Sunday, September 22, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Totally Rockin' Awesome Chicken Salad!! NO Mayo!!! What's My Secret? Read on...

 One of our favorite things to eat regardless of the time of year is chicken salad! We love it alone, with a side of fresh fruit, on top of a mixed bed of green fresh crisp lettuce, with gluten-free seeded blackened crackers or with soup...I know, crazy, but I make rich and creamy cucumber soup that is delicious cold or hot that goes great with this salad...sharing the recipe later...but for now...My NEW revised chicken salad recipe...

Rita's Rockin' Awesome Chicken NO Mayo Chicken Salad

6 baked boneless chicken breasts (I bbq mine in the crockpot)
2 cups of halved green grapes
1 cup fresh diced pineapple
1 cup of fat-free cottage cheese
1 8 oz package of fat-free cream cheese
1/4 cup of sunflower seeds (I am allergic to nuts so I use these)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
fresh ground black pepper

Allow the cream cheese to soften to room temperature.
Pull all the chicken with a fork or dice it, whichever you want your salad to be.
Then mix all the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.
Pepper to taste.
Serve with whatever you enjoy...
Delicious...AND fat-free!!!
This recipe feeds my 6 and then I make 4 more plates for the fridge...
Anytime a recipe calls for mayo, try fat free cottage cheese and see how it works for you...
I use it in tuna salad and egg salad too!!!
Cuts the calories and the fat...love it...
Enjoy... 
Hugs, Rita

Sunday, August 18, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Planning Weekly Menus for Supper...

Are your tired of running through the drive thru grabbing supper? Wondering what you are going to fix next for supper? Looking at your pantry as a deer caught in headlights? Planning but then never proceeding? Wait...Me, a planner? Indeed. I have always been a planner...well, of some things. I have the gift of administration, of organization, even when my house doesn't physically show it. I have always thought this subject stems from the fact I don't like to shop and never really enjoy cooking. However, I see that the truth in this is that I love to make lists and I do have the gift for being organized. Having the weekly menus for meals posted on the refrigerator, helps my family members that depend on routine for their stability, know what is coming next. If that offers them peace and happiness during their day, then I am thrilled to give that to them. This was a meal we had where I made chicken taco salad but also offered salmon as another option for those of us that enjoy fish. 

The tools for getting started in preparing a menu is fairly simple. I begin with one or two favorite cookbooks and then one or two favorite magazines. I have a nut allergy as well as gluten. So, those two things are a given in my cooking. When I was diagnosed with a nut allergy, there was no choice to create a nut free environment within our home and property.

Then I have some notebook paper and pen. I make a list of the days with the dates out beside each; for example, Sunday, 8/18. Then skip a couple of lines. between each day of the week. I make this list for two weeks since our pay days are two weeks apart. I shop for my groceries once and usually over three stores. Write down beside these days any major events that might be coming up that you will need a simple menu to save you time so that you can create a recipe quickly or for a birthday, for example.

Flip through the cookbooks and magazines and find recipes that you would enjoy making for your family. Keep in mind activities for that day to make sure you have time to make that recipe. Then write down the titles and page numbers of recipes. As you do this, have another piece of paper available to write down your shopping list, the items you will need to make the recipe. These are the items you will need to purchase or check your pantry, refrigerator or freezer to see if you have them. Something else I do, is since I do this on Sundays, I go through my coupons to see if there are any I can use based on the items I need and the sales coming up for the week. You can build on this list adding your other stock items needed, like paper products or freezer items. I keep a very good stock of staple items so that for most recipes, I already have the items. I save money this way too.

Finally, write one weeks of menus on one side of a piece of paper and the second week's menu on the reverse side. I even place the page number with the book or magazine I got it from under the recipe name. That way I don't have to go to my calendar or other place to find the location of the recipe. It also reminds me during supper preparation that I need to lay-out meats or vegetables for the next night's meal.

