Saturday, August 31, 2013

Fitness Challenge: 'Skinny Jeans' September

I've been putting together these Monthly Fitness Challenges since the beginning of the year; yet it feels like only yesterday I came up with the concept. The idea behind the monthly fitness challenge started because I needed a way to be held accountable for strength training exercises on a daily basis (not just telling myself "ok Self, today we do 100 sit-ups"). So I made up a calendar with a list of exercises I had to complete daily... and the first Monthly Fitness Challenge was born! Before long, the idea had grown, was shared on Facebook and Pinterest, more people joined the challenges, and now we were all getting the the challenge and push we need to get fit together!

The great part about the monthly fitness challenges is that they are made up of strength training and core conditioning exercises... without any equipment! You can use you own body weight, in the comfort of your home!

The September Fitness Challenge is a great all-over body workout designed to get you back into your skinny jeans this fall!!! Time to tighten up those midsections, strengthen your core, arms, and legs, and burn some calories... who's with us?!


For a printable calendar, click here.

To get updates and information on the challenge, make sure to go to our Facebook page and "Like" us: https://www.facebook.com/SistersDoFoodAndFitness

Don't fear the skinny jeans this fall! September.... let's do this! 
#SkinnyJeansSeptember #Fitness Challenge

*Janel*

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Caprese Muffins!

I have spent the last couple weeks trying to incorporate my never-ending supply of fresh garden tomatoes and fresh basil into every meal! I have made what seems like gallons of tomato sauce (check out our Hearty Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce recipe) and eaten plates upon plates of Caprese salad... but the tomatoes and basil just keep coming. Apparently I have some very happy plants right now! Hey, I'm not complaining... there's nothing better than fresh, home-grown produce. But I am getting a little bored with the standard tomato and basil recipes, so I decided to try and use the tomato and basil in a baked good!!! I thought savory Caprese Muffins would be a delicious and fun twist on the traditional Caprese (tomato, basil, mozzarella) salad.


Ok, this Caprese Muffin recipe is SO easy and requires very little ingredients! The end result is a chewy, cheesy, moist muffin you could enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. They are DELICIOUS! I know how I'll be using my fresh tomatoes and basil from now on...


Caprese Muffins
adapted from a recipe by clevermuffin.com

Ingredients:
1 egg
¾ cup water
1 ½ cups self-raising flour (you can make this!)**
1 cup mozzarella cheese, cubed or grated
4 tablespoons fresh basil, ripped up or roughly chopped
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
¼ cup parmesan cheese – to top

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.

Mix all ingredients together except parmesan. Batter will be very solid and dough like.

 

Spoon into prepared muffin tins and sprinkle with parmesan.


Bake for 20 minutes or until muffins are golden. Cool on rack. Makes 12.



** If a recipe calls for self-rising flour and you only have all-purpose, here's how you can adapt.
Here's How:
Using a dry measure, measure the desired amount of flour into a separate container.
For each cup of all-purpose flour, add 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Mix to combine.

Tips:
You can use self-rising flour in yeast bread recipes, but you'll need to omit the salt.
If you use self-rising flour as a substitute for all-purpose flour in a quick bread, omit salt and baking powder.



Breakfast, lunch, dinner... it's always a good time for a savory muffin. And I love that home-grown, fresh produce was incorporated into this baked good too!! All-in-all, it's a new, delicious and creative way to eat Caprese...

Enjoy!

*Janel*



Friday, August 16, 2013

Baked Meatballs

Since we have batches and batches of pre-made hearty Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce, we decided it would be the prefect time to make some spaghetti and meatballs! Spaghetti and meatballs are always a crowd pleaser... so an easy, delicious, standard meatball recipe is a great thing to have around. This Baked Meatball recipe comes straight from the mouth of my mom (of course), as many of our other recipes have. If nothing else, this blog has been a great way for me to take down and document all of our family recipes, making an online family cookbook in a way!


I have always enjoyed my mom's Baked Meatballs... they are moist, flavorful, and have a nice crisp outside to them! Also, they are not greasy because they are baked instead of fried. You could eat these meatballs alone, put them on a sandwich, eat them with pasta, or drop them into a batch of Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce (like above). This is a great easy, standard recipe for meatballs... you could add all sorts of ingredients to jazz them up as you see fit!


