexican marinated skirt steak. It’s something Joey and I love to grill and share with friends. We perfected the marinade this summer and I am happy to share with you!

Ingredients

  • 2-4lbs arrachera butterflied and tenderized by butcher and cut into 2-4 pieces. Otherwise tenderize yourself until 1 1/8 inch thin
  • 4 fresh lime + 1 bottle on hand Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice (you won’t use it all but this is definitely the best lime juice to use along with fresh)
  • 1 (32)oz bottle of Corona La Familiar (Corona Extra works as well)
  • 6 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 large red or white onion diced
  • 2 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic/Glass deep container with lid, big enough to hold meat + Corona

Directions

  1. I personally like to clear my kitchen island/counter entirely, lay out my spices and open them, and line my work space with clear plastic wrap.
  2. Lay out meat so it is all spread out and flat on the plastic wrap
  3. Open Corona and pour entire bottle into container
  4. Squeeze in about 3 tbsp or so of bottled lime juice
  5. Add in 1/2 of the diced onion plus 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  6. Add in roughly 5 generous dashes each of all spices listed
  7. Rub the juice of three limes into both sides of the meat. You can do one side at a time or do all at once
  8. Put one half of all spice amounts above on each side of meat and rub in
  9. Do the same with minced garlic and rub in
  10. Use remaining 1/2 of onion and sprinkle on one side of meat
  11. Roll each section of meat tight into until it looks like a meat burrito and then secure with toothpicks
  12. Place each roll into container, submerged in liquid
  13. Marinate in refrigerator 12-24 hours for best results
  14. Grilling the meat! Make sure your bbq grills are clean and ready to go
  15. Turn on bbq to medium to low heat and wait to heat up about 5 minutes or so
  16. Unroll meat rolls, taking out toothpicks
  17. Place meat directly on grill over flames
  18. Cook for 5-7 minutes and flip
  19. Cook for another 5-7 for medium results.
  20. Take off grill and put on cutting board
  21. Get your cooks knife out and slice into small stips
  22. Chop strips
  23. Heat up some tortillas on the grill
  24. Chop up some cilantro and white onion
  25. Make your tacos and enjoy!

Tip: You can make an Avocado Cream sauce by throwing 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt with 1 large Avocado,and some Tony Chachere’s creole spice and lime juice to taste. Pulse and enjoy over tacos!

cooking, DIY, food, home improvement, life

Falling into the season

I don’t know about you but I can never remember what I do Friday nights. I’m pretty sure it involved some wine and puppy snuggles and a book though. Usually I remember by what I ate for dinner but this one’s a blank so must have been REAL exciting.

Saturday Joey and I went to Evanston Rebuilding Warehouse, a great spot in Evanston which is a non profit that helps the community. They sell reclaimed items, often from home/building remodeling jobs and so you can find tons of vintage and unique items for sale at a great price. They use the money for on job training, education and to help the community. We found an amazing half-door made from fence posts, that worked out perfect for our kitchen/dining room doorway. I’m planning on redoing our dining room into a rustic design so this was the perfect start. One side was finished and the other was blank so with some extra wood from Home Depot and a few nails, we added a ledge and matched the finished side. I’d say it came out pretty darn good. It came spring-loaded so it was a breeze to attach and is heavy enough the dogs and cats can’t push it. Total project cost: $32

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Fall is my favorite season and I couldn’t wait for this weekend and some crisp weather so I could do some seasonal cooking and baking. I was really craving some chili and cornbread for a comfy fall dinner so we loaded up the crock pot Saturday morning. I have a great chili recipe I will post this week and it does not disappoint! I also made the cornbread with some garlic herb butter, I highly recommend doing this to add some great flavor.

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love these chili pots

Sunday Joey worked at night and I felt like baking so I ended up making a cream cheese filled pumpkin  bundt cake from Real House Moms and it turned out great!! While usually I would just slather delicious cream cheese frosting all over it, I did actually do a glaze because the bundt cake looked so good and I didn’t want to sugar overload anyone.

I love how all my pictures came out and can’t be happier with my Canon Rebel T6 camera Joey gave me for my birthday. I love taking food photos and trying to plate my dishes better. I am going to grab a 50mm camera on the recommendation of my besties Alex and Caroline to have a better depth of focus.

What did you all do this weekend?

 

avocado, cooking, essential oils, garlic, health, home, kitchen, kitchen aid, oils, young living

Kitchen Staples

So everyone who cooks at home has a few things they always have on hand and use on a regular basis. When you’re a beginner, you start with a few basic spices and accessories and then add as you go along. So now that I would say I am an intermediate home cook, I have definitely figured out what my staples are.

