GARLIC, GARLIC, GARLIC -with a recipe!

its-only-garlicIf you know me, you know I love garlic! Thank goodness my husband likes garlic as much as I do or he would never want to kiss my permanent garlic breath or eat my fabulous dinners every night. 😀 Ever since I can remember I have always loved garlic, it was one of the only things that my taste buds never grew out of and I hope never will.

This afternoon I made “Artichoke and roasted garlic” dip for my hubby and his friends that were over and they loved it.

As I grew older garlic became more than just something I loved to add to foods because of the taste, I began adding it for healthy benefits. I consider myself a bit of a garlic enthusiastic and history buff. Way back in the ancient Greek civilizations garlic was prescribed to treat a variety of medical conditions. I agree with the Greeks and believe that garlic can do wonders for your body when you consume it the right way.

Here are some of my favorite benefits of garlic

• Garlic might help fight against hair loss because it has high levels of allicin, a sulfur compound that was found to treat thinning hair. To reap this benefit, rub sliced garlic cloves on your scalp or add it to oil and massage it in.

• I always turn to garlic when I feel a cold coming on. It is full of antioxidants to fight off your illness. I find that eating it raw in a salad or other recipes is the best way for it to boost your immune system. Garlic tea is also a good choice.

• There was also a study done a while ago that said that garlic could help control your weight. Even if it is just an idea, I am going to try it.  😛

• Raw garlic or garlic extract can help reduce blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels lowing the risk of heart disease.

• Garlic is very nutritious and it has very few calories…so start eating your garlic!

There are so many benefits from garlic, I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to eat it every day!

Here is my favorite Artichoke and Roasted Garlic Dip recipe-garlic-recipe

Ingredients-
• 2 heads of roasted garlic
• 6 oz. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained, and chopped
• 4 oz. cream cheese
• ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• ½ tsp. pepper
• 1 ½ cups shredded cheese, I like to use a blend of parmesan, asiago, and provolone

Instructions-
• Preheat the oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.
• In a large bowl or baking dish, mash the garlic until it becomes a thick paste then add and mix all the ingredients together, setting aside ½ cup of cheese for the top. After the mixture is thoroughly combined, top with the remaining ½ cup of cheese and pepper to taste.
• Bake for about 25-30 minutes and broil for about 5 minutes until the top is browned. Serve and enjoy your wonderful garlic dip!

What is your favorite garlic dish or side?
Until Next Time,
Nancy

Post – Thanksgiving. With recipe!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family. We had such a wonderful dinner that lasted all night. I love having the kids home and being able to have my parents, my husband’s parents, and our friends over on such a special day full of gratefulness. I was also very proud of myself because even though I was planning on letting myself indulge a little but I really kept myself in check. It was a great Thanksgiving.

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Bobby and Clara hung around the house until Sunday. I love having them stay at home, it is just like they never left. I don’t even mind doing their laundry or picking up for them while they are home, but 4 days was enough of that. 🙂 As much as I love when they are home, I do like my new peace and relaxation at home.
After they left, I didn’t have much work at the floral shop so I thought I would get a head start on Christmas shopping. I avoided leaving the house at all on “black Friday,” and thought that going during the week would be better… boy oh, boy did I forget it is officially holiday shopping season. I was fighting the crowds just to get into stores and look at the racks.
I didn’t last long shopping at the mall and instead came home and made some hot chocolate. My hot flashes haven’t been acting up so I thought I could treat myself to some of my favorite holiday drink. Being the wonderful wife I am I waited until my husband was about to get home and made our favorite holiday hot chocolate. It is so thought, but delicious and has lots of fiber, and antioxidants here is the recipe.

Prune Hot Chocolate
Ingredients-
• 1 cup almond milk
• 3-4 medium prunes
• 2 tbsp. dark cocoa powder
• A pinch of salt
• ¼ tsp. vanilla

Instructions-
• Puree all the ingredients together in a blender then heat it in a pot on the stove. I like to top it with a marshmallow. ‘Tis the season to enjoy! 🙂

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November has been such a great month and sure has flown by. I am excited for December and for the New Year ahead.

Until Next Time,

Nancy

A Panini Garage Sale Find – with recipes!

Yesterday while I was running some errand after work I happened to stop at a garage sale near my house. (I think my friend’s garage sale frenzy got into me 🙂 ) I wasn’t really looking for anything in particular, but there was a brand new Panini maker for sale for $5!

