Chicken Dijon

I was going to name this recipe after my favorite mustard, Grey Poupon, but my husband advised me not to. He said that Poupon Chicken didn’t sound very appetizing, and I guess he had a point.

After doing diligent research, I discovered that Grey Poupon is a dijon mustard and has a small amount of white wine in it. No wonder why I like it so much. I also learned that the word poupon means little baby, or baby doll. Who knew cooking could be so educational? 

I used a few of my ninja tricks to combine a few recipes, cut what I didn’t like, kept what I thought would work, used my imagination, and came up with a variation on a theme. So here it is, my Chicken Dijon, and Poupon too!

6 thinly sliced chicken breast fillets (I buy them already sliced thin. No need to pull out my sharp knives, especially if I’m in one of my moods).

1 TBSP light butter

sea salt and pepper to taste

2 TBSP chopped shallots

8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms

1 TBSP Dijon mustard (I use Grey Poupon. Of course I do).

1 cup chicken broth

1 tsp dried parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Rinse the chicken and pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. In a non stick frying pan, melt the butter on low heat, then increase the cooking temperature to medium.

Cook the chicken fillets until slightly browned on each side, careful to not overcook or the chicken will be tough. Place chicken in a baking dish, cover with foil, and put in oven to keep warm.

Add the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until soft. Add the chicken broth to the shallots and stir in mustard. Add mushrooms, parsley and cook until mushrooms are cooked thoroughly. Pour the sauce over the chicken, cover with the foil, and cook for an additional 15 minutes to blend flavors. Enjoy!

Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread

I’m not much into baking, but I sure do love whipping up a fresh and tasty tea bread. I also love cooking with cranberries. Fresh, not canned. Of course. When fresh cranberries start appearing in the produce section of the grocery store, I buy out the store and stock up my freezer. Yep, you can freeze cranberries for up to six months, although I have been known to keep them in the freezer for up to a year, and they haven’t killed me yet.

I found this recipe with fresh cranberries and sweet potatoes so many years ago that the cookbook is literally falling apart. Although I loved the bread, I was totally bummed out by the amount of sugar in the recipe. Sweet potatoes (or yams) are certainly sweet enough on their own.

So, I took out my handy dandy Ninja knives and started cutting the back on the sugar, added a few other secret ingredients (okay, they won’t be a secret anymore) to make this far more light, healthy, and delicious. The original recipe called for 1 1/3 cups sugar. Since I always doubled the recipe, that would mean a whopping total of 2 2/3 cups sugar!Yikes!

Not only did I double the recipe, I managed to cut the sugar down to 1/3 cup, and I get rave reviews from everyone I share this bread with. There is nothing more satisfying than breaking bread with friends, unless it’s the bread itself.

I even tried substituting rice flour as well as other types of flour such as quinoa and coconut. It gives a nice, nutty flavor and texture to the bread, but I would be careful. I typically combine it with whole wheat flour, or else your bread will turn out too dry. I double the recipe, and since I always have fresh cranberries in the freezer, my husband and I enjoy this fabulous Cranberry Sweet Potato Bread all year long.

2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes (baked or boiled works)

4 large eggs, slightly beaten

3 cups flour

2/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract,

2 TBS ground cinnamon

2 TBS allspice

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups chopped cranberries (I put them in the food processor. Even though I do love chopping things to pieces, it’s a lot faster, even though it’s not as gratifying).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl combine eggs, sugar, yams, and vanilla. In a separate bowl combine flour, cinnamon, allspice, and baking soda. Pour yam mixture into dry mixture and mix just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick in center comes out clean.

Magic Mandarin Cranberry Sauce

Since the holidays are right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about preparing our holiday meals. Which, of course, includes the inevitable side dish of cranberry sauce. And I don’t mean the canned gelatinous stuff that some of us grew up with, although that was probably the only way we would eat it. I’m talking about the real deal, homemade cranberry sauce with fresh cranberries.

When my mother stopped serving the canned stuff and started making her own, I thought it was a minor miracle. Whoever thought such magic was possible? But then I discovered how much sugar she used. Well, that explained why it tasted so good.

I pulled out my ninja knives to cut the sugar content, and after much experimentation, I came up with a recipe using those cute little mandarin oranges to sweeten things up along with fresh squeezed orange juice instead of water to cook the cranberries in. It was still a little too tart, so I added one tablespoon of Xylitol, which is my sweetener of choice. You might want to add a little more if you need to. Here’s the recipe for my Magic Mandarin Cranberry Sauce.

 

12 ounce bag of fresh cranberries

3 or 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and chopped into small pieces (See, those ninja knives do come in handy).

1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice

Xylitol to taste ( Or, you can use sugar, honey, or whatever you chose. I prefer Xylitol because I love the taste and texture, and it’s the one sweetener that doesn’t make me feel guilty).

Bring the first 3 ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and slowly add your sweetener to taste. Chill before serving. Not only is this cranberry sauce great with your Thanksgiving or holiday turkey, it is fantastic spread on turkey sandwiches when you’re enjoying your leftovers and watching football. Enjoy!

Perfectly Satisfying Pumpkin Soup

The first time I ever heard of pumpkin soup, my knee jerk reaction was, “Ewe, pumpkin soup???” And then I tasted it. It was delicious. Nothing warms the heart and soul like soup does, and it sure hits the spot on a cold winter day. Especially when it’s snowing outside, which it did for three days straight last week, giving me the perfect opportunity to putter around my kitchen.

I had a can of pumpkin in my pantry that had been staring me in the face for months, and it was time to set it free. I found a recipe for pumpkin soup in an old cookbook, and true to form, I used my ninja skills to cut the bad stuff and include some healthier options, like decreasing the amount of butter and substituting the whole milk (ack!) for unsweetened almond milk. It was delicious! And, here it is, the debut of my Perfect Pumpkin Soup.

1 TBS butter

1 medium-large onion, chopped

1 16 oz can pumpkin puree

1 10 oz can chicken broth

3 cups unsweetened almond milk

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp white pepper

In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat. Saute onions until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients, and heat just to boiling, stirring constantly. BOOM, that’s all there is to it. It was fabulous! Just for grins I added a small amount of spicy Italian sausage left over from the night before. All I can say is “yum!” This is now my go to soup for the next few months, or at least until it stops snowing, whichever comes first. Enjoy!

Be Aware or BEWARE: Simple Self-Defense for Everyone

If you have ever been concerned about your personal safety, or worried about how you would protect yourself in an unsafe or threatening situation, this event is for you!

Rising Tide Business Networking Group is hosting group member Cheryl Ilov, aka The FemiNinja, on Thursday, October 10th from 11:30-1:00.  Cheryl will share valuable ninja secrets, tips, and tricks to help keep you safe, strong, and confident in a variety of different situations.

In this fun, informative, and interactive event, you will learn simple skills that can be applied to every aspect of your life, not just your physical safety. This will include how to:

  • Avoid being a target.
  • Train your awareness.
  • Get out of the way of an attack.
  • Stand your ground and find you voice.
  • What to do if you can’t get away.
  • Apply your new-found skills to your business, relationships, health, fitness, finances, etc. The possibilities are endless!

This will NOT include any martial arts or self-defense techniques involving physical contact with another individual. However, a few simple movement patterns will be introduced which you can play with at the event and practice at home. Or you can simply observe, learn, and take it all in. Knowledge is power, and together we can make the world a safer place!

 

BIO: Cheryl Ilov is a second-degree black belt in an ancient Japanese martial art called Ninpo Tai Jutsu, the Art of the Ninja. She began her training at the tender young age of forty-seven, and ten years later became her teacher’s first female black belt. In twenty years of teaching, no female had ever achieved such a high rank. Cheryl is also an award-winning author, speaker, and host of The FemiNinja Project podcast.

 

 

 

 

Peachy Keen

Ahhhh, it’s late summer and in Colorado its Palisade peach harvest time. If you’ve never had a Palisade peach you just don’t know what you’re missing. The hot days and cool nights of Colorado make it a perfect growing environment for these delectable delights, making them sweet, juicy, and delicious.

