Friday, August 30, 2013

Our Latest Bounty

Sorry for the short post today...been a busy week and we have an even busier weekend ahead. Just a quick shot of our latest harvest from the garden. Stay tuned for some recipes made with our bountiful harvest!

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dang you Rachael Ray!

Excuse my language (earmuffs children) but damn you Rachel Ray and your EVOO (that's Extra Virgin Olive Oil for those of you living under a rock). Your perky cooking banter and cleverly named dishes made with, cooked in and saturated with EVOO had us fooled. Yes, EVOO is a super food and really good for you, but only depending on how you use it.

An recent article on Fox News debunked several myths about olive oil, including that you should use EVOO for all types of cooking. Not true...EVOO is great for dressings, marinades and in baking, but using it for sauteing, frying, grilling or roasting can be dangerous. Between a temperature of 375 and 405 degrees, EVOO starts emitting dangerous toxins and loses its antioxidant properties. Who knew, right?? Instead of EVOO, consider using regular olive oil for any high heat cooking and save the EVOO for dressings and marinades. (You can read the rest of myths at the Fox News article here)

Instead of olive oil, you could also try coconut oil. Coconut oil raises good cholesterol, boosts the immune system and stimulates metabolism. It's great in stir-frys  and other high heat cooking because it has a high smoke point. Use it in baked goods and frosting as a substitute for veggie or canola oil. Unless you really like the taste of coconut, be sure to buy the refined coconut oil. I made the mistake of buying regular and boy could I taste the coconut in everything I cooked it in! It does make a nice oil to cook with though. Be aware that it's not actually an oil, but a semisolid that will melt when heated.

Want some more options? Check out this Fitness Magazine article on Healthy Cooking Oils.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dinner Plan to Eat Clean for a Week

Your Dinner Plan to Eat Clean for a Week 
Haven't jumped into clean eating yet because you're not sure where to start or you feel like you don't have enough time to prepare clean meals? Check out Eating Well's dinner plan for a week of clean eating meals. Along with meal plans and recipes, Eating Well offers clean eating tips, included convenience foods to help make meal prep easier. 

You can find the whole meal plan here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sour Cream and Bacon Chicken

Now that I've blogged about a not-so-good recipe, I feel like I've had a string of them! Last night we tried Sour Cream and Bacon Chicken in the crockpot and it was just okay. The flavor was a little bland and I didn't like how the chicken turned out in the crockpot...dry and bland. This might be another one to try, but in the oven. 

Sour Cream and Bacon Chicken
From Key Ingredient

8 bacon slices
8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 (10 oz) cans roasted garlic cream of mushroom soup
1 cup sour cream
½ cup flour (all purpose or gluten free blend)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat until some of the fat is rendered. Be sure that the bacon is still pliable and not crisp. Drain on paper towels. If you use this method, reduce the flour to 1/4 cup. Or don’t cook the bacon and proceed with the recipe. Then wrap one slice of bacon around each boneless chicken breast and place in a 4-5 quart crockpot. In medium bowl, combine condensed soups, sour cream, and flour and mix with wire whisk to blend. Pour over chicken. Cover crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours until chicken and bacon are thoroughly cooked. You may want to remove the chicken and beat the sauce with a wire whisk so it is very well blended. Pour sauce over chicken. Serve over rice, couscous, or wide egg noodles.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chocolate croissants aka my husband knows the way to my heart

Several weekends ago, I not only got a weekend away with my girlfriends, but I came home to two happy (and alive) kids, a pretty clean house and chocolate croissants, my all-time favorite pastry. These were not only super delicious, they were clean and all-natural too!

Quick story about my love for croissants...when I was in my first trimester pregnant with Liesl, we went on a company trip to St. Thomas. Unfortunately, I was sicker than a dog and sustained myself on chocolate croissants alone. No lie.

Anyway, I LOVE them! I recently bought Matt his dream kitchen tool, a KitchenAid mixer and he used it to make these delectable treats. He said they weren't too difficult to make, but did take a long time to prepare. Just don't get overwhelmed by the length of the recipe; the author gives VERY detailed instructions!

If you ever want me to love you forever (or want to try them for yourselves ;) here's the recipe:

Chocolate Croissants
from Baking Illustrated

3 cups (15 oz) all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 1/4 cups cold whole milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Butter Square

3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 
1 large egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)  
To make the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk 2 3/4 cups of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt. Add the milk to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the dry ingredients and turn to the mixer to low, beating until the dough comes together in a rough ball, about 4 minutes.

Add the pieces of butter and continue kneading until the butter is completely incorporated, about 5-6 minutes. The dough will still be sticky, but should form a rough ball and mostly clear the sides of the bowl (if you make bread regularly, this dough will be more sticky than you're used to and won't clear the sides of the bowl as fully as a typical yeast bread). If it's too sticky, add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap.

Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

To make the butter square: Place the pieces of butter on your work surface and sprinkle the flour over the top of them.

Use a bench scraper to smear the butter/flour mixture back and forth against the work surface.

Continue until the mixture is uniform and smooth. Gather in a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 7-inch square.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll into an 11-inch square, lifting and turning as you go to make sure the dough isn't sticking. Place the chilled butter square diagonally in the center of the dough.

Lift each of the four corners of the dough up and over the butter square.

It's fine if they don't meet exactly, just pinch them together to seal completely.

Use your rolling pin to gently tap the dough, starting in the center and going outward, until square gets larger and the butter begins to soften slightly. Roll the dough into a 14-inch square, flouring your work surface and rolling pin as necessary to ensure the dough isn't sticking. (no idea why I chose to roll it diagonally over my parchment...)

Fold one side of the dough to the center and then bring the other side up and over it - basically, you're folding the dough like you would a business letter. This is also called a "turn" of the dough.

Complete a second turn by folding the top half of the dough down to the center and then bringing the bottom up and over it.

Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Repeat the process above (roll into a 14-inch square and fold like a business letter twice) to complete 2 more turns of the dough. Again, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and roll into a 20-inch square (flour as necessary to make sure it's not sticking). Cut the dough into 4 equal 10-inch squares.

Cut each of those squares into 3 rectangles (about 10 x 3 1/4-inches each) - you should have a total of 12 rectangles.

Add about 1 tablespoon (about 1/2-oz) of chopped chocolate to the center of each rectangle.

Fold the top of the rectangle over the chocolate and down to the center, then lift the bottom up and over it (again, we're folding it like it's a business letter).

Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, seam-side down. Try to keep the croissants horizontal as you move them so the chocolate doesn't spill out the sides. Also, you can see on mine I have a little flap sticking out the side - that flap will get bigger as the croissants rise and puff so you can try to hide it under the croissant a little better than I did to avoid that.

Loosely cover the croissant with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes, or until they're puffy (they won't necessarily double in size). While they're rising, preheat oven to 400 F with racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven.

Brush the croissants with the egg wash then bake for 18-22 minutes, or until they are golden brown, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the halfway point. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the croissants cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. They're best warm, but will keep for a few days at room temperature if tightly wrapped. I zapped mine for 15-ish seconds in the microwave on the 2nd day to enjoy it warm.

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Saw, I Pinned, I Conquered

While this doesn't really have anything to do with clean eating, I thought it would be fun to do a series of posts that show stuff I pinned on Pinterest that I actually do and that saves some money (saving green!). When pinning, we have so many good intentions, but unfortunately, most of the time they don't pan out.

So, I want to show you some of the Pinterest projects I've done that have saved me time, money or a little bit of both. 

The first is a wall of clocks for a home office. I loved this idea for Matt's home office and so I bought three very inexpensive clocks (check out Lowes, Hobby Lobby and Wal-Mart or scour local garage sales) and scattered them on the wall with maps of the three states were we've lived since we've been married. The maps came from an old atlas my parents had laying around and the frames are from old barn wood we had extra of from a different project. I added some old suitcases and old set of drawers as side tables. love this look of the old license plates to add a splash of color and whimsy to a room. We had a bunch of old license plates from all the states were we've lived as a married couple and growing up and so I took them and attached them to a piece of lightweight MDF with wood glue. My hubby added on brackets on the back to hang it up and voila, a fun look at all the states my husband and I have lived in. 

What Pinterest projects have you followed up on??

Thursday, August 22, 2013

World's Best Chicken

Another day, another Pinterest recipe. It was really good but I don't know if it was the World's Best Chicken as the name suggests. (I just kept picturing Buddy the Elf bursting into my kitchen to congratulate me on making the world's best chicken :) It is really easy to make and would make a great meal to take to someone, as well as good freezer meal. It will stay in our recipe repertoire as Really Good Chicken ;)

The World’s Best Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, syrup, and vinegar. Place chicken breasts into 9×13 greased baking dish. Season with salt & lots of pepper. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. Make sure each breast is coated. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. There will be extra sauce in the pan, which you can elect to toss out or use for extra flavoring. Season with chopped rosemary. To make this in the slow cooker, combine all ingredients and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Beef Fajitas and Pico de Gallo Straight from the Garden

While I don't have a new recipe to share with you, I just had to brag on my garden a bit. The other night we had a meal that was nearly all from our garden. I made beef fajitas, using the grain-fed organic beef we have and onions and yellow peppers from our garden. I paired them with freshly made pico de gallo (tomatoes, onions, jalapeno from the garden with some store-bought garlic and lime juice). In the fajitas, I used my homemade taco/fajita seasoning, found here.