If you need to do this for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner, then you can follow these guidelines but use a week-at-a-glance calendar and post it on your refrigerator. Another idea if consider painting a chalkboard wall or dry erase board. Maybe make a bulletin board for the menus. I know that at some point, I will need to begin doing this for every meal due to the level of caregiving we are getting to. I do keep homemade apple oatmeal, boiled eggs, diced turkey ham, yogurts, fresh fruits, and everything prepared for salads made on a daily basis, but there is coming a time when I will need to create a board and make all the meals I mentioned.

At the end of the two week menu list is a treat for the whole family. It is Payday Pizza Night! I will bring home three large pizzas with all the toppings that my family absolutely loves. We have made this work for many years, but the best part of it is that in the past two years we have turned the menus into something healthier and rich in goodness rather than fat, butter, and salt. We eat less breads, starch and sodas. I only buy sugar for the bees now. Life has totally change for our family. We have lost weight, gained muscle and better health. Menus just create a peace of mind for us as well. In this world of busyness, why not make a simple change that can work for all of us.

Hugs, Rita
...and remember...the truth...
Commit your actions to the Lord 
and your plans will succeed. 
Proverbs 16:3
Saturday, August 17, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

My CrockPot Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna Recipe...

I had said, I would never get into Instagram! Seriously! After all THESE years, I mean I am really OLD! Why wouldn't I learn to never ever say, "Never!" Well, I am in love with what that sight can do to my photographs in less than a minute. This may not be the latest and greatest forever, but it is what I am into today...that and cooking...

Just look at the difference in these two photos. However, one thing neither photograph can do is to tell you how amazingly delicious this CrockPot Vegetarian Eggplant Lasagna is! It is also fat-free and meatless! Imagine how much better that makes the whole thing AND it can be ready by the end of the day simply by cooking on warm. Nothing has to be precooked. So, let's get cooking...

Rita's CrockPot Eggplant Lasagna

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced
2 white onions, diced thinly
1 purple onion, diced thinly
2 gala apples, diced thinly
2 yellow squash, diced thinly
1 green bell pepper, diced thinly
1 garlic clove, minced
1 large jar of your favorite fat-free spaghetti sauce
1 medium jar of fat-free mild salsa (most are fat-free)
1 large container of fat-free cottage cheese
4 cups of fat-free shredded cheese
1 cup of fat-free sour cream 
cooking spray

First, spray the crockpot with cooking spray. Mix together onions, apples, yellow squash, bell pepper and garlic in a bowl. Then pour 1/4 cup of sauce in the bottom of the crockpot, coating it well. Place a single layer of eggplant on top of the sauce. Then cover the egg plant with half of the vegetable/fruit mixture. Pour half of the cottage cheese over the mixture. Then put half the spaghetti sauce over the cottage cheese. Put one cup of shredded cheese on top of the sauce. Repeat the layers once again. Last put the jar of salsa on the top of the lasagna. Cook on warm for six hours or until a fork inserted lets you know the egg plant is tender. Use the sour cream and remaining cheese as a garnish. Serve with tortilla chips.

Fantasticly Delicious!!! 

Enjoy...Hugs, Rita
Wednesday, July 24, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Creamy Chicken Salad that is Mayo-free!!


My family loves chicken salad especially THIS chicken salad! So, when we chose to turn our home into a healthy eating zone, I had to change many of our family's favorite recipes into healthier forms of eating while not losing the great flavors that accompanied each one. This chicken salad is one that I shared this week during our support session at Weight Watchers while our topic was on salads. Many times, when the salad is mentioned, I think of "diet", but with creativity, as many mentioned in the meeting, one can turn even greens into an amazing work of art. So, taking the salad theme a bit farther, I shared this recipe...

