Baked Ratatouille

I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!

So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.

The Pintesting:

There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.

1. The Sauce:

The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the basil and take it off the heat.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

2. The Vegetables:

Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille - Veggies

As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Layer the veggies in a pattern.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

3. The Herb Seasoning:

This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.

NOTE:  When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Brush it on the arranged vegetables.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

See how pretty that looks!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Fin (The End):

The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.

A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.

Anyone Can Cook

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.0 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Honey Balsamic Chicken

It’s the new year and I have resolved to eat healthy – again – for about the 100th year in a row. Anyone else with me on this? Granted, I don’t eat terribly but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But some meals make eating a healthy diet much easier. For example, I saw a video for Honey Balsamic Chicken on Facebook and a couple of days later this pin for the recipe by TipHero (inspired by Chungah of Damn Delicious) popped up on my Pinterest feed, too. They do seem to copy her recipes quite a bit, so if you’re not following Damn Delicious yet you just might want to.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

I really like the idea of a whole meal made on one sheet pan in the oven. (Hooray for fewer dishes!) I also like that the recipes used a variety of vegetables.

It’s worth noting that there were a few slight differences in the two recipes.

  1. The TipHero recipe uses green beans while the Damn Delicious recipe uses asparagus. We love asparagus in our home, so that’s what we went with.
  2. The honey balsamic marinade recipes had a few differences. TipHero’s used thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes while the Damn Delicious recipe used Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil.
  3. Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
  4. The TipHero recipe pours the marinade over the chicken and veggies prior to roasting; Damn Delicious didn’t. I went with TipHero on this step. More flavor is more better. (I beg forgiveness from the grammar police for that.)

The Pintesting:

I didn’t get a photo of all of the ingredients this time. What can I say? I was hungry. Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of ingredients.

The first thing that I did was to make the marinade. I used a short-cut here and just dumped all of the marinade ingredients into the bag that the chicken came in and squished it until it was mixed, tossing the chicken in the marinade at the same time. Since my chicken breasts were still somewhat frozen I thought I’d let it defrost and soak up the flavor all at once. Also, since it’s just my HH and me I only used one whole chicken breast (two halves). This worked for us since the chicken breasts are very large and we like lots of veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

While the chicken defrosted, I lined the pan with parchment and prepped the vegetables.

Quarter the potatoes then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Roast for about 20 minutes then add the asparagus (I drizzled the asparagus with a little more extra virgin olive oil), then roast it for another 10 minutes. This was my timing compromise between the two recipes.

You don’t want to eat undercooked chicken! When in doubt check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. For chicken, this should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Done! Your dinner is done and the only dirty dishes are one pan, one cutting board, and one knife. Join me in the happy dance?

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The tangy-sweet acidity of the tomatoes, starchy creaminess of the potatoes, and the bright crispy asparagus complimented each other, and the marinade brought it all home. YUM!

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe was very simple – perfect for novice cooks. The prep work was minimal and the marinade made everything taste wonderful. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The active time to prep and cook the recipe was 40 minutes. The chicken requires time to marinade (30 minutes to overnight). I did this ahead of time and let it marinade all afternoon. While it isn’t active cooking time, it’s still necessary to make the recipe turn out so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The cute little potatoes and grape tomatoes were both buy-one-get-one-free at the store when I got them. (I love shopping sales!) The total cost of all the main ingredients (not deducting for the sales) was $12.00. Even though we used only 2 chicken breast halves, we had 4 meals making this $3.00/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is the kind of home cooking I could eat every week. It was simple, delicious, and planning ahead with the marinade made quick work of the cooking. Perfect for busy weeknights! You could experiment with using different kinds of vegetables such as green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or whatever your family likes. You can also switch up the marinades – try the TipHero version for a more traditional herbed chicken flavor. This will be a regular in our menu rotation. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

7-Layer Greek Dip

Going to the movies is fun, but there are some downsides to seeing a film at the theater. I don’t like the overpriced snacks. I like real butter on my popcorn rather than that bright yellow butter-flavored oil. No wine. The theater folks frown upon patrons coming in their pajamas and slippers. Oh, and they won’t pause the movie to let you use the restroom after you’ve had a 44-oz large soft drink. This is why we prefer to watch most movies at home. One video that recently came out was My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Since we’re not limited to popcorn and soda at home, my HH and I decided that we needed Greek movie snacks. So when I saw this pin by Delish for their 7-Layer Greek Dip, I knew this was going to be our movie date night dish.