However, the harvest season is short, so I have a tendency to over-purchase. As a result, a lot of my peaches are sacrificed. What a waste! A few days ago I looked at my huge box of peaches, some of which were already starting to over-ripen, and I decided to try my hand at freezing some of them.

Looking online, I found several different methods for freezing peaches, some including adding (ack!) sugar and/or artificial preservatives. Nuh-uh. Not for my peaches! They should be treated with the dignity and purity in which they were grown.

So, true to form, I used my ninja skills to choose steps from several different recipes, cut out what I didn’t like and kept what made sense to me. And I came up with one that I could live with. It was actually less work and much easier than I thought it would be, which is why I have a freezer full of peaches to help me get through the long, cold winter. And why I’m going out to buy more.

Here’s my ninja secret freezing technique. However, if you are not using Palisades, you might want to add sugar according to taste. Just saying. Nothing is more disappointing than a sour (or mealy) peach.

Boil water in a large pot. Place ice water in a large bowl, including ice cubes to keep it cold. Make a small cut at the bottom of each peach in the shape of an x. Boil the peaches a small batch at a time for 30 seconds, them remove and cool in the ice water. Gently rub the skin to peel the peaches. I save the skins and put them in the compost bin.

Slice the peaches over a large, shallow bowl to capture the juice as you slice them. Add about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and toss the peach slices to coat with the lemon juice. Save the juice to use later for syrups, cooking, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

Put the peach slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze until solid. To remove the frozen slices, lift the parchment paper off of the baking sheet. Then it’s easy to peel them off without taking the paper with them. Place them in freezer bags or other appropriate containers, store them in the freezer, and VIOLA! Peaches all year round!

Which does beg the question….why did it take me so long to try this?

Episode 12: The Magic of Healing Through Movement

Movement is life, and movement can help you heal from pain, stress, anxiety, depression, and pretty much anything that is interfering with the quality of your life. On the other hand, we all have habits and patterns of moving that can create or add to our physical or emotional pain.

Knowledge is power, and so is lifelong learning. Keeping an open mind and learning about alternative health practices gives you the power to take control of your body and puts you in charge of your health rather than relinquishing it to someone else.

This episode outlines one of my favorite alternative modalities, one which I have studied extensively and eventually became certified in after four grueling years of study and training.

However, it was well worth the time, money, and effort invested. Yes, it’s that good. Learn a little bit about this method and discover how using your awareness, along with simple changes in your movement patterns can help you heal your life, in a natural, organic, and visceral way. After all, the human body has an incredible ability to heal itself.

As I said, knowledge is power. And so is the magic of movement. It will even restore your human dignity.

Fabulous Frozen Dessert

I’m not a huge fan of desserts, but lately I have been craving a frozen dessert that my mother used to make when my sisters and I were a lot younger, and before we worried about silly things like our weight. I didn’t have the recipe, but fortunately one of my sisters did. Yay! Frozen dessert time!

Then I looked at the ingredients. Sour cream, maraschino cherries, canned pineapple, and Cool Whip, just to name a few. YIKES! So, I used my ninja knives and a few ninja skills to cut out the bad stuff and see if I could make this delicious dessert more palatable to my health-conscious mind.

Substituting Greek yogurt for sour cream, whipped coconut cream for Cool Whip, and using fresh cherries and pineapple worked like a ninja hiding in plain sight. Oh, and I completely eliminated the sugar to complete this fabulous frozen dessert.

Ingredients:

1 14 oz can coconut cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 pint Fage Fat-Free Greek yogurt

4 diced bananas

1 cup fresh pitted cherries (yes, it makes a heck of a mess, but it’s well worth it)

1 cup diced fresh pineapple

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 cup chopped walnuts

Start with making the coconut whipped cream:

Refrigerate the can of coconut cream. You can also use coconut milk, but I prefer the cream. Leave it in the refrigerator overnight so the cream rises to the top.

An hour before making the whipped cream, chill a metal mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer. Carefully open the can of coconut cream, making sure you don’t shake the contents. Scoop the solids and place in chilled bowl.

