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

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

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

Valentine’s Dinner Planning

It is almost Valentine’s Day, one of the busiest most romantic days for florists. Valentine’s Day is a great way to make sure you celebrate the romance and love in relationships. Although I have to work at the floral shop during the day, my boss said that I will be off in the early afternoon. Providing my husband and I the perfect time to have a romantic afternoon and dinner at our home.

I believe that best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; at least that is the case, for my hubby. Instead of going out to dinner and waiting in line with all the couples kissing, we decided to have a romantic dinner just the two of us at home. I am so happy Valentine’s Day is on Saturday this year, we have all afternoon to spend with each other and be romantic and kissy 🙂 …Clara and Bobby would laugh at us if they read that.

When I get home from work, my husband and I decided to go on a bike ride on a trail we have wanted to go on for a while and then cook our favorite dishes for dinner. We are going to have such a great time in each other’s company. I am so happy that we have time to spend together with no distractions.

Obviously I have to make a beautiful flower arrangement for our special dinner. 🙂 I have been looking up new ideas so I can create a uniquely perfect center piece. I found one I really like with roses, peonies, and tulips. It might be a little more difficult than the other ones I have made but my husband is going to think it is great regardless.

We are going to have a beautiful dinner with the flowers and our favorite foods. Here are our favorite recipes that we are going to make for our romantic Valentine’s Day dinner.

Parmesan Pork Chops parmesan-pork-chops

Ingredients-
• 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• ¼ tsp. salt
• 1 pinch ground black pepper
• 1 egg, beaten
• ¾ cup Italian bread crumbs
• ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
• 1 ½ tsp. sage
• ½ tsp. grated lemon zest
• 2 boneless pork chops
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 1 tbsp. butter

Instructions-
• Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and lightly grease a 7×11 inch baking dish
• Mix the flour, salt, ground pepper in a small bowl. Then combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, sage, and lemon peel in a shallow dish.
• Gently coat the pork chops in the flour mixture then dip into beaten egg then press into bread crumbs. Toss between hands to any crumbs not fully stuck on fall off.
• Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Brown the pork chops on each side for about 4 minutes and place on prepared baking dish. Bake until meat is fully cooked, about 10 to 15 minutes.
• Enjoy!

My husband’s favorite Sweet Potato Friesswee-potato-fried

Ingredients-
• 4 medium sweet potatoes
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• ¾ tsp. salt
• ½ tsp. ground black pepper
• Flaky sea salt if desired to top

Instructions-
• Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and place in oven so they become hot.
• Cut the sweet potatoes into ½ inch sticks and toss them in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place them on the heated baking sheets lined with foil.
• Bake them while rotating the pan and fires until edges are lightly browned and centers are tender. About 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired.

And for dessert, my favorite, Strawberry Cream served with Chocolate Covered Strawberriesstrawberry-cream

Ingredients-
• 2 cups frozen unsweetened whole strawberries
• ¼ cup sugar
• ½ cup whipped cream

Instructions-
• Place the strawberries and sugar into a food processor and process until finely chopped.
• In a small bowl beat the whipped cream and fold in the berries. Freeze for about 15 minutes or until your desired consistency. Serve with chocolate cover strawberries, everyone has their own favorite recipe, and enjoy!

There is no doubt that this is going to be a delicious meal with all our favorite foods. We still have to come up with a salad but I don’t think it will be a problem, my husband loves coming up with things on the spot. It is going to be a delicious Valentine’s Day with the one I love the most. Hope your Valentine’s Day is extra special! 🙂

Until next time, ❤
Nancy

Easy Pinterest Recipes

This week I was in a cooking mood. I always enjoy trying new foods and recipes, so I decided to challenge myself to a new recipe every day this week. And being the Pinterest addict I am, I found almost all my recipes on there. Gosh, I love Pinterest so much!

It was fun cooking something new every day. I would encourage more people to try a week of new recipes. Your taste buds will thank you! Here are my recipes I tried from Pinterest! 🙂
shrimp-veggies-grillShrimp and Veggies on the Grill
Ingredients-
• ¼ cup olive oil
• 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1 large lemon, juiced
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 2 dozen large uncooked, deveined shrimp
• 2 cups mixed vegetables
Instructions-
• In a glass measuring cup, combine oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
• Place shrimp and vegetables in an airtight plastic container. Pour oil mixture over shrimp and veggies, gently stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate while grill is preheated on medium heat.
• Create foil packets by folding the ends together and spoon shrimp and veggie mixture in.
• Place packets on grill, close, and cook for 10-12 minutes until the shrimp is cooked and veggies are hot. Enjoy!

Steak and Spinach Quesadilla with Provolone
Ingredients-
• 1 tsp. of extra virgin olive oil  steak-spinach-quesadilla-provolone
• 2 oz. steak (leftovers work great, or whatever you have on hand)
• A big handful of spinach
• 1- 6in whole grain tortilla
• 1 slice provolone cheese
Instructions-
• Heat oil in a 12 inch skillet. Add steak and heat until heated through. Toss in the spinach and cook until wilted. Remove steak and spinach from pan. Place one tortilla in the pan and heat through. Flip the tortilla and place half a slice of cheese on one half of the tortilla.
• Layer the steak and spinach over the cheese and then place the other half of cheese on the top. Fold the tortilla onto itself to create a half moon. Place a tea kettle or another heavy pot on top of the tortilla to press it down for about 30 seconds. Flip quesadilla and do the same on the other side
• Remove quesadilla form the pan and allow to cool before slicing. Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup-

chicken-tortilla-soup
Ingredients-
• 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 1 can chopped green chilies (7 oz.)
• 1 can diced, or crushed tomatoes (8 oz.)
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 ear of corn, shucked (or 1 cup of frozen corn)
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp. ground cumin
• ½ tsp. paprika
• ½ tsp. chili powder
• ½ tsp. black pepper
For serving and topping (optional)-
• Crushed tortilla chips
• Fresh minced cilantro
• Fresh lime juice
• Cheese
• Hot sauce or fresh chopped jalapeno
Instructions-
• In a slow cooker add all the soup ingredients. Gently mix together all the ingredients to make everything combine well.
• Cover and cook the soup on low for 7 hours or about 4 hours on high
• Gently shred the chicken with two forks and stir the soup to mix the chicken in evenly.
• Top the soup with crushed tortilla chips, cilantro or other optional toppings. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on the top and enjoy!

I have also made some really good snacks this week-
coconut-cinnamon-applesCoconut Cinnamon Apples-
Ingredients-
• 1 large apple (any variety)
• 1 tbsp. coconut oil
• Cinnamon
Instructions-
• Slice up the apple and pan sear it in one tablespoon of coconut oil. Cook for a few minutes, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Wedges-

sweet-potato-wedges
Ingredients-
• 2 medium sweet potatoes
• Approximately 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
• Sea salt
Instructions-
• Preheat oven to 400 degree F. Cut potatoes into small wedges and place in large mixing bowl. Drizzle the olive oil and sea salt on the wedges and mix until fully coated with olive oil and salt.
• Transfer sweet potato wedges to a cooking sheet and bake for 20 mins. At 20 mins, toss the wedges around to prevent from sticking and bake for another 20-25 minutes with an occasional toss.
• When the wedges are turning light brown, turn the oven to broil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and enjoy!

I also made stuffed tomatoes and shrimp and spinach pasta in a garlic cream sauce. It was such a good week of new meals. Follow me on Pinterest to see all the yummy recipes I find! 🙂
Until next time,
Nancy