Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009 Manifesto

Saul Gravy/Getty

Each year when Earth Day rolls around I try to celebrate it in a similar fashion to New Years by making a resolution or two- environmentally focused. I use these resolutions as a way to challenge myself and not just give up/change the easy stuff, but to pick something significant that will make a difference and in some cases may require a little sacrifice or at least a little more planning.

At the beginning of the year as one of my New Years resolutions, I decided to focus more on water conservation. You can read more about this in one of my previous posts. So far, I am doing pretty good with the new water world order, but I do occasionally forget to bring the pitcher upstairs to the bathroom before showers. I should probably spring for another pitcher, since it they are very inexpensive and having just one more would greatly increase my reuse of water that would otherwise be wasted.

So, my new pledge for Earth Day 2009 is to bite the bullet on styrofoam. I like to look at my resolutions in a “Just Say No” format, so this pledge will be my “Just Say No” to styrofoam containers. This may sound pretty easy, but the reality of this is no to go containers from restaurants, no drinks purchased in styrofoam cups (smoothies, etc) , being more aware of the packaging in the food products I buy and also making sure family events have alternatives to paper/styrofoam plates. But fear not; I have a plan.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Yummy Enchilada Bake

This could be my favorite recipe of the moment.  The top spot changes frequently, but this dish is so yummy and easy to make that Enchilada Bake could keep the title for a while.  It also gave me an excuse to use my new GreenPan skillet which I am in love with.

I can’t claim credit for this recipe, it’s from one of my favorite Food Network chefs, Alton Brown.  If you have not seen his show “ Good Eats”, you should check it out.  It’s part cooking show, part history lesson; and he has the coolest kitchen toys.

Here’s my spin on his Enchilada Lasagna.  That name just didn’t work for me, so the first change is the name.

Enchilada Bake:

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Total time: 1 hour start to finish


As always, I use organic whenever possible but I won’t judge you for not doing the same. :)

For sauce:
  • 2 dried chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed, diced (I could not find these anywhere, so I use canned chipotle peppers in adobo from the mexican food section.  You only need 2, but could add more if you really like spice)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted cumin seeds, freshly ground (ground cumin works just fine if you don’t want to grind seeds)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 3 cups tomato sauce (no salt added, organic)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For filling:
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cubed (this is where you can use the extra chicken you baked when making Go Go Green pasta.  I shred mine in the food processor, but dicing it up works too)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion (organic)
  • Pinch kosher salt (sea salt)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 12 (6-inch) corn tortillas (I use whole grain flour tortillas, but corn would also be yummy.  Since the flour ones are larger, I typically use more like 8 tortillas)
  • 3 cups shredded queso fresco or Monterey Jack (yes, it’s a lot of cheese, but it’s so delicious)
  • Nonstick cooking spray (too many additives here.  I use a mist bottle with olive oil or canola oil instead)


Combine the chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chilies are soft. Set aside until ready to use.

* Since I use chilies that are already cooked, I bring the sauce to a boil and simmer 5 minutes, then set it aside while I prep the rest of the ingredients. 


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the chicken until cooked through, approximately 7 to 9 minutes.

* Another time saver here is if you have the chicken already prepared from another recipe.  I always cook extra chicken for use in other recipes like this.  Baked chicken works great and is healthier than sauteed in oil.

Remove the chicken from the pan and place in a medium bowl. Add the onions to the same pan along with a generous pinch of salt, decrease the heat to medium-low and sweat for 4 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and oregano and cook until the onions are tender, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add the chicken back to the pan and remove from the heat.

Spray a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray. Place 1/2 cup of the sauce into the bottom of the dish. Dip 4 tortillas into the remaining sauce and lay them into the bottom of the dish. Cut 1 of the tortillas in half to evenly cover the bottom of the dish. Top this with half of the chicken mixture and 1 cup of the cheese. Starting with 4 more tortillas, repeat the layers, ending with the last 4 tortillas on top. Pour remaining sauce over the dish and top with remaining 1 cup of cheese.




* The goal with the tortillas is to completely cover each layer.  If you use larger/flour tortillas, you will need fewer tortillas per layer.  Don’t worry if you feel like there’s a lot of sauce left over that you are pouring over the top; it will soak in as the dish cooks.


Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven on the middle rack for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until cheese on top is bubbly. 


I add a spoonful of sour cream on top of each serving, low fat of course to make up for all that cheese!

Give the Enchilada Bake a try and let me know if you love it as much as I do.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Go-Go Green Pasta: a Two-fer

It’s cold and rainy here today and just the perfect setting for some belly-warming pasta.

This dish is a personal creation after picking out my favorite ingredients at Macaroni Grill in the Build Your Own Pasta dish, a fabulous choice for us picky eaters.

You can make this dish in 30 min start to finish, which is another huge plus.   We are also going to bake extra chicken to use in tomorrow night’s recipe: Enchilada Bake.

Go Go Green Pasta

Serves 2


1 lb chicken breasts or chicken tenders (double up on the chicken for the two-fer option)

½ cup eggbeaters, or 2 eggs

2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs

1.5 cup shredded/grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Italian Seasoning

½ box Barilla rotini pasta (or your favorite whole wheat rotini will do)

½ cup sliced sun dried tomatoes

3 cups frozen spinach

2 cups frozen broccoli

3 tablespoons pesto

Chicken Prep:




  • Grease a baking sheet (or use your Silpat- love that thing!)  and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a shallow dish/bowl, empty the eggs/egg beaters.
  • In a second bowl, add the panko breadcrumbs, 1 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese, and 2 tablespoons Mrs. Dash Italian Seasoning.
  • Dredge the chicken in the egg, then press it on each side into the breadcrumb mixture then place the chicken on the baking sheet.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min, turning once at the 15 min mark.
  • *Since we are already baking chicken, throw on the other pound of chicken tenders with no coating.  We will shred these up and use them for Enchilada Bake tomorrow.


