7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess: Food

The first month had to be food, didn’t it? Food is my weakness. If you read Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7, you will be introduced to her experiment against excess. She took 7 foods and only ate those 7 foods for the whole month. This intrigued me. I thought, what 7 foods would I eat? Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Wait! I just turned into my 4 year old daughter. She excels at this experiment better than I can! I started to contemplate only eating 7 certain meals throughout the month for breakfast and lunch and then eat dinners based around items we had in the home that needed to get eaten before they expired- which were a lot of items! This sounded like a plan I could handle until the first week was done *sigh* Food is my weakness. The goals that were set for me for the month of January were at the front of my brain each morning as I got ready for the day. Read 2 books, draw 4 pages in my sketchbook, exercise 5 days a week. Anxiety started to build. Ok, tone this one down a notch. Focus on making meals that got rid of items in the home, focus on not buying a bunch of extra things that would end up sitting in the closet for months. Ok, that plan I could handle. *charge on*

Coffee went away for the month. Coffee is part of my “thing”, or more so coffee shops, is part of my “thing”. After all, the blog has coffee as part of its name. Coffee was not something I could choke down for the longest time. Tea was my love. Over the course of the last few years, I went from Pumpkin Spice Latte queen, to Cafe Miel, to flavored coffee with a “dash” of coconut vanilla creamer. The warmth is what draws a moan out of my mouth as I take my first sip each morning. Tea can do that too. A cabinet full of tea needed to be reintroduced to me. Coffee went away. It made me sad each morning for the first week. After that, I looked forward to my cup of tea with honey. Welcome back first love! Today is February 2nd. It was my first opportunity to have a coffee at the Target Starbucks. Guess what? I went with the Mint Citrus tea. Sorry, coffee, you have some competition!

The kids didn’t notice anything different during the month of January. Except that we made them try a few different recipes as we tried to get rid of canned pumpkin, tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup. We had a couple of successes and a couple of flops!

Did I have any monumental take aways from this challenge of getting rid of excess food? I didn’t buy things just because they were on sale. I am certain our checking account saw a slight drop in food costs. I think I will start each weekend with reviewing what we have in our closet and cabinets prior to deciding on a weekly menu.

A few of my favorite quotes Jen had in her first chapter on Food:

“You always have to be doing something, don’t you” p. 28. This resinated with me. I am always trying something out and challenging myself.

“Tell me about the world before. What was it like?” “We didn’t even know what was precious.” “We threw away things that people would kill for today.” – The Book of Eli p.22

“I am hungry” p. 43

Here are the following recipes that were a hit in our home!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (not healthy but oh so yummy- we made these 2 times!)

Ingredients

2.5 cups flour

0.5 cup oats

4 t pumpkin spice

2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t salt

1.5 cups pumpkin purée

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

0.5 cup apple sauce

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

Directions

Set oven to 350 degrees

Makes 18 muffins

Bake 25-30 minutes

Combine flour, oats, spice, baking soda and powder, salt. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk purée, sugars, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla.

Stir together dry and wet ingredients.

Pour into muffin tins (sprayed or paper)

Streusel Topping:

0.5 cup brown sugar, 2 T melted butter, 2 T oats, 2 T flour. Mix and place small amounts on each muffin before putting in

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Rice from Campbell’s (to use Cream of Mushroom soup)

Beef and Broccoli (to get rid of tomato soup)

The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste (to get rid of diced tomatoes, tomato paste 4 cans of kidney beans *yes, we had that many*)

Couscous salad got rid of some couscous, slivered almonds and craisins

Monday Meals: Lunch Prep

Lunches are hard for me. I need something fast but filling. Some weeks are better than others when I prep for weekday lunches. Last week a friend from work shared with me a recipe for Apple Harvest Chili. A patient had shared it with her. She was kind enough to bring a bowl to share with me. I later made the recipe and quickly wished I had doubled the batch! I also whipped up a batch of Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, It’s All Good. These two recipes should get me through lunches this week. I hope you enjoy the Fall recipes…or winter, wherever you may be reading this post from *smile*

Apple Harvest Chili

Ingredients

16 oz chunky salsa- medium heat

1 can corn, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

14 oz chicken broth

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1 T cocoa powder

2/3 cup chopped cashews

Directions

Mix all ingredients except the cashews in a pot

Bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour

Stir in cashews before serving

Top with shredded cheese and sour cream

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander

Ingredients:

2 T Olive Oil

1 Large red onion, diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

5 Sprigs of cilantro, chopped

1 t cumin

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 t Chipotle in adobo sauce

6 Cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 Cups vegetable stock

Directions:

Heat oil in large pot

Cook onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin and salt on medium heat for 10 minutes

Add chipotle and potatoes along with stock

Bring to boil and then simmer 30 minutes

Purée soup in Vitamix, or other powerful blender

Monday Meals: Meal Planning

Meal Planning, I swear, is an art. An art I feel like I enjoy at times, and one that I despise at other times. I decided to go through the history of Coffee Pines & Designs thus far to see what Monday Meals recipes were posted. I hoped this would give me a good idea what to make in the few weeks ahead. I listed out the recipes for my own reference and thought it might be helpful for you, as a reader, to have them listed out as well. Grab a recipe or two and add it to this week’s plan for your family to enjoy!

Chicken Pot Pie

Meatloaf Meatballs

Chicken Curry

Cheese Tortellini Bake

Taco Salad

Caribbean Burgers

Curry Chicken Salad

Cheesy Veggie Quiche

BLT or BLATE

Tortellini Minestrone

Italian Chopped Salad

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

Kale Strawberry and Poppyseed Dressing Salad

Cheez It Pork Chops

Couscous Salad

Thai Style Burgers

Cheesy Stuffed Burgers

Cheeseburger Joes

Chicken Tikka Masala

Cheeseburger Pot Pie

French Toast

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Mango Avocado Salad

Chinese Hotdish

Upside Down Pizza Casserole

Black Bean Soup

Asian Buffalo Sauce

Coconut Shrimp

Slow Cooker Thai Stew

Shepherds Pie

Sweet Maui Taco

Monday Meals: End of Summer Produce

We didn’t have a a large variety in our garden this year but let me tell you, we had a large amount of cucumbers! T did his share of refrigerator pickles, we did the creamy cucumbers thing and the cucumbers and ranch thing. We are a bit spent on cucumbers. Last night I dug out my recipe books and tried a new recipe. This one was from Hemsley Hemsley: The Art of Eating Well. Sesame Chicken Salad with Cucumber Noodles . Mine looked a little different from theirs due to the type of cabbage I used, the way I cut up my cucumbers and I ended up using toasted almonds rather than sesame seeds. It was a light meal that I can’t wait to use for lunches this week.

We had a single zucchini in our garden. Last week I made Kristin Cavallari’s French Toast recipe for the girls. She uses her Zucchini Bread recipe for the bread. It is an extremely rich yet tasty take on the typical recipe. For this we used a small portion of the very large zucchini. We also tested out her Zucchini Chips with Dill Sour Cream and Onion Recipe which was amazing and her Oatmeal Zucchini Muffin Cups which were good, but definitely healthier than the French Toast. In other words, it wasn’t as flavorful as the French Toast.

Monday Meals: Chicken Pot Pie & Meatloaf Meatballs

Pick up Rachel Hollis’ cookbook, Real Life Dinners for the chicken pot pie recipe we tried out last week. If you can’t get the book, The Daily Meal has a similar recipe to the one we cooked up. We used a pre-made Pillsbury pie crust for the bottom and top rather than a package of biscuit dough. My oldest loved the meal, as did I. Currently, you can’t trust our youngest’s opinion *wink*

In the winter we cook meat loaf a handful of times. It is so easy to make ahead of time and serve as left overs. We usually use the Better Homes and Gardens recipe. I took a new approach to it this time. Rachel Hollis makes meat balls rather than cook it in a pan. My kids did prefer it this way. She also uses a food processor to disguise the carrots and zucchini her recipe calls for.

I mixed the two recipes together to create the one below.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup rolled oats

1 cup onion

1 cup diced carrots

1.5 cup peeled and chopped zucchini

1.5 lbs ground beef

2 eggs

1/4 bbq sauce

1 t salt

1 t pepper

1/4 cup bread crumbs to thicken up mixture if needed

1/4 cup ketchup

2 T Brown sugar

1 t Ground mustard

Directions:

Spray baking sheets

Oven at 400 degrees

Process (or blend) rolled oats, onion, carrots and zucchini until veggies are small pieces

Mix veggie mixture with beef, beaten eggs, bbq sauce, salt and pepper

Add bread crumbs if needed to thicken (my veggies ended up fairly blended, rather than chunky- hence the need for the bread crumbs)

Roll into 2 “ meat balls

Top each meatball with a bit of the following mixture:

1/4 cup

2 T brown sugar

1 t ground mustard

Bake 15 minutes or until cooked in the center

We served these with corn on the cob and cream cheese mashed potatoes!

