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Recipe: Apricot-glazed ham steaks

Beverly Rice's ham recipe is a welcome change from the chicken and fish recipes we frequently receive. Rice, who lives in Dalton, says, "I came up with the recipe in desperation one day -- looked through the pantry and fridge, and voila!" A glaze of apricot spread and orange juice and a topping of fresh orange slices give the meat a lot of flavor without overwhelming it. While last week we had to work to whittle the recipe down to meet the five-ingredient limit, Rice is happy with just four. -- Jeanne Besser 

Hands on time:   Total time: 30 minutes  Serves: 3

Ingredients:
    3 ( 1/4-pound) ham steaks or 1 ( 3/4-pound) ham steak cut into thirds 1/4 cup apricot spreadable fruit 1/4 cup orange juice 1 orange, peeled and sliced 
Instructions:

In a lightly oiled large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add ham when skillet is hot. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until lightly browned. Add apricot spread and orange juice to skillet, stirring until spread melts. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 6 minutes, turning ham frequently, until coated with glaze. Transfer to serving plate and garnish with orange slices.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 233 calories (percent of calories from fat, 19), 27 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 5 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 1,451 milligrams sodium.

Recipe: Breakfast casserole

In the Kitchen With ... Linda Roberts, Alpharetta From a special Atlanta Journal-Constitution feature in which readers nominate their favorite home cooks. Nominated by friend and co-worker Cindy Thompson: "Have you ever seen someone whose idea of relaxing is cooking a free breakfast for 100 or so friends? [Linda] learned at the knee of her grandmother and loves to share her down-home Southern cooking with everyone." See vegetarian option below.

Hands on time: 25 minutes  Total time: 1 hour  Serves: 12

Ingredients:
    6 slices bread 1 pound breakfast sausage or 8 ounces of thawed and crumbled (uncooked) vegetarian breakfast patties 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 1/2 large sweet onion, diced 1 cup broccoli florets 1 (7-ounce) can mushrooms, drained 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained 8 ounces grated cheddar cheese 12 eggs 1 1/2 cups half-and-half 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, and line the bottom with the slices of bread. In a large skillet, cook the breakfast sausage. Transfer the sausage to a large mixing bowl; drain the fat from the pan, and wipe it clean. Add the vegetable oil, and cook the onion until golden, about 5 minutes. Add it to the bowl with the sausage. In a small saucepan, cook the broccoli in a small amount of water until the broccoli turns bright green, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the broccoli, and add it to the mixing bowl. To the sausage mixture, add the mushrooms, tomatoes and grated cheese. Stir to combine, and then spread the mixture evenly over the bread in the baking dish. Break the eggs into the mixing bowl, and beat well with the half-and-half, salt and pepper. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the sausage mixture. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until casserole is semi-firm and puffed in the center. 

Notes:

Tester's note: To reduce the cholesterol and fat count, you can use reduced-fat cheese and leave out some or all of the egg yolks. You can also substitute 8 ounces of thawed and crumbled (uncooked) vegetarian breakfast patties for the cooked sausage. You can assemble this dish the night before and bake it in the morning, or you can cook it and store it in the refrigerator for a few days. Reheat individual pieces in the microwave.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 391 calories (percent of calories from fat, 20), 17 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 30 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 244 milligrams cholesterol, 669 milligrams sodium.

Recipe: Trefoils cheesecake cups

What Can I Bring? Perfect for: School parties, Scouting functions, or any casual treat. Make and take: Make the cheesecake filling up to 24 hours in advance of serving. Assemble and serve. Made famous by: Little Brownie Bakers, a baker of Girl Scout cookies for more than 25 years, came up with this convenient use for your "leftover" Trefoils cookies. What, no leftovers? To locate a sales booth near you, go to www.girlscoutsnwga.org.Tip: Make this dessert in individual cups, or assemble it in a trifle serving dish or a large glass bowl. 

Hands on time: 10 minutes  Total time: 10 minutes  Serves: 8

Ingredients:
    1 (10-ounce) box Trefoils Girl Scout cookies 1 (3.4-ounce) package instant cheesecake pudding mix 1 3/4 cups milk 12 ounces whipped cream cheese 1 pound (2 pints) strawberries, sliced Chocolate syrup 
Instructions:

Set aside 16 Trefoils cookies for garnish. Crush remaining cookies. With an electric mixer, combine the pudding mix, milk and whipped cream cheese until smooth and creamy. In 8 individual serving dishes or in 1 large serving bowl, sprinkle half the crushed cookie crumbs. Top with 1/3 of the strawberries. Top with 1/2 the pudding mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 of the cookie crumbs, then top with another 1/3 of the strawberries and the remaining pudding. Drizzle with chocolate syrup. Garnish with remaining strawberries and reserved whole cookies. 

Nutrition:

Per serving: 379 calories (percent of calories from fat, 50), 5 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 21 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 55 milligrams cholesterol, 504 milligrams sodium.

Recipe: Ambrosia dessert

Southern Recipe Restoration Project Ambrosia is a staple of many a Southern holiday table -- often embellished with marshmallows, whipped topping, nuts, maraschino cherries and more. This version, tested by chef Virginia Willis, proves that simple is often best. 

 The contributor: Lore Tarrance and her husband are formerly from Alpharetta, where they were among the first residents of the Windward subdivision. 

