Asparagus Spinach Coconut Soup

creamy asparagus soup recipe

 

asparagus spinach coconut milk soup

A couple of weekends ago, I was watching a cooking show where the hostess was making spring food and an asparagus soup recipe drew me in, except for the butter and heavy cream, both of which I adore, but could really do without on my hips, behind and other parts of my body, if you know what I mean.

If you are one of those tall, lanky thin people who don’t know what I mean….it means it puts WEIGHT on me for gosh sake. Count your blessings!

I decided to re-create the recipe in a healthier sense and oh boy! Mr. Wonderful has fallen in love with this soup!  And the added healthy bonus is just a plus!

Start out by chopping one large bunch of asparagus into one to two inch pieces. Also, chop up two stalks of celery along with one leek and 2 cloves of garlic. Now, if you’re one of those people who makes a face at the sound of the word “leek” be adventurous! Leeks have a more delicate flavor than their cousin the onion, so if you don’t like strong onion flavor or are cooking a dish that an onion might overpower (like this one!), try using a leek instead. To learn how to cut and wash them click here for my leek tutorial.

So to start cooking this soup, add two tablespoons of coconut oil or olive oil into a large pot.  When it’s melted and the heat is up to medium temperature, add in the asparagus, leek and celery and stir for about ten minutes.  Then add in the garlic and stir for one minute more.

Photo Mar 28, 3 42 03 AM

Now add in four cups of vegetable or chicken stock. To make your own chicken stock click here and to make your own vegetable stock, click here. It just might be easier than you think!

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Stir this all around a few times and simmer for about twenty minutes, stirring every five-seven minutes or so.

Then add in in four cups of spinach. I forgot to take a picture!

Now using a ladle, add in enough of this mixture to fill your blender about half way full.

blending hot soups **IMPORTANT!!!  Any time you blend a hot liquid, let it cool a bit first and then only fill your blender no more than half way full! Remove the lid or the removable clear plastic insert to add things and cover with a dish towel to avoid steam explosions and burning!
Blending asparagus soup

Turn this on and pulse a few times and then turn it on high and let it completely blend until smooth, then pour it into a bowl or another large sauce pan and repeat with the remaining asparagus/spinach mixture until all is pureed.

Next, pour it back into a clean pot and gently heat again over medium heat.

Photo Mar 28, 4 36 40 AM

Add in one 13.5 ounce can of coconut (or light coconut) milk and stir and bring back to a simmer and simmer for about five minutes more letting it thicken up slightly.

If you prefer SUPER silky soup, pour through a fine sieve.

sieve strain asparagus soup

I usually skip this step, however, because it’s pretty smooth and I prefer to keep the tiny bits of fiber in for more health benefits!

Garnish with creme fraiche, or Greek yogurt  and some blanched tips of asparagus stalks for a beautiful presentation!

Photo Mar 28, 4 45 46 AM (1)

I was worried Mr. Wonderful wouldn’t like this soup but he raved about it for days. I’m making some more tonight while asparagus low prices abound!

Happy Spring!

Asparagus Spinach Coconut Soup
Author: 
Cuisine: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • Ingredients
  • 2 T. coconut oil (or olive oil)
  • 1 large bunch asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large leek, white and light green only, chopped and rinsed
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 13.5 can light or regular coconut milk
  • ½ t. Kosher salt
  • ¼ t. ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the asparagus, celery, and leek and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and stir for one minute
  4. Add the vegetable or chicken stock, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add spinach and stir for 1 minute, just to wilt
  6. Working in batches, fill blender to half full with mixture. Take off plastic clear lid but leave on main lid of blender. Cover hole with a dish towel and quickly pulse a few times, then turn blender on and let run for 1 minute to puree well. Pour into a clean large sauce pan.
  7. Repeat with remaining mixture until all your original pot is pureed and in sauce pan.
  8. Add the coconut milk and simmer for another 2-3 minutes minutes.
  9. Season with salt and pepper and adjust to taste.
  10. Add the spinach to the soup and let wilt for about 1 minute. In batches, pour the soup into a blender and blend on high until smooth. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender and puree in the pot.) Stir well before transferring to 12 small teacups and serve hot.
  11. IMPORTANT: It's important when blending hot liquids to only fill half full in blender and leave the top opening open to allow steam to release. Failure to do so can result in hot explosions and burning!

Love asparagus and want MORE recipes featuring their lovely green stalks? Check out what other bloggers are offering for Food Network’s Spring Sensation Sides below!

The Lemon Bowl: 20 Asparagus Recipes for Spring
Feed Me Phoebe: White Asparagus with Herby Sabayon Sauce
Dishing with Divya: Mock Guacamole with Asparagus
Dishin & Dishes: Asparagus Spinach Coconut Soup
Creative Culinary: Grilled Asparagus with Garlic and Parmesan
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Low Carb Pasta with Asparagus Pancetta and Pine Nuts
Weelicious: Italian Asparagus Sticks
The Heritage Cook: Asparagus Caprese Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Asparagus Nicoise
Red or Green: Spicy Roasted Asparagus & Leek Soup
Swing Eats: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Asparagus with Rosemary
The Cultural Dish: Asparagus Milanese
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Asparagus Carbonara with Garlic Crumbs
Taste with the Eyes: Savory Matzo Brei with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon
The Mom 100: It’s Simple Roasted Asparagus with Shallots and Parmesan
FN Dish: The Asparagus Motto: The Simpler, The Better

 

 

Cookbook Review – Inspiralized

Inspiralized cookbook

Inspiralized cookbook

Several months ago I purchased my spiralizer and absolutely love it. When I saw that Ali Maffucci (blogger from inspiralized.com) had a cookbook out, I couldn’t wait to get it. Since then, I ordered another copy for my daughter who loves vegetables as much as I do and shipped it to her in California.  My only regret from this book is that I wish I had waited and ordered Ali’s new version of the spiralizer (called the Inspiralizer) that she invented. It might be an upgrade from mine. You know the drill…you order a mandoline from Pampered Chef and the next year they come out with a new model that has three more attachments than yours?

