Archives for January 2011

5 tips to make a vegetarian main dish

5 Tips to Create Vegetarian Friendly Meals (Black Bean Burritos)

Written by Katie of Good life {eats}.

With the New Year beginning many of us find ourselves setting goals and often those goals are health related in some way or another. Yesterday while grocery shopping, the check out clerk casually commented that in January she sells more salad related ingredients than any other month. Health is definitely on our minds right now.

I know that I certainly have some of those same goals and doing a little bit better to take care of my body, and the bodies of my family members is pretty high on the list.

I’d like to be more physically active this year, make sure I eat a balanced meal for lunch, my hardest meal of the day, and continue with our tradition of eating vegetarian once or twice a week.

Encouraging my kids to eat more vegetables is also something that is important to us. They are great with fruits, but vegetables are not their most favorite.

Whether your goal is general, such as “eating healthier” or more specific, like “eat less meat” or “eat more vegetables” I have a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

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7 Favorite Do-Ahead Dinners for Winter (recipe: Chocolate Chip Chili)

A little blogging conference called Blissdom is happening in a few weeks in Nashville and I’m skipping the country to attend. I’ll also be skipping out on four days of laundry, lunch-packing and cooking. Woo-hoo!

Hmm, the last time I traveled internationally on my own? It was over a decade ago and included sights such as the alluring Tuscan countryside, Thailand’s best beaches, and the most memorable spice market in Istanbul, Turkey. This trip isn’t going to be quite as exotic, and I’ll be inside a sprawling hotel most of the time, but it provides the opportunity to meet some very dear food blogging friends, not to mention, the whole Simple Living Media team. I’m so excited!

Freezer Cooking

To make up for this mom-bloggers’ absence, I’ve been slowly stocking the freezer with meals for Danny to heat and serve to the kids for the five dinners I’ll be gone. Sure he knows his way about the kitchen, but we’ve agreed it is best for him to focus on our little ones as much as possible. I’m also stashing a few extra meals, because I know I’m going to need a couple days when I get back to connect with Blissdom alumni on Twitter get back on my feet.

We’ve talked about warm weather batch cooking, practical do-ahead ideas to help jump start dinner, but I haven’t shared some of our cold weather favorites. Like most families, we enjoy classics such as lasagna, stew, and –my boys current favorite– spaghetti & meatballs, but they do tend to get rather old though, wouldn’t you agree?

Today I’m giving suggestions for recipes that are suitable for freezing, adapt well to big batches, and provide a fresh take on family favorites. Macaroni & Cheese with vitamin-A rich butternut squash? Slow-cooker chili with a handful of chocolate chips? Homemade chicken fingers kept moist with buttermilk? It all sounds so good, I almost wish I was staying home to dine with the family. Almost.

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DIY Marmalade (recipe: Pink Grapefruit & Pomegranate Marmalade)

Three days into January, I cracked open a jar of the blueberry syrup I canned back in July and inhaled the sweet smell. One nearly-black, sticky spoonful transported me back to that lazy summer day when the fruits simmered into a sauce; I could almost hear the drone of my neighbor’s lawnmower.

There’s not a single item in the grocery store that can provide a pick-me-up like that blueberry syrup. You’ve already heard why I’m sold on home preserving, so I won’t say much more other than there are few tonics that beat the January blahs like the flavors of summer preserved in a jar.

In praise of winter canning

If you’re a beginner to intermediate home canner, you might want to try canning in smaller batches and spread out the task over the year. This keeps you in the groove, and helps prevent burnout! I’ve talked to many people who’ve walked away from preserving altogether because of one overly intense week.

Granted, you really should work when the produce is in season, so the bulk of preserving happens from June to September; however there are still plenty of fun preserving projects possible during the darker months of the year.

You may remember a round-up of winter home canning projects that I posted in November. It was always my intention to get through the holidays, and then unwind in my kitchen with a couple of preserving ventures in January, because with the snow flying outdoors and the kids away at school, this is the perfect time of year to try something new – like marmalade!

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Warm up your Season with Beans (Recipe: Frijoles Rancheros)

Written by Diana of A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa.

I am so excited to be here at Simple Bites sharing my family’s traditional Spanish and Mexican recipes. My hope is that you will be encouraged to try new flavors that are sure to spice up your life.

Since the weather outside is calling for dishes to warm our souls, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite Mexican bean recipes. Frijoles rancheros or Mexican ranch style beans.

They are easy to make and the flavors captured can’t be beat by anything you buy in a can.

These beans make a great side dish to enchiladas, tacos or anything you can come up with. However, what I love about these beans is that you can add a brisket or ham hock to the cooking beans and have a complete meal in a pot.

Shred the meat, warm up some tortillas and you’ll have a quick and easy meal of authentic Mexican tacos and beans.

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Meet the Simple Bites Contributors for 2011

How many of you know that it takes a small village to put forward a well-rounded blog that covers a range of pertinent topics? I am so fortunate to have a strong team of regular contributors who bring their wisdom and unique voices to Simple Bites every week.

On the heels of winning an award or two, I would like to turn and pass along much-deserved credit to the people who contribute to the success of Simple Bites. A few work behind the scenes, a few are brand new, and the others have written some of your favorite posts in 2010.

I’m truly blessed to work with each and every one of them and am incredibly excited for what lies ahead in 2011.

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