Baked Meatballs

1 lb. ground beef (use 80/20 or 93/7 beef for healthier meatballs)
1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tbsp. basil paste (or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil)
1/2 cup dried Italian breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes, to taste
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
splash olive oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well combined.

 

Begin shaping mixture into 1 1/2 - 2 inch round balls. Place meatballs on cookie sheet greased with a olive oil. Roll meatballs around on cookie sheet just enough to coat in olive oil.


Bake for 25 minutes.

Drain off any residual oils before serving.



Now for the Spaghetti and Meatball part:
Into the pot of Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce the meatballs go........


Bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in some dry spaghetti, boil for 6-8 minutes (or as directed on box) stirring frequently, and drain; then pour tomato sauce and meatballs over cooked spaghetti... and voila!!! Spaghetti and Baked Meatballs.

DELICIOUS!


Just looking at this is making me hungry....

*Janel*





Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

When me and Amy were younger, our family would make a trip up the west coast to Washington every summer. We would spend about a week or two relaxing in Ilwaco, a quaint little fishing town on the mouth of the Columbia River. Now that we are older it's harder for me and Amy to get away for our beloved family summer trip (work, obligations, etc!), but my parents still make the trip every year. One of our favorite past-times in Ilwaco is picking blueberries... you just go to the blueberry patch, they give you a bucket, and you pick away! Thankfully my parents still stop by the blueberry patch every year... they pick pounds of delicious blueberries, vacuum-pack them into smaller batches, bring them home to San Diego, then put them in the freezer for us to use!!!

With my parents' Washington trip coming up, my mom wanted to use up the last of the blueberries from the previous year's trip... as well as make a portable breakfast treat to enjoy on the road! This Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffin recipe was originally a breakfast cake recipe, courtesy of The Pescetarian and the Pig. These muffins are moist and sweet, light and airy... and the lemon flavor really comes through too!!


Blueberry Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp. lemon zest
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, partly-thawed

For glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
lemon zest for garnish


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°.

In your mixer, mix butter and sugar until creamy. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time until well blended.

Add lemon juice and lemon zest.


In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add to the butter mixture with your mixer going.

Add poppy seeds.

Remove bowl from mixer and mix in blueberries with a spoon or spatula.


Line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake papers. Fill each about 3/4 full with batter.


Place in the oven for 24-26 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow muffins to cool for a few minutes before removing from the muffin pan. Place muffins on a cooling rack to cool completely.


To make lemon glaze, add one Tbsp. lemon juice into 1 cup powdered sugar and stir well. Add more lemon juice, 1 tsp. at a time, until glaze becomes like a very thick syrup. 


Drizzle over cooled muffins and serve!


Oh yum!!!! These muffins turned out great... perfect texture and taste. I will definitely make them again! 

Looking forward to a new batch of hand-picked Washington blueberries soon...

*Janel*



Monday, August 12, 2013

Hearty Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce

Well, the tomato plants are still producing fruit like crazy. So what do you do when you have more tomatoes than you could possibly ever eat?! You cook those tomatoes down into sauce... and freeze it in small batches! Then when you need some tomato sauce, you just thaw it out. SO EASY! You can use the tomato sauce with pasta, meatballs or sausage, use it in a lasagna, or on a pizza, use it for a batch of chili or minestrone soup, or make an enchilada or barbecue sauce. Since tomato sauce is a base for so many different dishes, it's great to have pre-made batches of it around!


Unlike my recipe for Slow Cooker Tomato Sauce (which is only tomatoes), this Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce is loaded with other fresh vegetables. The addition of the other vegetables naturally sweetens the tomato sauce and helps balance out the acidity level. This tomato sauce is super hearty and healthy!!


Garden Vegetable Tomato Sauce

5-6 pounds of tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 green bell peppers, roughly chopped
1 (1 lb.) bag of carrots, roughly chopped
2 cups celery, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. dry basil
1 1/2 tsp. dry oregano
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Coat the bottom of a large (4 quart) stockpot with olive oil. Turn heat to low, then begin adding chopped tomatoes to stockpot.

