Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Patch!

We went to the pumpkin patch yesterday, and I think we created yet another fall tradition. We had so much fun!

They had scarecrows, cornstalks, and of course pumpkins everywhere!
Everything was decorated so cute.
The girls loved smelling all the new smell.
Aren't they cute? I just love taking them places. That's Cami on the left and Spirit overheating on the right.
I though it would be really cute if we got them to sit behind this and stick their heads through.
Spirit was cooperative, but Cami on the other hand, wasn't having any of it.

Yes, if you look closely thats alex behind her trying to get her to stick her head through.

Maybe if we had held a cookie on the other side it would have worked.
Haha he was so good putting up with my picture taking frenzy. 
These two trouble makers snuck into the corn maze. Cami kept trying to retrieve the corn.
See? She's such a little bird dog. 
 Me and my boy had a great time.
My tired little girl approves of our picks. 

Are you enjoying fall as much as I am?
I hope so!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Easy Stir Fry with Noodles

Hello lovelies! 

I hope that you are having a wonderful day. I am in the middle of mid-terms right now, 2 down, 2 to go! Man am I ready for a break! I have had minimal spare time, and I'm ashamed to say that my cooking has been cut out of my daily routine(okay just minimized, I can't not cook). Just for this week though, I can't tell you how ready I am for a good hearty meal, no more of this cereal for breakfast and smoothies for lunch.
This was something that I made last week, oooo what I wouldn't give for some of this good stuff right now. Easy stir fry. Now I don't claim to know anything about traditional stir fry, this is definitely a modified version. I know stir fry is usually served with rice (right?) but I like mine with noodles. So here is my version!

You're going to need:
Udon noodles
Stir fry veggies of choice (I used red bell peppers, carrots, and snow peas)
Asian marinade, or stir fry sauce of choice
Soy Sauce (optional)
Olive Oil for frying

 When it comes to Asian noodles, it is so easy to cook them just like we cook spaghetti, but resist. Make sure that you read the labeling, and cook them according to the instructions there, they all vary slightly. This makes a big difference in texture of the noodles. But it won't kill the noodles if you forget and cook them like spaghetti.
While the noodles are cooking, prepare your veggies. I started off trying to make matchsticks out of the carrots but i think i made it through one and gave up. Just cut them however you like to eat them.
Simple logic right?
Once they are all cut up to your liking, heat up a pan with olive oil and you're going to start sautéing the veggies over a medium heat. I saved the snow peas for later, because I wanted them to be barely cooked. They seem to wilt faster than the other vegetables.
Also this is when I added a tiny bit of soy sauce, maybe a tablespoon, just to cook some extra flavor into the stir fry.
This is what my noodles look like when they are just about done cooking.
And when they are strained. Forgive the shadows.
 So I added the snow peas right before I added the noodles to the mixture, to give them a quick stir around the pan, but not much more than that. And we are almost done!
 You're going to turn off the heat and add your still warm noodles to the pan along with your marinade/stir fry sauce and mix it all together! Let the flavors all blend for a few minutes.
And there you have it. This is a great picky eater's meal too, because it is easy to customize according to likes and dislikes. Don't add the peppers, or for protein add chicken or tofu. Its endless!
Whenever I make this, I make it in big batches so that I can have it a few more times throughout the week. Like a lot of meals, this one is ten times better as warm-ups because all the flavors just marinate together, and steep into the noodles. You just can't go wrong.

Now for the health aspect of this meal, you have your vegetables, and your noodles, neither of which are bad for you. The sauces that you choose are going to make or break this meal in the healthy department. With the addition of soy sauce, you are adding a good amount of sodium. You have to be careful of that with the sauce you choose. The other item to watch for on the label is the sugar. Pass on sauce that is over 15% sodium, and over 10 grams of sugar, and you've got yourself one darn good meal.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Apple Days!

New favorite fall outing!!
Apple picking! My guy and I went this weekend and had so so much fun.
 We went to Julian Ca, known for their apple pies.
 The apples were so cute, and soooo sweet. Seriously just like candy.

We didn't even see it all, the orchard was so big.

 Such a great date day, we can't wait to go back. 
And we got so many apples that we went home and made apple crisp. The recipe is for peach crisp, but easy substitute apples for peaches.
My mother loved it, and she doesn't even like cooked fruit.

I highly recommend it, we are still talking about it two days later.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Vegetarian Lettuce Wrap

       Ohhh man just look at this beautiful sight. I love food so much and this meal is something that I cook probably every month. Now I have to give credit where credit is due, I found the original recipe at Pioneer Woman's blog, but modified it a little. Oh if I could sit down for coffee with anyone on this earth it would be this lady. Sometimes I wish I was her... shhh don't tell anyone. 

Sorry, confession time is over.

Hopefully this recipe we are going to conquer some food fears. Today it's called tofu. Coming from someone who was raised on tofu, here is the secret: it tastes exactly like whatever it is cooked in. There you go, nothing to be afraid of! 

And if you want a little nutrition background on the benefits of tofu, I'll give it to you and if you don't care feel free to skip ahead. Being a vegetarian, I am always looking for ways to incorporate more protein into my diet. Now protein is categorized into two different types: complete and incomplete. Your body can only use complete protein, and complete protein is only ever found in animal products, and tofu. So being vegetarian that limits me to eggs, milk, and tofu. Needless to say I love to find different ways to cook tofu, and here is one of my favorites. Thanks for sitting through that. Now onward!

To begin, I used one package of firm tofu however, if you are cooking for more than one person, I advise using more than that.

So I rinsed it gently, and tried shake out as much excess moisture as I could, before I put the whole thing on a frying pan greased with olive oil. Great stuff.

Now mush it with your spatula. Mush it real good.

See all that liquid in there? You are going to let the tofu simmer until it is all cooked out. Just don't forget to stir it around every once in a while.

While my tofu is simmering over there, I break out my water chestnuts. Now maybe this is another weird food for you, let me tell you that it legitimately has less flavor than a cucumber, it is light and airy and completely there for the extra crunch. But if you can't get over the weirdness you can leave it out.

This is what they look like, I would have bought them slivered but the store didn't have them. P.S. you can find these little guys in the oriental foods section.

Here they are all cut up.

And what do you know, my tofu is ready.

So now add some corn, fresh or frozen it doesn't matter, but I prefer frozen sweet corn. 

Once that cooks for a little while add your water chestnuts.

And stir that up.

Add some seasoning if you'd like.. Translation: season that baby like crazy. Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder if you're feeling crazy.

Now pour soy sauce on the mixture and let it sit for a little while. Soy sauce is extremely high in sodium so I always use low sodium, because that is still 25% sodium..which is crazy. This is not a low sodium meal.

How many times did I use the word sodium in that paragraph? Too many times.

So now, to add some extra flavor I drizzle on some sesame marinade.

Stir it around and give it another 30 seconds for good luck.

Now just choose some romaine lettuce leaves that are going to serve as good taco shells, stuff, and eat!

Don't they look delicious? They taste even better.

P.S. I've got to tell you, this meal looks long and complicated but it took me 20 minutes to make and the clean up was soooo easy. Simply put, it's the perfect mid-week meal.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Egg Drop Soup

Egg drop soup is such an easy, classic meal that I recently just rediscovered, and let me tell you, it is such an easy go-to. This soup actually reminds me of being sick because when I got sick my mom would always make it for me. It's an instant feel-good.

Here is what you need:
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch
  • 1 egg
  • Additional optional toppings
It doesn't get any easier (or cheaper) than that. And being a college student this is an instant win, considering I'm short on both time and money.

 Just your basic organic low sodium chicken broth. Wouldn't my mom be proud. One container of broth is normally 4 cups. But still read your label, I don't want to be responsible for any miscalculations.

Get that broth to a simmer, but not quite a boil.

Then you're going to take your corn starch and mix it in a separate bowl with the water.

I always thought the consistency of this mixture was kinda fun..maybe I'm just weird.

After your broth is simmering, go ahead and add your mixture, stir, and let it boil.
While it's boiling, take your egg and lightly scramble it, nothing too crazy. 

The liquid mixture gets real frothy when it boils, and creates a ring on the side of your pot making it look dirty. Let it be known, the pot was clean prior to cooking the soup, I promise. I have a reputation to uphold. 
 Now here is the trickiest part of the whole recipe. You are going to turn off the heat, and pour the egg in to the broth mixture, and immediately stir with a fork.
The faster you stir, the stringier the egg pieces will be, the slower you stir the chunkier they will be.
I like mine with bigger chunks. 
So now the final step is to add any extra toppings into the soup that you would like. In the past I have used, in addition to green onions, peas, corn, snow peas (in the pod), and even diced ham. And the possibilities are by no means limited to that list. I encourage experimentation in the kitchen.
I would have liked to add some peas and corn, but I was talking on the phone while I went shopping and forgot to pick them up. Oh well that's what I get.
Just let it sit for a few minutes, to let the flavors all mesh together. Now is also the perfect time to add a little bit of sea salt, depending on the broth you might not need it, but I have found that the difference of with salt and without is night and day for this soup.
Add a little seasoning and enjoy your feel-good egg drop soup : )