Thursday, November 17, 2011

{My Favorite Smoothie!}

I would like to preface this very first *real* life blog post with a couple of things: 1) my blog photography could be better and there is room for improvement here. 2) I actually blogged this out in my mind while taking the pictures and I was much more entertaining in my own head. 3) I hope you like it anyway!!

Sometime this Summer I went to our local library and checked out a book by Sophie Uliano who is responsible for the"Gorgeously Green" empire.  I found some really delicious and healthy recipes, this one I am sharing today is by far my favorite one.  I could drink it for every meal, and there have been days I have had it for 2 out of 3.  Sophie calls it the "Peanut Butter Good Mood Food" and I cannot for the life of me find the recipe online, but her book was easily found at my local library and includes the original version of this recipe I am going to share.  I have always been a little green, but this book pushed me a little further to really look at waste, content of prepackaged foods and what we put into our bodies.  I am a little bit more on the "light green" side after reading this book.    
 (So, now that I feel confident I have given credit where credit is due...let's move on.) 

The original recipe called for almond milk, natural peanut butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and honey.  I couldn't just stop there...I add in one banana. 

Our commissary here must order way too many bananas because quite often they mark them down to .49 cents a pound and when they do this I grab a couple of bunches, peel them and freeze them just for this purpose alone.  The frozen banana adds a cool, creamy consistency to the smoothie that I love and wasn't getting with the original recipe, plus it gives you extra potassium and who doesn't need some of that?  Not to mention; peanut butter, chocolate and banana were meant to be together!! 

Trick is, pour the almond milk into the blender (8oz) using your blender as a measuring cup, then break up your frozen banana into pieces and toss it in while you get the rest of the stuff out and measured, this allows the banana a few minutes to get a little softer so you don't freak out your old blender (mine is still kicking after 9 years).  Knock on wood.   

Next thing I do...and I recommend you do it too, is I open up that jar of natural peanut butter and stir it all up.  I never bought natural peanut butter until this recipe, mainly because of the scary oil that sits on top of the mixture.  Not so scary I will say now, but messy for someone as uncoordinated as I can be. 

This is by far the messiest most annoying part of this recipe, but once it is done once you put the jar back in the fridge and you don't have to mess with the stirring part again.  As you can tell I am well armed for this part of the recipe; after one spoon, one spatula, and one washcloth I think I have won the battle of the peanut butter.  I know some of you who aren't as "crunchy granola" are wondering "Why can't I use Skippy or Jif?"  I suppose you could, but personally I like the natural peanut butter not having a whole lot of extra sweetness and just pure, yummy peanutty taste in this smoothie.  And it is not as processed so I feel better for drinking it.  Skippy still holds a special place in my heart though, but not in this recipe. 

Once the peanut butter is stirred up, dump everything into the blender.  Mmmmm, cocoa!! 

 Keep a spatula handy and after whirring that mixture around in the blender for a few, give the blender a good scrape down just because sticky peanut butter and sticky honey really like to hold onto the pitcher....notice the peanut butter drips on the counter? It was a nasty battle.
Then proceed to blend that up some more, create the perfect smoothie tornado and when it looks like this it is probably just right!!

{Cue "Star Wars" them just fits} Buhhhh, buhhhh, buuuu, buu, buuuuuh, buuuuhhhh, buhhh. buuuu, Buuuu, buuuuhhh, buuuuhhh, buuuhh...BUUUUHH, BUUUUUHHH, BUUUUH BUUUUUHHH!! (If I am short a few "buuuhhhs" I apologize). 

Drink this up, it tastes yummy and is low on the guilt factor mainly because unsweetened almond milk only contains 40 calories per 8 oz. serving versus 2% milk that contains 130 calories per 8 oz. serving, unsweetened cocoa (you can find an organic one to go even greener) contains only 15 calories in 1Tbsp, and honey which is low on the glycemic index and better for you than white sugar doesn't spike your insulin (you could probably use agave nectar in its place which is even lower on the index), throw in a banana and you've got yourself something that is delicious, satisfying and amazingly addicting!!

Chocolate-Banana-Peanut Butter-Smoothie

8 oz. unsweetened almond milk
1 banana ( I like mine frozen)
2 heaping tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
1 tsp. honey
Dump all ingredients into the blender, blend until smooth and enjoy!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Answers to The Dinner Survey