Monday Meals: Chicken Curry & Cheese Tortellini Bake

I have been a bit MIA on the Monday Meals blogging posts. Let’s face it. I have been a bit MIA on any blogging *smile*sigh* The end of summer has been hectic and crazy in fun ways and stressful ways. I am not a person to dwell over my kids getting older and hope that they will be my babies forever. Don’t get me wrong. I wish they would stay in this stage of wanting to cuddle and hold my hand forever, but I am thrilled with seeing how they grow, develop and learn to love new things. The new school year just started and life is about to change once again!

Hold up, this is a Monday Meals post! Not one that talks about the crazy life I have been living! Let me reign this back in *smile* You are reading this post to see what couple of meals I am about to recommend! Let’s talk Chicken Curry. I posted a Chicken Curry recipe awhile back. I am always on the look out for the very best homemade Chicken Curry recipe, so bare with me as I post another. Feel free to message me and let me know how you like this one, or if you have any great ones to share, please do! This recipe is slightly altered from Against All Grains: Meals Made Simple from Danielle Walker.

Ingredients:

3 lbs chicken breasts

1 medium onion, sliced

7 cloves minced garlic

1 piece of ginger, 1 ounce, diced

3.5 t soy sauce

2.5 t salt

2.5 t ground cumin

2.5 t ground turmeric

1.5 t coriander

1 t nutmeg

1/2 t allspice

2 c coconut milk in a can

4 carrots, peeled and sliced

2-3 c broccoli

1/2 c peas

1 c chopped raw cashews

Cilantro

Directions:

In a slow cooker mix onion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, salt and spices.

Add chicken and coat with the mixture.

Cook or your slow cooker settings until chicken is cooked thoroughly.

Remove chicken and shred.

Place chicken back in slow cooker.

Add coconut milk and vegetables. Cook another 1 hour until veggies are tender.

Serve with cashews and cilantro over rice.

*you could try Danielle Walker’s Basic Cauliflower Rice recipe from the same book, or pick up a pack in the frozen food section at your local grocery store.

My littlest chickadee is a picky eater lately. The next recipe was a no fail with her. I got inspired from Rachel Hollis’ Baked Ravioli recipe in her book, Real Life Dinners (if you have not picked it up yet, please do! I promise you, you will love it!) If you have read past posts you will realize that I highly recommend it! You can check out her The Chic Site blog for recipe suggestion too.

Ingredients:

1 package of premise Cheese Tortellini from grocery store

1 jar marinara sauce

1/4-1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs

Fresh mozzarella cheese (you could use shredded, but we bought a block and cut it into thin slices- used about 1/2 of the block)

Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

Cook tortellini per directions on package

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Drain water from pot of tortellini after it is cooked, mix in jar of sauce , basil leaves and bread crumbs

Pour evenly into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish

Place slices of cheese on top

Bake 20-25 minutes

Friday Favorites: Garden Fresh Tomatoes

We had our first tomato out of our garden tonight! Look at that beauty! There is nothing better than a BLT in the summer. I posted earlier this summer about a new BLT recipe we tried earlier this summer. There are so many great tomato soup recipes out there but Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe is my favorite.

We are new to gardening this year. Planting it is not my thing but watering it and picking the produce was something I could assist with and maybe I could even call it therapeutic (when the mosquitos were not bad).

I am not sure I want to commit to canning just yet, but when we get the gardening thing down, bring on the salsa making and call me Miss Susie Homemaker!

Monday Meals: Taco Salad & Caribbean Burgers

The temperatures and humidity have been extra high in Northern Minnesota this past week; pretty typical for August. It is weird, though. We were without an oven for about a month and my husband/father-in-law were able to figure out how to fix it just last weekend. Now that we have it back we don’t even want to use it as it would just add extra heat into our home. I was searching my recipe books for lighter meals that don’t require the oven and found these two to share. Enjoy the heat and these eats!

Taco Salad

Ingredients:

1 bag of lettuce

1/2 onion, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Bag of shredded cheese

Can of black olives, chopped

1 lb ground beef, browned

Packet of taco seasoning

Use taco sauce instead of water when making the taco meat

Thousand Island dressing

Doritos- Taco Flavored

Directions:

Cook taco meat per taco seasoning directions, but replace taco sauce for the water.

