Gift Guide for Home Cooks

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Whether you are, or know of, a home cook you probably realize that there are like a million different kitchen gadgets, supplies, dishes, platters, cookware, etc that you could give them for the holidays. Well, I’m going to make it rather easy. I have a list of gifts for the cook in your life, regardless what type of cook (paleo, keto, traditional, vegan, mo’butter da better, etc) they are. BONUS! They don’t break the bank.

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First is the Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender. Personally I use this immersion blender each and every day. I use it for my bulletproof coffee each morning. It also does a great job on anything else from making soup base to smoothies for the girls. It’s a good price of only $30.91 right now. Even if they already have one, a duplicate is nothing to fuss about. I have another one that was given to me waiting in the cupboard.
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The one thing I didn’t know I needed until I had was the Spiralizer 5-Blade Vegetable Slicer

 After going Keto, I realized that I was going to need a substitute for pasta. I decided to try out Zoodles. I ordered the Spiralizer, thinking that I would get something a little more heavy duty if I liked using it. Turns out, this one is just fabulous. When I first got it, it seemed a little flimsy that it might not be up to the task, but I haven’t had an ounce of trouble with it at all and it’s a great price of only $29.99. There are also lots of cookbooks for the Spiralizer, but the best ones are  Inspiralized and The Spiralizer Cookbook
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A gadget that no home cook can have to many of are kitchen shears! KitchenAid Shears are fantastic and wear really well. They work well to cut up pizza, or to even break through bones to cut up a chicken. They are a really decent price for a KitchenAid product. Some places as low as $11.99. measuringcups

OXO Good Grips 7-Piece Nesting Measuring Beaker Set are my FAVORITE! I love that they are measuring cups looking like beakers, I love that they nest easily and I adore that they don’t have handles. The handles seem to get in the way, or they break off. These cuties are only $14.99. They are dishwasher safe and pour so easily. 

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Fox Run Brands Mini Whisks look like a key chain  for a cook and the price is similar to one (as low as $4), but these mighty little workers are fantastic! I tend to use my smaller whisks more than large full size ones. These little guys clean up nicely in the sink or in the dishwasher. I got mine as stocking stuffers a few years ago. I’ve bought them for the same reason for others. 

None of these ideas trip your trigger? Need a little something more personal? Enter Homemade Coupons.  Any cook would love these for picking up dinner, cleaning the kitchen, emptying the dishwasher without complaining, noticing that the trash needs to go out and take it out, etc.

Do you have any MUST HAVES on your list? Feel free to share in the comments, or drop me a line to let me know unbalancedbalance@outlook.com

Best damn soup: a recipe

If you follow the blog regularly you know that I do a lot of gardening and preserving. I can, freeze, and dehydrate like a crazy woman during the late spring, summer, and early fall.

What do I do with all that food? I save it for winter. I know that it sounds ridiculous, and sometimes I feel like a squirrel with all the prep of getting ready for winter, but days like today is why it is so important.

Meet the best damn soup you’ll ever have!

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This is the best soup. I’m not bragging, I’m just stating a fact. A fact that has been substantiated by all who have consumed it. Why is it so damn good? Every since ingredient has been harvested by myself or my husband. It honestly doesn’t get any better than that.

The official name of this soup is : Garden Beef Soup, but that’s kind of a lie.

The Best Damn Soup

Ingredients:

2 quarts canned tomatoes immersed and blended smooth

2 pounds meat (in this case elk, but we’ve done deer and beef before)

1 quart frozen cabbage

1 quart canned green beans

1 quart canned carrots

1 quart canned potatoes

Directions

Brown meat in skillet. Dump all ingredients into a crockpot. Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low 8-10 hours. Devour.

Nutritional Info: (Makes 8 servings)

1 serving: 242 calories / Fat 4 grams/ Protein 37 grams/ Net carbs 6 grams/ Sugar 4 grams

Do you have a recipe that is the best damn ever? I seriously want to know about it.

Reboot Yourself

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If something isn’t working right one of the first things you do is unplug and then plug it back in. If you need to reboot your computer you just hit  Ctrl+Alt+Del. It reboots your computer and gets it running in order again. Why can’t we do that with ourselves?  You can!

I knew that I wanted to get myself together after Thanksgiving. My reboot was physical and nutritional, but it was also mental and emotional. I am a thinker, I have a self-talk tape that runs through my head, so any reboot has to start there first.

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In order to start a reboot, so to speak, you have to decide a few things first.

  1. Why? –  Why do you want to make the change? Make sure that the reason is because YOU want it and not that you are doing it for someone or something else. My “Why” is that I feel like utter crap all the time when I’m not taking care of myself. I’m tired, overly emotional, my joints hurt terribly, I tend to be not fun to be around (My family would probably use the term, “fun-sucker”).
  2. What? –  What are you doing to do to make the change? You need to have a specific plan. That doesn’t mean that the plan doesn’t change or modify, but have a plan and write it down to keep yourself accountable. Tell someone what you are going to do.  Personally, I’m just going back to eating a keto (low carb, paleo with cheese, etc) lifestyle, and I’m drinking 100oz. of water a day.
  3. How? – How are you going to implement your plan? How are you going to stay on track? How are you going to be accountable? I’m using a few apps to help me stay on the straight and narrow with my eating and drinking water. You, magnificent readers, and this blog, are how I stay accountable and stay on track.