Not only was everything delicious, it was fun to eat something we've produced on our own (and I didn't have to pay for!)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Trip to Albuquerque

Hello blogsphere! Sorry for the lack of posts in the last few days but I spent a long weekend with my parents visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Albuquerque. Thanks Kyle and Kensie for a wonderful visit and tour of Albuquerque! :)

I've never been to New Mexico (or anyone of the nearby states) before, so it was great to see the southwest United States. It was very beautiful and so different from Indiana. We saw Old Town Albuquerque, took a trip on the tramway to Sandia Peak and of course, ate our way across the town. Here's a recap of some of the wonderful, mostly clean (and some not-so-clean) meals I enjoyed....

I enjoyed a Sweet Roll from The Frontier...Travel Channel fans might recall that Adam Richman visited The Frontier and helped make these delicious sweet rolls on Man vs. Food Nation Albuquerque. You can see that episode here

Hamburger from Chama River Brewery

The best chicken salad I've ever had (yes, even better than Eddie's Corner Cafe!). Walnut Chicken Salad in a tomato basil wrap at the Cheese and Coffee Cafe in Old Town. 

Chocolate milkshake from the Route 66 Malt Shop.

One night we took a break from eating out and had our own cookout with balsamic chicken, bruchetta, sweet corn and grilled veggies. 

The best Mexican food I've ever had at El Pinto (and the largest restaurant I've ever been in!). I branched out and tried the calabacitas burrito. Quick culinary lesson...calabicitas is a Mexican side dish of zucchini, summer squash, onions and sometimes peppers. In short, in my burrito doused in green chili sauce, it was AMAZING! Their chips and salsa were some of the best I've ever had too. The white sangria wasn't bad either ;)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teryaki Chicken Stir-Fry

As I've mentioned before, our garden and especially our zucchini are going crazy right now. See exhibit A, the latest zucchini I picked that's almost three times the size of my hand! I wasn't very inspired for dinner last night and so I just decided to use up some of the veggies I had in the fridge in a chicken teriyaki stir-fry. It was a little bit of this, little bit of that, clean out the fridge type of meal ;) 

In my wok (SIDE NOTE: if you don't have a wok, I highly suggest buying one...they are the BEST for not only stir-frys but other types of sauteing. They aren't too expensive either; I got mine at Ikea for $8), I sauteed sliced chicken breast with a little salt and pepper until no longer pink. Add in veggies, all cut to the same size to keep the cooking times even (I used zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli slaw, sweet peppers and onions) and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the veggies are desired softness. Add in about 2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce and 1 to 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and serve piping hot over rice.

My teriyaki and soy sauces are both organic and all-natural from Whole Foods. They only cost a little more than "regular" soy and teriyaki sauce, but without any of the preservatives. The soy sauce is actually a tamari sauce, which is gluten-free as well.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Banana Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie

Because girls weekend was in Columbus, I went a night early to spend some extra time with Kathy, Joe and sweet Sebastian. On Saturday morning, Joe made me a delicious smoothie after my run that totally hit the spot. It had just the right amount of sweetness and the oats really made it filling. I could only eat about half of it. 

Joe said he also tried with chocolate chips but found it to be a bit too chunky and chewy for a smoothie. I might try mini chocolate chips to see if that helps. A little cocoa powder or peanut butter would be good too.

Thanks Joe for the great breakfast recipe! Every time I have one, I'll be thinking of you ;)

Banana Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie
Courtesy of The Joseph Wilson

2 frozen bananas
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk

Add everything to the blender or a glass if you're using an immersion or hand blender. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Girls Weekend!

This past weekend I met my best girl friends in Columbus, Ohio for a weekend away. I've known these wonderful ladies for 12 years (since freshman year at OU!) and I am so blessed that we've not only maintained our friendship after college, but grown closer over the years.

They indulged me and let me take pictures of my food throughout the weekend and boy did we eat some amazing things! I did not take pictures of everything, however; since it was girls weekend, we indulged in some not so clean food items (*cough* Cheetos *cough**cough* peanut butter M& get the picture ;) 

Some of the food highlights:
We ate at Piada (think an Italian Chipolte) and I had my first piada, which is basically an Italian wrap and popular street food in Italy. It was really tasty! I had Italian sausage, Alfredo sauce, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and spinach. Very filling, very fresh and very good!

For dinner, we ate at Cooper's Hawk Winery, where I indulged in the Sweet Wine flight (an amazing deal by the way...8 tastes for only $7! And they were generous pours). For my meal, I had the Caesar Pesto Chopped Salad and Thai Chicken flatbread. The food and wine were amazing, the service not so much.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

I have a confession to make.
I love Hamburger Helper.
I know. Shocking. Mrs. Clean Eating loves preservative-filled fake dinner. I've loved it for a long time though, ever since college when I would make it all.the.time. Ask my college roommate, Rachael :) I am particularly drawn to the Beef Stroganoff. I don't know what is it about that ground beef, noodly, creamy goodness that gets me every time.
Anyway, since going clean, HH has not made an appearance in our household. Luckily, I had an old recipe for Easy Beef Stroganoff tucked away and decided to give it the old college try. While it didn't measure up to HH to me, it was still good and easy, just like the name says. Plus, it was all-natural and clean. My kiddos gobbled it up. 
I used all-natural, homemade egg noodles I found at a local meat market. My grandma has a recipe for homemade egg noodles as well, so maybe I'll get brave and try those too. We used the grain-fed beef for the meat, which was also really good and super tender. With this recipe, be sure not to overcook the meat, just cook until barely pink. Otherwise, it gets too tough.

Easy Beef Stroganoff
Adapted from Real Simple

12 ounces egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound flank steak, thinly sliced
kosher salt and black pepper
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
2 cups fresh mushrooms
1 8-ounce container all-natural sour cream
2 1/2 tablespoons steak sauce or Worcestershire sauce

Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. In 2 batches, cook the steak until browned, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to a plate.
Return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Add the onion and bell pepper (if desired); cook until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and beef and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and steak sauce and stir the mixture into the beef and mushrooms. Serve over the noodles.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Almond Chicken Dijon

This is another recipe that has been in the rotation for a long time that I was pleased to realize was clean without any modifications. This is a great dish to make for someone who just had a baby or needs a meal, because it freezes and reheats really well. I like to make mine with green beans and then add in some of the extra sliced almonds in with the green beans before I serve them. Really ties the meal together!

Almond Chicken Dijon
4 chicken breasts pounded down to about 1 inch thick (frozen or fresh)
Equal parts dijon mustard and Helman's mayo (for 4 chicken breasts, I use about 2 tablespoons of each)
1/2 cup to 1 cup of sliced almonds

Put chicken in oven-safe dish and season with salt and pepper. Mix together mustard and mayo and spread over the chicken. Sprinkle almonds over chicken and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. That's it! Super easy and super yummy!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Crock Pot Beer Chicken

I've had many successful attempts at recipes since going clean eight months ago, so it's inevitable that I would eventually try a recipe that flopped. I debated whether or not to even blog about it, but I figured maybe someone might like this recipe, even if we didn't.  Plus, it good to see the bad along with the good :)

This recipe sounded great, but it ended up very bland and the chicken dried out. Perhaps a shorter cooking time at a lower heat and different spices could salvage the dish, but this one will not be going into the menu rotation.

Crock Pot Beer Chicken
From LaaLoosh

2lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle or can of your favorite beer 

1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper

Place all ingredients in the crock pot, and cook on high for 4-5 hrs, or low for 6-8 hrs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Spicy Swai

I'm very lucky that everyone in my family, even the kiddos, love fish. It's so good for you and can be prepared in so many different ways. Last night, I made Spicy Swai. Usually, we buy tilapia (we do the frozen because it's just as good and cheaper), but Kroger had swai on sale for $1.99 for a 10-ounce bag. The swai tastes just like tilapia (light, flaky and a great option for those who don't like fish that much, because it's a very mild fish), but is usually a lot cheaper. 

For the Spicy Swai, I just took the frozen fish, put in a oven-safe dish, seasoned with salt and pepper and then added half a can of Rotel and several squirts of fresh lime and lemon juice. Broil for 10-15 minutes until fish is white, opaque and flaky. I served mine with sauteed zucchini and onions from the garden.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Homemade Ice Cream

Last weekend, we had dinner with some good friends and for dessert we made homemade ice cream in an ice cream ball (you can find them here). It was this super cute kit where you just added in ice and salt into one chamber and the milk, cream and vanilla into another. You then let the kiddos go nuts rolling it around and shaking it up. About 20 minutes later, voila, you have homemade (and all-natural!) ice cream!! The kids loved making it and it was super yummy. It's a great idea for camping, traveling or just for fun.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Last week we harvested our first pickings of zucchini and they were HUGE! This picture doesn't give you a great idea how big they were, but they were over a foot long and several inches around AND there were four of them ready to pick! I made my zucchini augratin (recipe here) and still had over 3/4 of one of them left. Needless to say, I needed to figure out something to do with all that zucchini. After a little Pinterest search, I decided to freeze the extras to have this fall and winter.
All you do is cut the zucchini however you will be using them (I cut into slices for augratin and half moon chunks for stir-frys). Blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes then immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Spread out on cookie sheets and put in the freezer until frozen. Transfer to ziploc freezer bags and enjoy all Fall and Winter long :)