Blueberry Basil Compote

Let’s get one thing clear. I do not like blueberries. Those evil little, slimy, purplish, balls of dread. I, generally, don’t like how they taste or feel. Landon thinks I’m crazy because of that. He’ll finish off a pint every day if we’d let him. We’d probably save so much money just getting a blueberry plant (bush?). The only way I’ll eat blueberries is in pancakes, and sometimes even that is pushing it.

So imagine my dismay when Josh decided he wanted to slap blueberries on perfectly good french toast. Grrrr. But, in his defense we had some blueberries that needed to be used after Landon had already had his fill. So we decided on making a compote.

I love saying that we made a compote. It sounds so much fancier than it actually it. In case you’re wondering a compote is a fruit sauce. Super easy to make, and really yummy. They can be super sweet or even savory. We could have taken the extra time and processor to make a coulis (coolie), but decided on just making the compote.

So really quick. A compote/coulis is a fruit sauce that consists of fruit (dur) and a sugar syrup, like a simple syrup. The difference between a compote and a coulis is primarily the texture. A compote is chunky, the pieces of fruit are still identifiable. Whereas a coulis is with pureed fruit and makes more of a traditional sauce.

So, to kind of change things up a bit, we decided to throw some basil in it as well. We had a little garden with some herbs and such, and wanted to use them before they got attacked by the incoming downpours and eventual frost.

basil lovely

What?!?! Basil in fruit!?!? Are you mad!?!?!?

Maybe a little bit. But seriously, it’s really good. Very good. The basil totally makes whatever it is about the blueberries I dispise and throws it out the window. I could eat that stuff with a spoon, which is surprising to me.

So, I figured I’d share the recipe with you all.

Ingrediants
1 pint fresh blueberries
2 handfuls basil (half rough chop, half chiffonade)
2-3 TBS basil infused water
3 TBS sugar

Wait! What in the heck is a chiffonade cut?!?! Simplest term, it’s just cutting really thin ribbons of leafy greens. I’ll add a video (courtesy of Saveur.com) at the bottom of this page on how to do that.

So, here goes nothing!

1. Start wieh making a basil infused water. Easy, take about a cup of water on boil. Throw in one handful of the roughly chopped basil. Let this steep anywhere from 10-15 minutes, you really want to draw that flavor out into the water. More or less depending on how basily you want it to taste. Once that’s done, remove all the little pieces of basil and save the water. If you have it on hand already, great! If not, go ahead and get this out of the way.
2. In a sauce pan add HALF of the blueberries
3. Add 2-3 TBS of the basil infused water
4. Spinkle sugar on top, let this simmer away, stirring frequently. 10 minutes
5. Add last half of blueberries and fold them into the sauce (fold them in to maintain the shape and texture).

Blueberry Compote fixed

6. Add the last bit of basil and let simmer an additional 5 minutes, until it’s your desired thickness. We like ours fairly saucy. Stirring gently.

Done. Literally that easy.

If you don’t want to spend 15-20 minutes making it. It also can be as easy as just throwing everything into a sauce pan at once and simmering until everything breaks down and reduces. This does lose some of the texture though. The key is low and slow. You can also forgo the basil water, and just throw half the basil into the mix at the get go, and the other half near the end. Your choice.

basil blueberry french toast use

We poured ours over french toast. We’ve done the same thing with strawberries for pancakes, and mixed berries for sponge cake. And of course, we had to top ours off with a little bit of whipped cream and basil.

Seriously, it was so good.

I think I found a way to make blueberries delicious!

And as promised… video on how to Chiffonade…

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Philly Cheesesteak

I’ve never had a real Philly Cheesesteak before, the sad part is that I actually have been to Philidelphia. Granted, I was 15 and wandering around with the rest of the Lions Band geeky kids, all of us dressed in our red, white, and blue polos. Don’t judge, we were pretty awesome. We didn’t really have the opportunity to go discover any Philly restaurants.

But a few years ago, Josh and I wanted to recreate one. We did a fair bit of googling. Do you realize how many different types of philly cheesesteaks there are? Seriously. Sliced cheese, liquid cheese, cheesewhiz. Hoagie bun, sub bun, toast. No veggies, lots of veggies, ONLY veggies. It goes on and on and on.

We make ours with peppers, onions, and mushrooms. And fennel, lots of fennel!

Peppers and Mushrooms fixed
Plus, we had all these pretty veggies sitting in the fridge!

