Daily Dose of Rabbit Food

Daily Dose of Rabbit Food: January 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vitamin D!

Hello from Florida! I am going to be getting my daily dose of Vitamin D everyday for the next week! I hope I can package up some of the sunshine and bring it back home to Indiana with me--it has been so gray and cold at home (blah!).

I may or may not be checking in on Daily Dose of Rabbit Food--just wanted to let all of you fabulous people know the hiatus will not last longer than a week. I have been trying to talk Cody into running away to Key West and starting a beachfront smoothie business but he hasn't come around yet... 

Our plans for the week include lounging (yes!), eating seafood (a lot of it), and soaking up that sunshine. 

So far, I have had a healthy amount of Bacardi and diet coke and have been robbed of my raw oyster virginity.

I really didn't want to do it but I got pressured! Cody said I couldn't call myself a "foodie" and NOT try the oysters. Peer pressure is a B****. They weren't THAT bad. I didn't do the full slurp off of the shell; I put it on a cracker with a hit of horseradish sauce. The same concept as covering your broccoli with cheese. Whatever works, right? 

Enjoy your weekend! For those of you back home, STAY WARM!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cha Cha Quinoa and Shrimp

Obsessed? YES. I. AM.

This meal was somethin' from nothin'.

The other night, I found myself standing in front of the refrigerator, with the door wide open, thinking, what in the H. E. Double Hockey Sticks am I going to have for dinner.

I have been on a Mexican kick, for like, the last year. Fish tacos, chicken enchiladas, rice bowls, you name it, I want it. Naturally, any Italian girl on a Mexican kick would have cans of beans and corn piled in her pantry. Luckily, this Italian girl also keeps fresh tomatoes and garlic on hand, you know, for emergency situations.

A little imagination and a bag of frozen shrimp later this dish was born. It was the bomb. Being Mexican obsessed, of course I had sour cream, guacamole, and limes within an arms reach. I can barely eat a chip without dipping it into a big bowl of mashed up green goodness. Good fats, right?

Chips. Yes, lots of corn tortilla chips.

Go. Now. Raid your pantry.

I hope you find cans of beans and a little sombrero in the back.

Put on your party hat and get the fiesta started. I will bring the margaritas.

Healthy Quinoa and Shrimp

Cha Cha Quinoa and Shrimp

1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 cup tomato, diced (I used grape tomatoes)
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/2 fresh lime
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Sour cream, guacamole, and chips to garnish and dip!

1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions. Prepare steps 2 and 3 while quinoa cooks.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium. Saute garlic and onion until soft, approximately 
    10 minutes. Add tomato to pan, saute for another 5 minutes. Add corn and black
    beans to pan, continue to saute for 5 minutes. (Are you sick of sauteing yet???)

3. Add all spices to pan and constantly stir for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add cooked quinoa to pan, mix thoroughly with vegetable saute. Squeeze fresh lime over
    mixture. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low, to keep warm.

5. In a second pan, heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil to medium heat. Saute shrimp,
    approximately two minutes on each side.

6. Serve shrimp atop a bed of quinoa. Garnish with sour cream and guacamole. Serve
    with chips.

Healthy Mexican Quinoa

Healthy Mexican Quinoa with Shrimp

Cha Cha Quinoa and Shrimp

If you didn't find a sombrero or a can of corn in your pantry, I would put these items on your next grocery list.

This "somethin' from nothin" meal turned out fab. I have eaten leftovers twice and will definitely make again.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Happy Home

My Grandma passed away this past Fall, and my Grandpa passed away close to two years ago. It is still so hard to believe they are gone. They were grandparents in every sense of the word. It was their actions that spoke louder than their words, and anyone who knew them, can attest to this.

From the moment I was born, my grandparents had an infinite love for me. When I was a newborn, my parents went on a honeymoon trip, snowmobiling in Yellowstone, and my grandparents babysat me. They kept a journal of everybody who stopped over to see their new granddaughter. As a toddler, my dad traveled for work quite a bit, my mom would take us over to their house, and we would have  sleepovers. I can remember the smell of their coffee brewing in the morning and the taste of Cheerios with a half of sliced banana for breakfast. As a kid, they attended every event possible. As a college student, they sent me handwritten letters at Central Michigan, and would slip me a $20 bill for gas when I came home to visit. As a young adult, they always supported my goals and dreams. All of my life, their actions symbolized the love they had for me.