Beat the coconut cream with an electric mixer (I’m thinking your arm would fall off if you tried to do it by hand, unless you have some serious anger issues you want to work through). Start on medium speed and then turn to high. Beat until peaks form, about 8 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat 1 minute longer. You can also add sugar if you want to, but trust me on this. The fruit adds enough sweetness.

Mix together.

Mix the coconut whipped cream and the yogurt until smooth and well blended. Gently fold in the fruit and nuts. After folding ingredients, place in a container and freeze. You can use a freezer safe baking dish, individual custard cups, or foil cupcake liners. Let them set at room temperature for about 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!!

Episode 2: Super Special Ninja Secret

One of the first things I learned as a brand new martial arts student was how to get out of the way of an attack. It’s actually a super sneaky and nifty little ninja secret that can help you in a multiple of different situations.

It’s the secret to the infamous “ninja disappearing act.” I’ll just bet you’re rolling your eyes right now, thinking that it’s just not possible for someone to disappear. Think again. It’s a surprisingly simple, easy, and effective technique which can keep you safe in a multitude of different situations.

As I said, it was one of the first things I learned as a brand new martial arts student, and I was really, really good at it. Because anytime one of the guys tried to attack me, I would run off of the mat, screaming like a banshee with my gi top over my head. Not exactly the Ninja stealth my Sensei was trying to teach me, but it worked.

However, once I stopped running, I learned a powerful lesson and a valuable skill that changed my life forever (in a good way), and it can change yours as well.

It might even keep you from getting wine thrown in your face. After all, life is full of hits, and it comes in a variety of different forms. Attacks can be physical, emotional, verbal, and even spiritual. If you simple get out of the way, you can’t get hurt. Or get wine in your face. I guarantee that this is a secret you’ll be happy to have under your belt.

However, if you can’t see it coming, you can’t get out of the way. But, I will save that little secret for the next episode. Stay tuned!

Major Mac and Cheese Makeover

I love comfort food. Who doesn’t? My favorite has got to be macaroni and cheese. Good old-fashioned, rich, creamy, gooey, stick-to-your-ribs (and to your hips) macaroni and cheese. It sure does hit the spot on a cold winter evening or when you feel you need some home-style cooking. But seriously, who needs all that extra fat and calories?

I spent years trying out recipes of “lightened up” mac and cheese. They sure did save on fat and calories, because they were so awful I couldn’t eat them. Maybe that was the intention all along. But I still wanted my mac and cheese. So, I used my stealthy ninja skills along with my sharp objects to cut down on the bad stuff and to sneak in some healthy additions as well.

By using high protein pasta, decreasing the amount of butter (but not eliminating it completely), using unsweetened almond milk instead of whole milk, substituting butternut squash for 1 cup of cheese, and tossing in baby spinach for good measure, I believe I finally nailed it. After many tried and true attempts, here is my Major Mac and Cheese Makeover.

16 ounces  Barilla Protein Plus penne pasta

2 TBSP butter

1/4 cup flour

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp white pepper

dash hot pepper sauce

2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 cup cooked butternut squash

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3 cups chopped baby spinach

Spray a casserole dish with no-stick cooking spray. Cook the penne pasta according to directions, drain and place in the casserole dish. Add the chopped spinach and toss gently. In a medium saucepan,  melt butter. Stir in flour, mustard, pepper, and hot pepper sauce and blend until smooth. Mix the cooked butternut squash in a food processor with 1 cup of the almond milk and blend until completely smooth.

(Note: I buy the butternut squash already cubed in the produce section of the grocery store. I got tired of wrestling those bad boys and losing the fight. Guess my ninja knives aren’t as sharp as I think. Or my ninja skills).

Add the squash and almond milk mixture to the pan, and slowly add the remainder of the almond milk. Cook until the mixture boils, stirring constantly. Add the cheese and cook just until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Pour mixture on top of pasta/spinach mix, cover and cook on 350 degrees for 1 hour. The results are a smooth, creamy, mild flavored, and oh-so-satisfying macaroni and cheese. Without the fat, calories, and the guilt.