So we just pretty much went with our gut and gave it a shot. We’d always went the sliced cheese route, until we decided to use the same cheese sauce we use for mac and cheese (when we actually make it at home). So, of course, I grabbed my phone and snapped away thinking this would be a good “first recipe welcome back!”

Without further ado…

finished fixed

Philly Cheesesteak Subs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Bake Time 5 minutes optional

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 medium sized red pepper (sliced)
1 medium sized green pepper (sliced)
1 medium sized red onion (sliced)
4 oz (1/2 container) Portabella Mushrooms (sliced)
1 TBS EVOO
3 TBS fennel seed
***1 pkg (6 slices) Beef Sizzlers ***
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
***1 cup shredded cheese ***
2 cups milk
Handful of fresh parsley, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste

***Ok, you don’t have to use the Beef Sizzlers. That just happens to be what we have always grabbed… plus ribeye (which is what’s typically used) is super expensive around here. If you are using ribeye, just start with this thinly sliced. Nearly as thin as you can get.

Also subsitute whatever cheese you would like. We used a mix of shredded cheddar and colby jack.***

Start with the cheese sauce

Cheesesauce fixed

1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter on medium low heat. Once it’s all melted add the flour. This is making a roux (“roo” not “roo-xkssss. My bad)
2. Stir this around until it’s started to turn a light shade of brown.
3. Slowly add 1/2 the milk that you have. The pan will hiss like crazy, but you’re ok.
4. Increase the heat on the stove to about medium. (You can go ahead and start at medium, but this way I’m not worried about scalding the milk.)
5. Add the cheese slowly. Add a bit, stir until melted, add a bit more, stir until melted. Continue this until all the cheese is melted.
6. At this point, your sauce will start getting thicker. Add the last bit of you milk along with the chopped parsely. Whisk to incorperate.
7. Once it starts bubbling return to medium low heat. Stirring occasionally, while you begin your veggies and beef.

And now the meat

Meat fixed 2
Give you and idea of what I mean by “shredding”

1. Heat the EVOO in a saute’ pan at medium heat. Add your peppers, onions, and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until just about tender.
2. Add your sizzlers (or ribeye) to the veggies. While this is cooking make sure you are shredding the beef. Be careful not to completely destroy your veggies in the process (guilty). The easiest way I’ve found for this is to hold the beef with the spatula and attack it with a fork. Or tongs. Or wooden spoon. Ok, ok, whatever utensil is close by. But I still manage to mangle it…so I do them separately. Josh is the meat pro here.
3. Add your fennel and cook until the meat is no longer pink, this is quick. Only about 3-4 minutes.

There you have it, bon appitete

So now, all you need to do is stuff your filling into just about anything (sub buns, pitas, hoagie rolls, etc) and top with the cheese sauce. If you want, and I really suggest, throw your buns in the oven for about 5 minutes at 250 degrees so they’re nice and warm and crispy at the edges.

Seriously, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go back to sliced cheese. Gotta be the cheese sauce. All the way.

And the veggies are pretty much amazing. I’m a sucker for peppers and fennel. It reminds me of the the fair. In my perfect world, all fair food would be covered in saute’d peppers and fennel. Seriously, I adore it. Every once in a while I’ll just skip over the beef and go straight vegetable.

Now, the meat is fairly greasy. I’m pretty sure that using a different meat, like ribeye, would be A) healthier and B) less sloppy. If you’re worried about how greasy this is, you can defintely go ahead and make the meat first and pull it off to drain. Just lay it on a plate with napkins on it, throw it back in with the veggies for the last minute to warm it back up. Entirely your choice.

But all-in-all, this is defintely a go-to dinner for us especially when we’ve had a super busy day.

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If you tried this recipe did you add anything? Change anything? Let me know in the comments!

A Smoothie Challenge

I’ve been on a smoothie kick and decided that I was going to do my own little 30 day smoothie challenge. Of course these are popping up all over the internet…but most of them are for “green” smoothies. So I figured I’d go ahead and give it ago, sans the “green” part. Don’t get me wrong, I love adding spinach to my smoothies…but sometimes the color make me queasy. Strawberry + Spinach = grey or brown. Not too appetizing. So we went out and picked up some smoothie making stuff. Granted you can slap just about anything into a blender with ice and call it a smoothie but in honor of a smoothie challenge, I’m going to do a different smoothie every day for a month. Yup. A whole 30 days.

I found this cute picture on WellVegan.com that’s kind of a Smoothie Making 101.

smoothies 101
Super simple. Now, of course, I’m not vegan… so I don’t use tofu or whatnot. But regardless…I still thought it was super cute.