Here’s the video that was floating around Pinterest. How appropriate that this, too, is a movie?

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are traditionally Greek. Please note that there is a little dish of red onions off to the side. It’s not one of the listed ingredients, so watch for this special guest ingredient later. Let’s go through the layers.

Pintesting 7-layer Greek Dip

1: Hummus

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

2: Cucumbers

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

3: OlivesPintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

4: Artichokes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Make the sauce by combining the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

5: Yogurt Sauce

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

6: Tomatoes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

7: Feta & Parsley

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

8:  but this is a 7-Layer Greek Dip? I added minced red onions since they’re in so many Greek dishes. Red onions are often found in Greek food and I thought it would add a nice flavor. This is totally optional.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Opa! You can let it chill in the fridge or just grab some pita chips and dig in, which is what we did.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Since it’s movie night, here’s my video of how to make the 7-Layer Greek Dip.

This is loaded with so many good ingredients that I had no trouble substituting it for a light supper, and my HH agreed. It felt like we ate a LOT but most, at least two-thirds, of the bowl was leftover, so the next day we scooped it over a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach to make a Greek-style salad. I topped it with leftover salmon and crumbled the remaining pita chips as croutons – delish!

Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  My glass dish didn’t spin like the one in the Delish video did and I added the 8th layer of red onions, but I have to say that this was as delicious as the original video suggested. The Greek flavors would be what you would expect in the Mediterranean. I would risk sneaking this into the theater. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  Once all of the prep work is done, this is easy to layer up. Do pay attention if you’re slicing the olives yourself. Even if the jar says that they’re pitted, you might come across some that still have the pits so use caution. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip Due to the amount of chopping involved, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There is a bit of prep work in chopping the cucumbers, artichokes, tomatoes, and olives (if you don’t get them sliced) and making the yogurt sauce. However, start to finish this came together in 15 minutes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  We eat a lot of Mediterranean-inspired food, so most of these ingredients are on hand in our home. If you had to buy everything it would run you about $10, but you’d have a lot of leftover ingredients to use in other dishes. The recipe had leftovers that perfectly repurposed into a lunch salad. We ended up with two large servings of dip and four lunch salads from this recipe, so that’s $1.67/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  I loved how this could be used as a great dip and also made an easy Gree-style salad. The wholesome ingredients make this a healthier snack or appetizer and are a great way to sneak in more veggies. Adding red onions as the 8th layer was my customization, but you can change it up however you like. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

BLT Lettuce Wraps (No-Carb BLT)

Sometimes I get things that look amazing as an impulse purchase. Some people might be tempted by a cute pair of shoes, a new outfit, or the latest tech gadget. More often than not, my impulse buys are food related. I see a recipe that sounds good and I’m off to the store, and that’s what happened when I saw these BLT Lettuce Wraps.

I first saw this video clip on Facebook and then the pin popped up on my Pinterest feed. I love BLT sandwiches as you can see from the Weave Your Bacon BLT and Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich posts. This BLT Lettuce Wraps recipe was trying to sound healthy since it doesn’t have any bread and is, therefore, no-carb. I thought, sure, let’s go with it. Anytime you want to try to combine BLT + healthy I’m willing to give it a try.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

The Pintesting:

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. Large leafy romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, mayo and bacon. Although not specified, I seasoned my tomato halves with salt and pepper.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

Spread some mayonnaise on a romaine lettuce leaf and top with several tomato halves.  TIP: make sure your romaine lettuce leaves are blotted dry if you want the mayo to stick.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

Add the bacon and you’re done.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I put three on a plate thinking that this should be the serving size because that’s what the video did. After all, these BLT Lettuce Wraps are supposed to replace a BLT sandwich.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I have to say that it was not easy to get the pictures before digging into these BLT Lettuce Wraps.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I made a total of 6; three each for my HH and me. They were delicious if just a wee bit messy. I’m not sure if I should have used two slices of bacon on each wrap, but I think that would have thrown off the balance of the B-L-T. That said, after finishing them we both still felt hungry and agreed that these would be a fantastic appetizer, salad, or finger salad (if there’s such a thing, and if not I just made it up).

