Sunday, May 26, 2013

Perfect Pumpkin Pancakes

So, after searching the Google, Pinterest and high and low, I could not find an pumpkin pancake recipe that would either use all of my remaining pumpkin from last fall, or be compatible with ingredients that I have on hand, so I decided to make up my own.  And, for the first time, I came up with a quick bread recipe all on my own.  Now, for everyone that knows me, my homemade from scratch dishes normally include sauces, soups, and skillet dishes.  But, this one time only, I created my very own pancake....and not only a regular pancake, but pumpkin pancakes at that.  So, let's get started, shall we?

Here's what you'll need:

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salta
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin puree (I used fresh.)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cup milk (I used skim.)

In large bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients, then combine with dry ingredients.  Cook on a non-stick griddle, pre-heated to a medium heat.  Serve if you like, with a pat of butter, and syrup of your choice.  I prefer butter pecan syrup, but I didn't have any, so I used maple syrup, and it was just as yummy!

Now, keep in mind, this is perfect for a family of 6 or larger, since I got more than 18 3-4" pancakes, so   if your family is small, I suggest freezing leftovers as individual serving sizes (with wax paper in-between pancakes) so that you can microwave them later for a quick breakfast, or cooking them whenever you have guests.

I wish I had pictures to share with ya'll, but they were gone so fast, there was no time to stop and take a picture.  

So, feel free to save this recipe, modify it as your own, and share it with your friends and family.  And as always, continue to Live Well!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Go to a Concert

So, here at Living Well, we scored free tickets to see Bon Jovi in Munich.  It was by far, the best concert that I've ever been too!

So, what's my advice to you:  Take advantage of free concerts provided by the Army.  You may or may not like the artist, but there is nothing like live music!  And who knows, you may even hear a song or two that you'll like.    

Every concert that I've been to I've gone to for free.  I've either been a guest, scored free tickets, or it was a USO tour (Toby Keith).

Now, if you haven't been as lucky as me, there are many places that you can score tickets for a fairly cheap price.  If we would have purchased the tickets, it would have been 67.50 Euro per seat, which isn't too bad.  You can check your USO or SATO or if you are in the states TicketMaster.  And if you are lucky, you can always try to win tickets from your radio station.  

The idea is, shop around for that performer that you really, really want to see, and then shop around for tickets.  Most performers list their tour dates and cities online, and you can plan in advance on who you want to see, and where you want to go to see them.  Unless you really want to pay for center stage, you get the same experience a few rows back, and sometimes an even better experience simply because you can see the entire stage.  

Once you have your tickets, plan your trip wisely.  Plan on the closest parking areas to be full within 2 hours or so before the show is due to start.  We arrived in Munich a little more than an hour before show time, drove around an hour before we eventually found parking.  Lucky us, the cover band didn't start until an hour later, and Bon Jovi came on an hour after that, so we still had two hours to spare.

Go to the bathroom as soon as you get there.  Believe me, when I say this, but the line to the women's restroom must have been a mile long.  To be prepared, bring along a to-go Charmin, and hand sanitizer.  Both these things I wish I had with me.  

If the venue allows, bring your own drinks and snacks.  I've found out that I could have brought snacks with me.  Also, bring a camera.  You'll want to remember this, especially if it's a dream concert.  And if budget allows, bring money for souvenirs.  My budget did not allow; however, I did do my own research the morning after, and I can purchase a 5 x 7 photograph taken by the band's personal photographer for only $10.  

The main thing to remember is: go and have fun.  Going to a concert is a fun experience.  You are there to have fun.  So, go, pick a performer that you want to see, save money, plan well in advance, and have a great time!  I know I did!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Taco Salad

Have you ever gotten a taco salad from Taco Bell and thought: "There has to be healthier option."  Many people who are trying to eat healthier often times find themselves in a fast food restaurant thinking, "Hey, if I get myself a salad, it'll be a healthier option, right?"  WRONG.  In most cases, the salads are not a healthier option.  In fact, a Taco Bell Taco Salad is over 700 calories!  And you are thinking, "What?"  Yep.  Well my friends, I have a recipe that will make a yummy taco salad for under 500 calories per serving, and it's easy on the wallet too!

And, if I had my memory stick for my camera (which suddenly disappeared one day), I would add a pic, but I'm just gonna share the recipe here.  So, grab your cast iron skillet, your spouse, and get in the kitchen.

Here's what you'll need:

1 lb 93% ground sirloin
4 slices bacon
romaine lettuce (either 1 head, or 1 package romaine hearts)
roma tomatoes
1 english cucumber
1 can summer crisp corn, rinsed
1 can bush's black beens, rinsed
1/2 block monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 med red onion
3 garlic cloves
Santitas Chips (5-6 per serving)

Taco Seasoning, or the following:
chili powder
smoked paprika
salt and pepper 
(all seasonings are to taste)
red pepper flakes (optional)
Hot Sauce (optional)

Ranch Dressing (I used Wishbone brand, but you can use whatever brand you like.)
Salsa (Optional)

Ok, so before you do anything, you want to heat your cast iron skillet before adding any ingredients.  While heating pan, also heat the pan that you are gonna cook the bacon in.  You'll want to cook the bacon extra crispy, so that when it cools, you can crumble it easily.  So, cook and crumble bacon and set aside.

So, to make this go a lot quicker, grab your spouse and have him/her put together the vegetable salad.  You'll need the lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, beans & corn.  The chunkier the vegetables, the better. 

Now, while the vegetable salad is getting prepped, you are gonna brown your onion, garlic and meat.  You can then add your taco seasoning and cook as per directions, or use a combination of the remaining spices to create a unique taco taste of your own.

Once meat is brown, and vegetable salad is put together, you are gonna layer the salad as follows:

5-6 Chips
Meat Mixture
A heaping serving of salad greens
A drizzle of ranch dressing
a small handful of cheese
a very small handful of bacon crumbles 

That's it!  I opted for the Ranch dressing instead of sour cream and salsa to cut on calories.  Trust me, you have plenty of taste without it, and I really didn't miss it at all.  With everything added, you have a very tasty Taco Salad for under 500 calories.  It was 476 calories to be exact, and that is WAY better than over 700 calories from Taco Bell.  This recipe serves 6-8 people depending if you are serving a household of kids like I do, or a mixture of kids and adults.

So, the next time you are at Taco Bell, and you are trying to watch what you eat, then opt for the chicken soft tacos.  No more than two.  If you eat more than that, then you might as well get the Taco Salad.

Do your body, and your wallet a favor, and cook something you love at home.  You'll be surprise how many calories you cut, and how fat your wallet gets to be.  Not to mention, it's fun cooking with your spouse.  You are spending quality time with your significant other, and creating a masterpiece that you'll both love to eat.

Next week at LW: Finishing the series of What Every Kitchen Should Have.  I apologize for not completing it earlier, but I'm back in full swing, and should be back here every week.