1. Throw in a liquid – I’m fond of Almond Milk or Green Tea
2. Throw in a fruit – fairly self explanatory
3. Throw in a protein – I tend to use Greek Yogurt or protein powder
4. Toss in a veggie – I love to use spinach or carrots
5. Toss in some extras – chia seeds, flaxseed oil, seasonings, coco powder, hell I’ve used coconut flakes
6. Add in your healthy fats – I usually don’t do this mainly because I don’t have an issue anymore with getting fats into my diet
7. Throw in Ice
8. Blend, blend, blend

Now of course all these aren’t super necessary, but all in all it gives a good indication to what to throw into a smoothie. Which, suprisingly, is what a lot of people ask when I tell them I love smoothies.

“Um, how do you make a smoothie?” And don’t judge, but I had to look it up myself. I didn’t realize that it was more than just fruit and water. Yeah.

My biggest problem with smoothies is finding the time to make them. Taking the time to get all the crap together, and portioned, and cut… and then don’t even get me started on random bags of left over slimy spinach because it goes bad so quickly.

So I went ahead and spent an hour making easy little grab and go bags for my smoothies. I’ve done it before well over a year ago, and thought it’d be a good idea to bring it back. So I did.

fruit baggies use

Landon and I made 10 bags of fruit with smoothies between the two of us. Landon even wanted to label his. He got a little “But mooooooommmmmm” when I told him he didn’t need to worry about the calories in it. So he ended up just writing and copying one of mine. Ha. Silly boy.

Landon's smoothie use

Now now in the morning (or whenever I decide I want a smoothie) all I’ve got to do is grab a baggie, throw in my liquid and most likely yogurt and blend away. I won’t even need as much ice since the fruit is already frozen.

I’ve read some people actually go through and freeze yogurt cubes as well, which I’m seriously considering doing next time just to be able to cut down time even more, and I won’t have to worry about wasting yogurt either. So, it definitely sounds good to me.

But all-in-all I’m feeling pretty great about my smoothie challenge. Not really going about trying to “beat” anyone, and there isn’t a prize at the end of my blender tunnel. But it’ll still be fun I think.

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I love you, Avocado

Avocado is an amazing thing. I absolutely love avocado. Although, I used to despise it. Couldn’t stand the texture, the taste, even the brownish skin weird-ed me out. But I had been having a problem getting healthy fats into my diet, I was relying on nuts which was getting incredibly boring. So I essentially forced myself to eat avocados…and thankfully I did. Because in all the spine shuddering attempts I found out that I love you, avocado. I really really do.

So in the glory of avocados (and a really good reason to literally have dreams about growing an avocado tree) I have been going a little nuts on the avocado front. To the point where I have pinned how to plant an avocado plant. Yes, I have. Proof in the picture…well screen shot.

how to grow an avocado

I’m not an avocado expert… but I know that it has tons of nutrients in it. Plus it’s a really good source of fat, which our bodies do need. I believe (don’t quote me on this…) it has Omega 3 fats in it.

The avocado got a bad rap in the weight loss world because it’s high in calories, it’s around 300 calories for the entire fruit. Most people immediately shun the poor avocado for this reason. Tons of healthy things have quite a bit of calories in it, but many people tend to equate high calories with being unhealthy. But I’d rather chow down on 300 calories of avocado than 300 calories of bacon, espeically since I have a really (read: REALLY) hard time not mowing down on the entire darn thing. Let’s face it…we don’t want that little beauty becoming brown and inedible do we? The only option? EAT ALL THE AVOCADO!

Yesterday I made a completely scrumptious avocado chicken salad.

The recipe has been floating around on Pinterest, and of course I snagged it up fairly quick. It came from Jocelyn Diebolt Blogs I ended up tweaking it just a tad because I’m weird, but I must say it’s has already become a lunch staple for me (the four times I’ve had it in the last 10 days should explain as such). So without further ado…

Avocado Chicken Salad

1.5 oz shredded chicken
3 TBS mashed avocado
1/2 TBS Hellman’s Light Mayo
2 TBS fresh cilantro finely chopped
1/5 tsp lime juice
1 stalk green onion finely chopped
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

1. Toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix, mix, mix.

avocado chicken salad nearly use

Done.

Granted it’s the prep work that takes up most the time. Shredding the chicken, mashing the avocado, and chopping everything else. But it only took me about 10 minutes for everything, and that included pausing to snap pictures.

