Becoming a Morning Person

woman-clock-4_300

Punctuality, particularly first thing in the morning, has never been my strongest suit.  I’m such a motivated person throughout the day, and that fire can stay strong well into the evening hours when I should be winding down; then getting up and running in the morning is hell.  I read this fantastic article from Foundr about some important tips for getting better sleep, which makes mornings a bit more bearable.  These are tools I’d teach to clients in therapy and they’re proven to help.

The gist is:

  • Make yourself a to-do list for tomorrow
  • Adjust your mindset and think differently about mornings
  • Don’t use your phone (tablet/computer/whatever else) before bed (you can read more about the harmful effects of the blue light they omit in this Harvard article)
  • Have a routine to help yourself turn down and cue your body for sleep

They also threw in some #neuroscience and a link for these awesome morning oat recipes!  So basically you must check out this fantastic article and get on track to have more productive and stress-free mornings.

photo credit: realsimple

Chinese Food Recipes

Great resource, I thought I’d share this:

How to Cook Chinese Food | Free Online Recipes | Free Recipes.

Best Blue Baked Mac’ n ‘Cheese

A great spin on a traditional favorite, this recipe adds Canadian bacon and crumbled blue cheese.  I’ve adapted it to my own taste from my Grandma’s recipe by adding some bold flavors.

Prep time: 20 min. | Cook time: 35 min. | Total: 55 min.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz elbox macaroni
  • ½ lb Canadian bacon (or ham), cubed
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 TBSP butter (I prefer Smart Balance, butter substitutes are fine)
  • 2 TBSP cornstarch
  • ¼ cup garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ½ tsp salt
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ½ cup bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F
  2. Boil water & cook pasta approx.. 8 min.; strain & set aside when done
  3. While pasta cooks, brown Canadian bacon; set aside when done
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine milk, butter, cornstarch, garlic, dry mustard, salt, & pepper
  5. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly; after 1 min. remove from heat
  6. Stir in ¼ cup bread crumbs, cheeses & Canadian bacon
  7. Combine with macaroni & pour into greased casserole dish (or we always use 2 smaller casserole dishes)
  8. Sprinkle with remaining bread crumbs
  9. Bake, uncovered, for 25 min. – until golden brown

Enjoy!

Photo credit: http://www.recipegirl.com/2010/10/18/three-cheese-bacon-mac-cheese/

Mom’s Perfect Quiche Lorraine

Quiche is one of my all-time favorites & nobody makes it like my mom!

Prep Time: 15 min. (+ cooking bacon) | Cook Time: 45 min. | Chill Time: 15 min. | Total: 1 hour, 15 min.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pre-made pie crust, refrigerated until needed
  • 1 cup swiss cheese, coarsely grated
  • 1 ½ dozen strips of bacon, fully cooked & cut into small pieces (try pre-cooked bacon for less mess, or turkey bacon if you’re more health conscious)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup minced onion
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you prefer it very spicy)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425° F
  2. Break eggs into a large mixing bowl
  3. Add cream, sugar, salt, & cayenne pepper
  4. Mix thoroughly with beater
  5. Line a 9 or 10″ pie pan with pie crust dough & sprinkle with bacon, onion, & cheese; then pour egg mixture over
  6. Bake at 425° for 10-15 min.
  7. Reduce heat to 325° F and continue baking for 25-30 min more (to test if done, insert a knife into the quiche — it’s ready if it comes out clean)
  8. Let stand 15 min. before serving.

Bon appétit!

Photo credit: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2868/ultimate-quiche-lorraine

Grandma’s BBQ Spare Ribs

I just made these the other night and they came out excellent!

Prep time: 10 min. | Cook time: 1½-2 hours  | Total: 2 hours

Ingrediens:

  • 1 lb ribs
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 dash tabasco
  • 1 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1 lemon (sliced)
  • 1 onion (sliced)

Directions:

  1. Bake ribs at 450° for 30 min. (with nothing on them)
  2. While ribs are cooking, mix together ketchup, water, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, tabasco, & liquid smoke
  3. Heat in medium sauce pan until boiling, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove ribs from oven and pour off the fat, return to pan
  5. Brush on ketchup mixture, cover with onions and lemon
  6. Reduce heat, bake at 250° for 1-2 hours (flip ribs ½ way through)
  7. Baste every 15 minutes, leaving some mixture on the side for dipping

Crowning Glory: Thanksgiving Stuffing

I think I’m going to go for the WOW factor this year and I’m taking a stab at making the stuffing.  Sure turkey is the dish that everyone talks about, it’s the staple of the Thanksgiving meal, it’s what the pilgrams ate and blah blah blah… but the stuffing is by far everyone’s favorite, right?  I’m relatively new at giving culinary input at family events, but last year my pecan pie was a raging success.  There’s a big difference between a little pie and the stuffing though.  It’s a lofty goal for sure, but I think I’ll be able to pull it off.

I’m not going for some dry, traditional bread crumbs either… I found a few interesting recipes that I’m considering:

Mushroom and Walnut Stuffing

Caramelized Onions with Pancetta and Rosemary Stuffing

Awesome Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing

or (I think the last one’s the kicker)

Porcini, Chestnut, and Sausage Stuffing

As an Italian, I’m inclined to go with a sausage stuffing.  I think that mushrooms will be a great way to throw in some subtle extra flavors, and I don’t feel that any stuffing is complete without some chopped nuts (chestnuts happen to be my favorite).  Fruits like apples and cranberries can provide a little texture and sweetness.  Or I may even put my own spin on a combination of those recipes; like anything that calls for white bread is automatically changed to whole wheat or multigrain in my kitchen.

Any of these recipes will be a hit at your holiday gathering, so bon appetit!

Photo credit: http://weblogs.fox61.com/features/family/mommy-minute/2010/11/