It was still in the box and never used! Being the woman I am, I had to get it. It was such a good deal I couldn’t pass it up.

I used to have a Panini maker many years ago and made sandwiches on it all time. I couldn’t wait to get back into my Panini kick. Before I went home, I turned around and when to the grocery store to get some ingredients for my favorite Panini’s. When I got home I took it out of the box to make sure it still worked and was in good quality; and luckily for me, it was! I decide to make my favorite red pepper pesto grilled cheese Panini and to make a little Panini bar for dinner.

It was so hard decided what Panini’s to make but I narrowed it down to a Caprese grilled panini, BLT, and—- , I knew my husband would love them. I made them small so that we could try all of them. 😀 Here are my favorite Panini recipes.

Who doesn’t love a Caprese Grilled Panini?

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of bread
• ½ tomato, sliced
• ½ cup mozzarella cheese
• 4 tbsp. pesto
• 2 tsp. olive oil
• Black pepper to taste

Instructions-
• Brush one side of each slice of bread with olive oil then spread the pest on the other side of both slices. On one slice sprinkle mozzarella on top of the pesto, top with the tomato slices, and add pepper.
• Form the sandwich and place in the Panini maker until the cheese is melted and warmed through.

The best BLT you will ever have-

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of bread
• 1/2 avocado, peeled, pitted, sliced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 1 egg, fried
• ½ cup spinach
• 2 slices turkey bacon, cooked
• ¼ cup mayonnaise
• ½ tsp. hot sauce

Instructions-
• Mix the hot sauce and mayonnaise in small bowl. Spread on the slices of bread, add the turkey bacon, tomato, avocado, spinach, and egg. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
• Place in Panini maker and grill until the bread is toasted, enjoy!

And my special Big Green Panini

Ingredients-
• 2 slices of ciabatta bread
• 2-3 tbsp. basil pesto
• 4 slices or sharp cheddar cheese
• 3-4 slices of green pepper
• 3-4 slices of green zucchini squash
• 1 handful of kale
• 1 handful of sprouts

Instructions-
• In a pan sauté the bell pepper, zucchini, and kale for about 5 minutes.
• Spread the pesto on the slices of bread, layer with cheese, bell pepper, zucchini, and kale. Top with the sprouts and place in the Panini maker for until crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Enjoy!

If you have a Panini maker you will understand my love for them and how many creations you can make. I am so excited I found one for such a good deal and can make Panini’s for days again! 🙂

Until Next Time,

Nancy

4th of July Fun!

Happy Fourth of July! This year with the fourth landing on a Monday, all of our parties and fireworks were on weekend. We were pretty busy the last weekend so, today will be nice just hanging out and relaxing on the day off. We attended two fabulous Fourth of July parties at my husband’s coworker’s home and my sisters. It was a really fun weekend party hopping and helping my sister decorate and cook for her barbecue.
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My sister asked if I would help her decorate and make some of the food, of course I said yes. Over the past year or so I have really become quite the party decorator. It is always fun when I get to spend time with my sister, especially when it is something I am better at than her.

We came up with some simple party decoration ideas that wouldn’t cost a lot of money and were simple enough to keep the party relaxed. I had these big red and white buckets from a party I had a while ago for Bobby that we made into coolers for the drinks. We just filled them up with ice and put the pop in them. I also made cute little vases with red and white tulips for the tables. Tulips are very clean and crisp flowers that worked perfect for what my sister was going for. My sister insisted on using overhanging lights with red and blue bulbs to really give it a cozy feeling. It ended up looking very cute and patriotic.

After we decided on the decorations and got them all hung up and situated we began our kitchen fun! My sister assigned me to making desserts and snacky foods, my favorite. I made the cutest American flag fruit pizza, it look fabulous and tasted even better. I also made a grape salad, frozen watermelon drinks, and fresh salsa. Here are my super easy recipes I used for my Fourth of July concoctions.

Easy Grape Salad
easy-grape-saladIngredients-
• 1 lbs. seedless green grapes, stems removed, washed and halved
• 1 lbs. seedless red grapes
• 1, 8 oz. package of softened cream cheese
• 1, 7 oz. jar marshmallow crème
• 1, 6 oz. package of almonds, chopped or slivered

Instructions-
• Stir the cream cheese and marshmallow crème together until smooth and creamy. Add the grapes to the mixture and stir in. Fold in the almonds and stir until grapes and almonds are coated with the cream cheese mixture.
• Serve chilled, enjoy!

