Friday, March 29, 2013

Stuffed Bell Peppers

The quest to make healthy eats is a tough I right??  I try to cook clean as much as possible AND make extra (because leftovers rock).  Sometimes it's dang hard though!!  Today's post is an example of my version: cooking mostly clean!  One of the things I love most about this recipe is that you can change stuff out to suit your'll see below.  I can't take credit for this recipe, as the original came from my someday sister-in-law :)  However, just like all my recipes, I modify/alter/adapt until I find the mix that is perfect for me.

What you need:

  • 4 Bell Peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb Ground Turkey (or ground beef)
  • 1 Packet Good Seasons Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Can Hunt's Diced Tomato with Roasted Garlic (or whatever kind you choose)
  • 1 Small Onion (or more if you LOVE onion) diced finely
  • Minced Garlic: I used about a tablespoon.  Adjust based on your tastes.
  • Uncle Ben's Ready Rice Whole Grain Brown (again, use whatever you want...I just like that I can pop it in the microwave and it's done)
  • Mozzarella Cheese

What you do:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut the tops off your 4 peppers and discard the insides (all the white stuff).  Fit the 4 peppers in a baking dish.  I like to use one with higher sides because the peppers get heavy and sometimes want to tip.
  3. In a skillet, heat some EVOO and start to saute your onions and garlic.  Do this only until they're softened.
  4. Add your ground turkey and brown.  After it's browned, I usually try to drain off whatever grease I can.  Call me crazy or picky...but it's what I do.  
  5. Turn down your heat and add the Good Seasons.  Mix well and let this simmer for just a few minutes.
  6. Open up your diced tomatoes.  Again, I like to drain of the extra liquid...I just don't like liquidy food.  Add your diced tomatoes to your skillet and mix well.  Simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Get a big bowl and mix your skillet concoction and cooked brown rice well.  With a spoon, add your mixture to your hollowed out peppers.
  8. After filled, put a sheet of foil loosely over the top and cook for 30 minutes in your oven.  
  9. Take out, add mozzarella cheese to your heart's desire and stick back in the oven for a few minutes until it's all melty and delicious.
  10. Eat and enjoy (after it cools)
You can also do this recipe on the grill.  Seriously.  I tried it this summer.  I used a cookie sheet as a surface and kind of propped the peppers against each other for support.  I think it only took about 15 minutes on the BONUS!!!

Don't veggies look pretty???

Turkey is just as good as beef!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Crunchy, Non-Fried, Onion Rings

Onion Rings and I have a love-hate relationship.  I love the taste...the crunch...the dippability!!  I hate the frying and all the fatty fat that comes with it.  Yuck!!

A few years ago, I created this recipe based trial and error.  They're tasty, zesty, crunchy, dippable, easy and *shock and awe* NOT fried.  Yes, they can be just as crispy...the trick is just doing them correctly!  I'm not sure what the calorie count would be on these, but you can see from the ingredients below that it is very simple.  The worst ingredient is probably the breadcrumbs, and you can go lowfat on those.

For this round, I decided to go with onion chunks rather than onion rings only because you can do more than one at a time in the dipping process...and I was super hungry :)  Onion rings just take a smidge longer.

What you need:

  • 2 peeled onions
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2-3 egg whites (only the whites!)
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used lowfat)
  • 2+ teaspoons italian seasoning
  • 1+ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1+ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
What you do:
  1. Peel then cut your onion rings (or chunks)
  2. Spray a baking sheet with evoo cooking spray and preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Mix your breadcrumbs, italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder and garlic salt in a bowl
  4. Place your flour and egg whites in two separate you'll have 3 shallow bowls--flour, egg white, breadcrumb mix
  5. Now you go down the line! Dredge in flour...dip in egg white...douse in breadcrumb mix
  6. Place on baking sheet evenly spaced out.  This is the time to add a little extra sprinkling of seasoning if you want.  I always add extra italian seasoning!
  7. Bake for about 15 minutes, give or take.  Watch these guys because it really depends on the thickness.  They're done when the edges start to look a little darker brown.  Feel free to snatch one and give it a taste test if you're not sure!!
That's it!!! Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!!  Crunchy, non-fried, onion rings in the comfort of your home!