Pasta Prep:

  • While the chicken is baking, empty the frozen broccoli and spinach into a bowl and microwave for 4 min. It needs to be thoroughly cooked.
  • Cook ½ box Barilla rotini pasta (should take about 10 min).
  • While the pasta is cooking, slice up the sun dried tomatoes. I usually chop up about 6 or so or use the already sliced ones to make life even easier.
  • Once the pasta is drained, empty it back into the pot, and add the spinach, broccoli, and chicken (I slice it into bite sized pieces)
  • Next add in the sun dried tomatoes and the pesto.
  • Stir it all up and let it sit on a warm stove for about 3 min to let all the flavors meld and the spinach cook down.



Serve it up with a handful of shredded Parmesan cheese (the remaining .5 cup) on top and enjoy!

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Tomorrow we will visit Enchilada Bake with the pre-cooked chicken from this meal.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wednesday Motivation: Talkin’ Bout a Revolution

So, the Monday Motivation is a few days late.  I could use it today.

Today’s motivational anthem brought to you by Tracy Chapman.

Talkin Bout a Revolution

Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution (It sounds like a whisper)
Don't you know
They're talkin' about a revolution (It sounds like a whisper)
While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around wait for a promotion
Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution (It sounds like a whisper)
Poor people gonna rise up (Talkin' about a revolution)
And get their share
Poor people gonna rise up
And take what's theirs
So you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Oh I said you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Finally the tables are starting to turn (Talkin' about a revolution)
Talkin' bout a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn (Talkin' about a revolution)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
While they're standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in the unemployment lines
Sitting around wait for a promotion
Don't you know
They're talkin' bout a revolution (It sounds like a whisper)
Finally the tables are starting to turn (Talkin' about a revolution)
Talkin' bout a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn (Talkin' about a revolution)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)
Talkin' bout a revolution (Oh)

What’s your revolution or resolution to change?  Whisper something and put it out there in the universe.

Monday, April 6, 2009

One Simple Thing: World Malaria Day APR 25 2009



Sobering facts:

  • Malaria is particularly devastating in Africa, where it kills an African child every 30 seconds.
  • Malaria kills more than 3,000 children every day, and over 1 million every year.
  • 350 to 500 million cases of malaria occur annually.
  • 90% of deaths from malaria occur in Africa
  • Young children and pregnant women are most likely to become severely ill and die from malaria.
  • Malaria was eradicated from the United States over 50 years ago, yet more than 40 percent of the world’s population is still at risk.

My own experience with malaria is limited.  When I was traveling to India for work, I had to take malaria pills daily.  They made me a little woozy, but I didn’t agonize over it, didn’t think I would be at risk, I simply mentioned the trip to my travel doctor and was given a prescription for the pills, which I had to take a week before and after my trip as well as daily while I was there.  But I am fortunate.  In many countries malaria medication and something as simple as a net are impossible to come by.

Now that you have the facts, let’s focus on what you can do to make a difference.

Take action:

  • Skip dinner out and donate $30 to provide mosquito nets.  Your $30 will buy 3 bed nets.  A simple long lasting insecticide treated mosquito net can protect a child or several children from malaria for up to five years.

    Providing a $10 mosquito net is the easiest, but most effective way to protect African families from mosquitoes that bite at night and transmit malaria. Learn More >>


    Malaria No More E-Cards allow you to make a gift on behalf of a friend then send them customized E-Card letting them know why you have chosen to honor them by contributing to the fight against malaria. There are cards for all occasions! Pick a design below to begin. Learn More >>


    Before you can become an effective advocate against malaria, you first need to understand malaria from the ground up.


    Turn your knowledge on malaria into action! Whether you'd like to spread awareness at your church, host a bake sale, or canvas your community, Malaria No More has ideas and tools to help you raise awareness and funds for life-saving bed nets. Download fundraising toolkits >>


    Global awareness about malaria is on the rise and helping to promote grassroots, corporate, and public investments in ending malaria's devastating impact in Africa. To continue the positive trend, Malaria No More needs your help to get the word out. Learn More >>


    Schools from across the country are dancing to make a difference in the lives of African families threatened by malaria. Here's your chance to make a difference on a global scale… and all you have to do is dance! Learn More >>


    From grade school penny drives to high school science presentations to college dance fundraisers, young people are stepping out and leading the charge against malaria. Whether you're looking to do your own project or involve your entire school, we have the resources to help you succeed.Learn More >>


    The program embraces soccer as a unifying factor for children worldwide.Through the program, young people in the United States can use their favorite game to save lives by raising awareness about malaria and raising money for live-saving bed nets that prevent the disease. Learn More >>


    The Baby NETwork, in partnership with Malaria No More, offers friends and relatives an opportunity to honor a newborn baby, child or expectant mother. With a $10.00 honorary donation to Malaria No More, a mosquito net will be sent to protect a baby, child, or expectant mother from malaria. In the process, a network of babies helping babies is established. Through this network information is disseminated and donations collected to help fight malaria, a disease which disproportionately effects children under the age of five. Learn More >>

    What action are you willing to take to support World Malaria Day?

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