HMPH!

So, I have been cooking out of this book now for several weeks and if you are a vegetable lover, you will adore this book. If you are trying to cut out carbs, you will adore this book and if you are trying to pack more raw or just simply veggies into your life…this is the book for you.

If you are picky and hate vegetables, it is not.

However, I made a believer out of my husband when I cooked the Sweet Potato Carbonara for him. He loved it. I loved it. We want to make it often.

The book is very informative and it’s obvious the author, who is of Italian descent and whose family loves their pasta, has played around A LOT with the recipes and perfected them. She gives a lot of expertise on making the various noodles in different sizes and even instructs on how to convert the noodles to “rice” and specifics on what vegetables work and don’t work when spiralizing and what to embrace and not try with different vegetables as well.

I happen to adore different ethnicities of food so I appreciate the diversity of the recipes like Mexican and Thai flavors as well as Italian and southern dishes, etc. This is not a vegan or vegetarian book so meat is also included in many dishes.

Recipes next on my list to try are Spicy Butternut Squash Nachos, Noodle Chicken Soup and Collard Hummus Wraps with Golden Beets and Sprouts.  I am adventurous when it comes to vegetables but there are plenty of less adventurous recipes as well like Caprese Zucchini Salad, Pesto Spaghetti with Heirloom Tomatoes and Garlic Lemon Broccoli with Bacon.

And it’s not just a cookbook of pasta dishes. There are recipes for Breakfast, Soups Stews and Salads and even Rice Dishes and Casseroles and yes, there is even a dessert section.

This book is quickly becoming well-loved and well-used at our house. I look forward to trying many of the recipes.

How to Plan an Easter Egg Hunt

Easter Egg Hunt kids

How to plan the perfect Easter Egg Hunt

A few months back something possessed us to think an Easter Egg Hunt might be fun to do with the grand-babies.

Easter Egg Hunt kids

Oh were we ON with this one!

I just wanted to share our experience and ideas for anyone who might want to plan this for their grand kids or kids!  This was absolutely one of the most gloriously FUN times we’ve planned!

Of course I had to pull out all the inside Easter decor for the house for the party (and Hobby Lobby might be just a tad more affluent due to me this year).

Easter Decor collage 1

(Carrot Bundle utensil idea from Our Best Bites).

It started with a small idea and grew somewhat. One look at Pinterest and I got hooked on SO many cute ideas I found on there!

Apparently tossing out a couple dozen eggs on the lawn is way outdated now.  Or else I just got sucked into a million shades of spring cuteness; I haven’t yet decided.

To begin, everyone arrived around eleven a.m.  We were so blessed to have perfect weather – it was not too cold, but still cool enough to not melt all the chocolate we had hidden in eggs all over the back yard.

As they kids arrived, I had an activity set up on our coffee table, so that it was at their munchkin level.  I found this cute idea from Cupcakes and Crinoline’s site via kaseybuick.com. The kids (well actually it was more like their parents) built tried to build a peep house. I say “parents” because the icing just wasn’t holding very well and the parents really had to help, which in the long run was pretty neat for them all to do together. We substituted colored green coconut flakes for grass in ours because Mr. Wonderful thought everything should be edible.

make a peep house collage 1

You could see the parents grinding their teeth in frustration at times, but they finally came up with a finished product. And the kids slid the Peeps inside very carefully.  My cousin Di has since advised me to to use Royal Icing as it is akin to using glue. Here’s a recipe from Wilton (click here).  It was pretty neat to see the families down on the floor together facing the challenge! (Of course I say that, because I was an un-involved camera person just standing by.)

Make a peep house Collage 2

After this activity, the kids were ready to HUNT EGGS!

Because we had age ranges from 6 all the way down to (barely) 2, we decided to give each kiddo a color of egg to hunt, thereby ensuring all kids received roughly the same number of eggs.

Easter Egg baskets color coded

We had kept one egg out in the kids’ buckets (buckets purchased for $1 at Hobby Lobby) to show them what color they were looking for. Mr. Wonderful hid Jade’s (our 6 year old) eggs in tougher to find places and most of Madilyn’s (our 2 year old) were easier to find. Mr. Wonderful wrote the total count of eggs on the back of the tags on their basket, so when they thought they were finished, we counted and sent them back out to look for the remaining number still out. (Free printable basket tags from Smilebox and Petite Lemon can be found here).

how to plan an Easter egg hunt

I had printed some free Easter Egg Hunt signs out from Over the Big Moon and I hot-glued them onto some garden stake sticks we had out in the shed. Mr. Wonderful stuck them around the yard in various spots for a cute effect.

Easter Egg Hunt Signs Outside

Bonus points to Mr. Wonderful for making this rustic and adorable arbor to our garden outside this week with all the kids’s names on it. We will add more as they come into our lives!

Once all the eggs were found and gathered, we headed back inside to eat.

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The kids sat at a kid-sized table and had lots of Easter and bunny-themed food items to chow on.

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I wanted to get a smidge of nutrition in them (due to candy overload), so from Bunny Sandwiches to Bunnybel cheese and veggie snacks to Easter Sugar Cookies to Carrot Patch Flower Pots, it was all fun to look at …and eat!  I’ll post the links below to each treat!

Easter Egg Hunt Kids food

**Cheetoh Puff Carrots from A Thrifty Mom (I subbed green pipe-cleaners for ribbon and used these free printables to attach on from Craftaholics Anonymous).

**Carrot Patches Flower Pots from Taste and Tell

**Babybel Bunnies from Blessed Beyond Crazy

**Bunny Sandwiches from Anders Ruff

**Carrot Juice  printables from Lulu Cole (I used mango peach juice).

**The Easter Sugar Cookies were my family favorite Holiday Sugar Cookie dough and frosting recipe found here using these cookie cutters I found on Amazon.

The kids thought they were big stuff sitting at their own little table. We borrowed the table from our son Chris’ house but are now wanting one of our own for them!