The story: Tarrance's husband’s grandmother, Sallie Fannie Rowland, ran a boardinghouse in her home from 1920 to the 1940s, to support her children, including Dorothy Lucia, known as Dot, Tarrance's husband's mother. 

"At holiday gatherings, while Dot was alive, she spoke of her mother and her wonderful cooking. Some of these recipes were passed to me. The ambrosia, simple as it is in ingredients, is definitely a refreshing favorite. It was always served as a dessert after a huge [holiday] meal, when it was peak season for citrus." 

-- As told to Susan Puckett

Hands on time: 10 minutes  Total time: 10 minutes  Serves: 4

Ingredients:
    6 oranges, preferably Temple 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut Granulated sugar, to taste
Instructions:

Using a sharp paring knife, remove ends of orange. Set the oranges on end and remove peel by cutting between the peel and flesh, rotating as peel is removed. Then, working over a medium bowl, slice between membranes to remove segments, allowing juice and segments to fall into bowl. Add coconut and sugar, to taste. Stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate to marinate for 1 to 2 hours. Serve immediately.

Notes:

This recipe calls for 1 to 2 hours of chilling time.

Nutrition:

Per serving: 140 calories (percent of calories from fat, 19), 2 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams fiber, 3 grams fat (3 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 24 milligrams sodium. 

Surprising things to make in a Vitamix

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If you’ve got any interest in cooking, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of a certain little gadget known as the Vitamix. Thanks to powerful, high-speed blades, this multitasking blender has cemented its status in the blogosphere as the ultimate kitchen tool,  becoming the stuff of culinary daydreams and dominating Amazon wish lists.

But as with many good things, there’s a catch. Here, it’s the price tag, running upwards of $400 apiece (a number that can break your heart and your piggy bank.) Saturday Night Live merrily lampooned Vitamix sticker shock, but its fans readily defend it, citing the value it brings and the time it can save when you’re in the kitchen. If you’re considering investing in one, check out this handy chart that can help you decide which model would suit you. If you’ve already on the super-blender bandwagon, get ready to put that sucker to use in ways you didn’t even know possible and read on for our ultimate, jumbo Vitamix recipe list.

 

  You might also like:

This Blender Will Totally Change Your Smoothie Game (And Life)

Don’t have a Vitamix? Don’t feel left out! We’ve marked with an asterisk the recipes that are possible with a regular-speed blender or food processor.

 

Recipe Building Blocks and Household Uses 

So why does Vitamix inspire such devotion? It’s a great enabler of prepping and cooking shortcuts, singlehandedly serving as a substitute for multiple other kitchen gadgets—think immersion blenders, graters, stand mixers, juicers, and more! (And it’s a little easier justifying that price tag if you were going to spend money on four or five other appliances.) If you’ve thought of it as just a smoothie-making appliance, this list of cooking staples (and more) will blow the top off your blender. 

Nut and Seed Butters

Our love of nut butter knows no limits. You can’t go wrong with classic and all-natural peanut. But feel free to break new ground with macadamia, pistachio, even cayenne-infused sunflower seed butter. (You won’t find that at Whole Foods!) Add any sweeteners or flavorings you like. 

 

Vitamix Nut Milk Photo: The Rawtarian Pin it Share

 

Non-Dairy Milks

Homemade nut milk sounds like a hassle, but it’s easier than you think! Try these recipes for almondhempcashew, and walnut milks, or check out this general how-to for nut milk. Bonus: It’s much cheaper than the store-bought stuff and missing the scary additives.

DIY Flour

Whether you’re going gluten-free or just feel like experimenting beyond plain old whole wheat, use your Vitamix to make almondcoconut, and a host of other types of funky flours. And if you regularly use alternative flours, you’ll definitely save money DIY-ing it.

Shredded and Chopped Veggies

No need for a food processor to make produce-based dishes like this Brussels sprouts with currants and toasted hazelnuts, this salsa fresca, or even this nice, big blended salad. The handy Vitamix does all the legwork—or arm work as the case may be!

Pureed Fruits and Leafy Greens

Be it berries, spinach, or sweet potatoes, process them to a pulp and freeze for convenient add-ins to future juices, soups, and smoothies. (Another money-saver to use up produce before it turns on you.)

Pie Crust

However you like it—raw and ready to go, or bake-able—having a pie crust prepped is like having a party playlist on rotation: a shortcut to good times. 

Pizza Dough

Easier, healthier, customizable, and so much more fun than delivery,homemade pizza dough is a game-changer. 

 

Photo: Clean Cuisine

Condiments

Mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, barbecue sauce—it’s possible to DIY it all, without weird preservatives or buckets of sugar!

Salad Dressings

Go with basic vinaigrettes or get creative with dressings like ginger scallion,Caesar, and fresh avocado fiesta.

Fresh Juice

No offense to Jamba Juice, but once you’ve mastered this nifty trick to straining your own fruit ‘n’ veg combo in a Vitamix, you may never turn back.   

Smoothies

Smoothies are the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to a Vitamix, and with good reason. Check out this formula for the perfect smoothie, but don’t be afraid to get creative with the combinations or use veggies that would be difficult to break down in a regular blender—that’s precisely what the Vitamix is for. See our favorites in the recipes below! 

Sweet Toppings

Who needs that squirtable canned stuff or the tubs of hydrogenated oils andcorn syrup when the Vitamix can turn coconut milk into whipped cream and cashews plus cocoa powder into frosting.

