Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Savoring the Summer

In the spirit of savoring the summer, Thrice the Spice will be taking a temporary break from regular posting.  As much as we desire to feed our families well physically, that also extends to feeding their souls as well.  As we enjoy quality time with our kids during the long summer days we hope you'll feel free to browse the archives for some tasty treats to keep your family satisfied as well.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread


It's zucchini bread time of year, wahooo! Do you get as excited about this as I do?  Probably not.  But try this bread and you will, I can almost guarantee it!  We are already knee-deep in zucchini and I knew I wanted to make some delicious bread as a healthy alternative to having sweets in the house (I've almost gone a month without desserts!)  I started looking for a recipe to use and ended up adapting one to fit my needs.  Next time I plan on cutting out the sugar from the recipe completely and I still think it would be plenty sweet. 

Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread
Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 TB plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup sugar *See note below*
2 TB honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup grated zucchini

Directions:
In true Sara fashion, I dumped all of the ingredients into the mixer together and turned it on a high speed for a minute or two.  Next I turned it down to a medium speed until everything was well blended.  I then poured the batter into a bread pan I'd previously sprayed and cooked it on 350 degrees for about an hour and 15 minutes.  At close to an hour I checked on the bread and stuck a knife in the middle to see if it was still doughy. It was, so I continued to bake past an hour until the middle was solid. 

This bread was SO, so good.  Like fantastic!  I put a note next to the sugar because although I used 1/4 a cup (the original recipe called for 3/4-yikes!) I really felt like the sugar could have been left out altogether, and a couple extra TB's of honey used instead.  

Enjoy! 
Sara 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Baked Chicken Chimichanga



Jana here with a Mexican recipe that you will definitely want to make! I found inspiration for this recipe here, and made some changes to fit our preferences. If you've ever had a chicken Chimichanga at a Mexican restaurant, you know how delicious they are....but they are also fried, and not very healthy. I was really happy with the texture of these tortillas once they'd been baked.  They were light and crispy, and just right!  The filling can be modified significantly from what I list below. Ground beef can be traded for chicken. Black beans for refried beans. Different types of cheese can be tried.  The recipe is very flexible!

Baked Chicken Chimichanga

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3/4 cup refried beans
6-8 flour tortillas (8 inch size)
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Toppings: sour cream, salsa, avocado, lettuce, tomato

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix chicken, salsa, spices, cheese, and beans in a medium sized mixing bowl.

2. Spread about 1/3 cup of the mixture in the center of a tortilla. Roll tortilla where all sides are sealed. (fold in 'short sides' first, then roll lengthwise)  Place seam side down in a baking dish.

3. Brush with melted butter. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy.

Garnish with toppings and ENJOY!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Herb Cream Cheese


Hi everyone!  I have the tastiest, quickest recipe to share with you today. This herb cream cheese is perfect for pairing with crusty bread and I've even eaten it on top of scrambled eggs.  It's great for a crowd because it is seriously simple to make but tastes very decadent.  We use the herbs from our garden, but you could also easily buy some at your local Farmer's Market or grocery store. 

Herb Cream Cheese
Ingredients:
One block cream cheese 
Handful of dill and green onion, to taste
2 TB garlic

One loaf crusty bread

Directions:
Soften the cream cheese in the microwave for a few minutes.  Dice the dill and green onion and mix with the cream cheese, along with the garlic.  Spread on the bread (toasted if you like) and enjoy! 

Sara 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Creamy Mexican Chicken


Jana here with a delicious, fast slow cooker meal!  This is a great meal for a day when you only have a few minutes to spend on dinner.  One of the things I love about it is the finished product is very versatile!  We ate it the first night over brown rice.  The second time we had it, we put it in tortillas, added salsa and cheese, and had a yummy burrito!

Creamy Mexican Chicken 
2-2.5 lbs frozen chicken breasts
1 can corn, drained
1 package cream cheese
1 can Rotel
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro (optional)

1. Place frozen chicken breasts in your slow cooker.

2. Add remaining ingredients on top.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring every few hours if possible.

About halfway through the cooking time, I used a fork to stir and shred the chicken.  It did so very easily, and made it where the chicken could absorb the flavors and moisture of the sauce even more!  This would make a great freezer meal also!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

These Are a Few of my Favorite {Summer} Things!

Becca here with some of my favorite summer recipes today!  With the school being out around here, and the 4th of July approaching, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorites from the Thrice the Spice blog over the years.  Remember you can always use the search bar on the right sidebar to search by topic, ingredient, cooking method, etc.  You can also choose a category to browse on the right sidebar as well.  What are some of YOUR favorite summer treats & activities?
 
4th of July Flag Toast

and another idea for the 4th (also dye free!) 
Red, White, & Blue "Celebrate America" Dessert!


Fruit Butterfly Snacks

Fresh Lemonade

and while you're buying and juicing lemons, make this Simple Lemon Sugar Scrub for yourself or a quick gift!

Or, these 'Clean Eating' Lemon Bars are another tasty way to use lemons and enjoy a treat without going way overboard.

Strawberry Pina Colada Popsicles

I also make popsicles using just 100% fruit juice, or add frozen fruit or peas for an extra treat, although since we don't normally drink juice a juice popsicle is a treat in itself! 

These Orange Creamsicles are another delicious popsicle idea we've tried & enjoyed.

What is your favorite homemade popsicle 'recipe' or idea?  Enjoy! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Banana Muffins-no sugar, flour, or butter!


