Monday, March 20, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Kale Chips

Jana here with a super easy recipe!  We grow kale in our garden, and this is one of our favorite ways to eat it. It is loaded with antioxidants, and a great source of vitamin C, A, and K.
These are SO light and's hard to just eat a few!

Kale Chips

1 head of kale, or kale leaves from your garden
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

2. Remove the leaves from the thick stems, and tear the leaves into bite size pieces.

3. Lightly brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Curried Lentils

Jana here with a delicious way to cook lentils! We like to include lentils in our diet, because they are an inexpensive, healthy way to add fiber and protein!  I typically make these Curried Lentils as a side dish, along with a vegetable and chicken, but you could easily double the recipe and eat it as a soup as well. I was using green lentils for this recipe, but also buy red split lentils sometimes too. Either would work well with this.

Curried Lentils

1 cup dried lentils
2.5 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup canned coconut milk
1.5 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Combine the dried lentils and chicken broth in a medium size pot. Bring to a boil, then cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes.

2. Stir in the coconut milk, and spices until well combined. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} DIY Taco Seasoning

Jana here with a very versatile recipe - Homemade Taco Seasoning!   This is great for several reasons.  It is good make in a pinch if you were planning to use taco seasoning in a packet, but are out.  It is much cheaper to make it yourself, and healthier!  There is less salt than the packaged seasoning, and you know exactly what is in it!  I found this recipe at All Recipes

Homemade Taco Seasoning

3 tablespoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper

In a small bowl, mix all ingredients.  The measurements above will make about 9 tablespoons.  Two or three tablespoons of the mixture will be equal flavoring to a taco seasoning packet.  You can easily make more or less of this, to serve your needs.  I like to make at least this amount, and store it in an air-tight container so I have some on hand! 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Moana Hawaiian Meal for Monday Funday

Becca here with a fun idea for a meal to go along with the Disney movie Moana that is coming out on DVD next week.  To decide if it's one your family wants to view, my two favorite sites to read reviews on are Common Sense Media and Focus on the Family's Plugged In.  My husband and I have been able to visit Hawaii a few times, and I was excited to share a small part of this unique culture, with a quick and easy meal, with the kids as part of our "Monday Funday".

We started the meal off talking a bit about how pineapples grow.  We were using canned pineapple slices for this meal, but get fresh pineapple often enough that the kids know what one looks like.  However, they were all surprised to learn that pineapple doesn't grow on a tree!  This is a cool video by Dole, showing exactly how pineapples are grown.  The kids loved that our pineapple was Dole brand also ;)

Next, we talked about Hawaii being the 50th state added to the United States, when their grandparents were about their ages, in 1959.  Hawaii also is the only place on US soil that has a royal palace!!  After the kids' questions about the palace and royalty exceeded my previous knowledge, we skimmed this article and learned about the history of Hawaii's Monarchy being overthrown.  It's definitely not a cheerful history, but is a prime example of how money, power, and greed can lead to disastrous results.  The kids noticed and found it very interesting that the "Dole" name is also a key player in this story as well.

I tried to get a 'real' whole coconut, but Arkansas in February meant that I wasn't able to locate one.  So we ate dried coconut instead, and will save the cracking a whole coconut open experience for another day.

The final part of our meal was Spam Musubi.  If you haven't traveled to Hawaii, or aren't aware of their food culture, this might seem shocking or crazy!  However, as I was telling our kids, this modern quintessential Hawaiian dish is served everywhere; at the 7-11 gas stations, restaurants, and even the Sam's Club Cafe!  Spam's popularity rose during and after World War II, because it was shelf stable, and able to make the long journey to Hawaii without spoiling.  Some Hawaiian chefs in fine restaurants have included Spam on their menu.  I used short grain brown rice, cooked in my Instant Pot at 15 minutes on high pressure, and an onigiri rice mold to form the rice.  I just topped it with a small slice of Spam I had browned in a skillet, and wrapped the whole thing in a seaweed wrap.  I will say that I had several people that were very skeptical about the taste of the Spam Musubi, but everyone actually really thought it was tasty, and had seconds.  President Obama even made the news when he ordered Spam Musubi while golfing in Hawaii!

The natural next discussion was about the history of Spam, which was really quite interesting!

We ended the night watching Moana.  The movie was okay to me, but the graphics were really amazing, and that's not something I usually note or comment on.  The water and scenery were really beautiful!!

Let me know if you have a Moana Meal, and what your family thinks!! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

{Instant Pot} Southwest Chicken Stew

Jana here with a new Instant Pot recipe that is really easy to prepare, and delicious!  I got inspiration for this here.

{Instant Pot} Southwest Chicken Stew

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2.5 cups chicken broth
1 can black beans (15 ounce), drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 ounces)
1/2 cup quinoa
2 cups cubed chicken, uncooked (I used boneless, skinless chicken can also use chicken breast)

1. Choose the Saute function on your Instant Pot, and add the oil to the stainless steel pot. Once this has warmed, add the diced sweet potato and onion. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring some, and then add the garlic. Cook for an additional minute.

2. Stir in the chicken broth, seasonings (chili powder, cumin, salt, black pepper, paprika), black beans, tomatoes, quinoa, and chicken. Stir to combine, then lock lid in place. Choose the Manual function, and set for 4 minutes. Once this has finished, let the steam release using Natural Release. (10 minutes)  If you want the stew to be less runny, either let it sit on the keep warm feature until you are ready to serve it (the quinoa will absorb the liquid as it sits), or turn on the saute feature for a few minutes, stirring constantly.