The Pintesting Results:

OVERALL RESULTS:  4.85 PINS

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

 

Accuracy:  The recipe was very simple and straight forward and the taste was delicious. I was very pleased that it turned out exactly as the recipe and video said that it would. I also liked how refreshing they looked. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This was one step easier than a traditional BLT in that there’s no bread to toast, but the rest of the process was pretty much the same. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Putting this together took very little time. The longest part was cooking the bacon, and I did that on the stove-top so it took about 15 minutes for crispy thick-cut bacon. From prep to plate took 20 minutes – 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: This is a low cost dish – especially if you get the bacon on sale (which I did; buy one get one free). The romaine  came two heads to a package and there was a LOT leftover that I used for salads.  The tomatoes were also buy one get one free, so the cost per BLT wrap was less than a dollar. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: If you’re looking for a satisfying meal then you might be disappointed. If you’re looking for some great taste, a gluten-free or paleo BLT snack, an appetizer, or a salad that’s finger food, then this is a fantastic recipe. The original recipe doesn’t specify that it will be as filling as a BLT sandwich, but three to a serving size should have at least been close. Even people on diets don’t want to feel hungry after eating. Therefore, I’m giving this  4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

 

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

There seems to be a new obsession with short food videos on social media, especially Facebook. Videos made by Tasty, Buzzfeed, and Tip Hero are bringing food porn to a whole new level.

We like and share them thinking, “What a great idea. I need to try this,” but rarely follow through and make it.

Then I saw this pin for  One Pan Mexican Quinoa also make it onto my Pinterest feed, and I knew it was time to put it to the test. Here’s the video.

This recipe video is by Tip Hero, but they gave the inspiration credit to Chungah of Damn Delicious. I’ve tested her Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich and Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli and both got great results. This made me more confident in the probability of success.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are straight forward and easy to find.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Sauté the aromatics, then add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Then add the quinoa, seasonings, and broth.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Cover and cook for 20 minutes and it’s done.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This was going to be served with diced avocado as the recipe suggested, but the one we got was over-ripe so we had to throw it out. Here’s how it looked without any toppings.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This has a bonus of being super healthy without trying hard. Don’t be scared to try it even though it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It’s also versatile. You can change or add more veggies, switch the broths, play with toppings; make it your own.

***UPDATE 08/17/2016***  I’ve had several questions about quinoa from those who aren’t familiar with this ancient grain. Marry Spencer of Health & Fitness Shop has a great article, 7 Health Benefits of Quinoa, that answers many of the questions. For example; it’s high in fiber, nutrient rich, great for gluten intolerance, helps with weight loss and diabetes, and more. In other words, it’s packed with all kinds of goodness.

The Results:

OVERALL RESULTS: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as delicious, easy, and fast as the video showed. 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This is an easy recipe with little cutting/chopping. Using canned beans and veggies really simplified things. However, using jalapenos or other hot peppers requires caution as the juices can cause burning to your skin or eyes. Many sources say to always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers. Because of this, I’m giving it 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  This took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It required minimal prep work, and most of the time was just for simmering. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are less than a dollar. At $9.50 for 30-oz, the quinoa was the most expensive ingredient, but I only needed 3 out of 29 quarter-cup servings, and that’s less than a dollar for the quinoa. Total cost was less than $2/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  When I served this, HH ate two bites and gave it a thumbs up. He ate two more bites and gave it two thumbs up. This is fast, easy, healthy and delicious. It’s a perfect dinner for busy weeknights. 5 PinsPintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Infused/Detox Water Bar

It’s the end of August and school has begun again. (WHERE has the summer gone?) I’ve seen a lot memes on the interwebs about looking forward to hoodies, football, leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and cooler weather.

Well as you can see, cooler weather is nowhere in sight in my world. Yes, that’s Fahrenheit – at 5:10 pm after I’d been driving a few miles.

Pintesting Infused Water Bar

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not really complaining because in a matter of weeks the temps will drop. In a few months I’ll be enjoying perfect weather while the cold starts to descend on the north, so I can put up with needing a fan and air conditioner. What I’ve been having trouble with is staying hydrated; meeting the minimum 64 oz. per day. I can usually get over half way there without problem, it’s just that after that plain water gets boring. (Sorry, but I’m just being honest.)

I have lots of friends who use water flavorings in order to give their water a boost of flavor, but they often have artificial sweeteners, fake flavorings, and chemicals that you need a PhD to pronounce.