Stir tomatoes occasionally while adding the rest of the ingredients. Place lid on stockpot and let simmer for 2-3 hours.

Check that vegetables are cooked down and soft, then use an emulsifier or hand blender to puree to desired texture.


Allow to sauce to cool. Store in air-tight freezer containers.



Can't wait to try out some new recipes with this tomato sauce!! Maybe I'll have to make a batch of spaghetti and meatballs..... YUM.

*Janel*

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Amazin' Apple-Raisin Cake


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MAMA W.!!!



What kind of cake do you bake for the woman who taught you everything you know about baking!?! This is a dilemma I experience every year on my mom's birthday. She's the one in our family who always takes on the task of baking everyone's 'specially requested' birthday cake... but I will not allow her to bake her own or buy store-bought! Last year I made her a yummy, lightened-up version of a Boston Cream Pie. When I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday this year, she brought out this giant stack of old recipes and started flipping through them. So many hand-written family recipes, recipes cut from magazines, downloads from the internet... I was in awe of the years of baking experiences this stack of papers held. And the greatest part about all these old recipes... each piece of paper had a certain memory attached and each held a special place in her heart.

Finally my mom came across an old family recipe for Amazin' Apple-Raisin Cake from her sister, Kim. She handed me the recipe (written in my aunt's own hand) and said, "let's try this!". The recipe hadn't been used in forever... but my mom remembered the cake being moist and delicious, not too sweet and more like a spice cake. I looked the recipe over and was hesitant at first... the recipe called for mayonnaise!!! Mayonnaise, in a cake?! I figured that mayonnaise in a cake recipe was something different and blog-worthy, so I obliged the Apple-Raisin Cake request (with the understanding that I was going to try to lighten up the original recipe). I made a few changes to the original recipe; used non-fat mayonnaise, reduced the sugar from 2 cups to 1 cup, added unsweetened applesauce, and used non-fat milk.


My mom's birthday cake turned out so yummy!!!! It truly is "Amazin" Apple-Raisin Cake. It is not too sweet, light and airy but hearty, moist, spiced and flavorful, with a great texture from the apples, raisins, and nuts. Not to mention, it was super easy to make! This is one family recipe I will use again... thanks Aunt Kim!

Amazin' Apple-Raisin Cake
original recipe courtesy of Aunt Kim

3 cups unsifted flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup non-fat (or reduced fat) mayonnaise
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup non-fat milk
2 eggs
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped apples, Granny Smith or other firm apple
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 (9") round baking pans.

In a large bowl with mixer at low speed, beat first 11 ingredients for 2 min. scraping bowl frequently.


Stir in chopped apples, raisins, and nuts.


Spoon batter into pans; spreading batter evenly.


Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 min.


Remove from pans; cool. *at this point you can refrigerate or freeze.


Fill and frost with a tub of fat-free Cool Whip! (this cake would also be great with a cream cheese frosting)


I love this Amazin' Apple-Raisin Cake because it is so versatile too... it would be great in the fall or for Thanksgiving or even for a brunch!

YUM! Happy Birthday Mom!

*Janel*

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Fitness Challenge

It's already August?! Seriously, where has the year gone? I've been putting together these Monthly Fitness Challenges since the beginning of the year; yet it feels like only yesterday I came up with the concept. The idea behind the monthly fitness challenge started because I needed a way to be held accountable for strength training exercises on a daily basis (not just telling myself "ok Self, today we do 100 sit-ups"). So I made up a calendar with a list of exercises I had to complete daily... and the first Monthly Fitness Challenge was born! Before long, the idea had grown, was shared on Facebook and Pinterest, more people joined the challenges, and now we were all getting the the challenge and push we need to get fit together!

The great part about the monthly fitness challenges is that they are made up of strength training and core conditioning exercises... without any equipment! You can use you own body weight, in the comfort of your home! The August Fitness Challenge is all about abs.

Time to tighten up those midsections, strengthen your core, and burn some calories... who's with us?!


For a printable calendar, click here.

To get updates and information on the challenge, make sure to go to our Facebook page and "Like" us: https://www.facebook.com/SistersDoFoodAndFitness

August.... Let's Do This! #AbAugust #Fitness Challenge

*Janel*