Creamy Chicken Salad

8 skinless boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle lemon-pepper marinade (any brand)
1 cup of sliced green grapes
1 can of diced pineapple, cut one more time in half please
1 package 8 oz fat free cream cheese
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
2 tablespoons mustard (any flavor that is zero fat)
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon onion powder
salt and pepper (to taste, salt is optional)

Spray a crock pot crock with cooking spray.
Place the chicken in a crock pot and pour the marinade over it.
Cook for 6-8 hours, until chicken is done throughout.
Remove each chicken breast, using a fork, pull the chicken as if for BBQ.
Place in a large mixing bowl with the remaining ingredients.
Mix well, until creamy.
Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Top on a a bed of mixed greens and spinach with arugula.

Another addition that is really good is sunflower seeds. I am allergic to nuts, but chopped cashews and dried cranberries would be delicious too. REMEMBER with every additive to this dish, points and calories add up. With this basic recipe the only calories and points is the chicken. 

I do want to invite you to follow me on Twitter with my personal page and my Rockin' it Healthy page. Then follow me on Facebook with my personal page as well as my Rockin' it Healthy link. I am loving the experience and look forward to hearing how you like this recipe, but don't tell anyone that cottage cheese is the secret ingredient and see if they notice!!! =)

Enjoy, Rita
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten-free Fat-fat Strawberry Cake with Easy Topping...

 Our son, Garrett, will not eat dessert icing of any kind! Even as a small boy, we had to either make a cake without icing or get a chocolate chip cookie with a string print of icing for his birthday. He wouldn't eat anything with visible chocolate or any icing on his slice. So desserts, like strawberry cakes or my mother's Green Cake, became his favorite desserts.

 This one is easy to do and certainly one that can be made quickly for anyone with a busy life or just wanting something sweet without all the guilt...


Ingredients you will need...

1 Gluten-free vanilla cake mix 
1 can of diet lemon lime soda
1/2 cup of natural apple sauce
1 teaspoon real vanilla
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 - 15oz jar of natural strawberry jam
4 cups fresh strawberries, diced small
fat free whip topping if desired (I have a gluten allergy and have a reaction to this)

Directions...

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spray two square baking pans with cooking spray.
With an electric mixer, mix well the cake mix, soda, apple sauce, vanilla, and cinnamon.
*Check for sweetness. Some gluten-free cake mixes and baking mixes don't have enough sweetness, 
so I will add some Splenda brown sugar or another sweetner to help.)
Pour the batter into the cake pans, half into each.
Bake until a knife inserted comes out clean, approx 35 minutes.
While cake is baking, mix jam and strawberries together and chill.
After cake is done, allow to cool 10 minutes before removing first cake layer from pan.
Place first cake layer on serving dish.
Pour half of strawberry mixture over the layer.
Place the second layer of the cake on top of the berry mixture.
Then repeat with the remaining of the berry mixture on top of the second layer of the cake.
Top with whip topping.

** I am planning to frost the next one I make with strawberry icing and then add the jam.
** Another idea is to add other berries to the fresh strawberries and the strawberry jam,
 like fresh blueberries or pineapple.
**The cake alone is 4 Weight Watchers Points for 1/8th so try it with just the fresh berries and 
the fat-free whip topping.

So many possibilities...so much fun...
Hugs, Rita



Wednesday, June 12, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

The Rain...

 Sitting at the Decatur Starbucks on Sunday...it began to rain...

Just thought the drops of rain on the glass were beautiful...
Journaling prompt: drops of rain...
What will you do with them...

Hugs, Rita
Friday, May 24, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten-Free Bean Ragout with Cilantro-Cornmeal Dumplings and Recipe

For Mother's Day this year, Madison, my sweet BFF, gave me this wonderful cookbook...
Each week I make out 2 weeks worth of menus of supper, ending with Payday Friday Pizza Night!

This is one of the recipes I made from this cookbook,
but with a few changes...

Someday, I hope to have my spices in pretty organized containers;
maybe something vintage...

Loving the fresh peppers...
I chopped some yellow with the red the recipe called for...

The "thank you for coming bowl" is always handy...