Frozen Watermelon Drinkseasy-watermelon-drink
Ingredients-
• 4 cups seedless watermelon chunks
• ½ cup sugar
• 1 lemon, juiced

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients together in a food processor and puree until smooth. Pout into a pan and freeze, about 1 hour. Rake the mixture with a fork and freeze for another hour, and repeat one more time. Then rake and serve in cups for a delicious refreshing watermelon drink, Enjoy!

Very Easy Salsa easy-salsa
Ingredients-
• 4 large tomatoes, diced
• ¼ cup chopped white onion
• 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
• 2 tsp. jalapeno, minced
• 1 ½ tsp. fresh lime juice
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• Salt to taste

Instructions-
• Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors mix, and enjoy!

Hope you had a fabulous Fourth of July “pre-weekend!”

Until Next Time,

Nancy

Happy Father’s Day

happy-fathers-dayHappy Father’s Day to all the daddy’s out there! I think it is important to celebrate our mothers and fathers everyday but especially on these days. Bobby and Clara got their father the greatest gift imaginable last year, so I had no idea how they would be able to top that. I don’t know how they did it, but they came up with a great idea that their father absolutely loved.

Last year we got him a brand new infrared grill and a cookbook and he was the most surprised I have ever seen him. Bobby and Clara are so cleaver and good at surprising both of us. This year I helped them brain storm a little but let them take the reins. We decided since we went with such a huge gift last year, we are going to keep the gift thoughtful and more realistic.

To go along with last year’s gift, Bobby and Clara wanted to get him some new grill tools. I thought it was such a good idea. They found a good deal on a grilling set and got him some “man” spices and sauces that he can use.

This morning we made him breakfast in bed and brought the paper up to him. Bobby and Clara always laugh at the little things that make their father so happy. It is just a reminder to them that it is the little things that really matter.

Because it is Father’s Day and we usually always cook for him, he told us last week that he wants to grill a big juicy steak his way. He is so funny sometimes. I am sure he will love his gift and the spices and sauces and will use them for dinner. Obviously we weren’t opposed to that, it makes it easier for us.

It is going to be a great rest of the afternoon spending Father’s Day relaxing and then having my husband grill dinner 😀
Happy Father’s Day!
Nancy

Sparking the Romance

78-heart-valetineThis next week is one of the busiest out of the entire year at the floral shop because of Valentine’s Day. Although it is very busy, I love it so much. There is so much love and beauty in the air it is hard not to be romantic. I will have to work on Valentine’s Day so my husband and I decided to celebrate our love this weekend. I didn’t want to do anything extravagant, just spend time together, and that is just what we did 🙂

Yesterday we spent all day walking around town and to the beach. It was so great being active and romantic with the love of my life. When we got home we sat outside and enjoyed the sunset setting and our beautiful back yard. It has had quite the makeover in the past year.

Once the sun was down we continued our romantic day in the kitchen. We made a wonderful dinner together; crab rigatoni…YUMMY! It is so much fun when we are both in the kitchen, he is so goofy. Even when we are trying to be intimate he always says something so funny we both end up cracking up. His humor is what keeps our marriage always growing.

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Our dinner was so delicious and hilarious….my husband cooked the noodles a little too “al dente” and nearly burnt them to the pot. Luckily I remembered and the pasta wasn’t a total loss. We were laughing too hard to even care. 🙂 I had made chocolate covered strawberries for desert and frozen raspberries to put into our champagne for the evening. Our meal is incredible.

78-tom-hanks-me-ryan-sleepless-in-seattleAfter we finally calmed down from laughing we watched one of our favorite romantic movies, Sleepless in Seattle. I forgot how much I loved it. I don’t think we sat down to watch a movie since Christmas when the kids were home. It was nice snuggling with a blanket, sipping our champagne, and enjoying each other’s company.

We won’t be able to spend much time together this week but this weekend definitely made up for it. I love my husband so much and each moment we spend laughing makes me remember why I fell in love with him.

Our pre-Valentine’s Day date was perfect!