I threw mine on some toast with spinach and a few slices of tomato. Delicious!!!! Seriously I adore this.

avocado chicken salad sandwich use

The original recipe I found called for Greek yogurt, but I find that Greek yogurt tends to add an acidic taste to recipes. I’ll still use it once in a while, but for something like this I passed and went along with the light mayo. And the recipe also calls for chilling it for at least 30 minutes for eating it. All of my stuff has been chilling in the fridge for a while, so I skipped this step and just mowed down.

The recipe I have is enough for one sandwich… or if you are on of those people who have a 1000:1 ratio of bread to innards, then possibly two. But I was only looking to make myself on sandwich. If it’s in there… I’m gonna eat it. That’s how much I love this.

And for those of you who are curious… it comes out to about 140 calories. Of course this doesn’t include whatever you are sticking it on… whether that’s on bread, pitas, or a wrap. I went with some whole wheat toast. But whatever floats your boat.

But seriously, if you like avocado…try this recipe. I love it!

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Shrimp Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus

Shrimp Alfredo use

I’ll be the first to admit that pasta is probably the most amazing creation known to mankind. The best thing since before sliced bread. Although I’m sure I’ll change my mind very soon about what is the most amazing food ever. Come on, I didn’t get to weighing a ton by hating food. Seriously.

So after a super powered brainstorm of what to do for dinner we decided on going with Shrimp Alfredo and Roasted Asparagus. When we initially decided on an alfredo my heart kind of stopped in my chest a little bit. Alfredo sauce isn’t known much for being a “calorie-friendly” sauce. It’s usually something like butter, half & half, parmesean cheese, and a million other delicious-but-not-so-healthy things.

But we found a Bertolli Alfredo Sauce that was light. Comparing the jars, for 1/4 cup is only about 50 calories rather than 110. Granted if you only use 1/4 cup then that 50 calories isn’t really going to break the bank. But for those who prefer a lot of sauce, it could save you 100+ calories. I’m more of a “lightly sauced” kind of gal (and no, I’m not talking about booze…usually).

So we got decidedly creative.

asparagus use

It was super good! I’m not exaggerating. Although, I’m kind of biased because I typically love a good 99% of what we make at home (and the aforementioned not hating food tidbit).

So, onward to the amazing-ness that is recipies.

Pasta
1 box (16 ounces) angel hair pasta
1 jar Bertolli light alfredo sauce (we chose the garlic)
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 cup mushrooms
2/3 cup onion (we used green onions and red onions)
8 oz salad shrimp – thawed
Salt, pepper, cilantro, basil to taste

Roasted Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
1 lemon
3 TBS butter
Salt and pepper to taste

asparagus and lemon use

Preheat oven to 425, chop all veggies, and start boiling some water.

1. Lay out some aluminum foil and place the asparagus on it. Lay two slices of the lemon on top, with the butter. pull the aluminum foil over like a tent, but make sure the top is open to let some steam escape. Pop them in the oven and forget about them for a while.

2. Add some cooking spray (or butter if you prefer) to a large frying pan. Add the green and red peppers. Cook them until they’re just about done.

3. Add the onions to the mixture, along with your seasonings. Allow those to sweat down, then add your mushrooms.

onionspeppers

4. Throw in your pasta and boil. Angel hair pasta cooks wayyyy faster than spaghetti or linguine, so keep that in mind.

5. Lower the heat on your veggies and throw in the shrimp. Continue to slowly cook this until the shrimp is warm.

6. Once the pasta is finished, strain and immediately add the sauce, veggies, and shrimp. Mix it all together. Grab the asparagus out of the oven.

That’s it.

It makes quite a bit of pasta, I’d say it would make about 5-6 servings total. But for each serving it sits in at about 350 calories total. For a dinner, I’d say that’s not too bad… assuming you are one of those people who only eat an actual serving of pasta, which is definitely not me. I usually try to shoot for 500 calories for dinner. So I ended up with a serving an a half. The earlier picture is for an actual serving size… but I had already scarfed down mine before a picture ever became a possibility. So of course I had to make a prettier plate for pictures (which after seeing the pictures, I’ve decided that using the camera on the phone wasn’t all that impressive.)

But it was amazingly good. It was both light and hearty. Usually any kind of white sauced pasta tends to be really heavy, but this wasn’t. We had originally used four slices of lemon (oops) in the asparagus and it was kind of sour-ish, so the next time we go about doing we’re going to use only two slices.

But all-in-all it was really good. We were all pretty happy about it.

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