Please don't stand on you head for this photo lol...
I also added some baby arugula to the recipe...

Let's get started with the recipe.
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

3 cloves of garlic, minced finely
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/4 cubes (cut in half and then in half again, diced)
2 cups chopped red bell pepper
1 large portebello mushroom, diced

Place in a dutch oven on medium if you have a stove or 
high if you have a 2-eye burner lol.

Add 1 can 29 ounce'ish can of pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can 15 ounce'ish black beans, rinsed and drained
8 fresh radishes, sliced thinely
Set these aside.

These were pulled fresh from my father-in-law's garden!
Have you ever cooked with radishes!? They are so good... 

Stir all the vegetables well, cooking until tender.

Open two 15 ounce'ish cans of diced tomatoes, seasoned if you wish.

The flavors are fantastic...

Pour them in a bowl and set aside...

Stir vegetables...
Add salt and pepper to taste...
It's ok to taste them too!!! Yummmm  

Add the beans and radishes...
Stir, mixing well but gently...

Cover and cook for 3 minutes...Then add tomatoes.
Cook for 5 minutes...

Time to make the dumplings...you will need...
1 cup Gluten Free White Rice Flour
1 cup gluten free cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum (important for binding in baking gluten free)
1/2 cup fat free Kraft cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
1 cup fat free milk 

Mix all ingredients well with a mixer or by hand until the batter is creamy.

Drop by the spoon fulls on top of the bean ragout.

The Bean Ragout is bubbling around the dumplings...
It smells amazing...

Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes or until a toothpick 
inserted into the dumplings comes out clean.

I baked the rest of the dough and it was cute and great for the freezer...
Cheese corn muffins...

Ready to serve...
one dumpling and a bowl of wonderful goodness... 

My family obviously loved it!!!
They even said so and had more than one serving...
With this recipe, it was ok that they did even without the dumpling
because it was loaded with vegetables, healthy and good for you...
I love finding recipes that I can change around to fit our healthy living lifestyle. 
I never liked cooking until I took this on as a challenge...
take any recipe and see if I can make it rockin' awesome healthy!!!

Hugs, 
Rita

Thursday, May 23, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Gluten-Free Delicious Pumpkin Pancakes and Muffins with Recipe...

 Celebrating summer and school being out has been our theme this week. Monday, we made homemade apple cinnamon oatmeal. Tuesday, we had strawberry yogurt, bananas, and homemade granola. It was time for something a bit more don't you think. So...out came the pancakes...then I thought what about a few muffins for later...

 The pancakes came out golden brown and absolutely fantastic. They are light and fluffy, tasty and filling PLUS the greatest part!!! Each one of these babies are only 3 points for each pancake which is 1/4 cups of batter...I had 3 of them and that's not bad for a great way to start the day!!!

 The muffins are also 1/4 cup of batter which makes them 3 points also. The other part about this recipe is there is no added fat to the gluten free baking mix. You can even pop in a banana if your family barks about not wanting them in their daily intake. I do it all the time and never tell them. Fruits and Vegetables are free foods, good for you too. I add chopped apples when a recipe calls for chopped onions...keep that in mind when you are cooking...

Now for the recipe...

Gluten-Free Delicious Pumpkin Pancakes and Muffins Recipe
1 pancake or muffin = 3 Weight Watchers Points

1 15ounce can of Pumpkin Puree
1 box of Hodgson-Mill Gluten-Free Pancake & Waffle Mix
1 4ounce natural apple sauce cup
1/4 cup Splenda Brown Sugar (optional, or sweet to taste)
1 teaspoon real vanilla flavoring
4 cups fat free milk

Mix all ingredients together in an electric mixer.
Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour batter into a skillet sprayed with cooking spray.
Cook pancakes until golden brown on both sides...
For muffins, place 1/4 cup of batter in each muffin cup sprayed with cooking spray.
Bake at 400 degrees until a tooth pick inserted in center comes out clean,
about 25 minutes.