Compost

The Vitamix doesn’t just make cooking easier; it makes eco clean-up easier too! Don’t waste the stalks of your veggies, shells of your eggs, or rinds of your fruit—throw ‘em in the blender and get composting!

Beauty Products

Whether it’s shining up your hair with homemade treatment or showing your skin some love with this pumpkin-based face mask or this aromatic body scrub, use a Vitamix to make at-home spa days a cinch!  

Vitamix Recipes 

Tips and shortcuts aside, the Vitamix can play the starring role in making full, healthy meals too. Be it pasta sauce or waffles, get your money’s worth with these recipes, which make the Vitamix a crucial part of the prepping and cooking process. 

Dips, Sauces, and Marinades Photo: Our Four Forks 1. Spinach and Artichoke Dip

The happy-hour greasebomb gets much happier (and healthier) with this protein-pumped sauce makeover, made in the Vitamix with cashews, protein-full cannellini beans, and antioxidant-rich coconut milk (versus the usual cheese and sour cream). 

2. Hummus in the Blender*

The super strong Vitamix blades can whiz chickpeas and whole sesame seeds together to yield an extra silky-smooth hummus without gobs of tahini or oil. (Both are delicious, but can get heavy on the fat per serving.) Don’t forget to get crazy with the seasonings—half the fun of hummus is all the ways you can riff on it, and this blogger has plenty of nutritious suggestions! (Tip: Use less liquid and warm chickpeas, and you can get similar results with a regular food processor too.)

3. Not-So-Cheese Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo dip may be a Superbowl treat, but there’s no need to wait until game day to try this Vitamix-made version. Butter and cream cheese get benched, dropping the saturated fat, and star players nuts and nutritional yeast hike up the omega-3 and vitamin B counts. Serve with baked pita chips for an all-around, feel-good comfort food. 

4. Jerk Marinade* 

Always thought kebabs with fancy marinades were just too much work for a regular weeknight? Allow the Vitamix to step in and save the day—and your time. There is almost no work involved: Just throw a bunch of fragrant and cancer-fighting ingredients (habanero chiliesturmeric, and garlic) into the blender, and puree away. Pour over the skewered veggies and protein of your choosing for an elevated snack or meal. 

5. Vegan Garlic Alfredo Sauce*

Oh hello, velvety, garlicky goodness. Armed with blenders and a bit of imagination, bloggers have created countless “healthified” Alfredo sauces.  But this one stands out from the rest for ditching soy and gluten (no flour needed!) along with being dairy and oil-free. Using cashews, it ups the magnesium factor while slashing the fat by a whopping 36 grams per serving compared to the egg yolk and heavy cream-soaked restaurant version. 

6. Kale and Walnut Pesto*

Everyone should have a go-to homemade pesto sauce in his or her culinary repertoire. Make this one yours. Not only does it switch up the regular spinach for superfood-of-the-moment kale, but the Vitamix dramatically reduces prep time, whipping up an iron- and omega-3-filled blend ofgreens and nuts in mere minutes.

 

Vitamix Creamy Tomato and Eggplant Sauce Photo: The Simple Kitchen

7. Creamy Vegan Roasted Tomato and Eggplant Sauce

We know how it is: Every dairy-free pasta sauce recipe seems to resort to cashews for that rich-and-creamy boost. That’s where this recipe steps in. Thanks to the pulverizing power of the Vitamix, heart-healthy olive oil and garlic-roasted veggies combined with a bit of non-dairy milk can be churned into a sauce silky enough to rival any nut- or cheese-based version. 

8. 60-Second Applesauce, Raw or Simmered

The title of this recipe says it all: No need for hours of stewing fruit over the stovetop for homemade applesauce. When the Vitamix is involved, you’re talking seconds for a raw and chunky rendition, or about three extra minutes for the cooked kind. It doesn’t get fresher or faster than that. Either way you go, don’t leave out the vanilla and blood-sugar-stabilizing cinnamon for extra depth of flavor that compliments the fiber in the apples

9. Bitchin’ Sauce 

OK, so the name of the recipe is a bit unorthodox. (Look away, Mom!) But then you realize how incredible it really is: It’s chock-full of healthy ingredients, from the metabolism-spiking spices to the skin-enhancinggrapeseed oil; it’s incredibly versatile—dunk a chip into it or drizzle it onto veggies; and it takes all of three minutes to make. Now really, could you call this addictive sauce anything other than bitchin’?

Soups 10. Blender Acorn Squash Soup

Most recipes for smooth soup involve two steps: cooking them on the stovetop and pureeing them in a blender. But the Vitamix takes the two-step process down to one by heating and blending simultaneously—hooray for time-slashing techniques! Give it a try with this aromatic, savory-sweet recipe of souped-up squash and apples. Coconut milk—found to reduce badcholesterol levels—both thickens it up and gives it a silky finish. 

11. Gazpacho*

Given all the veggies and chopping it calls for, gazpacho can be kind of intimidating. Save yourself the effort and still get your summery soup fix by throwing everything, from the garlic and the olive oil to the tomatoes and the cucumbers, in your Vitamix and blending until your desired consistency. Whether you prefer it chunky or smooth, you’re only about 30 seconds away from a phytochemical-packed, blood-pressure-lowering meal 

Vitamix Broccoli Soup Photo: Sarah’s Cucina Bella

12. Easy Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli cheddar, we’re calling you out as one of the biggest healthy food imposters on the menu with minimal greens and heaps of cheese and butter. But this version deserves its health halo, with just half a cup of high-quality cheddar divided among four servings and carrots joining the broccoli for extra skin-protecting beta-carotene . Health benefits aside, the other bonus is that the Vitamix can warm the soup as it blends, consolidating prep, cook, and heat time into a single step. Perfect for dinner on the fly.

13. 10-Minute Tortilla Soup*

It’s a warmer version of gazpacho, with an amped up protein and fiber count from the addition of black beans and corn. Have it ready in a jiffy by using the soup setting on the Vitamix, and top with your favorite healthy taco fixin’s, from (baked!) tortilla chips to buttery avocado

14. Potato Pumpkin Soup

Soup’s on, indeed, with this incredibly quick-to-make, filling-to-eat puree of potato and pumpkin. A combination of ginger and cilantro lend the veggies an exotic edge plus digestion-aiding properties. With just a splash of almond milk and broth, the result is almost like a thick, spoonable stew. Give it the “Vitamix treatment” (i.e. use the “puree and heat” setting). 

15. Six-Ingredient, Six-Minute Tomato Soup

Thought a 10-minute soup was fast? This recipe cuts the cooking time down by four minutes as the Vitamix blitzes a veggie-riffic combo of onions, carrots, celery, and tomato into a steaming bowl of mood-boosting comfort. Despite all the other veggies, the tomato flavor is still unmistakable, making it the ideal concoction to dunk a grilled cheese into, pair with a salad, or scoop up with a side of Saltines. 

Entrees 16. Baked Veggie Frittata

Talk about a Lazy Sunday: Sit back, relax, and let Vitamix whip up brunch with this protein and fiber-filled frittata. It chops the veggies and beats theeggs, leaving you with nothing to do except pour the entire mixture into a dish and bake. Use the vegetables in the recipe, swap in your own nutrient-rich produce picks, or go with one of our favorite combos. Brunch is served! Pair with a mimosa and Netflix.

 

Vitamix Plant Burger Photo: Eat, Live, Run

17. Plant Burgers*

There’s nothing like wrapping two hands around a solid, homemade veggie burger. But admittedly, just thinking about how much dicing and pulsing goes into making a batch can drive us to those premade frozen patties. Here’s a shortcut. While this recipe requires more than a handful of ingredients, the Vitamix (or a food processor) makes prepping them a totally doable process, and you won’t be tempted to skip steps and ingredients. Thank goodness for that, because there is so much good stuff going on in these meatless patties, from blood flow-boosting beets to fiber-full bulgur.

18. Vegan Mac and Cheese*

When it comes to mac and cheese, that blue box may be a quick-fix meal, but baffling ingredients like “Yellow No. 6” don’t inspire much confidence in the nutrition department. This all natural, vegan mac and cheese has a sauce of cashews, nutritional yeast, and a dash of turmeric that beats the pants off the powdered stuff in terms of flavor.  And it has the all the mood-boostingbenefits of zinc, anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin, and zero sketchy chemicals. Plus, using a Vitamix gives it a cooking time that rivals the microwave. 

19. Cauliflower Paleo Fried Rice

Cauliflower may be all the rage right now, but the mess involved when chopping up it up definitely isn’t a party. Have the Vitamix do the dirty work: One quick push of the “pulse” button, and you’ve got pulverized florets in mere seconds that can sub in for rice. Not only is this Paleo version of this Chinese classic a low-carb, vitamin K-rich dish, but with the added protein of eggs, it’s filling too. 

20. Sweet Potato Hash Browns*

If you think hash browns are strictly the turf of weekend brunch, get a ready to treat yo self with the help of the Vitamix any day of the week. Thanks to its speedy chopping, it’s easy to pull together a quick, flavorful hash. Throw in some kale for cancer-combating compounds and a hit of sweetness and fiber with diced apples for a powerhouse breakfast that’ll charge your morning. 

21. Indian Tomato Curry*

Whip up a multi-purpose deep-flavored curry base that can transform basic chicken or tempeh and veggies. A Vitamix helps the cashews break down into a smooth paste without multiple rounds of pulverizing. The addition of yogurt aids digestion, and tomatoes bring on the antioxidants. (It’s worthbuying organic if you can.) The result? A lighter, cream-filled curry that’s still satisfyingly rich and spicy.

22. Green Eggs

Dr. Seuss would appreciate this inventive take on “green eggs.” And you’ll appreciate how quickly it comes together. Throw the kale and the eggs in a Vitamix; the two superfoods get beaten together for a frothy, fluffy, and forcefully colored twist on the breakfast favorite.

Vitamix Lasagna Photo: My Custard Pie 

23. Tomato, Lentil, and Spinach Vegetarian Lasagna

Lasagna is pretty much the poster child for comfort food, but it’s incredibly time-consuming to pull together. That’s why this recipe really shines a light on everything the Vitamix can do. Chop the carrots and churn up both the tomato and Bechamel sauces in the high-speed blender for the easiest lasagna you’ll ever make. As an added advantage, lentils lend protein and fiber to the typically carb-heavy dish. (Note: Ingredients are measured in grams, so if you don’t have a kitchen scale, you can use an online calculator like this.)

24. Baked Green Falafel*

The batter for these Middle Eastern-inspired patties comes together in a flash, all thanks to the Vitamix, which processes the cholesterol-reducinglegumes and herbs faster than you can say “chickpea patty.” Baking them not only further eliminates the time and mess that deep-frying would require, but also helps keep them on the heart-healthy side with minimal added oil. 