Kids easter egg hunt party

When lunch was finished, everyone headed out to the kitchen table to color Easter eggs!

coloring easter eggs collage

I love simple activities that bring everyone together in creativity, don’t you?

Of course I had to break out all my Easter decorations for the event, and Hobby Lobby might be just a tad more affluent due to me this year….

Easter Decor collage 1

I had purchased some inexpensive Easter trays at Hobby Lobby and before the kids left, they got to load up with some little goodies to take home with them other than the candy eggs they gathered. (The Jelly Bean Prayer free printable from That’s What Che Said can be found here and flower stickers can be found at any craft store in the scrap booking department).

Easter Egg Hunt Pictures collage 2

Funny story – we wanted to make sure and include the spiritual aspect of Easter in our egg hunt so we made these cute little bags of multi-colored jelly beans with the Jelly Bean Prayer attached to the bag.  After buying an inexpensive bag of jelly beans, we realized there were no white or black jelly beans inside (due to the nasty black licorice ones no kid ever likes, no doubt!), so we stopped in at the mall one day and bought some Jelly Belly’s in all the different colors as well as black and white. When they totaled our pound and one-quarter of jelly beans, the total came to $14.88 or something. We were shocked! However, we need those dratted black and white beans so we sucked it up and paid for them and then headed to Hobby Lobby to purchase the small flower pots for the Carrot Patches,  and lo and behold!

Hobby Lobby sells the Jelly Bean Prayers in separate little bags complete with the saying on the front – 17 in a bag for $4.00!  Oh, and if you know Mr. Wonderful and his thrifty heart, the fact that these were now marked 40% off was a little too much for his mind to handle!

Would you like a Porter house steak for dinner honey or another bag of jelly beans? EEK!

This kids were now bouncing around high off of excitement and sugar high energy and all us adult folk were ready for a nap. All in all, this was one of the best parties we’ve ever planned and we plan on doing it again next year!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and celebrated Sunday for our risen Savior!  Happy future egg hunting as well!

Easter Egg Hunt Photos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bunny Tail Cookies

Bunny Tail Butt Bottom Cookies recipe

Bunny Tail Butt Bottom Cookies recipe

Aren’t these cookies just the cutest?

Bunny Tail Cookies Final 2

These cookies have been floating around Pinterest and as far as I can trace, originated from pillsbury.com using store-bought cookie dough and frosting. However I wanted to make them from scratch as I was making these cute Easter cutout sugar cookies as well for our grand-baby Easter Egg Hunt this weekend,  and because I am pretty particular about sugar cookies and frosting and love our old family recipe for both. This way I could make them all at once.

Frosted Easter Cookies recipe

I’m not going to go into the tutorial on making the cookie dough and frosting. You can find the tutorials for both on my other post here, or they are included on the printable instructions (at the bottom of this post). I’ve let you know how you can make them from store-bought cookie dough and cans of frosting as well, so make sure and check out the printable recipe at the end of the post.

Once you make or purchase your sugar cookie dough, roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Don’t make it too thin. The beauty of sugar cookie dough is not to have them crispy but to have a nice soft bite to it.

To make the larger circle, and if you don’t have a set of these biscuit cutters lying around your house, never worry, I have suggestions for you!

biscuit cutters

I simply used a glass from my kitchen cupboard to make the larger circle or the bunny’s tush. My glass was around 3 1/4″ in diameter.

Photo Mar 28, 4 04 55 AM

The glass worked perfectly! I cut out twelve large circles and placed them on a cookie sheet.

Photo Mar 28, 4 07 43 AM

For the smaller circles, I ended up using this cupcake plunger that I have, but you could also use a pill bottle lid, a small shot-glass, or even the lid of a water bottle to cut thirty-six small circles for the bunny’s feet.

Bunny Butt Bottom Cookies

Place the thirty-six small circles around the large ones on your cookie sheet and pop the pan in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Start checking them at seven minutes!  You really don’t want a lot of browning on them at all but a nicely-done soft sugar cookie.

Photo Mar 28, 4 40 06 AM

Let the cookies cool on wax paper, paper towel or a cooling rack for about 10-15 minutes.

If you’re going to make your own icing, this is the time to do it! (My recipe for frosting is here.)

Now, take one of your larger circles and frost it with pink frosting.

frost bunny butt bottom cookies

You could also purchase a can of white frosting and a can of strawberry frosting from the store to cut time.

Stick a small marshmallow dead in the center of the bunny’s bottom and stick on two of the smaller circles for feet.

Photo Mar 29, 12 51 24 AM

Now frost each one with white icing.

frost bunny tail feet cookies

I actually think it is neater and easier to frost them individually first and stick them on (unlike the photo above where I stuck them on then frosted them).

Photo Mar 29, 12 53 12 AM

Now take one of your larger pink candy circles and stick it on to create the upper pad of the bunny’s paw.

bunny tail cookies feet

And stick the three smaller circle candies to form the three bottom pads of the bunny’s feet.

bunny tail cookies feet and tail

Continue to make the other eleven cookies and let them set on a platter or wax paper for 4-6 hours to allow the frosting to completely harden.

Bunny tail cookies

Aren’t they just the cutest little bunny booties you ever did see?

bunny butt cookies

Happy Easter baking!