**I answered the survey too...thought you might like to see an example! Enjoy!**

What is your signature dish?  The thing that you love to cook, eat and share.
I love to cook so many things, but right now my favorite to share is carnitas tacos, rice and beans; it is a great meal for a casual dinner with friends.  My signature dish right now would probably be roasted garlic chicken with wild mushroom orzo! YUM! 
What are the foods you loathe?  (I am not promising that I am not going to use the foods you don’t like but I will try my best to avoid them or at least to minimize their usage).
I do not like oysters, clams or mussels.
Are there any food allergies in the family?
The husband is allergic to shrimp and lobster.
Absolute favorite thing ever eaten in a restaurant:  What restaurant?  Have you been able to make it at home?
I do love “The Cheesecake Factory’s” Pasta Carbonara.  Absolutely the most fattening thing known to man, but so good!  I have not been able to make it at home…yet!
Do you have a recipe that you have wanted to make but are too afraid to tackle on your own? 
NOPE…not many recipes scare me; however I did have to take down Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon Recipe because it was CRAZY long!  Ok…maybe a soufflĂ© scares me a tad.
Favorite foods:
Chocolate, hands down the first dessert on any menu involving chocolate is my first and really my only choice!  I love food, all kinds but usually pastas are my favorite.
Vegetable that frightens you?  Why? 
Eggplant, that veggie still baffles me.  I have cooked it several times and I still don’t like it.
Any food you have always wanted to try but have never had the chance to?
Living in Alaska I am curious about bear and moose.  I have tried duck once in a Chinese restaurant but I would really love to cook one.
Your proudest kitchen moment:
The first meal I ever made my husband when we were dating was wild rice stuffed Cornish hens.  I think I snagged him with that one because he’s been around ever since.  Recently I was pretty stoked when I found out how to make chocolate Irish cream gelato!  After going to a fancy restaurant in my home in California I had the most amazing thick cut, bone in, juicy sage pork chop…when I came home and duplicated it…PRICELESS!!
Your worst kitchen moment:
I have had my share.  When I first started cooking for my husband I only made 5 things and couldn’t even boil rice to save my life. 
Favorite type of food (American, Italian, Asian, Mexican, Thai, etc): 
I made up these questions and they are stumping me!  I really love Asian, Mexican and Italian flavors.
Your most treasured passed down recipe, you don’t have to share the recipe, just tell me what, who and why?
My Mom has passed down so many of her recipes to me; Rigatoni is probably my favorite one from her.  It reminds me of my Mom. 
Is there an ingredient you are hooked on right now?
I love herbs.  I think Thyme, Sage, Basil and Rosemary are my favorite.  I cannot go to the store without stocking up on cilantro for the husband and dried Mexican oregano brings together a lot of my Mexican dishes.
Introduce your family (names and ages) If your kids have nicknames that I can use on the blog let me know if not I will use their first initials:
There is me (Lea-Ann), my husband (Steve), MooMoo and Cha Cha (our girls- and no those names are not on the birth certificate) and our Beagle “Chief”.
How long have you been in the Army?
9 years
How many deployments have you been through?
Heading to numero tres sadly.
Favorite “go-to” deployment meal:
Even though I love to cook, the kids don’t always appreciate it so I hate to say but chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and lima beans ( at least they eat a veggie right?).
Your husband’s favorite dinner you make:
A toss up; he loves just about everything I make except eggs Benedict or anything with eggplant in it.  He loves carnitas, and when I make him Brussels sprouts or roasted artichokes I hold his heart in the palm of my hand (get it…heart…artichoke heart…ha ha!).

What foods can’t you wait to eat while your husband is away?
I love eggs Benedict, especially the morning after Christmas with leftover Christmas ham.  See above; Steve loathes Hollandaise sauce.  I will eat eggs Benedict for dinner and think of him fondly.  I also hoard Oreos.

What has been your most challenging moment (or two) over the last years in the Army?
Deployments and separations for training are always the hardest times.  Family dinner time doesn’t seem complete without him at the table.  Of course his injuries sustained last deployment were the scariest times in our Army career thus far.

What are your proudest Army moments?
I am proud of my soldier everyday!  He is a great leader, a natural born soldier I say.  I was especially proud to be the one to pin him for his last promotion. 

What helps you through a deployment?
Family and good friends, lots of prayer, church, and keeping myself heading for a goal (school, projects , etc).

What has been your most favorite duty station?  Why?
Every duty station brings something new and exciting or challenging.  I think I can say that I really loved Fort Stewart, GA because we had a lot of firsts there (first child, first home purchase, first duty station, first deployment) but I know a home is wherever my family is and right now AK is amazing.
What is the best part about being stationed in Alaska?
It’s so beautiful!! Even the snow is gorgeous….yes, I realize it is only November and we have another 6 months of winter to go but it is truly amazing here.  I look out my back window at a glacier and snow capped mountains…everyday!! It’s ok to be jealous and I do share well with others.

What family traditions do you share surrounding food with your family?
My Mom passed on the tradition of cinnamon rolls every holiday morning.  Yes, they are from a can but my girls don’t care.  Maybe one day I will get more Martha Stewart like and I will make some from scratch ahead of time but until then Pillsbury it is!!
On “Fun Fridays” we like to have some sort of fun food (usually homemade pizza) and we watch a movie, go on an outing or do something fun that night.
What’s a typical evening meal like in your home?
My little family eats dinner at the table every night.  Partly because we don’t eat in the living room but partly because we really like it!  We say a prayer before we eat too, after all we are blessed with delicious food to eat because God has provided for us.

If you could share a meal with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
My Grandpa Angelo who died before I was born, he’s Italian so I would love to have a throw down with him.

Please share anything else with me that you would like me to know about you, your family and life in the Army.
I love food, I love to cook, I love Army families and I would love to share with you!! I grew up in Sonoma County, CA a place where agriculture and food is at its finest! I have been blessed to have been able to eat at some of the best restaurants while I lived there and have developed a love for yummy gourmet foods but also tummy warming comfort foods.  I would love to teach cooking classes for families, especially Moms and kids and was in the process of developing a program at our last duty station before we moved.  Join me in my Deployment Kitchen..I would love to have you.