Refreshing Watermelon juice

Summer brings many things to Texas. Scorching hot days, tubing down a river, hurricanes, ripe Fredericksburg peaches, and sweet, crisp watermelon. To me, watermelon is the fruit of summer. I have strong memories of eating ice cold watermelon after a long day of swimming and playing. There isn’t any other fruit like it. Sweet, crisp and refreshing. I was given a few watermelons from a friend and decided to try something new with them.  I immediately thought of a drink you can get from the snack shack at Zilker Park here in Austin. Its a cold, and slightly sweet watermelon juice made from fresh watermelons. And that sounded easy and delicious, which is right up my alley! Now, let me say that I usually alter my own recipes as I see fit. Not sweet enough? I add more sugar. Needs more salt? I add it. Don’t be afraid to change up any recipe you come across. Cooking is about making something fit your taste, and if you need to alter measurements, please do! Next time I make this juice, I might try and make a simple syrup with fresh mint in it. Life is too short to not try new things!

Refreshing Watermelon Juice

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Ingredients: 2 Servings

2 cups cubed, seedless watermelon

2 cups cold, filtered water

2 tablespoons sugar (or Ideal Brand sugar substitute)

juice of 1/2 lime 

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender. Replace lid and blend until smooth.
  2. Place small, mesh strainer over a large mason jar or glass. 
  3. Pour watermelon puree through strainer. This removes any watermelon pulp from the juice.
  4. Serve over ice or place in the refrigerator until cold. 
  5. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Curry Chicken Salad

I love food. All kinds of food! I love Tex-Mex, Cajun, Thai, Vietnamese, Lebanese, Greek and Indian! I have always been one to try new foods because you never know what wonder new flavors you will fall in love with. I enjoy bringing different flavors into my own kitchen and seeing what I can come up with! This simple, flavorful meal is one that I stumbled upon awhile back. Its incredibly easy to throw together and requires NO cooking. Yes, you read right! No cooking. Don’t get me wrong. I love to cook and bake, but occasionally I like to take a break from the heat and put something simple together. And in Texas, our summers are killer. 100+ degrees for a few months, and I eventually dread turning on my oven. Not only is this delicious but its also good for you! I prefer to place my chicken salad over spinach greens instead of using bread. Spinach is high in omega-3 fatty acids which help deter inflammation. Its also a great source of Niacin, and folic acid as well as vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and magnesium! Spinach is a great way to get in some of your much needed vitamins and minerals (see link for more information). I also decided to add turmeric to this easy curry chicken salad. Its health benefits are amazing to say the least. And whether you believe it or not, what can it hurt? It adds color, a slight earthy flavor as well as numerous health benefits (see link for more information). I hope to do more variations of the classic chicken salad again soon! Give this curry chicken a try and let me know what you think!

Curry Chicken Salad

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Ingredients: (4 servings or 2 if you are very hungry)

4 cups chopped store bought rotisserie chicken, deboned

1/4 cup raw carrots, diced

1/4 cup red onion, finely diced

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 cup mayonnaise for lightly moistened chicken, 1/2 cup for creamier chicken salad ( I used 1/4 cup)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon fresh, ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Indian curry powder (add more if you want a stronger curry flavor)

1/4 teaspoon dried turmeric powder

1 cup organic, raw baby spinach per serving

Instructions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients, except for the raw spinach,  into a large mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.
  2. Place one cup of raw spinach on a plate. Take one cup of the combined chicken salad and place it over the spinach leaves.
  3. See! Simple and easy! Enjoy!

 

Cilantro, Lime Chicken

I adapted this recipe from Gimme Some Oven blog, which is full of wonderful recipes that all look delicious! This is another very easy meal that requires very little prep but definitely provides a lot of flavor. I would imagine it would work wonderfully on the grill, although I haven’t had a chance to try it like that yet.  You could also shred the chicken and use the meat for mouthwatering chicken tacos! If you love lime and you love cilantro then I insist you give this recipe a try. The original recipe can be found here.

This can be served with a side of vegetables, rice, quinoa or a nice salad! Let me know what you all think!

Cilantro, Lime Chicken

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Ingredients:

2 lbs chicken thighs (we used boneless)

1/2 cup freshly-squeezed lime juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. black pepper

zest of two limes

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Wash and pat the chicken dry. Place in a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add lime juice, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, half of the lime zest, and half of the chopped cilantro. Close bag and mix well. Be sure to incorporate all of the ingredients and coat the chicken well.
  3. Place bag in the refrigerator for at least an hour. I prefer to let it marinade for a few hours. The marinade can be made in the morning and placed in the refrigerator, so that it is ready to throw in the oven for dinner.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  5. Grease baking dish with olive oil and place the chicken and the marinade in the pan. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F. We used boneless thighs so keep that in mind when you make your chicken. If you use bone in chicken thighs you will need to cook longer. Usually bone in chicken take 40 to 45 minutes to cook.
  6. Once cooked, sprinkle the remaining lime zest and cilantro over the chicken.

 

Easy baked chicken and garlic French green beans

There are many reasons why I love to cook. I love the smells and of course, the taste of a home cooked meal. I love the look on my husband’s face when he realizes I have started cooking. I love being able to sit down and finally enjoy the last step in cooking, which is quite obviously, eating! And I love that I know exactly what is in my food!

Don’t get me wrong. I eat out, buy the prepared meals from Whole Foods occasionally and love to indulge in some greasy fried chicken strips from time to time. But for the most part, I cook our meals at home. It is a great way to save money, and when you have an arsenal of quick recipes at your finger tips, it makes cooking a meal at home that much easier! Better food to fuel you and your family!

Let me say something about this chicken. Its all about the herbs baby! I love Herbs de Provence spice mixture. It has a very distinct flavor and makes this dish not only delicious but easy. Herbs de Provence is a mixture of dried  thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano, tarragon, marjoram, and dried lavender flowers. You can’t get much easier than sprinkling salt and spices on chicken and throwing it into the oven. Baked chicken is one of my more frequent meals because I can easily change up the flavors to create something new.

Feel free to use different cuts of chicken. I prefer to use chicken legs because its usually cheaper than chicken breast and a little less fatty than chicken thighs. But any of them would work wonderfully with this recipe! And I love the idea of adding a super simple but delicious side like French green beans sautéed with fresh garlic. If you follow me long enough, you will come to learn that I adore garlic. I put it in most of my savory dishes! If you would like to retain more of the nutrients from the garlic, try adding it after the green beans have cooked in the pan and are ready to serve. This adds a bigger garlic punch to the meal but also helps to retain its antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal properties. Garlic is your friend! Love it, use it and gain from it!

 

Baked Herbs de Provence Chicken

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds chicken legs (about 5 legs)

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (or regular table salt)

2 1/2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence spice mixture

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2.  Wash and pat dry the chicken legs. Place in a baking dish.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on chicken and make sure to rub it on all sides of the chicken. This helps the salt and spice stick to the chicken.
  4. Evenly sprinkle the salt over all sides of the chicken legs. Repeat with the Herbs de Provence.
  5. Place baking dish in the oven and cook for 40 to 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.
  6. Let sit for 5 minutes and enjoy with a side of sautéed French green beans.

 

Garlic French Green Beans

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Ingredients:

16 ounce bag frozen Organic French Green Beans (Frozen vegetables are wonderful for cutting the cooking time down.)

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt (Or regular table salt)

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place large, heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add minced garlic. Sauté until fragrant (20 to 30 seconds).
  2. Add in frozen green beans, salt and pepper. Stir and cover skillet. Reduce heat. Be sure to stir often.
  3. Cook for about 8 minutes or until green beans are hot and still retain color and crispness.

No bun no fun?

Easy meals are what keep you going through the long work week. Delicious, intricate meals can be nice, but who really has time for them after a day of work? Not this lady! Most of the things that I cook throughout the week are simple meals that I throw together. To be honest with you, I rarely use recipes. I throw a little bit of this and a little bit of that into my meals until I think it is seasoned enough. And I usually know what flavors go with what. You don’t want Allspice in your Mexican tacos!  That is just the way I learned how to cook. I grew up sitting in the kitchen with my grandmother better known as my Mawmaw. I was amazed at how well she knew her way around her kitchen. She tossed in spices here and there, and I never once saw her use measuring spoons or measuring cups! But every meal turned out amazing! When I got older, I would recreate her dishes from taste alone. Not enough garlic? Add more! Still needs more cumin? Add more! And the smell! I knew when I threw in garlic and onion into my pan before making my Mawmaw’s Spanish rice, that I was on the right track. So, writing down my recipes is something fairly new to me. My husband begs me to recreate some of his all time favorite meals and this one right here is a definite favorite of his!

The first thing you might notice from my pictures is that there is no bun to my delicious Cilantro, Jalapeño hamburgers! And thats for a very good reason. About four years ago, my husband and I went low carb. If you aren’t familiar with the low carb way of eating, its pretty simple. No potatoes. No bread. No rice. No grains. You eat a diet high in protein and load up on a plethora of vegetables and some fruits. My energy levels skyrocketed, I lowered my blood pressure, and dropped some weight. We haven’t looked back since! It took some time to adjust to eating my hamburgers without a bun and eating gumbo without the rice. But it was well worth it. I now fill my body with wholesome foods that fuel my body instead of filling it with foods that weighed me down.

Feel free to adjust the amount of jalapeño if you are not a fan. We didn’t think they were spicy but my husband and I have a high tolerance for spice! And feel free to click on the pictures for a larger view. These hamburgers can easily be eaten with a bun but I challenge you to try them how I made them. There wasn’t a bun but they were oh so delicious!

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Bunless Cilantro, Jalapeño Hamburgers

1 pound lean grass fed ground beef

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup chopped organic cilantro

1/4 cup finely chopped pickled jalapeño

1/4 cup almond flour ( I find this in the bulk section at Sprouts or HEB)

1 large egg

1 teaspoon Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning or any other creole seasoning

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for cooking

Toppings:

1 avocado, sliced

slices of cheese ( I used El Viajero Asadero cheese but cheddar or jalapeño jack cheese would work well also)

enough cabbage leaves for each burger

Directions:

  1. Combine the first eight ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Mix together well and set aside so that they meat can reach room temperature.
  2. Heat a heavy skillet on medium heat and add one tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Form meat into 1/2 inch thick patties and set in pan. Cook for three minutes and flip. Cook for additional three minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches  160 degrees.
  4. Once cooked, set on plate and place cheese on top of cooked patty.  Continue until each patty is cooked. Cover the patties with another plate or a top to a pan so the cheese can melt slightly.
  5. Serve on cabbage leave and top with sliced avocado
  6. Sit down and enjoy a flavor packed bun-less cheeseburger!

There’s a first for everything!

So I have to admit. I wasn’t planning on starting a blog but after some…okay a lot of encouragement, I have decided to give it a go! Which is great! Here I get to share some of my tried and true recipes as well as share my experiments. Some might go well and others will surely be a fail! But that’s all in the fun! What is life, if we don’t take a few chances here and there? And in the kitchen, a mistake can quickly turn into a huge success! Let me start off by telling you a little about myself!

My name is Crystal and I am a true to heart Texas girl. Born and raised right here! I have a degree in Elementary Education but life never seems to take us where we think it will.Instead of working in a classroom, I had the pleasure of becoming a nanny after the daycare I worked for went out of business  I have been a nanny for 5 years now and I love it more than I ever could have thought! Not only do I get to use my degree in teaching my kiddos how to identify letters, write their names, learn colors, and how to read but I also get to spoil them with my delicious desserts! And I am proud to say that I try to include the kids in baking with me as much as possible! It is a fun, bonding experience, but it also gives me a chance to reinforce counting and help them with following directions. I LOVE to bake. And to cook. Plain and simple!

I hope you enjoy my delicious adventures whether it be cookies or a delicious and easy dinner!

 

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