Bunny Tail Cookies
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
INGREDIENTS FOR COOKIES
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 2⅔ c. flour
  • ¼ t. salt
  • 12 mini-marshmallows
  • 12 large candy pink balls
  • 36 small candy pink balls
FOR THE FROSTING
  • ¼ c. butter (1 stick), softened
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup milk (to thinning quality)
  • **Alternately you can use refrigerated sugar cookie dough and canned frosting (pink and white) and start Instructions where you roll out the dough
Instructions
FOR THE COOKIES
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cream butter and sugar well.
  3. Add egg, salt and vanilla, beat well.
  4. Blend in flour gradually, about a cup at a time. Roll into a flat disk.
  5. Chill at least one hour. Roll out on floured surface to ⅛ inch thickness.
  6. Cut with cookie cutters or use a drinking glass for the large circle and a water bottle cap for the small circle. Cut 12 large circles and 36 small circles.
  7. Bake 7 to 10 minutes or until edges barely begin to get golden brown. Let cool one minute and remove to cooling rack or sheets of wax paper and allow to cool at least fifteen minutes before frosting.
  8. Can be stored in airtight container in freezer for up to one month.
FOR THE FROSTING:
  1. In mixing bowl beat butter and one-half cup of powdered sugar. Add one-half more cup of powdered sugar and then add a bit of milk. Alternately add sugar and milk until frosting is spreadable with spoon.
  2. Add half of the white frosting into one bowl.
  3. Add the other half of white frosting into another bowl and add 1 drop of red food coloring and mix well to form soft pink frosting.
TO ASSEMBLE THE COOKIES
  1. Frost large cookies with pink frosting.
  2. Frost each small cookie with white frosting and stick on slightly angled to the pink cookie at the bottom to form "Bunny feet"
  3. Stick one mini-marshmallow in the center of the pink large cookie to make the tail
  4. Add large pink candy in the top third of each bunny foot
  5. Add 3 small pink candies to the bottom of the foot to form the smaller bunny foot pads
  6. Allow to set 4-6 hours until the frosting hardens.
  7. Store in air tight container with wax paper in between layers
  8. Can freeze for up to one month

 

Jalapeno Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns

Photo Mar 19, 8 53 51 PM

 

Photo Mar 19, 8 53 51 PM

My sis-in-law Cheryl recently told me that she was really loving making spaghetti squash hash browns.  I love spaghetti squash and have been trying to reduce the number of carbohydrates in my meals of late so I was intrigued.

Jalapeno spaghetti squash hash browns

This past week on spring break, I had one-half of a spaghetti squash leftover from the previous night’s dinner so I decided to fry some up.

FACS:

  • 1 cup baked spaghetti squash – 7.8 net carbs
  • 1 cup baked and peeled potato = 28.4 net carbs

Now that we are empty-nesters, I am trying to cope with leftovers as they are a foreign entity to me up until now.

To make the hash brown patties, simply scoop out the innards of the baked spaghetti squash. For a tutorial on how to bake spaghetti squash you can visit here.   If you don’t think you’ll like spaghetti squash (like I did once upon a time), I encourage you to try it. It is not mushy and stringy like other winter squashes, but the strands are firm, in a way like a thin pasta noodle. I love the stuff now.

You’ll also need to squeeze some of the water out of your squash by placing it in a thin towel and wringing the towel to squeeze out the water. I tried pressing mine through a fine sieve and I think it would be worth the extra effort and mess to use the towel as mine were still too moist.

spaghetti squash hash browns

Like everything I make now, I had to spice it up a bit so I fell to my old favorite way of making potato hash browns by adding peppers and onions. Usually I add chopped poblano peppers and onions but I didn’t have any lurking in my refrigerator so I used a half of an onion and half of a jalapeno that I removed the seeds and ribs from.

jalapeno onion spaghetti squash hash browns

I just tossed it into a bowl with my squash and a pinch of salt and pepper. stirred, and formed about one-half cup sized patties with my hands.

spaghetti squash patties

You can still see the moisture in this one.  Remember, the less moisture you have, the crisper the outside will fry up for you.  I also will make the patties thinner next time so they have more surface space to crisp up. Cheryl said she just smashes her flat with a spatula like you do regular shredded hash brown potatoes.

I fried my patties in a tablespoon of extra-virgin organic coconut oil in my iron skillet. I would recommend a well-seasoned iron skillet or a non-stick skillet for these. I have truly been loving cooking eggs and other items in coconut oil not only for the health benefits it brings, but also for the slight addition of coconut flavor it lends. Simply fry them for  around three minutes over medium-high heat and then flip them over for the same amount of time on the other side.

Jalapeno spaghetti squash hash browns

I really enjoyed these and the great part is that they fill you up like a regular potato hash brown without loading you up with carbs. I felt very satisfied eating these with a couple of eggs and some turkey bacon!

spaghetti squash hash brown final

So next time you have that leftover spaghetti squash and need a use for it? Try these Jalapeno Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns!

Jalapeno Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns
Author: 
Recipe type: Side Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • ½ large spaghetti squash, baked (about 2 cups)
  • ½ jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
  • ½ large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ t. salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 T. coconut or olive oil
Instructions
  1. Scoop out spaghetti squash from shell with large spoon. Place in center of thin dish towel and draw corners of towel up and twist until liquid squeezes out of squash, then remove squash to mixing bowl.
  2. Add jalapeno and onion and salt and pepper and mix
  3. Form thin flat patties with your hands to make four patties, using about ½ cup each of mixture
  4. Place heavy bottomed skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium high heat and and oil and heat up.
  5. Place patties in pan and fry around 3 minutes then flip and fry an additional 3 minutes, checking to make sure they don't burn a few times.
  6. Remove and serve!

If you loved this recipe check out what other great food bloggers are making for Food Network’s Comfort Food Fest using anything “smashed”.

The Wimpy Vegetarian: Mashed Celery Root with Blue Cheese and Watercress
Creative Culinary: Leek, Bacon, Garlic and Thyme Smashed Potato Cakes
Dishin & Dishes: Jalapeno Spaghetti Squash Hash Browns
Weelicious: Mashed Potato Cakes
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Spicy Roasted Eggplant Mash
Taste with the Eyes: La Purée de Pommes de Terre de Joël Robuchon
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Carrot, Onion & Garlic Mash
Red or Green: Cauliflower & Beet Mash with Chile Infused Olive Oil
Swing Eats: Italian Style Smashed Potatoes
The Mom 100: Perfect Mashed Potatoes
Daily*Dishin: Mashed NotPotatoes Cauliflower
FN Dish: 5 Crazy-Good Ways to Do Up Mashed Potatoes

I’m a Navy Mom -Hooyah

3f46b657df0edf26c024cddfbc0b2a0f

3f46b657df0edf26c024cddfbc0b2a0f

It’s official.