Until next time,

Nancy

October Already? (Soup recipes here) :D

Happy October! I still can’t believe that it is officially fall and OCTOBER; time has flow this year. I love fall so much. Working at the floral shop has given me a little taste of fall already working at a few fall themed events already. Fall gives off such a warm feeling with all the rich colors, sweaters, and spices. Oh how I love a pumpkin spiced latte… 😀 SHHHH don’t tell, I know they are not good for my healthy lifestyle.

This month I want to set some more goals to work towards to keep my healthy lifestyle. I want to continue my tai chi practices and zumba whenever I am able to make it. I will continue to eat healthy and adventure out of my comfort zone with foods. I want to make as many soups as I can this month because October and fall are the best time of the year to make soup. I want to take my husband on a date and keep our romance burning. I don’t think my goals are too difficult, I have confidence I will be able to achieve all of them. 😀
I found two soup recipes I really want to try this fall…here they are.
Fall Chicken Stew

chicken-stew

Ingredients-
• 5 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
• 1 lbs. chicken tenders, cut into small pieces
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
• ½ tsp. dried rosemary
• ½ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. ground pepper
• 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 2 granny smith apples, peeled and chopped
• 2 tsp. cider vinegar
Instructions-
• Heat 2 tsp. of oil in a pan and add chicken and cook through. Set on the side covered.
• In a pot add the remaining 3 tsp. oil, onion, parsnips, carrots, rosemary, salt and pepper; cook until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the broth and apples and bring to a simmer stirring often until the vegetables are tender. Add the chicken and vinegar to the pot and enjoy!

Cream of Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

rice-soup

Ingredients-
• 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 cups sliced mushrooms
• ¾ cup chopped celery
• ¼ cup chopped shallots
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• ¼ tsp. salt
• ¼ tsp. ground pepper
• 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 1 cup instant wild rice
• 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
• ½ cup reduced fat sour cream
• 2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
• Heat the oil in a saucepan then add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, and shallots and cook until softened. Add the flour, salt, pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
• Add the rice to the saucepan and heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until the rice is cooked through. Stir in the chicken, sour cream, and parsley and heat for about 2 minutes. Enjoy!

I hope you all are ready for a fabulous fall full of fun! 😀 What are you planning to do during October?

Until next time,
Nancy

The Perfect Father’s Day Gift

Bobby and Clara have been working with me to figure out the perfect gift for their father and my loving husband. When they first brought up that they wanted to do something really special I was beyond excited. Just talking about Father’s Day we immediately got talking about the funny times we have had and all the crazy things he taught my kids.
Buying gifts for my husband has always been tough, he is such a modest person and always says he just wants our company. This year we really wanted to give him a gift he wouldn’t forget.
We had been brainstorming for quite a while, until I saw a cook book called, Carnivore by Michael Symons, he would love it. I told my kids and they loved the idea, but we still wanted to do something a little more.
This weekend Bobby called Clara and me, he had the idea we were searching for, to get higrillm a grill! He loves grilling and our grill has been going downhill lately, it was perfect. We found a grill online from a store near us and ordered it.

The grill came in today and I went to look at it. It is super fancy, he is going to love it. We chose to get him an Infrared grill because they are supposed to cook more evenly and last longer. The grill has 3 burners and a side burner, he is going to grill for the entire neighborhood 😛
I am so excited to give it to him. Clara and Bobby are coming home on Saturday and I think we are going to have it delivered here in the morning so he can use it and his new cookbook. This is going to be the best Father’s Day for him!
What are you gifting for Father’s Day?

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Until next time,
Nancy

Healthy Dessert Recipes

If you are anything like me, it can be really difficult satisfying your sweet tooth when you are trying to eat healthy. When it comes to dessert I do not and will not skimp. Although I want to be able to have dessert, I don’t want it to jeopardize a good meal.

I have found some fool proof desserts that are actually delicious, satisfy my sweet tooth, AND I won’t pay for it later. These three easy, healthy desserts will change your mind about having dessert while eat healthy. I think you can make a healthy alternative for just about anything. Here are my favorites!

Even though it is summer, I love just about anything flavored pumpkin anytime. I made this “pumpkin pie” a few times. It is so delicious!