It is so hard to remember these moments, without getting sad. I can remember going to see my Grandpa in the hospital, shortly before he passed away. I am not always good at saying I love you, but that day I did, and he squeezed my hand in a way I will never forget. The evening before my Grandma passed, I was able to see her too. I will never forget being able to sit by her side and telling her I loved her. 

My mom, Aunt Sue, Uncle Steve, and Uncle Ed spent a lot of time going through my grandparents house. How do you even begin to sort out a lifetime of love and memories? How do you know what to keep and what to pitch? I don't know, but would imagine, doing this sort of thing is probably one of the hardest parts of life. 

My mom and Aunt found many handwritten "A Happy Home" recipes scattered throughout my Grandma's cookbooks and paperwork. I have been keeping a handwritten copy on my refrigerator. I walk by it everyday, but when I take the time to read it, and really think about it, this is how my grandparents lived their life, and they were great people because of it.

A recipe for A HAPPY HOME. This recipe must be made EVERYDAY.


A Happy Home

4 cups LOVE
2 cups LOYALTY
5 spoons of HOPE
2 spoons of TENDERNESS
4 quarts of FAITH
1 barrel of LAUGHTER

Take LOVE and LOYALTY - mix thoroughly with FAITH. Blend with TENDERNESS, KINDNESS, and UNDERSTANDING. Add FRIENDSHIP and HOPE. Sprinkle abundantly with LAUGHTER. Bake with SUNSHINE


A recipe for A HAPPY HOME. This recipe must be made EVERYDAY.

Inspiration from my grandmother. she led by example.

There is really no need to sum up this recipe, it speaks for itself. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti Squash

If you have been following me, you know I am a spaghetti squash junkie. You shouldn't be surprised to see another spaghetti squash recipe on here. In fact, you might as well get used to it, because there will be more where this came from.

Why do I love thee? Spaghetti squash has a subtly sweet flavor, is easily swappable for noodles, is low in calories, and high in beta-carotene, potassium, and key vitamins.

This past weekend Cody was traveling for work. He is in RV sales, so he is heading straight into busy season. I love roasted peppers, but Cody does not, so while he was gone shakin' his moneymaker, I took full advantage of chowing down on Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti Squash. I made it Friday night, had it leftover on Saturday, and again for lunch on Sunday. I really think I need to get out more. Drinks, anyone?

Healthy Spaghetti Squash

Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti Squash

3 lb spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, freshly minced
1 cup of roasted red peppers, sliced or diced (I use jarred peppers)
4 cups of fresh spinach
1/2 cup kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese

1. Cut spaghetti squash in half length-wise, scoop out seeds and discard. Coat baking sheet
    with olive oil cooking spray. Place squash on baking sheet (rind side up) and cook at 375 for
    45-60 minutes, or until done. You should be able to take a fork and gently pull
    apart the strands.

2. Pull strands from squash, set aside. Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Saute garlic for 5
    minutes or until fragrant. Add roasted red peppers and olives to pan, saute for another 5
    minutes. Add squash to pan. Gently stir squash into roasted red pepper mix.

3. When squash is warm, add spinach to pan. Keep stirring the spinach into the squash
    until it is wilted. Just before serving, gently stir in feta cheese.

Take my ingredient amounts with a grain of salt. They are rough estimates--I am ingredient happy, so I always throw in a little extra of the good stuff. If you like something a lot, add more, if you don't care for something as much, use less.  Go with your gut, and make it your own. Cooking should be an adventure.

Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti Squash

Healthy Spaghetti Squash

If you like the sound of this recipe, you may also like Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash or Italian Baked Squashgetti.

By the way, TGIF.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Redemption Meal... Healthier Chicken Pot Pie

Redemption meal? Yes. I had to make up for my meatloaf cupcakes. It was a must.

There isn't a better redemption meal than chicken pot pie. What is not to love? One dish, creamy, stick-to-your-ribs filling, and all with a flaky biscuit topping. Chicken pot pie is nostalgic for me--it reminds me of being a kid. When we were young, my brother Nick was a picky eater, but he loved chicken pot pie. So much so, my mom had to tell him everything was "chicken" to get him to eat it--chicken meatloaf, chicken spaghetti, chicken casserole, etc. Hey, as a mom, you gotta do what you gotta do! 

Chicken pot pie is not necessarily considered a healthy dish but there are a lot of ways to make it better for your without skimping on flavor or losing any of the comfort factor: No cans of condensed soup, organic dairy milk, hormone-free chicken breast, lots of vegetables, and whole wheat flour as a thickener. A pot pie is not complete without a biscuit topping. For those of you who make them from scratch, more power to you. Me, I haven't made it that far yet. I resort to refrigerated buttermilk biscuits. I prefer Immaculate Baking Company's buttermilk biscuits--a step up (or a giant leap) from Pillsbury biscuits. Immaculate's products are non-GMO, they use unbleached flour, contain no artificial preservatives, and have no-hydrogenated oils. Win-Win.

Let's get to the goodness...

Healthier Chicken Pot Pie
-Adapted from Motherhood on the Rocks's Healthy and Easy Chicken Pot Pie

1 lb of organic, antibiotic-free chicken
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup of organic celery, sliced
1 cup of carrots, sliced
1 cup of frozen peas, unthawed
1 cup of frozen corn, unthawed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup of organic dairy milk
1 can of buttermilk biscuits

*I specify the celery to be organic because it is one of the highest pesticide-contaminated foods according to EWG. 

1. Bake chicken at 350 for 20 minutes, or until cooked. Let cool, then shred or dice.

2. Heat olive oil in a soup pot, saute onion and celery until soft.

3. Add chicken broth, carrots, corn, peas, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Bring 
    to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender, approximately
   10 minutes.

4. Slowly sprinkle whole wheat flour into the vegetable mixture, stirring constantly to thicken. 
5. Slowly add dairy milk, stirring constantly. 

6. Add chicken breast.

7. Continue to simmer for 10 minutes, or until sauce has thickened.

8. Coat a baking dish with olive oil cooking spray. Pour vegetable/chicken mixture into dish.

9. Place biscuits on top of the mixture. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 or until biscuits are

Oh my Lord, this is heavenly. Cody and I couldn't stop eating this. I may have exceeded my one serving limit on this dinner. Since it is just us two, I split the filling into two different baking dishes so I could put one in the freezer. I am trying to cook once, eat twice, as much as possible this year. I am looking forward to pulling that baby out of the freezer some chilly night when only a belly-warming dinner will do. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tonight's Dinner = Epic Fail

Tonight's Dinner = Epic Fail. So, let me just throw it out there that food blogging is not always glorious. With the recent snowstorm and all I was running on a cooking high, only to be thrown down by stuffed peppers and meatloaf cupcakes.

This morning, I was a maniac in the kitchen--multi-tasking like it was my J.O.B. My plan for tonight's dinner was crockpot stuffed peppers. Once I got cooking, I realized I had way too much filling and not enough peppers, so I came up with the idea of meatloaf cupcakes. I thought I was struck by a stroke of genius. So genius, I even texted my husband a meatloaf cupcake picture, letting him know how genius I thought I was. That should have been my first clue....

I set the crockpot before I left the house to run errands. I love coming home and walking into crockpot goodness wafting in the air. Nevermind the peppers, what I was really excited for was those genius meatloaf cupcakes. As soon as I pulled them out of the oven, I immediately set up a "scene" for my meatloaf photo shoot. I was taking pictures left and right, tootin' my own horn. Cody said, "Let me cut one of those in half and take a bite," and that was the beginning of the end, of dinner, anyways.

The meatloaf cupcakes were, let's just say, a little undercooked. No big deal, just a minor setback. As I put the meatloaf cupcakes back in the oven, my husband must have sensed something was wrong because he kept insisting we make macaroni and cheese even though we had salad, stuffed peppers, meatloaf cupcakes, and garlic bread on the menu. 

The stuffed peppers were disappointing, to say the least. Flavorless, mushy, and just plain yuck. Considering the meatloaf cupcakes were made from the same base, you can imagine how good those were. Not very. You know when you want to like something, you keep taking one more bite, hoping the second bite will taste better than the first, well, in this case, the second (and third and fourth) bite never got better.

I suppose you have to have bad meals, to take notice of the good ones, right? God bless my husband, he kept telling me it wasn't that bad, but I knew it was, because even I didn't want to eat it. I am thankful that I had a good bottle of wine opened and chunks of dark chocolate in the pantry. Tell me what wine and dark chocolate can't fix. 

I think my new policy is going to be to take the first bite before you take the first picture. I do hate to let my pictures go to waste, so here they are, but don't get too excited, because the recipe has already been thrown out, and I wouldn't allow you to make them anyways!

Until next time...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How to Build Strong Bones

Let me see whats underneath those guns ladies (and gents). I hope you are packing a whole new kind of heat. It is not all about the muscle, but also about the bones. When we think of physical health, we tend to think of our figure, our muscle tone, and our weight. Not that those things aren't important, but we can't forget about our bones. They protect our vital organs, give our body shape, and allow us to move and groove.

What is scary, is that, approximately 25 million people in the US are affected by osteoporosis. Women are much more susceptible than men to developing a osteoporosis-related fracture over the age of 50. You may be at a higher-risk of developing osteoporosis if you are post-menopause, have taken steroids for a long period of time, have a below-normal BMI, have a family history of osteoporosis, are a smoker, have rheumatoid arthritis, or have more than three alcoholic drink per day. 1

There is the old adage that we must drink milk to have strong bones. To some extent, yes, but too much of a good thing, and not enough of another, is not always good. Our bones are 65% calcium phosphate salts for hardness and 35% collagen for flexibility. With no calcium and all collagen, the bones would be very flexible. With all calcium and no collagen, the bones would have a high risk of shattering when subjected to stress. Our bodies require much more than just calcium for good bone health: magnesium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, zinc, Vitamins C, D, K, B6, folic acid, protein, and healthy fats. 2 The good new is that all of these things are easily attainable through the food we eat. 

Just because you are at-risk for developing osteoporosis doesn’t mean that is your destiny. We can combat osteoporosis through exercise (at least 30 minutes a day), exposing ourselves to 15-30 minutes of sunlight everyday, and proper nutrition:

- Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables a day, including leafy greens

- Add sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds to diet for minerals and natural fats

- Choose whole grains vs. refined

- Consume beans and naturally raised animal foods for protein

- Opt for EVOO, flaxseed oil, and unrefined sesame oil for essential fatty acids

- Cut out refined sugars from diet

If you are sensitive to dairy, no problem. There are many other ways to get your calcium:

If you think you may be at-risk for osteoporosis, I encourage you to talk to your M.D. about ordering you a bone density test. This is a non-invasive, accurate way to determine if your bones are healthy. Most insurance companies will cover the cost of a bone density test if you meet certain requirements, post-menopausal being one of them. If you have any questions about bone density, please email me; I do bone density testing at work, and would be happy to answer any questions.

Stay strong, gals! 

1 Reviewed by Ratini D.O., M.S., Melinda. "Osteoporosis: Are you at risk?” WebMD. 2013, 7 January 2014.

2  "Bone Health" Institute for Integrated Nutrition. 2013, 7 January 2014. (Online Training Application)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Italian Baked Squashgetti

What better excuse is there than a snowstorm to stay cuddled up inside all day in your PJ's? Your right, none. I am thoroughly taking advantage of catching up on studying, sorting mail, reading my favorite blogs, sleeping in, and cuddling with Magic. I could really get use to this snowstorm thing.

Yesterday, the cold weather made me want to get a pot of sauce simmering and sip on a glass of red wine. I mentioned this to my husband early yesterday morning and he said, "That is because your Italian--most people would want soup." This made me laugh because he is probably right. Comfort food is all about what you grew up eating, and we ate A LOT of pasta. The smell of a nice, hearty red sauce simmering all day on the stove makes me happy. 

In an effort to cook once, eat twice, I devised somewhat of a game plan for our Sunday dinner. I had been craving spaghetti squash, so what does one do but search Pinterest for recipe ideas. I pinned squash recipes up the wazoo but kept coming back to the "baked" spaghetti squash dishes. These recipes are what inspired my Italian Baked Squashgetti. I took the general idea but substituted my homemade sauce. I knew Cody wouldn't be keen on the squash so I made him a separate pot of penne noodles, his favorite. I am going to use the other half of the spaghetti squash today for a Mediterranean-type of dish. 

Italian Baked Spaghetti Squash

Italian Baked Squashgetti

3 lb spaghetti squash
1/2-1 cup of mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lb of Italian sausage
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 - 32 oz. can crushed tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano)
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 c parmesan cheese, freshly grated
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Sauce Directions:
6-8 servings

1. Combine crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, parmesan cheese, brown sugar, and all spices
    in a large sauce pot. Heat on medium-low.

2. Heat oil in large skillet and saute garlic and onion for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage, brown.
    Drain grease. Add sausage, onion, and garlic to sauce.
    (To add more flavor, do not drain grease. For this recipe, I drained grease to cut back on
    fat and calories.)

3. Let sauce simmer on stove as long as possible to develop the flavor.

Squashgetti Directions:
2 Servings

1. Cut 3 lb. spaghetti squash in half. Scoop out seeds and discard. Place each half face down
    on a foil-lined baking sheet. (Spray foil with olive oil cooking spray.) Bake for approximately
    50 minutes at 375. When squash is cooked, you should be able to take fork and gently pull
    apart the strands. Turn oven to broil when squash is done cooking.

2. Gently pull squash strands from the rind and put into mixing bowl. Add 2 cups of warm
    sauce to bowl, gently mix sauce with spaghetti squash.

3. Add sauce-coated squash back into rind. Top spaghetti squash with mozzarella cheese.
    Put back into oven (on broil) for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and slightly browned.
    Garnish with fresh parsley.

If you use my sauce recipe, you will have plenty of sauce leftover. You can make 6-8 servings of Squashgetti with my sauce recipe. Buy 1 squash for every 2 servings. If you have leftover sauce, it freezes wonderfully.

Spaghetti Squash

Italian Baked Spaghetti Squash

Using the spaghetti squash in place of noodles is a great way to cut back on calories and add vegetables to your diet. One cup of spaghetti squash is approximately 40 calories vs. 200 calories in one cup of noodles. In my recipe, I use real Italian sausage, but you could substitute turkey sausage. I don't like to stray too far from my roots when it comes to sauce, so I always stick with real pork sausage. Have fun with this recipe--it is a fun and funky twist on baked pasta. 

If you are looking for other Italian-themed dinner ideas you may like my BoBo's Baked Pasta, or Easy Chicken Parmesan. I hope these recipes give you as much comfort as they give me. Happy Cooking! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Things I Have Learned In Life

The interesting thing about life is that we live it moving forward but we understand it looking backwards. We are constantly evolving and learning about ourselves and each other. Throughout life, we encounter certain situations that will completely change who we are at our core. It can be as big as losing someone we love or as little as a conversation with a stranger. For me, these type of core-changing moments, have taught me a lot of simple truths.

In my early 20's, I started a "Things I Have Learned In Life" list on a piece of now-tattered college-ruled paper. As a very-young adult, you have a lot of feelings. There is something about having a fresh heart, being on your own for the first time, and feeling like the world is yours. You open yourself up a lot and with that comes the chance of getting hurt. At the time, it is hard to see the silver-lining in certain situations, but more often then not, you come out a wiser person. 

My list of simple truths has stayed with me since college. It has been kept in a old picture box, slipped into a journal, and now most-recently pinned on a bulletin board right next to my desk. Once in awhile, I feel inclined to add a line to it. When I go back and reread these things I have written down, I can recall the past circumstance that has taught me the lesson. Without getting too deep, I do believe every situation teaches us something and helps point us in the direction our life is meant to take us.

Things I Have Learned In Life... word for word:

1. Always tell people how much you appreciate them. That's all anybody wants. When they
    feel unappreciated, it hurts. 

2. Never try to have a serious talk when you are drunk. (So true!)

3. Never forget your manners.

4. Some things in life you just can't change.

5. Pick your battles wisely.

6. Be careful who you trust, people are not always who they seem to be.

7. Once a cheater, always a cheater. (Ouch, this one hurt.)

8. Always stand up for yourself and your beliefs. No one can make you feel inferior without
    your consent.

9. Actions speak louder than words.

10. Just when you think you'll never find the perfect person, you do. (Wink, Wink Cody)

11. Never forget to laugh.

12. Life doesn't always turn out how you think it will. (Not a bad thing, my friends.)

With a new year brings reflection on the past, and a sense of excitement and new beginnings for the future. I like to reflect on what I have learned in the past, and figure out how to use that knowledge to move ahead with my best foot forward.

"Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation." Confucius