I’ve now entered into another phase of life for one of my children.

The Navy mom life.

Warning!  While I usually post tons of pictures with each blog post, you’ll see none here. That’s because while my son is in bootcamp, I have received only very very tiny bits of information…and NO pictures. Thus, said, I have also entered into some supportive group rooms via Facebook and the web that have warmed my heart, enriched my soul and enlightened me of other moms just like me.

Thanks to a few friends who have had kiddos go thru the Navy experience, I, as usual, have obsessed over learning about what my one of my children are now embarking on..this time..something WAY different, and they have schooled me and helped me in the path of those who have wondered before me.

I confess, that while I’ve always had a love for our soldiers instilled in me, I’ve known virtually nothing about their actual lives.

I am learning.

I am now in Facebook rooms, and on a website solely for moms of navy soldiers and every day I learn something new.

And every day I am prouder and prouder of my son and what he is going through on a daily basis to become a better person, Sailor and protector of our country.

I am also pretty darn impressed with our Naval system and how I can see between the proverbial lines on how each week builds them into independent men and women which is exactly where they need to be to properly serve us in times of war or protection for our country.

Hooyah.

“Hooyah” is but one expression I’ve learned, along with traditions like Naval exchange coins, or what a “rack” is or what “Breaking Blue” is or “Marlinspike”, just to name a few…

All of these are things I’ve never heard, of but are involved in the day-to-day lives of a sailor in the Navy who is protecting you and I.

How have I missed this…these men and women who train, who live eight weeks of life under cut-off- from family intensive training, leaving behind of their homes, and safety and all they’ve know …for you..and for I …and our country?

And then they move on…to schooling, ships that travel across oceans…and more that I don’t even know yet?

Our soldiers…our sailors, marines, air force and army guys…

Why don’t I think of them other than major military holidays or randomly once in awhile when I see a war movie?

I now will light a Navy candle frequently….why?

Because the sacrifice is now my flesh and blood. It is my blood that now protects and serves. It would be my loss felt.

And I am so unbelievably proud.

So “hooyah!” Conner….I love you.

Natural Grocers in OKC

Photo Jan 10, 1 51 21 AM

Photo Jan 10, 1 51 21 AM

 “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”  ~Hippocrates

Recently I was fortunate to be invited to a get together to learn about Natural Grocers that opened in Oklahoma City on May Avenue (7013 N. May Avenue).  Mr. Wonderful and I attended and our meeting was held in the community room that houses a demo kitchen and setup of chairs for classes.

Photo Jan 10, 12 09 38 AM

This was also a chance to get that precious time spent with some of my favorite Oklahoma bloggers  that I already know, but also see  some faces for the first time in real life that I’ve only known through social media outlets and through the Oklahoma Women Bloggers site connection.

Photo Jan 10, 12 25 02 AM

(From left to right –  Me, Dee, Marie, Rose, Mari, Jen, Mae, Stephanie, & Ashley

I am a fan of all the great healthy grocery stores going making appearances in OKC. I just wish one of them would open up closer to me! I have to drive clear across town to get to Sprouts, Whole Foods or now, Natural Grocers. Why they all opened up within a half mile of each other is beyond me!

Speaking of other stores, what I really like about this store is that their philosophy can be summed up pretty simply – “Sharing Nutrition”.  I believe that what sets Natural Grocers apart from other stores is their desire to get food facts in every consumer’s hands.  At the previously mentioned Community Room, they have all sorts of interesting nutrition classes that range from classes on Gluten Free eating to Detoxing the Home. You can view the May location of Natural Grocers classes on their events page located by clicking here.  Also located on this page are some past recorded events that you can view for free as video.

Natural Grocers also believes in making the healthy eating lifestyle affordable to the average Joe.  I appreciate the fact that they sell bulk quantities of things like almond flour, coconut flour and raw nuts.

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These are prepackaged in bags so you don’t have to mess with bins (that everyone’s had their hands in!) and their brand products are WAY less expensive than most I’ve seen in some brand name products.

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A blurb from Natural Grocer’s website will tell you more:

Founded in Colorado by Margaret & Philip Isely in 1955, Natural Grocers was built on the premise that consumers should have access to affordable, high-quality foods and dietary supplements, along with nutrition knowledge to help them support their own health. The family-run store has since grown into a successful national chain with locations across Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas,Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming and employs over 2000 people.  Although the company went public in July 2012, Isely family members continue to manage the company day-to-day, building on the foundation of their parents’ business. Natural Grocers’ popularity and success can be traced back to its founding principles: dedication to providing science based nutrition education, exceptional customer service, the highest quality natural and organic products at affordable prices, supporting their communities and providing great jobs with excellent benefits and a living wage to their employees.

Another thing I love about Natural Grocers is that their entire produce section is Certified Organic 100%. This takes any guess-work out of searching for the organic section of broccoli, etc. Sometimes that drives me crazy at other stores.The produce is also promised to have no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, preservatives or hydrogenated oils.

I like my vegetables to be vegetables, and preferably pesticide free so I appreciate this.

One thing I should note here is that when you head to the check-out line, you need to BYOB.

Bring your own bags or Natural Grocers will supply you with packing boxes, much like at Sam’s Club.

Perhaps the best thing I love about the store is that they supply you with an on-site Nutritional Health Coach.

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Here is Jessica (on the right), one of the coaches at the May location, talking to Marie from The (not always) Lazy W. Hi Marie! Hi Jessica!

I have been in several times, and anytime I need a question answered I go ask Jessica. Like “Hey Jessica, what is the best gluten-free pasta you’ve found?” or what is the best gluten-free flour you’ve found to cook with and Jessica is a wealth of information. And you know what my bill is for the information?

Nada.

She is there for free to answer your questions. You can even set up appointments with her. That’s not all that is done generously at Natural Grocers. That room that we were in? It’s available to the community for free if it’s not being used by the store for classes. And, something else that speaks volumes to me, is the way they treat their employees. Each employee gets one in-store-buck put on a charge card to be used to buy groceries for each hour they work each week. That’s how strongly they feel about their employees being able to eat healthy food and become healthier folk.  I mean, you tell me a company treats their employees good and I want to shop there just because.