25. Zucchini, Summer Squash, and Scallion Pancakes

Spare yourself the arm-aching effects of a grater, and use your high-speed blender for these savory, bursting-with-vitamin-C fritters instead. Over the course of 30y to 40 seconds, a Vitamix shreds your squash and adds your binding agents to create a smooth batter ready for scooping onto a skillet and flipping into crispy-yet-chewy, veggie-packed flapjacks. Use a nonstick pan to cut down on the amount of fat needed for cooking the pancakes too.  

Baked Goods 26. Oat Apple Muffins

You may not consider yourself a baker now, but after the ease of these muffins, you might just start shopping for monogramed aprons. A Vitamix blends the dry ingredients, then mixes in the wet. All you have to do is scoop the batter into tins and bake until they’re golden. Gluten-free baking is suddenly stress-free too.

 

Vitamix Carrot Bread Photo: A Baker's House For a list of 52 recipes to make in a Vitamix, go to Greatist.com.

Healthy and portable mason jar meals

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Only a few years ago, mason jars were pretty much strictly for canning. Now, most likely thanks to social media, they’re as trendy as green juice and coconut oil. Sure, they can house wedding centerpieces and tiki torches, but even better: They make portable, portion-control meals a cinch—some don’t even need a second of cooking! Plus, hello food porn! Who knew salads looked even more appetizing stacked?

 But don't worry if you don’t feel like you #nailedit on the presentation. Taste buds know that it’s what inside that counts, and these recipes are sure to please.

Breakfast 1. Blueberry and Grilled Peach Quinoa Parfait

This beaut calls for grilled peaches to up the sweet ante, though fresh work just as well in a time-crunch. Layered with nutty quinoa, creamy Greek yogurt, crunchy pecans, and soft blueberries and drizzled with maple syrup, it’s a symphony of textures so delicious we’d make it for dessert too.

2. Bacon and Eggs in a Jar

Mason jar breakfasts aren’t all layered parfaits, oats, and chia seeds. Hearty combinations like this one work just as well, making eggs portable without putting them on an English muffin or bagel. Instead, toss in a jar with bacon, spinach, and cheese, and nuke in the microwave for a speedy, healthy meal.

3. Salted Turtle Overnight Oats

Turtle chocolate lovers, this one’s for you. If you’re not familiar with the sweet, it’s a delightful combo of chocolate, caramel, and pecans mixed together. This a.m. meal keeps it healthy with medjool dates as a surprisingly perfect stand-in for caramel, plus cocoa powder, unsweetened almond milk, oats, and of course the pecans. Decadent and delish!

4. Blueberry Pancake in a Jar

That’s right—flapjacks to go! Made with real ingredients rather than prepackaged mix and vegan (or not, if you desire), this version cooks in the microwave and is all the light, fluffy, fruity goodness you expect off the griddle. Plus the jar makes for easy portion control since a stack of pancakes can go down pretty easy.

5. Breakfast Jar Parfait

Gotta love a recipe that doesn’t require cooking. Oats and chia seeds soak up milk, vanilla, and cinnamon overnight to make a thick pudding-like treat. Alternated with Greek yogurt, berries, and peanut butter and topped with granola come morning, this nutritious meal takes just minutes to put together and is perfectly portable. Take that, Mickey D’s. 

6. Oven-Baked Egg and Vegetable Cups

Who you callin’ half pint? This meal comes in a smaller container but still packs satisfaction from egg’s protein. Asparagus may help ease a hangover, so consider making these before a big night, then warm one up once you finally crawl out of bed.

7. Granola Breakfast in a Mason Jar

Can’t go wrong with the classic: fruit, yogurt (try goat yogurt, which has less sugar than yogurt make from cow’s milk), granola (we recommend homemade to control the sugar), and bananas. Mix protein powder into the yogurt for extra flavor, and switch up the other ingredients based on what’s in season and what you want!

8. Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal

With this basic recipe, you can wake up to a delicious breakfast with a good amount of protein in a different flavor every day! Try raspberry vanilla for a dose of fiber,blueberry maple for anti-inflammatory anthocyanins to protect against cancer and heart disease, or mango almond for a kick of immune-boosting vitamin C.

9. Mason Jar Breakfast Casserole

Despite the slew of oat recipes out there, morning mason jar options for Paleo eaters do exist. This one takes a hash of sausage, sweet potatoes, onions, and eggs scrambled with coconut milk—a source of appetite-suppressing medium-chain fatty acids—and bakes everything in the jars. Make a few and have breakfast set for the week.

10. Choco-Banana Refrigerator Oatmeal

Waking up with chocolate is approved when it’s this healthy and balanced. Yet it’s so creamy and rich thanks to chia seeds, yogurt, and soaked oats, it tastes like a treat. Top with extra bananas, walnuts, and honey, and it’s ready to go.

Salads 11. Zucchini Pasta Salad With Avocado Spinach Dressing

Zucchini noodles with a Greek yogurt-avocado dressing—what’s not to like? Mixed with red bell pepper (which has more vitamin C than an orange), tomatoes (for lycopene), buttery edamame, crunchy celery, and salty feta and olives, if you’re not drooling yet, there’s something wrong with you! 

12. Shrimp Feta Cobb Salad

With fewer calories, less fat, and the same amount of protein as ham, we’re not sure why we didn’t think to put shrimp in a cobb salad before. There’s still the cheese, egg, and bacon in this recipe, plus a variety of vegetables that can be adapted as you like.

13. Minty Chickpea Yogurt Parfaits

The breakfast fave takes a walk on the savory side in this recipe that’s loaded with flavor, texture, and nutrients. We’re talking chickpeas, raisins, cucumbers, olives, tomatoes, walnuts, pistachios, and mint, with a Greek yogurt-based ranch dressing to bring everything together. Warning: This will inspire you to experiment with other fun ways to try savory yogurt!

14. Mango Black Bean Mason Jar Salad

There’s something about fruit in a salad that gives it an exotic feel, and this version is no exception. With mangos, avocados, black beans, corn, and quinoa, this colorful, fiber-packed salad has a Tex-Mex feel with a little added sweetness. The blogger describes it as “kick ass,” so be sure you put your name on it in the company fridge—you don’t want this stolen!

15. Creamy Citrus Chicken and Orzo Salad in a Jar

Rice-shaped orzo is actually pasta. This would make a nice picnic dish that’s lighter than traditional pasta salad yet hearty. The zesty orange-balsamic dressing—made creamy with Greek yogurt—goes beautifully with the grilled chicken and sweet roasted red pepper.

For links to 27 healthy and portable mason jar meals, go to Greatist.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome ways to use leftover wine

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“Leftover wine” may sound like a mythical (or at least, laughable) idea for some of us. But whether you just had a party or simply can’t soldier through a full bottle solo, at some point you’ll be facing this dilemma: A partially consumed bottle is rattling around your kitchen and the clock is ticking on its drinkability. Don’t worry. We’ve scoped out some of the healthiest, most efficient, and most fun ways to use up the excess before it’s too late!

First Things First—Is Wine Really Healthy?

While it’s wishful thinking that doctors will be prescribing drinking sprees anytime soon, there are certain benefits to drinking in moderation. Both whites and reds contain anti-tumor properties  as well as substances known to fend off heart disease . But since reds boast higher levels of them, they’re billed as the healthiest of the wine family. Their antioxidants, known as polyphenols, lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, prevent blood clots, and protect blood vessels. So pour yourself a serving (that’sfive ounces a day for women and 10 ounces for men) to reap those benefits without going overboard, and read on to see what to do with the rest of that bottle.

How Long Does Wine Last?

Once opened, wine immediately starts to oxidize, a process that causes chemical disintegration and results in a beverage that’s faded in color, less potent in flavor, and has all-around lost its luster. The shelf life of wine depends largely on the type you’re using. Is it red, white, or sparkling? Even how dry or sweet it is has an impact on how long it'll last. Generally red wines hold up better than whites, and aged varieties outlast younger ones, so drink up your Pinot Grigot before moving on to the Malbec. As a basic timeline, young wines should hold up for three or four days, and older wines about a week. The exceptions are dessert wines and port, which can last up to a year after opening.

The bad news: There’s no real way to significantly extend the life of a bottle once opened. The good news? There are ways to avoid throwing that delish stuff down the drain, and to keep wine’s flavor at its peak during its limited window of freshness. 

1. Buy smaller bottles. It’s a lot easier to polish off 375ml than 750ml in one sitting. Another option is just to pour your wine into a smaller bottle if you can’t finish it all. That’ll minimize the oxidation. Remember to re-cork it tight!

2. Buy boxed wine. While boxed varieties started off with an, um, questionable reputation, their quality has improved over the years. Now they boast benefits that can compete with their bottled counterparts, not just in terms of cost and environmental friendliness, but shelf life too. Opened boxes can last as long as two months, compared to merely five days for bottled wine. See? It pays to think inside the box! 

3. Keep things cool. As the existence of wine coolers suggests, it’s important to keep bottles away from too much heat or light, which can ruin the wine’s flavor. The optimal storing temperature is 55 F (12-13 C). If you don’t have a cooler, try a dark cupboard or the fridge. 

4. Freeze it. Pour any remaining wine into ice cube trays for short-term storage. While you may not want to straight-up drink it after thawing, it becomes a great pinch hitter when you need an extra flavor boost for sauces, glazes, or stews. 

Good to the Last Drop—Your Action Plan

Ready to use up the bottom of that bottle? If you're not going to guzzle it, there are two basic approaches: cooking with it or using it for household tasks. If you're going the first route, remember the golden rule: If you wouldn’t drink it (eventually), don’t cook with it! And if you're not going to cook with it, don’t throw it down the drain (see all our household uses for wine).

1. Vegan Scallops in White Wine Cream SauceWine needed: ⅓ cupMeat and dairy may be off-limits for vegans, but that doesn’t mean wine is off the menu (thank goodness!). This herbivore-friendly dinner uses a third of a cup of white, along with coconut milk, which offers a dose of infection-fighting lauric acid. Together they form a silky sauce that envelops the oyster mushrooms standing in for scallops. While robust Chardonnays are best for holding up to creamy dishes, really any leftover dry white wine will do here.

2. Poached Eggs in a Red Wine SauceWine needed: 2 cupsElevate the incredible, edible egg to a whole new level by surrounding it with a rich wine sauce. Using a hefty serving of red whisked in to a hearty mixture of veggies, herbs, and bacon, this classic French recipe is a handy way to use up any unfinished full-bodied variety like a Shiraz or a Malbec. Serve with a hunk of crusty garlic bread to help sop up all that wined-up, yolky goodness—your daily serving of protein couldn’t get more delicious.

3. White Wine Mushroom Bruschetta With HalloumiWine needed: just under ½ cupA touch of cream and a splash of leftover white wine are all you need to lend this easy bruschetta a velvety topping. Stir it in to a sauté of vitamin D-filled mushrooms (feel free to experiment with different types), and spoon over baguette pieces topped with halloumi cheese. Result: A wow-worthy appetizer or the ideal meaty-yet-light side for a simple salad. (Note that this recipe uses metric measurements instead of U.S. standard, but no need to be exact with the cheese slices and cream.)

4. Lemon Pepper Wine-Braised Baby BroccoliWine needed: ½ cupBroccoli is anything but boring when it’s been braised in wine! Flora Foodie’s recipe takes barely 10 minutes and uses just six ingredients, letting the fruitiness of the white wine and freshness of the lemon really shine through. A mere two teaspoons of melted Earth Balance give this dish its crunchy, buttery breadcrumb topping. Keep this healthy, fiber-full side dish in mind the next time you need to finish that bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (or want an excuse to open a new one). 

5. Fresh Tomato Sauce With Balsamic and Red WineWine needed: ⅛ cupTurn the dregs at the bottom of the bottle into the key secret ingredient for this zippy sauce, to be ladled generously over pasta, used as a dip for bread, or as a base for pizza. Fresh tomatoes provide vitamin C and calcium, balsamic vinegar lends a sweet and tangy kick, and the vino brings in a sophisticated, antioxidant-enriched depth. An eighth of a cup may not sound like much, but use a bold red wine like a Zinfandel, and a little will go a long way.

6. Red Onion Marmalade CrostiniWine needed: ½ cupCaramelized onions are a revelation, but this marmalade takes things up a notch by browning this inflammation-reducing veggies in a reduction of wine, soy sauce, and a pat of butter.  If you’ve got some uncorked Pinot Noir–or any other dry red—sitting around, now’s the time to call it into action. Spoon the sweet and savory mixture onto a goat-cheese smeared crostini for a cocktail party in your palm!

7. Eggplant and Tofu Ratatouille With Thai BasilWine needed: ¼ cupAlthough red wine might seem like an unusual ingredient for a dish containing tofu, the small serving used for this one-pot meal not only complements the more traditionally Asian elements of garlic, soy, and Thai basil, but gives them a warmth and complexity. Since it’s competing with other strong flavors, be sure you’re using up a heartier wine that can hold its own, like a Petit Syrah. Brimming with veggies and made even more hearty with protein-packed tofu, this nourishing, one-pot meal is both unusual and comforting.

8. Homemade Baked Beans With Red WineWine needed: 1 cupDitch the syrupy canned stuff and class up your next BBQ with this slightly tipsy version of baked beans. The combination of tomato paste and red wine gives the classic side a more refined sweetness and a lower glycemic index than if you were to use plain old sugar. Make it a few days in advance for the sauce to permeate further into the beans.

9. Angel Hair Pasta With Lemon Garlic Cherry TomatoesWine needed: ½ cupChannel the flavors of summer, no matter what the calendar says, with this effortless pasta. Cherry tomatoes (let's hear it for lycopene!) gets paired with plenty of flavanoid-containing fresh basil. A half a cup of white wine and a squirt of lemon make up its light sauce; again, Sauvignon Blanc works well here for a fruity, herbal punch that isn’t too overpowering. A dusting of grated Parmesan cheese lends a subtle salty finish without a sodium overload. And if the weather cooperates, have this bowl alfresco.

10. Drunken Pasta Wine needed: 1½ cupsHad one glass of wine before bed last night, and now you’re faced with almost an entire bottle to use up before it goes bad? Enter drunken pasta. The noodles spend half their cooking time in water and the other half soaking in a bath of red, so don’t scrimp on quality here—the recipe recommends a good Chianti or Zinfandel. Pecorino Romano cheese, parsley, garlic, and chili peppers are the only other ingredients needed to make this healthful and dramatic dish  Just look at that striking mauve tint—total dinner party/date-night material!

11. Quinoa Risotto Wine needed: 1 cupRisotto is delicious, but let’s face it, it takes foreeeeeever to prepare. This recipe uses gluten-free quinoa in place of rice to drastically slash the cooking—and stirring—time. The rest of the ingredients are familiar risotto turf, including a full cup of dry white wine (leftover Pinot Grigio fits the bill) to lend a deeper, slightly acidic layer to the otherwise creamy concoction. Spinach adds a pop of color and some extra iron and vitamin K too.

12. Red Wine Chocolate CakeWine needed: 1 cupA cake that contains wine and chocolate and still remains whole wheat, vegan, and free of refined sugar? Your Internet prayers have been answered. Love Food Eat’s recipe cleverly mixes a cup of red wine with strawberry jam and olive oil for a lightly sweet and slightly fruity dessert, while a heavy hit of cocoa powder ensures it’s still super chocolatey. Whole wheat baked goods run the risk of being overly dense, but the moisture from the alcohol keeps this one fluffy. It’s the ultimate “have your cake and eat it too” sitch. 