I’ve seen lots of pins for infused water; like this, this, and this. Not only does infused water keep the boredom away, but it’s also very healthy and can help your body to naturally detoxify. This is more of a general review of several pins and a great concept.

Pintesting - Infused Water Bar

So we decided to get a variety of ingredients together, and have some friends over to see what we could come up with for a nearly calorie-free, fun, and healthy entertainment idea.

Pintesting - Infused Water Bar

The first one was cucumber, lime, mint. This was very cool, crisp, and bright.

Pintesting - Infused Water Bar

I’ve already done a Pintesting on Lemon Strawberry Detox Water, but since it was so delicious we made a pitcher for our friends. This one is a nice combination of sweet and tart.

Pintesting - Infused Water Bar

The apple and cinnamon surprised me the most, and was my personal favorite. It was sweet, cinnamony, and so refreshing.

Pintesting - Infused Water Bar

We were going to see how long they lasted before they went bad, but thee pitchers only lasted a couple of days. Not only were they a GREAT way to get excited about drinking water, but the flavorings made the garbage disposal smell wonderful once the water was gone.

Go drink to your health. Salude!

Overall Results: 5  Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy: This was a fun and nearly calorie-free way to entertain some friends and get creative ideas for better hydration. You can use the combinations online or find what you like best. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The hardest part about this is deciding which combination you want to make that day. I liked making a pitcher-full for the convenience of having fancy frou-frou water all day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: To make the fancy bar with all of the options took about 15 minutes including the time to soak the fruit in vinegar water to clean them. It too longer to get everything placed just right. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: Since I was setting up for company and decided to play around with different waters, as well. Also, I wanted to have a LOT of options with the flavors, so I spent much more than if I was just making a specific “recipe” of water. On the other hand, we had a LOT of fun and I know that I spend a lot more than $20.00 when we entertain, so I guess I got off cheap. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: This is a great way to stay hydrated, add health and detox benefits, and take the boring out of plain water. The options are unlimited, so you never get bored. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Lemon and Strawberry Detox Water

I’m just starting the second week of a 30-day Complete Transformation Challenge to get healthier and lose some weight. I’ve seen a lot of these challenges lately for a variety of products and different number of days (24-day challenge, 30-day challenge, 90-day challenge, etc.) so it seems to be a big thing going on right now. A big part is eating right and drinking lots of water, and also getting appropriate rest, reducing stress, exercising, etc.

To go along with the healthy living, I’m trying to find healthier pins to test. If you’re looking for the most amazing cake for your summer potluck, please visit my cake board – there are LOTS of amazing cakes to try. Eventually I’m going to make one to celebrate something or other, but not during this challenge.

So when I saw this pin for Lemon Strawberry Detox Water, I was super excited to try it! I’ve seen a lot of these waters that are infused with all kinds of fruits, veggies, and herbs. Many sources sing the praises of lemon water first thing in the morning. It sounded good until my mouth decided it didn’t like sour as the first thing I tasted. Lemon with strawberries, however, might be just naturally sweet enough to do the trick.

Lemon Strawberry Detox Water - Original Pin - Pintesting The ingredients are simple and self explanatory. Lemon. Strawberry. Water. I bought two bottles of the Voss brand water because they have a wider mouth, making it easier to put in the fruit, and because that’s what they used in the picture. (The vague “they” is being used since the pin linked to the picture. I searched for an original source, but found none.)

Lemon Strawberry Detox Water Ingredients - Pintesting

 

I prepped the fruit by washing in a vinegar-water solution from this pin (yes, two for one!) by Jo-Anna from A Pretty Life. Rather than wash them in the sink, I halved the amount and used a very large bowl. I soaked the strawberries and the meyer lemon since the rind was going into the water.

Vinegar wash - Pintesting

After soaking for 7-10 minutes, and stirring occasionally, I rinsed. Wow, did they turn out pretty! The picture of the dirty water didn’t turn out, but the difference was incredible  – and the amount of “stuff” that came off was surprising.

Lemon Strawberry Detox Water - Washed - Pintesting

Slice the fruit, put in the bottles, top with water, and refrigerate overnight.

Lemon Strawberry Detox Water Prepared - Pintesting

The next day, the water looked like this – you can see the fruit leached some of their color.

Lemon Strawberry Detox Water - Pintesting

I have to admit that the first sip was still tart for first thing in the morning. I’m usually a coffee person. However a few sips in, and the strawberry flavor really came out. It was a nice blend. I drank this while working out at the gym. It was tasty, and made me feel like I had upgraded my hydration thereby making me the coolest person at the gym.