It's a hilly place, this life of mine.  Full of peaks and valleys, highs and lows.  Especially with my health.  About a year ago I decided I would learn to run.  I was certainly at a "healthy" weight, but really I'm using even that term loosely.   In my opinion, a skinny person isn't necessarily a healthy one.  We have that all kinds of mixed up in America.  Some of the strongest, most fierce and brave and HEALTHY women I know aren't the skinniest ones.  Some of the skinniest gals I know are the most self-conscious and the most obsessed with working out and the scale, and certainly the most unhappy.  To me, healthy covers more than our looks, happiness is included too.  So finding myself thin last year but not truly healthy wasn't a happy thing.  I began to run, starting and finishing Couch to 5k.  I even ran in my first 5k and came in third place! I was hooked.  

Fast forward through winter, where even after a few periods of majorally slacking off, I hit the treadmill again.  And then life sped up and Brett worked longer hours and there I was again, desperately looking forward to nap times, after breakfast times, and bed time for snacks and chocolate and m and m's, and chips.  Junk.  Folks, I was looking forward to junk.   
So I changed.  After having one particularly painful afternoon with a yucky stomach ache I was fed up.  I was feeling "Blah" emotionally and physically and not taking care of myself.  Since then I've cut out extra sugar.  I say "extra" because some things (but very few) like my soy vanilla milk has 6 grams of sugar I believe per serving, which I have once a day.  But I've said no to cake, cookies, pie, brownies, cinnamon roll, ice cream, and my FAVE, peanut m and m's.  I've been eating clean 80% of the time at least.  Most days 90% of the time.  I feel GREAT.  I have energy...I don't feel bloated.  I'm on day 11 of no sweets!! I've never done that in my life, ever.  

I even made muffins today that had no sugar, flour, or butter and they are delicious!  The girls liked them too.  Here's the recipe:
Banana Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups quick cook oats
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ripe bananas

Directions:
Combine everything in your mixer and mix on HIGH speed for 2 minutes or so.  Next mix on medium to low speed for an additional minute.  Spray a muffin tin with EVOO cooking spray.  We used our mini muffin tin! Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes!  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Homemade Sandwich Bread (Bread Machine Recipe)



Jana here, and today I wanted to share my favorite homemade bread recipe!  I make it for our family's sandwich bread each week.  Well, since we have 5 people in our family, a loaf doesn't typically last a whole week...so I normally make this about every 4 or 5 days. That is about the length of time that the bread will stay fresh. If you know you won't be able to eat it in that time frame, I would slice the loaf and freeze it. Then, you'll be able to pull out enough for each day, etc. The bread maker that I have (and love) is the Panasonic SD-YD250.  I have used it consistently for months, and always had great results. I highly recommend it!  This recipe is modified from one of the recipes that came in a booklet with my machine. My mother-in-law has the same bread machine, and told me about some modifications she made to make this a great sandwich bread. I tried it, and we loved the results too!

Homemade Sandwich Bread

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons powdered milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter (I like to cut this into smaller pieces)
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon yeast

For the bread machine listed above, this would require you to use the 'wheat' setting, and makes a 'medium' size loaf. I know all bread machines differ, but I think this recipe could be used in different machines!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Beef Asian Lettuce Wraps


Becca here with a recipe my family really enjoyed.  I modified a recipe from Rachael Ray's cooking magazine that my Grandma subscribes to and kindly passes on to me when she's finished with.  I love a good lettuce wrap of any type, chicken, beef, seafood, meatless, etc. but they aren't something I've typically made at home often because the recipes usually call for either a long list of ingredients, lots of strange things, involved prep and cooking, or all of the above.  So I was super excited to try this recipe that calls for just a handful of things that you should be able to pick up at any grocery store; I found them all easily at my Arkansas Walmart.  Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about the end result, but what I thought I was making as a double batch for the freezer ended up being gone in one dinner meal, with just a few leftovers for my husband to take to work for his lunch the next day. 

Beef Asian Lettuce Wraps

1/2 cup hoisin sauce (in a jar, with the other Asian products at my store)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 pounds ground meat (I used beef, chicken or turkey would be good & probably more authentic :)
4 large carrots, shredded (I wash only, and don't peel first)
6 garlic cloves, minced
8 green onions, both whites and greens chopped
1 large head of lettuce, leaves separated and left whole (butter lettuce is great)

In a large skillet, begin browning ground meat and garlic, breaking it apart as it cooks.  If you're using a super lean poultry, you may need to add a tablespoon or so of oil for best results.  When the meat is starting to show signs of being done, add shredded carrots.  Cook an additional few minutes, and then right before the meat is finished, add green onions.  Drain, if necessary.

Reduce heat to medium when meat is cooked through, and stir in hoisin sauce and soy sauce.  Stir well to combine, and cook an additional 2-3 minutes, or until heated through.

Serve with lettuce leaves to use for cups.  I recommend serving the meat mixture and lettuce separately and letting people fill their lettuce right before eating it, so that the lettuce stays nice and crisp and doesn't wilt.  Plus, my kids think it's great fun :)  Enjoy!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Simple Flower Experiment



Hi everyone!  How has your summer started?  This year I've decided to keep a theme in mind to focus our learning and playtime, as much as possible.  I have a VERY busy one and a half year old, and an almost three year old.  They are both wiggle-worms and stay busy all day long.  So, I need activities that will catch their interest and hold it, but not require too many steps or materials.

I'm sure this is one of the oldest experiments in the book, but it is worth it!  Our theme for now is water.  We've been having interesting conversations about water and did this little activity one afternoon.  We simply placed some daisies from our yard in colored water.  I tried to use the same type of talk as the scientific method, but in kid-friendly language while we set the experiment up.

We wait 'till the next morning and came to see what had changed about the flowers.  I'm happy to report the petals on the flower had changed colors!  So very exciting for my girls. :)

I hope you'll enjoy doing this activity with your kids also!  For older children I think it would be neat to draw the changes in the flowers in a journal or even paint them on a large piece of paper.

Sara