Shared on: Jam Hands

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I'll be honest, I haven't cooked a pork chop in probably 5+ years.  For some reason though, they sounded amazing this past weekend!  So with permission from the htb, I decided to go for it.  I found some inspiration from a few different recipes and melded them together to put my own spin on them.  I give you...

Bacon Wrapped Garlic Pork Chops

I like mine with a little carmelization :)

What you need:

  • 2 thick boneless pork chops
  • 4 slices of bacon (at least)
  • 1 cloves or garlic (or more depending on your garlic love)
  • EVOO
  • Red Pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Salt & Pepper (to taste)
What you do:
  1. Preheat your skillet or grill to medium-high heat so it's good and hot.
  2. Pat the pork chops down and add salt & pepper to taste.
  3. Wrap at least 2 pieces of bacon around each pork chop.  Add more if you have big pork chops...or really like bacon.
  4. Drizzle EVOO in your pan and place the pork chops.  You might want to cover with a splatter guard if you're doing it on your house!
  5. Cook on one side for about 8 minutes (depending on thickness) and then about the same on the other.  If you have a meat thermometer, you can check them.  I pulled mine off at about 140 degrees, but I wanted some carmelization (see above).
  6. As your chops are cooking, mix some EVOO (1/4 cup) with your minced garlic.  Add this as a sauce JUST after you take your chops off the heat.
  7. Add red pepper flakes if desired.
These were waaaaay easier than I thought they'd be, btw.  Total time (prep+cooking) was about 20 minutes.   Easy.  Seriously.  And TASTY!!  Dang I love bacon...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

DIY Update a Light Fixture with Spray Paint

Are you one of those super duper lucky individuals who has an ugly outdated light fixture?  I was.  My house was blessed with alot of ceiling fans (BONUS)...but those ceiling fans were not blessed with style.  To be honest, when I moved in 6 years ago, that was one of the first things I set out to do...update!  I'm only the 2nd owner of the home, which was built in 2000.  So you'd think that fixtures and finishes would be more modern...but you'd be wrong.  Anyway, it was a work in progress, but I digress...

Final Product in all it's Satin Nickel glory.
Here's what I started with - ugly bronze.  Yuck.
Updating your light fixtures is actually not nearly as complicated as I would have thought it to be.  It's certainly cheaper than buying new!!  (Ceiling fans are expensive).  And what a difference it can make!!!  See above.

Since my ceiling fans are high and won't be touched, I chose to go the even easier route which cut out the sanding step.  Sanding helps remove the finish on the existing fixtures and allows the spray paint to adhere better.  I did a test on a spare fixture with the same ugly bronze finish and loved how it turned out--so I went for it!!

What you need:

  • Tools.  You'll probably only need a screw driver though.
  • Newspaper or something to layout your pieces
  • Painters tape
  • Spray Paint of choice: I used Krylon Satin Nickel
  • Optional: Sand paper

What you do:
  1. Flip your breaker!!!  EMPHASIZE---Electrical shock is no laughing matter.
  2. Remove your fixtures.  If you're doing a ceiling fan, I recommend an extra set of hands.  (Thank you to my awesome fiance!!)  You might not need it for a simple light fixture though.  Note: this was the hardest part for us.  My ceiling fans were a bit complicated to get down.  Still worth it!
  3. Optional Step: Lightly sand your pieces.
  4. Layout your pieces leaving enough room around them to access all sides.
  5. Tape any electrical components, motors, etc.  Paint on those guys = bad.
  6. Spray!!!  Tip: it is 300% better to do many light coats than a few heavy coats.  You will regret it.  I promise.  Follow the directions on the can and do short bursts keeping your hand moving.  Think a "swoosh...swoosh" type of movement.  Go ahead and make the sound if it helps...I did :)
  7. Let dry.  I let them sit for an hour between coats in my garage, which was about 60 degrees that day.
  8. Re-assemble your fixture and put it back up!!
2 Ceiling Fans = Lots of Space
Scrap wood makes a great lift.
More scrap wood assistance
Electrical tape!