Garlic (fresh and powder)- The rule in our house is that you can never have too much garlic. Plus, if we’re both eating it then it we don’t even notice when we kiss. Garlic taste good in pretty much everything and has so many great health benefits! Adding more flavor to my food and not using any fattening or high calorie sauces is great. We use mostly fresh garlic and I throw it in my ninja and 5 seconds later, fresh chopped garlic. When it’s for eggs I tend to use the garlic salt. Garlic taste great in burgers, cauliflower mashed potatoes, steak, eggs, etc.

Avocado- Considered a major superfood, avocado has so many health benefits and is delicious. You can add it to breakfast, lunch, dinner and even dessert! We always have a few on hand and it always makes a great addition in health and taste. No, I am not thrilled with avocado shortages (thanks Mexican drug cartels!) but it is worth the high price sometimes to have such a great food on hand. It’s even great in smoothies, so weird but true! Plus just slice it, add some lime juice or garlic salt and it makes a great snack

Kitchen Aid Mixer-Really any mixer will do but there is just something about owning a Kitchen Aid mixer. I got mine about a year and a half ago as a birthday gift and I am obsessed! Joey got mine from Williams-Sonoma in Raspberry Ice. I use it for cookies, pie dough, banna bread, whipped cream, dips, etc. It makes life a million times easier and has so many awesome attachments. I want the meat grinder next but that will wait until we do a meat CSA and get a freezer.

Food Processor- I have the Ninja Pulse and am obsessed! It’s funny because I didn’t use it that much when I first got it and now we use it daily. I use it for chopping garlic to making pesto to making smoothies and even almond butter. With the different attachments it comes with and then the little cup for single serve smoothies/juices, it is a life saver. It is easy to clean, store, and makes prep work a dream. We used to spend forever chopping garlic and doing everything by hand and now it’s all done in a matter of minutes. Averaging about $80, it is a great investment!

Spices-I know I already mentioned garlic but there a few more spices that are great to have in your arsenal. Besides, it usually takes a while to go through this and they last a long time so it’s not much to invest in great flavor. So try to always have: (himalayan) salt, pepper, paprika, oregeno, chilli powder, and onion powder. Depending on what you like, don’t forget basil or rosemary.

Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning- This is my new favorite staple hands down!I know a lot of people are really into FlavorGod seasonings and I will probably check them out but I don’t think they can beat Tony’s amazing spice blend. No MSG, just a delicious mix of spices to adda kick to any meal. I love it on chicken or in my eggs and I have been adding it to my burgers to make a fabulous dish. We started using Tony Chachere’s for the deep fried turkey on Thanksgiving and now I am hooked.

Oils (including Essential Oils)-Keep Olive oil and coconut oil on hand, and even some vegetable oil. I don’t like spray in my pans, why have the extra chemicals when you can use olive oil? As for essential oils, they are great for cooking as well. I love using peppermint for baking or adding a little lemon or rosemary to a dish. Pure and simple and a little goes a long way.

 The great thing about cooking at home is that you can experiment and try new things and not worry about being judged. Unless you’re a home cook on Master Chef, then good luck! I like being able to find healthier alternatives to some of my favorites meals so cooking at home really helps with that!

I know my friends Samantha and Michelle love their immersion blenders and make great soups so that’s on my want list. I also want a new spice rack to hold all the fun spices were acquiring.

So what are your kitchen staples? What are your ‘must have’s’ to cook with?
budget, cooking, cranberry, health, healthy, paleo, recipe, salad, steak, thrifty, tilapia

Three under $20 meals for a healthy body and budget

So cooking is something I’ve never been very good at. My family all are great cooks and there’s just never been a need to really learn until recently. I’ve learned it’s more fun and better on the budget to cook for two. JoeyWaffles and I cooking started more in the last year and it’s going well. 

We try to eat little to no bread save a bagel here and there, low sugar, minimal dairy, basically a modified Paleo. Being healthy is something we both actively strive for so cooking at home is a great way to make that happen.

Everyone says that eating healthy costs more and while that is true, it’s an investment in your health and future. Trust me when I say you don’t have to break the bank to have a meal that’s tasty, healthy, and look fabulous. Here are 3 dishes that are under $20, healthy, and easy to make! 

So everyone needs a go to dish. Something you can bring to a party or a potluck that everyone likes and makes you a hit. So what’s my easy go to? This under $20 Cranberry Goat Cheese mixed green salad with pecans. So how do you make it? Easily. Very Easily.

North Shore Poor’s Fancy like Iggy Azalea Any Season Salad

Grab
-1 container of mixed green or spinach. $5
-1 package of Fisher Nut Pecans $5
-1 package of crumbled goat cheese $4
-1 package of dried cranberries (8oz will do) $3

For a dressing I usually mix
-olive oil
-lemon juice
-balsamic vinaigrette
-some minced garlic, salt, and pepper
-Dijon mustard

Directions (5 minutes or less total time)
For presentations sake, I don’t mix this but put the ingredients on top.
-Place the salad greens in your desired container
-sprinkles pecans, cranberries, and goat cheese on top.
-artfully arrange
-leave dressing on the sides
-voila! you’re done!

As you can see above, that took me about 2 minutes to make and I didn’t even take use a different container. Place in a fancy dish and you are all set!

North Shore Poor’s Easy like a Khardashian Steak Dinner

Sometimes you just want an easy dinner. You don’t want to spend an hour in the kitchen but the idea of picking up fast food holds no appeal for you. If you’re like me, it’s actually not even a last resort. Well, unless it’s a DQ blizzard, then that’s always good. So instead of hitting up a fast food joint, here’s what I do:

First, I figure out the nearest grocery store to me on my way home from work/the gym. I go in, grab a my ingredients: steak, an avocado, and some cous cous. I pick a small but good steak, usually grass fed/organic, I eat a lot less because of lap band and I always want quality over quantity. An avocado completes any meal in my opinion. You can get out of the store for under $20 even at Whole paycheck Foods, I usually have a glass of Pinot Grigio or Tempranillo in my fridge but feel free to skip the wine.

Directions (15 minutes total time)
1. Follow directions on cous cous box. Usually involves boiling water with some olive oil and the spice pack. I use Near East Roasted Garlic and Olive Oil.
2. Chop 1-2 cloves of garlic.
3. Coat steak with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder
4. Make a few shallow cuts in steak and put in cut up garlic
5. Flip steak and repeat.
6. Grab a pan and turn stove on medium heat with a little olive oil, I lie adding a little lime juice over mine but that’s a personal preference. Try it once to see. You will no be disappointed.
7. Check on cous cous and continue to follow directions. When the water is boiling add the cous cous, cover and remove from heat I believe, I don’t have the box in front of me but I’ve made it enough,
8. Place steak in hated pan.
9. Start cutting up avocado. I l ike garlic salt and lime sprinkled on mine but it can be plain or even with some lemon juice and/or salt. Again, a preference.
10. Cook steak 3-4 minutes on each side should get you to a medium rare, add more time to get your temperature preference.
11. Plate the avocado and cous cous.
12. Add the steak and enjoy!

North Shore Poor’s I Want to Binge-Watch TV in my Pj’s Tilapia 

I love any and all seafood. I guess this is from my Italian side because my Dad absolutely abhors any kind of fish. This just means at the Japanese steakhouse I get his shrimp which is a win for me. A quick and easy seafood meal is great for being low cal and delicious! Tilapia is great dinner and easy to cook without smelling to fishy.

All you need is:
-cabbage, which can you can get pre-shredded if you feel like it
-olive oil
-mayo
-lemon (bottled lemon juice is fine)
-tilapia filet
-avacado
-lime (bottled lime juice is fine)
-handful of cherry tomatoes
-1 egg

Directions
The Israeli Cabbage Salad (5 minute prep)
1. Chop us a quarter to half of a cabbage and out in bowl. Otherwise use the pre-shredded stuff.
2. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and add to bowl
3. Add a tablespoon or so of mayo
3. Add salt and pepper to taste
4. Add lemon juice, enough to wet the cabbage
5. Mix.
6. Put in fridge. Doesn’t matter covered or not since it will only be there about 15 minutes.

The Tilapia
7. Get a shallow bowl and crack egg into a bowl
8. Mix salt, pepper, garlic powder and put on a plate
9. Coat filet in egg and then dip in spice mixture, evenly on both sides
10. Get pan ready with a little olive oil and medium heat
11. Add filet and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until flaky.  I like a char so I use a higher heat for about 3 minutes. Put on plate.

12. Cut up avocado, plate, add lime and/or garlic salt
13. Take Israeli salad out, mix, plate.
14. Eat and enjoy! Use lime juice for added flavor.

Simple easy meals are the way to go to stay healthy and well fed. When you start cooking and realize how easy it is, it becomes a lot easier to make a great meal at home with fresh meat/seafood than go to a restaurant where half the time it’s poor quality and frozen. When I do go out to eat, I make it count and this weekend was no exception. Joey took me to Sabatino’s on Sunday night and I had amazing garlic tilapia and a nice glass of Pinot Grigio followed by a decadent chocolate mousse cake. Quality food in a romantic setting made for a wonderful Sunday night.

Sunday morning was even better.  JoeyWaffles went to t-mobile with his brother and took my phone while I went into home goods. I assumed he was asking about a new case or battery life or something with our plan. I met his up at Potbelly’s and he told me he got me a new case. He handed me my phone in a new case and then I realized it wasn’t my phone, it was the new Sony Xperia Z3. Besy boyfriend ever. I love surprises and I have been getting sick of my phone since I have too many pictures and no memory card slot.

Sabatino’s + new phone + seeing our friends Rick and Sara who came in from Indy= a perfect weekend.

So how about you? What are your easy to make go to recipes? Anything fun happen to you this weekend?