Coolest person at the gym aside, here are the Pintesting results for both tests.

Lemon and Strawberry Detox Water Overall results: 4.55 Pins

5 Pins Overall

Accuracy: The infused water was flavorful, and the strawberries helped balance the lemon. I cannot accurately verify the claims to be beneficial to digestion, and clear and healthy skin. I was hydrated afterwards, and my digestion worked just fine (enough said). 5 PinsRated 5 Pins

Difficulty: The process is super simple. Slice the fruit, put in the bottles, cover with water. Getting the fruit into the bottle was much easier than getting it out of the bottle. A wide-mouthed bottle is necessary to make this work; nothing smaller than the Voss if you’re using slices rather than wedges (think lime in a Corona bottle). 5 PinsRated 5 Pins

Time: If including the wash time, which we should, the prep work took about 15 minutes. Waiting overnight took all night long. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Because the fruit was going to be infusing the water with the skins on, I chose to go organic so as not to drink a bunch of pesticides. This is highly recommended and worth the added cost. Even so, the total cost of the bottled water and all fruit was $7.00. That’s $3.50 per bottle and the bottles are being re-used. Buying a brand name electrolyte beverage would be cheaper, but who knows what’s in those? For the value of knowing what’s in your water, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Practicality: This took very little time to prep, was tasty and natural, made me look beyond cool at the gym, and when I dumped the fruit it made the garbage disposal smell great. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

DIY Fruit & Veggie Wash Overall Results: 5.0 Pins

5 Pins Overall

 

Accuracy: What a great way to get your fruits and veggies clean! This worked really well, and there was no vinegary smell – even before I rinsed them. 5 PinsRated 5 Pins

Difficulty: There was nothing to this. I preferred to use a large bowl rather than my sink, so I halved the vinegar. Still – float your fruits and veggies, stirring occasionally, for roughly 10 minutes. Done. Easy Peasy! 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time: 10 minutes… with very little work. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Cost: One-half (1/2) cup of white vinegar and tap water comes to roughly 25 cents. That’s WAY cheaper than the fancy washes that you can buy in the store. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality: I’m going to use this when I get my grocery shopping done. Dump everything in and clean it at once. Not only will that get everything clean right off the bat, but it should give me more incentive to get a lot of prepping done ahead of time. (Should being the key word…) 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Sour Patch Grapes

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

So it’s the end of February and New Year’s seems ages ago. Are you still doing well on your resolutions? Eating healthy and/or getting fit is listed as one of the top three New Year’s resolutions, depending on your source. Everyone wants to look and feel better, myself included. Over the years, we’ve made basic changes to the way we eat. We try to use only whole grains,  incorporate more fruits and veggies in every meal, eat lean meats and more fish, and drink lots and lots of water. Some days are easier than others, but we try not to beat ourselves up too much when we have an off day.

I was looking for healthy ideas from Pinterest to Pin Test and I found about 17 new dessert recipes. Then I saw this pin for Sour Patch Grapes by Kim of A Spotted Pony, and my inner 8-year-old started jumping up and down. I mean, who doesn’t like Sour Patch candies? They’re tangy-sour, slightly sweet, and have that sugar coating that gets all over your fingers. However, we try to stay away from things that have a lot of sugar, so most candy is out – unless it’s not candy. Thank you, Kim!

Original Pin from A Spotted Pony

Kim referred to her original source, in the pin below, by Carol from the blog Pure Sugar. (Does anyone else find it funny that I’m trying to find healthy ideas, and the pin is from the blog Pure Sugar? Anybody?) I decided to go with the original recipe from Carol since I was able to find the mystery Jell-O at my grocer.

http://puresugar.net/cooking-thursday-sour-patch-grapes-glitter-grapes-recipe/

The Pintesting:

On to the Pin Test! The recipe called for 1 lb. of grapes, pulled off their stems and washed, and a box of Melon Fusion Jell-O. My bag of grapes was almost 3 lbs with the stems on, so I got two boxes of Jell-o. The Cherry Lemonade flavor sounded fun, plus it’s one of my favorite Nerds candy flavors, so I went for it.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

This is extremely difficult. Put some of the Jell-o powder onto a plate or shallow bowl. I used a shallow bowl so I wouldn’t worry about spilling. Remember, my inner 8-year-old is making this recipe.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Add some of the washed and still slightly damp grapes…

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

And swirl around until they’re coated with the Jell-o powder.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

Put them in a bowl and refrigerate uncovered. This keeps them from getting gummy.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

That’s it! Both bloggers recommended they not be frozen because they get really gummy and messy when the grapes thaw, but they should be served cold. I did the second half with the Cherry Lemonade flavor, but think I might save that for red grapes next time.