Local honey is very good with these or fat free cream cheese. 
However, regardless of what you add, remember to add the extra points...

** Consider replacing oil when baking with a 4 ounce cup of apple sauce, unsweetened or natural.
*** Why not add a diet lemon lime soda instead of eggs and oil when baking...I do...
but I do add real vanilla flavoring...it a so very good!!

Hugs,
Rita
Wednesday, May 22, 2013 | By: Rita Hutcheson-Cobbs

Sunday's Art Journaling...the finishing pages...

 For the final pages of this art journaling project, I decided to include them all in this post. I pretty much have gone over all the techniques in previous posts during the past week. I may have bored you to death with this book too lol. However, it has been so much fun for me to revisit the making of this art journaling smash book. This page is my prayer journal for the journey ahead.

 In the hymnal I have been taking pages from I found a series of pages that holds sentence prayers. Perfect for moments of reflection and help. So I added them to a small booklet that I can pull anytime when words just won't come. I have times like that, when I am so filled with joy or even hurt. Then I clipped phrases and added them throughout the two pages with gesso and Modge Podge.

 I made a pocket using a tag to hold this booklet and one of my favorite hymns, "What a Friend We Have..." both fit nicely in the pocket. I covered the tag in scrapbook paper and adhered it on two sides with my ATG gun. The booklet is covered with scrapbook paper as well.

 I used Glossy Accents to bring the butterflies out in the paper and make them 3D.

 This page, and those to follow, were clippings from one article I wanted to save. I decided to cut it up and put it in this art journal. The clipping to the right hung off the page at the top and bottom, so I added tabs to both ends and folded the bottom up so that the book could sit on a shelf easily. I covered both ends part the way up with scrap printed scrapbook paper so that it would be both sturdy and pretty. I have done this throughout the book. I added journaling spots to give my response to the article clippings throughout the each of the following pages.

 I always have trouble getting the articles to meet when I have to take one part from one column and another portion from another column, so I use a tab punched from cardstock to fix that problem...

 I turn the article section over and adhere them to the tab punch. It makes it easier to position with my ATG gun. I put the adhesive on the tab and then place the article pieces on the tab. Perfect.

 I loved the quotes from this article by Julian Michael. I wanted to add the songs I listen to and her quotes to my healthy living book. I felt inspired by her words and her interview. As I said before, I left space for journaling my personal thoughts too.

 On these pages I used clear gesso and brought out the illustrations with water color crayons. Then I added some pieces from my art journaling stash that I wanted to save. Favorite things, paper clippings. I used punches of the paper I loved.

 Once again, I used clear gesso and water color crayons on these pages. I brought a hymn page clipping to the page and thought I would use it for a frame to a photograph later.

 "Kicking Beauty" is hanging off the page which I am falling in love with the effect of doing so. It brings the smash book to art journaling. I have added tabs throughout the pages which may be too much for some, but it just goes with the fact it is my favorite punch and I really do love love love it. Maybe too much I guess...since I own the original form of the punch and got the newer version for when my old one bits the dust and celebrates it's homegoing.

 I did some decoupage on these pages which I suppose you would say I have done throughout the book with the magazine clippings. I allowed myself even more journaling spots too. I might even add photos to these areas. Regardless, I have space within the spots or without. I can write anywhere I want, it's my book. =) Remember, there are no rules when you are art journaling or creating a smash book...

 I added a unique element to this set of pages. The paper towel on the left is one that I used on this project to wipe my brushes, clean sponges, or other tools. I added some Modge Podge and placed the towel down. It created a nice texture.

Here, I added yet another portion of the paper towel and on the back inside cover is a hymn page where I can close the story of this portion of my journey.

I took this as a visual to my Weight Watchers meeting when our leader asked what motivates you to continue your journey. Mine is first my hope, second is my strong faith, and third is my future in caring for my family.. Then it's art. Loving it...

Hugs, Rita
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