A few sites you’ll see at the store:

organic produce natural grocers

A beautiful organic produce section.

Bulk spices natural grocers

A huge bulk aisle of their own line of spices, grains, legumes and more.

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Oh yes, and don’t forget they are VERY inexpensive for their size.

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Truly healthy protein and energy bars.

Raw nuts and trail mixes. We adore the tropical trail mix.

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A lineup of Amy’s Burritos. My son could live on these.  Need I say more?

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Vitamins, supplements galore abound.

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And there’s much, much more!

I love that they are now a part of our community as I believe our community is a better place with Natural Grocers in it!

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Natural Grocers
7013 N. May Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK
405-840-0300
Website

Cottage Pie

Cottage Pie 1

Cottage Pie 1

Cottage Pie is an English/Irish dish that is kin to the more well-known Shepherd’s Pie, the difference being that Cottage Pie is made with beef, whereas Shepherd’s Pie is made with lamb or mutton (Get it? Sheep?). Many folk make the pie with beef and call it Shepherd’s Pie, but today we’re going to try and be correct (for once), so we’re making it with beef and calling it by its proper name.

The term “cottage” originates in the late 1700’s when the potato was introduced as an affordable vegetable for the poor “cottage” folk thus the name “Cottage Pie” was created. And while it’s technically an English dish, MOST people make it with beef in America so we’re going to go ahead and use it to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day ok?

Confused? Me too!

Both the variations are topped with luscious mashed potatoes, and often cheese, and then broiled and browned as well.  Today I’ll tell you about the Cottage Pie and how I made it.

You will thank me after trying it. It’s so delicious.

Start out by browning one and one-half pounds of ground beef in a large heavy-bottomed pan.

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I like to use my potato masher to break up the meat. It does a wonderful job. I think I use it more for this purpose than for potatoes.

Once your meat is fully browned (about 6-7 minutes), remove it to a bowl and drain most of the grease out. Add in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Chop up three medium-sized carrots and three celery stalks and also one onion.  Also chop up 2 garlic cloves. I like my vegetables in this to be pretty finely chopped.  Add everything but the garlic into the pot and stir them for another 5 minutes or so or until the vegetables have softened.

vegetable collage cottage pie

Stir in two tablespoons each of flour and tomato paste and go ahead and toss in the garlic.

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Stir again for a minute or two and then pour in one cup of dark beer (like Guinness).

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Of course you’d use Guinness right? It’s IRISH.

An interesting fact – the first time I made Shepherd’s Pie for Mr. Wonderful, I almost killed him and he accused me of poisoning him. For you see, he’s allergic to dark beer and I forgot I had added it into the dish.

He’s been distrustful of me ever since and I can’t say that I blame him. However in my defense I was thinking about how alcohol cooks out when you cook it and I figured that applied to whatever made him allergic as well.

My bad.

Also pour in one cup of beef broth.

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Bring this to a light simmer and let it cook down a bit until it’s nice and thick, kind of like chili.

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When it’s nice and thickened up, add in a cup of frozen peas and some fresh or dried thyme (1 Tablespoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried).

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Let this cook for about 2 minutes, then spoon it into a square 9 x 9 greased or sprayed baking dish.

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Now add a tablespoon of salt to a large sauce pan and bring it to a boil.  Add in two pounds of peeled and cubed (about one-inch cubes) yellow potatoes.

potato collage cottage pie

Let them return to a boil then reduce the heat to gently simmer them for about fifteen minutes, or until you can stick a fork very easily into them. Drain the potatoes and return to the pot and place back on the hot stove for just a minute or two to evaporate out any remaining liquid (stir!). Add in 2/3 cup of milk and 3 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper and then mash away at them.

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Spoon the potatoes evenly over top of the meat mixture in your pan.

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Spread all the way to the edges to “seal” your pan so the filling won’t bubble up on top of your potatoes.

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Bake this in a 400º for 25 -30 minutes or until the edges brown and the top crisps up.  Alternatively when I’m in more of a hurry I turn on the broiler and pop the pan onto the top oven rack and let it broil, watching it closely until it begins to brown on the swirls and edges of the potatoes.

Cottage Pie 3

Remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving.

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The filling is SO hearty and rich and the potatoes are crispy on the top and soft and creamy underneath.

This dish is just comfort food at its finest.

Make some Cottage Pie this week!

Cottage Pie 1

 

 

Cottage Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
FOR THE MEAT BASE
  • ½ lb. ground beef
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped finely
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 bottle dark beer (like Guiness)
  • 1 c. beef broth
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1 c. frozen peas
FOR THE MASHED POTATO TOPPING
  • 2 lb.s (about 5 large) yellow potatoes
  • 3 4 T. butter
  • ⅔ c. milk
  • 1 T. salt
  • ¼ t pepper
  • Thyme leaves (for garnish)
Instructions
FOR THE MEAT BASE
  1. In a large heavy bottomed pot add ground beef and turn heat on medium-high. Use wooden spoon or potato masher to break meat up and cook until it's totally browned. Remove meat from pan.
  2. Add olive oil (leave the meat bits and browned bits in bottom of pan)
  3. Add in celery, carrots, and onion and saute for 5-7 minutes until vegetables soften
  4. Add flour and tomato paste, garlic, fresh thyme
  5. Saute 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently
  6. Add in beer and beef broth. Bring to simmer and cook 5 minutes until sauce has reduced
  7. Pour meat mixture into sprayed 9 x 9 pan
FOR THE MASHED POTATO TOPPING
  1. Peel potatoes and chop into 1 inch cubes
  2. Bring medium sauce pan of water with the tablespoon of salt to a boil
  3. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes or until fork tender
  4. Drain and return to pan on stove to dry out, stirring for a minute
  5. Add in milk, butter, salt and pepper and mash
  6. Spread over meat mixture sealing edges
  7. Turn on Broiler and broil about 5-7 minutes until top gets brown peaks and edges and crisps
  8. Sprinkle more fresh thyme on top for garnish

Do you love potatoes? Check out what other fantastic food bloggers made this week for Food Network’s Comfort Food Fest!