Pintesting Sour Patch Grapes

I brought them into work to share and get feedback. Everyone who tried them LOVED them! It was about an even split for the favorite flavor. One manager even asked for the recipe today and went on her lunch to pick up the grapes.

One note of caution, several people whose stomachs were sensitive to acidic foods said that they had some problems shortly after eating the grapes. I am not making any medical statements, just sharing the feedback of my colleagues. Now for the rating.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

 

Accuracy: The Mellon Fusion flavored grapes had the tangy-sour, lightly sweet taste that was very much like the Sour Patch candies. The Cherry Lemonade flavored grapes were a little sweeter, but not overly sweet, and they still had a bit of tang to them. Both made it almost impossible to not lick the Jell-o powder from your fingers while eating them. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: My inner 8-year-old believes that real 8-year-olds could make these with very little supervision. The hardest part is not eating them all immediately. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: Each batch took less than 10 minutes to make, but both blogs recommend at least 1 hour in the fridge before serving. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The grapes were on sale for $2.99/lb. and the Jell-o was $1.00 each. 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: These are a perfect treat and candy alternative for kids, or you could serve them at a wine and cheese party for adults, or anything in between. I like that you can get creative with different grape colors and Jell-O flavors.  5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

 

Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Like so many, I’m really trying to make an effort to eat better. Translation, eat more salads – especially ones that have more veggies, fruit and legumes. While strolling through Pinterest (does anyone else stroll through Pinterest?), I saw a pin that showed a blender with an avocado dressing recipe. I LOVE avocados. I was happy eating them sliced and sprinkled with a little kosher salt, but then my wonderful husband went and took it up a notch by making his guacamole. Talk about Holy Guacamole! Even people who don’t like the stuff love my Tony’s guac.

Sorry – sometimes I digress, then need to reign myself back in to the topic at hand.

When I clicked on the link, the recipe shown was different than the one in the comment of the pin. I thought Krista’s recipe for Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing sounded amazing and I had everything on hand, so went for it.

Here is the original pin that I posted from Pinterest.

Original Pin with altered recipe

THIS is picture from Krista’s blog, Krista’s Kitchen – I think it would have been a much better choice.

Original Pin

I gathered the ingredients for the dressing…

Dressing Ingredients WM

and the salad. (Note: I used grape tomatoes rather than slicing roma tomatoes, since I had the grape tomatoes on hand.)

Salad Ingredients WM

The dressing was very easy to make. Krista mentions using a Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender, but I used my regular blender instead.. All of the dressing ingredients went in.

Dressing in the blender WM

Then they were blended until creamy and smooth. This didn’t take very long, which was very good since I had a hungry hubby to feed.

Blended smooth WM

Next came the salad. I didn’t have corn chips, but I did have organic blue corn tortilla chips, so I substituted them so I wouldn’t have to make a trip to the store.

Salad in the bowl WM

Krista used a big, lidded purple bowl to mix her salad in. Mine is green. I didn’t notice any difference. Once everything was in, I lidded the bowl and shook it to toss the ingredients together. (Sorry about the shadow in the picture. I’m working on the food photography.)

Salad tossed WM

Once combined, I added the dressing then shook it up to coat evenly.

Add the dressing WM

Dressed salad WM

I served it with chicken enchiladas, but this could easily be a vegetarian meal on it’s own.

Served with chicken enchiladas WM

The Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing rated as follows:

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe came together just as Krista posted. The avocado dressing was creamy and delicious, with just a hint of heat to let you know it’s there.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: Aside from my bowl being green rather than purple, I had no trouble with this recipe. It was very simple and the instructions were clear.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: Even with all the photography, the salad came together in about 15-20 minutes. This includes removing the avocado flesh, opening cans, etc.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: I had everything on hand, but most kitchens might need a few items. None would be more than a few dollars.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: The recipe was a household hit. I could serve this at a pot luck, as a vegetarian meal, or as a side dish.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL