Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Getting Out Of Debt

Getting out of debt requires that you understand how you got there.  
Be smart about taking on loans and what you are using them for.
Somewhat lengthy article, but a lot of good, relevant info and great stuff to think about.
Time for introspection!

Check out this article at 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Boost Your Immune

This is the time of year when you need to be healthy and wise.  There are football games, trick-or-treat-ing, the weather's getting colder, and people are sneezing, sniffling, and crowding into rooms to cram for mid-semester exams and projects.  Thus, it is not uncommon that all of this begins to add up while your immune system begins to falter--the lack of sleep, nutrition, and exercise begin to take their toll.

Try to find some time to boost your immune system and decrease your susceptibility to the common cold viruses, infectious mono, flu, pneumonias, bacteria, fatigue, and other illnesses that can really ruin your day, and oftentimes, your long-awaited vacation break!  Check some simple advice and lifestyle changes that might just make this winter a little easier for you.

(Adapted from a recent article on WebMD)

Immune Boosters

1. Regular Exercise
    --Getting your heart rate up 20 minutes / day at least 3x / week can increase your immune response
    --Helps release your endorphins, "feel good hormones"
    --Facilitates better sleep
2. Improve Your Diet & Antioxidants
    --Increase brightly colored fruit and veggie intake with Vit C / Vit E / beta-carotene
    --Increase fresh garlic
    --And even chicken noodle soup
3. Get Adequate Sleep
    --Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep
4. Stress Reduction
    --Look for ways to relax:  meditate, work out, consider counseling, slow down
    --One experiment demonstrated increased immune response to the flu vaccine in those that meditated
5. Stay Connected
    --Having a good support system and strong friendships / relationships is critical to well-being
6. Laugh  
7. Get the flu shot
8. Don't smoke.
9. Wash Your Hands--alot

Immune Busters

1. Lack of exercise
   --Puts you at risk of weight gain
   --Fatigue and poor sleep
   --May contribute to a poor sense of well-being.
2. Being overweight
    --Increases your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease
    --Weakens your immune system 
3. High sugar diet
    --Avoid excessive sugar intake which curbs your immune systems ability to fight infection
4. Constant Stress
    --Chronic stress will wear you down, lead to fatigue
    --Decreases your immune system's ability to combat common illness
5. Socially isolated
    --Feeling lonely has been shown to weaken the immune response to the flu vaccine
6. Lack of sleep
    --Fatigue increases susceptibility to illness and decreases response to flu vaccine
    --Increases stress hormones which add to weight, feeling stressed out

Check out full articles WebMD.
Or a more indepth look at these issues on Harvard Health Publications.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Death By Chocolate

In anticipation of Halloween I have chosen this recipe, Death By Chocolate, not only because of its name, but also, for flavor and ease of putting this together. Some days you just want chocolate and candy and anything sweet--this will surely satisfy!

You will need to consider investing in a Bundt cake mold to make this properly, but otherwise, you should have all the equipment--and, definetely the skills.

(Adapted from a colleague's recipe)

Note:  This recipe can easily be reduced in calories by substituting the sour cream with 2% Greek  (2 cups) and only using 6 oz of chocolate chips.  It is a little firmer and dryer, but quite good when cutting calories

Bundt Cake Mold
PAM spray
Large Mixing Bowl
Whisk or spoon, for mixing

1 Duncan Hines 'Devil's Food Cake' Mix, only the dry ingredients
1 Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix, only the dry ingredients
2 Eggs
1 Pint of Sour Cream
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1 (12oz) bag of Chocolate Chips

1. Wash Your Hands
2. Preheat the oven to 325F degrees
3. Spray the Bundt pan
4. Add box mix, pudding mix and eggs to a large bowl. Stir well.

5. Add water and oil. Stir well.

6. Add sour cream and chocolate chips.  It will have a thick, chewy consistency.

7. Evenly scoop batter into prepared Bundt mold.

8. Flatten surface with spatula or spoon.

9. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 325F degrees.
10. Let cool completely before placing a plate over the mold and turning the cake out onto the plate.

11. It should be very moist and pudding-like in the middle when you inhale your first piece.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Moms Rice Pilaf

Growing up this was my favorite recipe and I requested it for virtually every birthday dinner I could...along with the Swedish Meatballs.  Mom didn't use noodles, but instead used rice pilaf.  When Jon asked to get copies of all of his favorite recipes (before I realized that a blog, ie paperless, was the way to go), this was one of his first requests.

At this point, and after a 99 posts, I think it is time that this recipe can be attempted by a college chef with the limited cooking skills--just think of all the recipes you have tried so far--this one is just a simple combination of previous skills, nothing more!

Great side dish with Swedish Meatballs (recipe will follow later in the year), but I have made it for chicken piccata, chicken souvlaki, plain old pork chops, and it is delicious left-over.  In college, I would make a double batch, freeze it for those days when I just didn't feel like cooking.  Tell me what you think!

5 quart saucepan with tight-fitting lid
Knife, for chopping

4 Tbls of butter, divided in 2 Tbls each
1 small to medium onion, chopped and diced
2 stalks celery, quartered and chopped

1 cup of long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 package of Campbell's Soup Secrets 'Chicken Noodle' with Diced White Chicken Meat
2 1/2 cups of water
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme

1. Wash your hands.
2. Melt 2 Tbls of butter in 5-qt saucepan and saute onion and celery until translucent.

3. Remove the onion and celery once soft.  Set aside.

4. Melt 2 Tbls of butter in same 5-qt saucepan and add uncooked long-grain rice.

5. Brown rice kernels until golden brown over MEDIUM heat.  Be careful not to burn kernels.
6. Stir frequently while browning kernels.

7. Add soup packet, water, onions, celery, salt, pepper, sage and thyme.

8. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then reduce heat to SIMMER-LOW and put lid on top.

10. Simmer on LOW heat for 15 minutes, covered.  Remove from heat and fluff with fork.

11. Let sit for 5 minutes.

I served our rice pilaf last night with chicken piccata (recipe coming in the next weeks as well) and roasted brussel sprouts.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Warm Berry Yoghurt

Just a simple blog today to add variety to your yoghurt.  But having said that, this recipe, once made, could be used on waffles, on oatmeal, or in smoothies.  Basically, use any combination of berries you like:  Blueberries-Blackberries, Strawberries-Raspberies, or any mixture you can think of.  If you have 10 minutes, this sauce will raise the bar.

3 quart saucepan
1/4 cup measuring cup

2/3 cup red raspberries, fresh or frozen
2/3 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup water 
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp of butter


1. Wash your hands.
2. Wash the fruit.
3. Combine the fruit, water, and sugar in a sauce pan.

4. Bring to a boil and stir.
5. Reduce heat to a slow boil or simmer for 10 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.

6. Remove from heat and add butter
7. Prep your bowl or glasses with yoghurt, granola and honey.

8. Add fruit and top with granola.

9. You have a great day ahead of you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Tenders

Having dinner ready every night is quite challenging in and of itself; and, having something different or adding variety just adds to the dilemma, because most of us really want to enjoy the flavors and food we are consuming rather than eating for eating's sake.

This recipe from Giada is one of those recipes that makes dinner easy--it's quick to put together, easily made right after work or a long day of studying, and without extensive time in the kitchen.  Plus, it tastes good and serves many.  Add these bits of goodness to a fresh bowl of white rice or rice pilaf.  Drizzle with lemon juice and salt & pepper for a fantastic flavor combo.  

Note: To make these crisp-ier, try NOT to line the chicken strips directly next to each other. And one more tip: The other benefit to this recipe is that you make as many as you need.

Large baking sheet
Large mixing bowl, for buttermilk soak
Flat plate or pyrex dish, to hold bread crumb mixture
PAM Spray

Chicken Tenders, as many as you want to make and fit comfortably on baking sheet
1-2 cups of Buttermilk
3/4 -1 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 1/4 - 2 cups Freshly grated Parmesan (or store bought)
Salt & Pepper
3-4 Tbls of Olive Oil

1. Preheat oven to 500F degrees.
2. Wash your hands.
3. Add tenders and buttermilk into a large bowl and marinate for 15-30 minutes.

4. Line your baking sheet with foil, spray with PAM, and drizzle 1-2 Tbls of olive oil across sheet.

5. Combine the parmesan and bread crumbs  in a pie dish or pyrex or something with edges.

6. Remove chicken tenders and dredge in the cheese-crumb mixture and line on baking sheet.

7. You may need extra crumb mixture if you make a lot of tenders.
8. Space tenders, ideally, so that they are not touching each other.

9. Drizzle the remaining 2-3 Tbls of olive oil over tenders.
10. Bake until crispy / golden brown, approx 12-15 minutes.

11. Have some rice started (see previous blog) before preparing your tenders and it will be done when the tenders are finishing up.

Great leftover in case you make a few extra or have leftovers.  Doubtful, but possible.