Pumpkin Pie Whip
Ingredients-
• 1, 15 oz. can of pumpkin puree
• ½ cup skim milk
• 1, 1 oz. package of instant sugar-free vanilla pudding mix
• 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
• 1, 8 oz. container fat free frozen whipped topping

Instructions-
• In a medium bowl, mix together the pumpkin, milk, instant pudding mix, pumpkin pie spice, and fold in half of the whipped topping.
• Pour into an 8-inch pie plate and spread whipped topping over the top. Chill for an hour or until it is set.
• Enjoy pumpkin anytime of the year!

These are easiest brownies you could ever make. And they are healthy and quick!

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Raw Brownies
Ingredients-
• 1 cup rolled oats
• ½ cup carob powder
• ¼ cup toasted ground sesame seeds
• ¼ cup ground sunflower seeds
• ½ cup honey
• 2 cups chopped walnuts

Instructions-
• Combine the oats, carob powder, ground sesame seeds, ground sunflower seeds, honey and chopped nuts in a large bowl. Mix well and press into the bottom of one 8 inch square dish.
• Chill until solid. Cut into 2 inch squares to serve.
• Enjoy!

I love bananas almost as much as I love pumpkin. These cookies are really easy and taste so good!

Rich Fudge-y Raw Vegan Brownies

Healthy Banana Cookies
Ingredients-
• 3 ripe bananas
• 2 cups rolled oats
• 1 cup dates, pitted and chopped
• 1/3 cup applesauce
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions-
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
• In a large bowl mash the bananas, stir in the oats, dates, applesauce, and vanilla. After mixed well, sit for 15 minutes. Drop teaspoon sized balls on an ungreased cookie sheet.
• Bake for 20 minutes until lightly browned, Enjoy!
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Happy Desserting!

Nancy

Healthy Spring Recipes

Spring has sprung! I love spring, it is the best time of the year, everything is blooming and new energy and happiness can be found everywhere.  J  Since changing my lifestyle and eating healthier I am more aware of the “in season” fruits and vegetables.  There are so much variety in the spring, I feel like it is much easier to eat healthy.  After the changes I have made this past year, I feel like it is a great time to rediscover my healthy life and find some new recipes.

My husband and I have been taking turns cooking for each other depending who is home first.  He has recently been on a health kick that I am totally okay with.  He went to the doctor a few months ago and decided to make a change for a better life.  We stay active with each other and have been trying to continue to eat healthy.

I found a few easy spring recipes that I want to try!

Sugar Snap Pea and Shrimp Curry

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Ingredients-

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 tbsp. curry powder
  • 1 ½ lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 lbs. sugar snap peas
  • 1 cup “lite” coconut milk
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. salt

Instructions-

  • Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add curry powder and cook, stirring until fragrant. Add shrimp and peas, cook and continue stirring until the shrimp are almost cooked through.  Stir in coconut milk, lemon juice, and salt.
  • Bring to boil and cook until the shrimp have cooked through.
  • Enjoy!

Herb-Garlic Beef Roast

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Ingredients-

  • 1 oz. refrigerated cooked beef roast au jus
  • 1 lb. small round red potatoes, quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced in ¾ in pieces
  • 1 tbsp. cooking oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel

Instructions-

  • In a large skillet cook beef roast, covered over medium heat for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 5 minutes more until juices are reduced.
  • Place vegetables in microwave dish, drizzle with cooking oil and sprinkle with pepper, toss to coat. Cover with lid and microwave for 10 minutes until tender
  • Stir vegetables into the skillet with beef.
  • To make the herb garlic mixtures, combine parsley, garlic, and lemon peel to a small bowl.
  • Serve and sprinkle with herb-garlic mixture. Enjoy!

Chicken and Lemon-Broccoli Alfredo

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Ingredients-

  • 4 small skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, halfved
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tsp. lemon peel
  • Sliced lemon
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli
  • 1, 10 oz. container of refrigerated light Alfredo pasta sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions-

  • Season chicken with salt and pepper. In large skillet brown the chicken and mushrooms in hot oil.  Add broccoli and lemon slices to skillet.  Cover and cook for 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  • Place chicken and vegetables on plates, add Alfred sauce to the skillet and heat through. Serve with drizzled on top on chicken.  Add lemon peel and pepper.
  • Enjoy!

There are so many delicious recipes using fresh vegetables this season.  I have found so many on Pinterest that look absolutely wonderful! I can’t wait to get cooking and eating healthy.

Until Next time,

Nancy