Do as many coats as you feel is necessary (I think I did 4 coats).  Keep your hands off them...fingerprints suck.  If you need to flip them over to do the other side, make sure you let it dry extra long before you do!!!

I highly recommend doing a test piece on something (maybe a spare fixture or piece of it).  Not all spray paints are created equal.  Satin Nickel in one brand can look completely different in another brand.  I'm a big supporter of TEST first!

That's it kids!!!  If you want, you can add a coat of spray poly.  Like I said, my fixtures weren't going to be touched much if ever, so I skipped this step.  I didn't need the extra touch protection.  Warning: the poly will make it shiny.  

Sit back and enjoy your updated fixtures!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chalkboard Wine Glasses & Mugs

If you're on pinterest, then you've probably seen the whole "chalkboard" trend.  It started with mugs...then bowls...then glasses.  Originally, all I saw was a very pricey tiny bottle of chalkboard paint that you could only find on Amazon.  Frustrating.  You can make, what, 2 mugs with that??   Pssssh!

After a little blog searching, I decided to give an alternative product a try.  On a quick visit to Home Depot, I bought Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint.  I already had the proper foam brush on hand in my little craft drawer.  Boom. The hardest thing to find was probably the actual chalk!

Wine Glasses

Wine glasses were the first things I decided to try, as I had a few spares on hand.  These seemed simple enough, right?  Dip them, let them dry, and bake them.  Yeah, well not so much.  Haha.  You definitely want to wrap and protect the rest of the glass with aluminum foil AND tape the edge with painter's tape.  You can see a failed attempt when you don't use tape below ;)  That sneaky paint gets right under there!

FAIL!!!  (but easy to wipe off)

  1. Lay out your drying area.  I used parchment paper.
  2. Wrap your glasses where you don't want paint and tape the edge with painter's tape so you don't get runs.
  3. Dip! and let excess run off back into the paint can.
  4. Brush off excess from the bottom of the glass.  If the paint is too thick, it will bubble when you bake it.
  5. Flip those puppies upside down and let them dry.
  6. Just like walls, remove the tape before they are 100% dry so nothing peels.

Mugs & Miscellaneous

You can use painter's tape to section off areas you want to paint on glass or ceramic as well.  Brush the paint on with your foam brush in a decently thick coat.  You don't want to go over the same area too many times as it will start to remove the paint.  I did a mug for a friend's birthday and a candy dish for my counter top.  Easy.

Make it Stick!!

If you plant to wash these guys (so anything you're going to eat or drink from), then you'll want to bake it so it doesn't chip.  I was extremely nervous about this step and imagined my oven blowing up the pieces cracking or breaking.  In the end, it was easy also!  Go figure.
  1. Let your pieces dry COMPLETELY.  I let mine set overnight.
  2. On a baking sheet, set your pieces out so that none of them touch.
  3. Put your sheet in the oven BEFORE turning it on.  This is uber important.
  4. Turn your oven on to 350 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes.
  5. When your timer sounds, turn off the oven but leave the pieces in there to cool.  This could take quite awhile, so don't do this if you need to be using the oven for a few hours.
That's it!  Draw on them and enjoy!  All in all, I made a set of wine glasses for my future sister-in-law, a mug for a friend, a candy dish for myself and a flower vase for a future gift.  And I still have a TON of paint leftover.  

Next step...wander around house and think "what else can I chalkboard paint?"

Shared on: Lovely Crafty Home