 

Feed Me Phoebe: Mexican Sweet Potato Hash with Black Beans and Spinach
Creative Culinary: Smashed Potatoes with Lemon Garlic Scallions
WeeliciousYukon Gold Potato Fans
The Mom 100: Potato, Leek and Dill Frittata with Crème Fraiche
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Mexican Style Potatoes with Chorizo
Red or Green: Spicy Sweet Potato Gratin
The Heritage CookIrish Hash Browns Eggs Benedict (Gluten-Free)
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Crispy Pan-Fried Potatoes
Swing Eats: Healthier Twice Baked Potato Skins
Daisy at Home: Marriage Mashies
Taste with the Eyes: Baked Sweet Potato, Salted Caramel Puffed Rice Noodle Topping
The Wimpy Vegetarian: Spiralized Sweet Potatoes and Apples in Browned Butter
Virtually Homemade: Loaded Baked Potatoes
FN Dish: For the Love of Heavy Cream: 5 Scalloped Potato Recipes to Indulge In

 

Avocado Egg-in-a-Hole-Toast

avocado egg in a hole toast rec ipe

avocado egg in a hole toast rec ipe

Because I love egg-in-a-hole on a Saturday morning where the sun is shining and the week has gone from white and wintry to spring in the matter of a day.  The bright glimmering glory of that sunny egg yolk nestled inside of a piece of nutty and toasted bread brings happiness like the balmy air of spring does when it chases winter away with its birds singing and daffodils reaching through the dirt to find the sun.

And, because there can never be too many reasons for another avocado recipe, I bring you Avocado Egg-in-A=Hole Toast.

You’re welcome.

Start off by taking your favorite bread and then find a glass in your cupboard that will cut a nice hole in it. You want enough bread left around the hole to make the toast stand up on its own but also enough room for an egg to fit without running out onto the toast too much.

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There are two ways to make egg-in-a-hole.  There is the quick way – where you crack the egg into the toast and toast the bread on one side…

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Then you flip the bread over and the top of the egg fries on the other side. However, unless your bread is thicker than your egg, it gets kind of ugly. I happen to LOVE Ezekiel bread with this recipe. It toasts up crunchy on the outside, is a bit nutty as well, and the inside stays nice and soft. But any bread you have will do!

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My preferred way is to put a little coconut oil, or butter or even cooking spray in a nonstick skillet. Let it melt completey and swirl it around to coat the pan.

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Crack your egg into the pan and turn the heat down to low, letting it toast with the lid on so the egg cooks from the steam of the lid covering it.

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Let it slowly toast over low heat until the egg white sets and the yolk is getting a tiny bit of white over top of it.

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OH! And that hole you cut out with your glass? Toast that up as well. That way there will be more bread for the avocado to be spread over.

Now, while that’s cooking, take one avocado and scoop it out of it’s shell.  Sprinkle it with salt and pepper and take a fork and mash it to your liking. I still like some chunks in mine. You could add some chopped cilantro or cumin if you want to flavor it up but I kind of like the purity of just the avocado.

smash avocado toast collage

Spread it around the edges of the bread and over your toasted round center piece of bread as well.

avocado egg in a hole recipe

And voila. This is SO absolutely wonderful.

avocado egg in a hole toast

Just like those first few days of spring floating in.

Avocado Egg in a Hole Toast
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pieces sliced bread (I like Ezekiel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ripe medium avocado
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 T. coconut oil or butter
Instructions
  1. Take a glass and cut holes in two pieces of bread
  2. In a non-stick skillet, melt coconut oil or butter over medium-low heat
  3. When melted, add toast and holes (the circles you cut out)
  4. Crack an egg in the center of each hole in the bread (very gently!)
  5. Cover and let toast over heat until the steam causes the whites of the egg set and the yolk gets a tiny bit of white forming over it.
  6. Flip toast holes (pieces you cut out) to other side after a minute
  7. In a bowl mash avocado with part of salt and pepper
  8. Remove toasts and holes and sprinkle eggs with remaining salt and pepper
  9. Spread avocado around edges of toast around eggs and on toast holes
  10. Alternately, and to speed things up, you can flip the toast to cook the other side of the egg, but it's prettier not to.

 

 

 

A Rant on Kindness

kindness

kindness

I was on goodreads last night updating my reading status.

I am reading a book and hopped on to read a few reviews about it.  I frequently do this to get a feel for what I may or may not want to read. I like to get a broader spectrum overall about a book before I invest precious time in reading it.

I may need to stop doing so. I found myself getting a little upset.

I saw many good, but also many negative comments about the book, all the time thinking, how could so many people have such an opposing expanse of thoughts?!!

I continued to read, getting a little upset over how people spit out hatred at each other over opinions,  and then, I continued to ponder….

We are VASTLY different, this world of people. Two of my best friends detest seafood while it is my go-to choice at restaurants.  I love a get-a-way at a cabin on a lake and a cup of early morning coffee sitting in the midst of mountains and pine trees,  while my daughter prefers a high-end hotel with lots of city buzz.

But here is the thing.

We are a diverse set of people. That means what works for me may be repulsive to you. And what you may thrive on, I may be completely disinterested in. And throw in beliefs and opinions and morals, and, have mercy, people can get downright disrespectful and hurtfully mercenary. I have seen people literally tear someone down on a Facebook post for misspelling a word or forgetting a comma in a sentence.  Sharp darts thrown to wound and belittle over nothing.

Why?

I mean, just toss the words Republican or Democrat out in a conversation, and watch people bristle. Oh, and please, for all that’s good and righteous, don’t post these two words on Facebook. People will come out of the woodwork with their teeth and claws extracted to tear…

So what is it that makes the nature of people turn to disrespect so ferociously, especially on social media forums?

Is it the ease of the written word with no expression or tones to caution the pain inflicted?