Monday, February 27, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Creamy Chicken Chili

Jana here with a recipe that the whole family absolutely loved!  Add a garden salad, and some whole wheat bread, and you have a delicious meal!  This is also made in the slow cooker, so it is very low maintenance, and easy to prep!  I found the recipe that I based this on here.  For a quick meal on a busy day, you will definitely want to try this!

Creamy Chicken Chili

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, undrained
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cilantro
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 chicken breast halves, or 1 cup shredded chicken

1. Place the chicken in the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add beans, corn, and tomatoes on top. 

2. Add ranch mix and seasonings on top, and stir with the beans, corn, and tomatoes to combine.

3. Put the block of cream cheese on top of the mixture, and cover.

4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

5. Stir cream cheese in, and shred the chicken. (if you have used chicken breast halves)   Mix together, and serve.


Friday, February 24, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Ground Beef Risotto

Jana here with a {Thrice Favorites} recipe!  I originally posted this recipe several years ago, and it is one that I have made many times since then!  It is easy to make, the kids love it, and it's healthy!  If you give it a try, leave a comment and let us know!

Ground Beef Risotto

1 pound lean ground beef (or turkey)
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup uncooked rice (I used brown rice)
3 1/2 cups beef broth (from 32 ounce container)
1/2 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. In a medium skillet, cook beef, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper over medium heat.  Cook until the beef is browned.  Drain if necessary.

2. Stir in rice.  Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in broth, and heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Stir in carrot. Cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, or until most liquid is absorbed.

5. Remove skillet from heat, and stir in cheese. Cover, let stand for 3 minutes.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Rainy days always make me want to bake.  Am I the only one?  I hope not!  :)  One of my sons is 4 years old, and mixing up muffins is a perfect recipe for him to help with!  He loves practicing using the measuring spoons, dipping them in the flour and other things, and pouring them into the mixing bowl!  A little bit of patience on the parent's part goes a long way!  I can already see him improving in the past year!  Maybe in a few years, he will be baking muffins for us on his own!

I found a recipe for Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins on a food website, and modified it some to fit our family's preferences.  These turned out very good!  They are moist, but are slightly firm on the outside, which I enjoy!  This recipe will make 18 regular sized muffins, or 12 regular, and 12 mini as we did!

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

3 ripe bananas (approximately 1 cup mashed)*
1/3 cup natural applesauce (can use coconut oil instead)
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose, if you prefer)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a muffin tin.

2. Place the mashed bananas, applesauce, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a mixer. Mix on low speed until well combined.

3. Add the dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt), and mix well.  (do not over mix!)  Add the chocolate chips, and mix just to stir them in.

4.  Fill approximately 18 muffin tins 3/4 of the way full. 

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, checking to make sure a toothpick can be poked in and out without having batter on it.

Happy Baking!

*Whenever we have fresh bananas that get too brown before we can eat them, I have a method for saving them to use later.  First, I peel the banana.  Then, put it in a ziploc bag.  You can usually fit several in a sandwich size bag.  Then, mash the banana, and freeze it for later!  It is really easy to pull a bag of mashed banana out to use at a later time!

Monday, February 20, 2017

{Instant Pot} Coconut Curry Chicken and Rice

Jana here with a new Instant Pot recipe that will definitely be on repeat at our house!  I got the inspiration from this Instant Pot cookbook that I own, and enjoy! The flavors are mild (not spicy), and the end result is a creamy, delicious meal that my whole family really liked.

{Instant Pot} Coconut Curry Chicken and Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil or grapeseed oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pounds bone-in chicken (thighs or drumsticks - skin on is fine)
1 can coconut milk (14 ounce)
1/2 cup water
1 1/3 cups rice (basmati, jasmine, or whatever you have on hand)
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons cilantro
salt and pepper to season

1. Add the oil to the Instant Pot (IP) , and select Saute on the Instant Pot. Add the onion, and let it saute for 2-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Continuing to stir, add the garlic, curry powder, turmeric, and ginger. Cook for 1 minute.

2. Add the chicken, and season with salt and pepper. Add the coconut milk and water. Close and lock the lid. Select Manual, and cook for 13 minutes. (high pressure)

3. When cooking is done, use a quick release and open the IP. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board, and allow to cool slightly.

4. Add the rice, cilantro, and sugar to the IP, and close the lid again. Choose Manual, and cook for 4 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken, and take the chicken off of the bone.

6. When the rice is finished cooking, select Cancel and let it NR (naturally release) for 10 minutes. Release any remaining steam, and open the lid.

7. Add the chicken back to the pot, and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to your preference.


Friday, February 17, 2017

{Thrice Favorites} Slow Cooker BBQ Ranch Country Ribs

Jana here with a slow cooker recipe that completely surpassed my expectations!  So I decided to try this recipe from Picky Palate.  The ribs were falling apart when I took them out of the slow cooker, and were so tender!  It was so good, and everyone in my family was asking for seconds! 

Slow Cooker BBQ Ranch Country Ribs

2-3 pounds country style ribs (boneless)
1 packet of Ranch dry seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups Ketchup*
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of salt

1. Turn slow cooker on high heat. Place ribs in slow cooker, and sprinkle Ranch dry seasoning mix on top.

2. Place remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, and mix well.  Pour BBQ sauce over ribs, making sure to cover all.

3. Cook on high heat for 4-5 hours.

*I prefer to buy Simply Heinz ketchup.  It doesn't have corn syrup, and only has a handful of natural ingredients, unlike most standard ketchups at the store!