Add all ingredients, except Doritos, to a large bowl and toss

Crunch chips on top

Caribbean Burgers w/ Mango Salsa

From: Woman’s Health Magazine, May 2006

Ingredients:

1.5 lb ground beef

2 T jerk seasoning

1 mango, peeled and chopped

1 T chopped fresh cilantro, chopped

1 T green onion, chopped

1 T jalapeño, seeded and chopped

1 T lime juice

Buns

Directions:

Combine beef and jerk seasoning, make into patties

Grill until cooked

Combine rest of ingredients in a bowl to make salsa

Top burgers with salsa

Friday Favorites: Coconut Drinks

It has been awhile since I have posted a Friday Favorites post. Summer has been super crazy and filled with weekend away after weekend away. Today I present something I drink all year long to remind me of summer and the tropical feel of Maui. Coconut flavored La Croix. It has been 13 years since I stayed on the island of Maui for a summer. When I drink anything coconut flavored, smell certain sunscreens or step out my front door on humid warmer mornings I get this “ahhhh” feeling of living on the fantastic island of Maui. I recently discovered this coconut creamer and tested it out in the La Croix water. It was a tad like the Italian Cream Sodas I used to drink as a kid. It is lovely in coffee as well. Drink up and enjoy!

Monday Meals: More Magnolia and Muffins

I have been on a cooking at home spree again, thank goodness it came back. I dislike those dry spells. I feel like we eat more processed meals when we hit those spells. If we are going to eat unhealthy, I would rather it at least be with home cooked butter and love *wink*.

I was supposed to host book club a couple of weeks ago, but my grandmother passed away and that event got put on hold. I had prepared two different chicken salads to have. Both were from Joanna Gaines Magnolia Table cookbook. I preferred her Curry Chicken Salad recipe compared to her traditional one. I feel like I make a pretty tasty chicken salad without having a recipe to follow. I cheated a bit with her recipe and went with a store bought rotisserie chicken. I always enjoy my chicken salad a little more “saucy” vs dry. So I did add more mayo than she called for. Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of the salad. I left it with my parents due to the unexpected trip home. They enjoyed the left overs. Don’t think I didn’t enjoy a good portion of it thought before I came back to Bemidji!

Curry Chicken Salad

From Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table

Ingredients:

Shredded chicken from a rotisserie chicken (roughly 5-6 cups)

6-8 oz diced water chestnuts

1 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup minced chives

2 or 2.5 cups mayo

2 T soy sauce

3 T curry powder

1/2 t garlic powder

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Extra tasty bread

Directions:

Combine chicken, water chestnuts, almonds and chives, stir until well combined.

In another bowl whisk mayo, soy sauce, curry powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

Pour mixture over chicken and stir until well combined.

Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Good for 3 days.

I enjoy this on toasted bread, croissants or wheat thins dipped into the salad.

The other raving meal I have to talk about was the quiche I cooked this weekend for my in-laws. I combined two of the Magnolia recipes as I desired the taste of the cheesy one but with some of the veggies *smile* I never grew up with quiche but it may be a new favorite for when we have company over. The girls also helped me make Rhubarb muffins 2 days in a row. They said we should make them every day! Thanks mom for the recipe!

Cheesy Veggie Quiche

Inspired from Joanna Gain’s Magnolia Table Cookbook

Ingredients:

6 large eggs

1 cup heavy cream

1 t garlic powder

1/2 t paprika

1 t salt

1/2 t pepper

1 cup cheddar cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup cut up Swiss cheese

1/4 cup minced chives

1 cup diced mushrooms

1/3 cup diced onion

2 cups spinach

1 unbaked store bought pie crust (Thanks Pillsbury)

In pan over medium heat, drizzle olive oil in pan. Once heated, add onion, mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Set aside.

In large bowl add eggs, cream, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Whisk until well combined.

Stir in cheeses and cooked veggies.

Pour into pie crust.

Cook in oven set at 350 degrees for 40 minutes (or until the center is golden).

Remove and place on wire rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Helpful hints:

Place pie crust on a pan Incase there is any that spills over.

You may have to put tinfoil around edges of the quiche towards end of cooking time to keep from burning. Ours was fine, but this may help.

Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c brown sugar

1/2 c veggie oil

1 egg

2 t vanilla

1 c buttermilk

1 1/2 c diced rhubarb

2 1/2 c flour

1 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

Combine brown sugar,veggie oil, egg, vanilla and buttermilk until well combined. Stir in rhubarb.

In separate bowl stir flower, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine all ingredients together.

Place into 18 muffin tins.

Add sugar topping (1 T melted butter, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 t cinnamon) to the muffins.

Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes