Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Who buys croutons?

Do you know how easy it is to make croutons?

I was pleasantly surprised the first time I tried it.

Mr. PT and I have gotten into the habit of buying the day-old "fresh" bread at Kroger.  They have it placed on its own little shelf and the tag usually says "1.99! Woo!"  Who wouldn't buy that??

We usually get a ciabatta loaf.  It makes great toast!  AND, it makes great croutons.

So here is what you do.

Slice the bread into 3/4 inch slices.  If the bread is rather soft, toast it.  Cut the bread into 1 inch squares.  Heat 2-3 tbs. of olive oil in a skillet on medium-high.  Throw in the bread cubes.  Season as you like.  I usually do some Italian seasoning with a little salt and pepper.

Toss the bread crumbs regularly.  You will have to stay close because they may burn if left alone for too long.  Toast them in the oil until they reach your desired crispiness.  Place on a napkin-lined plate and you are done!

Delicious, homemade croutons for your next salad!  Or just for munching!

Have you ever looked at the ingredient list on store-bought croutons?  Yuck!  How many ingredients in these? Well, if you count the bread as one ingredient (which may or may not be cheating), there are three ingredients.  Not bad!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Irish Soda Bread...and other things

Well, hello!

So it's been close to a year since I've updated my blog.  I feel terribly guilty about this, however, I would like to think I have an excuse.

As you know, Mr. PT and I were blessed with a sweet little girl in June of 2013.  Well, that sweet little girl has grown into a sweet, big toddler who will be two this summer!  This is very hard for me to believe; the time has truly flown by, just like everyone said it would.

I'm happy to say that our little one finally decided to grow some teeth and is eating like a madwoman these days!  She has a relatively diverse palate, and although genetics and personality are likely the cause, I would like to think I played a role in this!  Hopefully all those vegetable stir fries, smoothies, and salads gave her a heads up as to what she would be eating post-delivery.  Her favorites these days are cheese, milk, strawberries, bananas, and pancakes (my little pancake girl!).  However, she also eats rice, beans, avocado, pasta, oatmeal, broccoli, and plain yogurt!  I can't complain!

Our little girl has also grown up watching her crazy parents exercise.  While nestled in her car seat, Mr. PT would take her outside and use her as a weight for lunges and bicep curls (I'm pretty sure this is how she learned the concept of "up and down").  When big enough to stand, she would watch Mommy and Daddy share the bands for arm workouts.  She now screams "Run! Weee!" when it's time to get in the jogging stroller and shouts "my turn!" when I pull our the weights.  Her favorite toy?  Balls, of course!

Anyway, more big news on the way.  Mr. PT and I are now expecting our SECOND little blessing!  This, again, is very hard for me to believe.  Come August, we will be starting all over again with a new little person to feed healthy foods and teach band exercises to.  Not sure if our little one will be a "he" or a "she," but either way, we are very excited to give our little peanut a playmate.

So that's life here!  I'm sure life out there has been continuing on and you have many changes to report as well.  But let's get to a more serious matter...HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

Yes, it's that day when we must wear green to avoid getting pinched from our coworkers (this almost happened to me today).  It's also the day to celebrate our Irish heritage, whether we can claim it or not.  To celebrate, I thought about giving our little girl green milk in her cereal, but of course, she requested pancakes for breakfast so my plan was foiled.  Next year!

Instead, I pulled out my wonderful King Arthur's Flour cookbook, given to me at my high school graduation, and found three different recipes for Irish Soda Bread.  The first was traditional, the second fruity, and the third an "Americanized" version of the old classic.  After consulting with Mr. PT, we decided to go with the American version..."but with less raisins."

So here you go!  I included the link for the recipe.  I did not make a glaze for the top since the bread has a nice, subtle sweetness of it's own. I also used less raisins, per the husband's request.  Enjoy!

Americanized Irish Soda Bread

Monday, April 7, 2014


Do you make homemade tortellini??

Yeah, me neither. I may tackle that one day when baby and I need a rainy day project, but for now, I occasionally buy the store-bought kind to mix up our pasta-dinner routine.

For this dish, I sautéed red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and cherry tomatoes in olive oil with pepper, garlic, and a touch of salt. When they were soft, I boiled the tortellini and threw it all together.


So I consider this dish still "made from scratch!"

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sausage stir-fry!

We had some sausages we were saving for the grill, but it has rained all day. Not a nice, springy rain, more of a cold, drizzling rain. Yuck. So since it still feels like winter in our house, I thought a sausage stir-fry would be appropriate!

This is really simple, full of delicious vegetables and a touch of sausage. I used a brand of sausage that was flavored with apple and Gouda cheese, yum!

Start with sliced red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and yellow zucchini squash in a pan with olive oil on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper and cook until soft.

Meanwhile, prepare 1.5 cups brown rice.

Slice your sausage however you like! You can keep it in big pieces or cut it into little chunks. Add the rice and sausage to the veggies, season with a little more pepper and smoked Tabasco sauce. Let this all cook together for about 15 minutes.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Operation "fat baby"

We had baby's 9 month appointment this week and she was on the low end for weight. I'm not especially concerned about this because everything else is measuring normal and we have some petit genes in our family, however, I would like to see a little more pudge on this little girl!

My pediatrician suggested adding more meat to her diet, along with full fat yogurt and butter. This is tricky because everyone keeps telling us, "give her the food you eat!" As you know, Mr. PT and I just don't eat a whole lot of meat, and butter is usually reserved for bread!

But, I'm on a mission now, so here we go!

I boiled some chicken breasts in water then threw them in my food processor. I put about a 1/3 of the chicken in my fridge to use for the week and the rest went into the freezer. Done!

Then I browned off some 86% lean ground beef and did the same. Done!

So for lunch this week, baby enjoyed some baked squash mixed with chicken and a small pad of butter. I rolled it into child-friendly balls so she could feed herself.

Did she eat these? Yes!

So I followed this regimen for two days:
Breakfast: fresh fruit, oatmeal, full fat yogurt, flax (all purée)
Lunch: vegetable with chicken and butter
Snack: puff cereal and avocado in chunks
Dinner: vegetable with beef and butter

At dinner on day 2, baby revolted. Too much for her little tummy! So now I am supplementing yogurt at breakfast and lunch, saving the meat for dinner only.

She seems to be adjusting well to this! Babies are like us adults...the numbers change as we age so we have to constantly tweak and change our healthy habits!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Poached eggs

How do cows produce milk by only eating grass?

I'm still nursing baby and there are days when I just NEED protein! This dish I recently saw in Everyday Food (thanks, Martha) looked like a fantastic meal with one of my favorite sources of protein...eggs!

Confession: Before tonight, I had never poached an egg. The whole process kind of weirded me out. But they made it sound super simple in this recipe so I figured I would give it a shot. As you can see below, it turned out beautifully!

You will need:
-1 tbs olive oil
-3-4 bunches leaf spinach
-3/4 cup fresh cilantro
-2 eggs
-2 cups cooked quinoa, warmed
-salt/pepper to taste

In a straight-sided skillet, heat 2 inches of water over medium to a gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium high. Add spinach and toss until slightly wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook one minute. Add 1/2 cup cilantro. Transfer to a colander and press excess liquid from greens.

Crack 1 egg into a cup and gently tip into the simmering water. Repeat with remaining egg. Cook until whites are set and yolks are runny (2-3 minutes). With a slotted spoon, scoop the egg up and place on a plate with paper towels. Divide quinoa, spinach and eggs into 2 bowls, season with salt/pepper, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the remaining cilantro. Enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2014

"Instant" soup

Ok, you might read this post and laugh today. You might say, "the family who makes beet salad from a CSA box is eating Ramen chicken soup? Really?!

Really! Mr. PT has this thing about eating soup after we spend a day traveling in the car. And I can agree with this sentiment...after sitting in a car for 5 hours, you're hungry but your tummy is kind of queasy from all the motion. Chicken noodle soup always hits the spot. I usually pop open a can of Campbell's, but recently I have been stocking up on Ramen. It's just so ridiculously inexpensive (for good reason) and I love the long, curly noodles.

Of course, as you can guess, this is not the most healthy option when it comes to soup. So what can you do?

Well, you can first boil some kale leaves, chopped carrots, chopped celery, and chopped zucchini. Add the Ramen seasoning packet and boil until the veggies are soft. Add the noodles, cook 2-3 minutes and voila! Healthy chicken noodle soup!

Ok, healthy is a stretch, but it's definitely healthier!!