13. Cherry Merlot WinesiclesWine needed: 1½ cupsIt’s Good Humor all grown up. Containing a double dose of antioxidants from the fruit and wine and just a touch of simple syrup, these three-ingredient popsicles deserve a spot on your regular dessert rotation. While this recipe calls for cherries and Merlot, it’s got our wheels turning for countless other equally healthy, cocktail-inspired combos: blackberries and Pinot Noir, blueberries and Cabernet, peaches and Prosecco… go forth and experiment!

14. Red Wine Chocolate TrufflesWine needed: ½ cupPaleo people, rejoice: red wine is generally recognized as acceptable on the “caveman” diet. Honor those ancient urges for wine and chocolate by making these ridiculously easy, four-ingredient Paleo truffles. No specific type of red needed here; use whatever you have on hand and the results will still be smooth, rich, and melt-in-your-mouth delectable. Small but filling, they’re also a smart, portion-controlled way to tame a sweet tooth. 

15. Sparkling Wine Jelly Wine needed: Just under 1½ cupsOpened some bubbly yesterday but ended the night before you could end the bottle? Put that extra brut to good use in this gorgeous sparkling wine jelly. Gelatin gives a wobbly texture while agave drops a hint of sweetness. Topped with dainty raspberries (bonus vitamin C!) and served in goblets, it’s an elegant and refreshing dessert that looks way more complicated than the simple refrigeration that’s required. 

16. Red Wine Chocolate Fudge BrowniesWine needed: ¼ cup + 2 tablespoonsWhen done right, wine plus chocolate is a match made in antioxidant heaven; the intensity of the former highlights the subtle nuances of the latter. But, as this recipe shows, the proof is in the batter. There's no skimping on the butter or sugar here, but these treats are made with whole foods and have an ultra fudgey finish.  A luscious glaze tops off the whole shebang. 

For 27 awesome ways to use leftover wine, go to Greatist.com.

 

 

OMG It’s a GNO!

In case you haven’t heard, there is a new phenomenon among women and their circle of friends.  It’s called a Girls Night Out or GNO and it’s definitely not your mother’s bridge night!  Anywhere you hear the sound of a cork being popped or the splash of wine hitting a wine glass, you can best bet there are women gathering to celebrate spending time with their girlfriends away from the pressures of everyday life.

The 30-40 something crowd has taken the GNO to a new level.  These are independent women who relish their time apart from significant others, husbands, and their kids.  These women are fun, full of life, and sassy-  No ordinary dinner and drinks will do.  Oh no, these women have taken the Girls Night Out to a whole new level.  Here are some ideas that are extremely fun, easy to do, and won’t break the bank!

 

  • Shop and Swap:  Like the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention.  Now a days, the saying should be “mothers with a necessity for bags, invented a swap.”  This may be the greatest thing that came out of the recent recession.     The idea of a purse swapping party is that everyone brings a purse that they no longer want and swaps it out for another purse. One woman's junk is another woman's treasure.  Make a list of about 15 of your friends that you think would like to be a part of the swap, and maybe more importantly, might have a good purse sitting in her closet!  Try to encourage the women to bring a purse that they still would carry but just might be tired of.  Once a bunch of your “besties” has signed on to come, you can plan a fun menu.  Try a signature drink like a skinny lime punch-    -  You won’t be at a loss for entertainment as you watch your otherwise subdued friends act like a pack of lioness circling their prey when they lay eyes on a slightly used Tory Burch bag!  By the way, this swap idea can be used for all sorts of things-  Try gently worn clothes or shoes, or even beauty products.  

 

  • Paint Nite:  If you haven’t put paint on paper since the age you used a finger instead of a paint brush, then Paint Nite is a perfect idea for a Girls Night Out .  The idea behind Paint Nite is to take two popular pastimes, artistic painting and drinking cocktails and puts it in a fun social setting at local bars and restaurants.  And don’t worry if you’re not a Picasso or a Van Gogh because Paint Nite invites a local artist to offer step-by-step instructions.  Between sipping a Cosmo and giggling with your girlfriends you will have taken a blank canvas and created a completed picture that you can hang on a wall at home.  Paint Nite is happening in a variety of neighborhoods bars and restaurants all over town.  Check them out here.

 

  •  It’s my Party and I’ll Wine if I Want To:   So we already know that where ever women gather, the wine is sure to follow.  But here is a fun twist on a Girls night Out with wine.  Host a blind wine tasting party.  It’s not only fun to taste a variety of wines but you might be shocked to find out that the favorite wine of the evening was under $10!  Score!  So the concept is to use a theme for the selected wine like from the same region or price point or variety.  Since many of us are not wine connoisseurs, my friend kept it easy by having us all choose a wine with an animal in the name.   Ask your guests to bring two bottles.  One for tasting and one to be used as part of the grand prize.  Then put all of the tasting bottles in brown bags and number them.  Print out score cards based on look, smell, taste, finish and ask the girls to rate the wine on each category from 1-10.  The wine with the highest score wins the party and the person who brought it gets to go home with the grand prize….The one extra bottle of wine that each guest brought.  Since all the ladies will have their hands full with a glass of wine, try offering some easy finger foods so no one goes hungry. Get some easy ideas here

Women have always enjoyed spending time with one another in small groups.  Maybe it’s in our DNA from ancient days when we were gatherers.   The modern knitting bee is now the Girls Night Out and I for one am much happier that female bonding has taken a turn.  I could never knit anyway and I’d much rather laugh with my girlfriends while eying a handbag!

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