I read the reviews of the book I was reading and was astounded at the arrogance, the meanness and the fight that ensued on and on. Those I could literally imagine through my iPad screen shouting, pounding their first, or worse – looking disdainfully down on another with the air that they didn’t even matter.  Horrible fights happening over beliefs, opinions and morals in a comment to a complete stranger from perhaps another country…

I see this all the time on restaurant review sites. Remember that your word on a site could be the straw that breaks a restaurateur’s back…or their career or means of living.

And I loved the book.

Negative comments were about style and prose and poetry and that’s fine, if done respectfully. But this just wasn’t the case.  If you don’t like poetic writing, for gosh sakes, don’t read those kinds of books, and don’t accuse the author of being a Satanist. I mean, seriously…fight nicely kids.

I watched a video the other night about a man who blind folded himself and put up a sign asking for a hug. And I was touched when, particularly men, stopped and offered a hug to a complete stranger. It warmed my heart and I wish I could say it is warmed like this from witnessing life on a daily basis.

I think there should be a required course in high school where everyone has to learn about how to be nice.

Because when you are rude, disdainful, condemning and mean, you are really just saying someone else’s life doesn’t matter.  You aren’t operating out of love, and gratefulness and honor for someone else whose story you don’t even know.

And I’ve found out stories about people. And I’ve repented for my initial uneducated judgements. And I am trying to become a better person at living life with other humans. I am not completely innocent of this in life.

Because believe me, I have strong beliefs, and opinions and moral judgments of my own.

I get it.

I just don’t get people not being kind.

Am I alone?

Kindness is free.  And you and I may need it from someone soon.

Gardening …and Snow

Photo Feb 14, 5 26 53 PM

 

Welcome again to unpredictable Oklahoma weather.

Two weekends ago, Mr. Wonderful and I spent all Saturday in the yard. He made a pretty need DIY composter for us.

DIY Compost bin

The trash can has a hole cut in the lid and bottom and a cut off old broomstick is stuck through it and into the side posts to where it twirls, thus solving the problem of “turning” the compost. He also drilled about fifty 1/4 inch holes around the trash can for ventilation.

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The hinged door, he cut and mounted the hinges and fastener by screwing them into a small piece of wood inside.

I have been planting cool weather plants in the greenhouse mostly but did get over ambitious and started tomato plants and a few flowers like my beloved zinnias.

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Mr. Wonderful also built these awesome raised beds for us. I am very excited about these, as our soil (purchased at Minick Materials here in Oklahoma City) HAS to be an major improvement on our ground garden area with its red clay base.

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It took two TONS of dirt to fill these 4 x 8 foot beds. Can you believe that? Mr. Wonderful can’t either as he trucked them all from front to back yard with a measly wheelbarrow.

And then – within a day.

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We went from 75º to 21º or something….

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I spent some time carrying all my greenhouse trays up a flight of stair to place them on a tarp in our upstairs living room.

Today it’s 48º and sunny. And by Friday, we’re supposed to get another round of snow.

You just never know around here.

 

Omelet Muffins

Mini Quiche Crustless

Mini Quiche Crustless

I am not a huge breakfast bar, processed-food person, so I am always looking for things I can make ahead and take with me on the fly. These little Omelet Muffins (sometimes called mini frittatas or mini quiche)  are perfect for that and give you a huge punch of protein in the morning along with some veggies added in for an extra plus. And, they are so simple to make!

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I made 2 pans of these this weekend. One I left in the refrigerator, and the other dozen I flash-froze by placing them in a single layer on a cookie sheet. I put them in the freezer for about four hours and then popped them into a gallon baggie so I could remove them easily one at a time and microwave them when I wanted one at a later date.

If you’re watching your waistline, you can actually use a refrigerator egg white product like Egg Beaters (I recommend the Southwest ones!) or if you’re into whole food, just buy organic eggs and whip them up with a bit of milk or almond milk.  Add a sprinkle of cheese on top or leave it off, the possibilities are endless with these!

For the first pan, I sauteed 1/2 pound of turkey breakfast sausage and mixed it in with the eggs along with 1/2 cup of chopped green onions and 1/2 cup of chopped red peppers. The beauty of these little darlings is that you can add anything you want to the mix. Options could include switching the meat for ham or  adding chopped mushrooms, jalapenos for a kick, chopped asparagus or you even bump up the flavor with chopped fresh herbs like thyme, basil or rosemary- anything goes!

For the second pan, I microwaved 4 slices of turkey bacon until crisp, then chopped it into bits and added it along with chopped tomatoes and green onions.  This one was delicious and became my favorite.

Spray a muffin tin and fill each tin half full because when you bake them, they puff up and rise over the top like a souffle.

Let them cook for a minute or two then remove them quickly so they don’t stick to the pan.

mini quiche

My microwave is pretty strong so I only have to remove them from the refrigerator and microwave them for 30 seconds (for two).  From the freezer, I extend that time to one minute. These are great to have on hand for a quick breakfast, or even a late night snack!

Omelet Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 12 eggs
  • ¼ c. milk or almond milk
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. pepper
TURKEY BACON MUFFINS:
  • 4 slices cooked turkey bacon, chopped
  • ½ c. chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ c. chopped green onions
  • ½ c. shredded swiss cheese (optional)
TURKEY SAUSAGE MUFFINS:
  • ½ pound turkey sausage, browned
  • ½ c. red pepper, chopped
  • ¼ c. green onion, chopped
  • ½ c. shredded swiss cheese (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º
  2. Beat eggs and milk together with whisk
  3. Add remaining ingredients (pick one of the two options - if making both, double the number of eggs to 24).
  4. Mix well with large spoon then pour into sprayed or lined muffin pan cups filling only half full (i'm not crazy about using the liners)
  5. If using cheese, sprinkle some over each muffin evenly
  6. Bake for 18 minutes or until middles are no longer wet when you stick a fork in the largest one.
  7. Let cook 2 minutes then remove to a platter
  8. Allow to fully cool then store in air tight container in refrigerator