You have to find what works for you and commit to it, be ready to forgive yourself if you falter, and have determination to stay the course. But the MOST important question to ask yourself is “Am I willing to do what it takes to accomplish my goal?”

I’m going to blogging more in the next few weeks about what works for me, what struggles I’ve had, and my favorite recipes. Soon, I’ll be adding more features to the blog and the Unbalanced Balance Community, but these extras and freebies will only be available to those who subscribe to my email list! So sign up soon!

 

 

 

 

Friday Favorites: Perspective

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It’s been a crazy few weeks of travelling, work, and just general busy. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was somewhat dreading Thanksgiving break. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that I have a full week off. It isn’t that. It’s that I was dreading the food. I’ve been struggling with what I’ve been eating and not drinking (WATER!) and I want to get a handle on it. However, Thanksgiving food usually doesn’t help the situation. I was being really hard on myself, as I’m sure lots of you probably are as well.

That is when I finally decided to embrace today’s favorite thing: Perspective. Were the carbs going to kill me? No, but they might give me lots of gas! I had to give grace to myself and realize that it wasn’t about me, or the food, it was about being thankful. So as I spent the day cramming my face with pie, cake, dressing, ham, turkey, cranberries, you name it, I looked around and just soaked it all in.

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Over the past week I have spent time with a lot of wonderful family and friends. THAT is what is important. My nutritional health is important, but so is my emotional and mental health. This week has been so wonderful for my heart. So, does that mean that today is the day I get back on track? Yeah, no. I’ll be continuing my tradition of making cinnamon rolls for family and friends this afternoon and I’ll be sampling. But I will be drinking more water today.

So for this Friday, I hope you find some perspective in your life and definitely allow yourself some grace.

 

Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

Today is election day. I don’t know about you, but I’m over it. I early voted and now we wait, which is rather depressing so I know how to make you feel much happier. PIE!pie1

For the husbeast’s birthday he didn’t want cake because he doesn’t eat gluten. But he still wanted a birthday dessert. I searched and searched. I wanted something traditional, normal, tasty, but still gluten free.

Pecan Pie Crust

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup pecan pieces (frozen)
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar equivalent from artificial sweetener of your choice

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Take pecans out of the freezer and measure 1 cup into a food processor (you can use a blender, but be careful not to blend them down too small). Pulse the processor until the largest pieces are as big as lentils or split peas.

Add the 2 tablespoons melted butter and the 2 tablespoons sugar equivalent from artificial of your choice (I prefer stevia). Blend until it’s mixed evenly.

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Dump it all into a 9-inch pie pan, and push with your fingers to cover the bottom and sides. It should be the right consistency to mold the crust to the pie pan evenly. Pour in your favorite filling and bake.

Alternatively, if you need a pre-baked bottom crust, heat the oven to 350 degrees F and bake for about 10 minutes until the crust is beginning to brown. After 8 minutes, check every minute or so, because once it starts to brown it goes quickly.

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I made a pumpkin pie just the normal way, but with the pecan crust (child put her finger in the pie). The results were AMAZING! I didn’t think that it would be the best thing, but honestly now I’m looking for other pies to make with this crust. I’m hoping to try this crust out at my family Thanksgiving.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Unplugging on Accident…

Last Friday morning,  Was. A. Disaster. In fact, it’s taken me a few days to get over it.  We were up early to go to a college visit for my oldest. Everyone was moving like molasses, I was an emotional mess (because hey my kid is going away to college soon), and I LOST.MY.MIND. Too many things to remember, too many things to get done before we left, we were running late, and then I exploded.

Once I had stopped sobbing in the car and was aided by my husband with a Diet Mountain Dew and a healthy breakfast sandwich (hahahaha) I realize that my phone wasn’t in the car. WHAT????

“We HAVE to go back to the house!” I screamed in terror.

“We can’t we’ll be late to the visit, you’ll just have to do without”, my husband bemused (seriously he really did say that with a smirk on his face).

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The ride to Stillwater was about 2 hours. The first hour was absolute torture. I was like a crack addict locked in a dog kennel. How was I going to survive all day? How would I take pictures? (I brought my REAL camera, but that was my logic at the time) How would I document our day back at our alma mater? How would I communicate with school and my sub if something happened? What is someone needed my advice? What if someone broke into our house? What if ….?

After about an hour on maniacal behavior, I started listening to the radio, looking outside at our surroundings, listening to my girls talking in the backseat, listening to B on a business call, knitting. It was good. It was peaceful.

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We enjoyed a day  of just the 4 of us, embarking on this new journey of having a college student soon, helping her make decisions, enjoying the process, and recollecting on experiences of my own.

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Was the day perfect? No, there was still eye rolling, and sister fighting, and someone that was constantly B-O-R-E-D, but I took it all in and realized that it was what I needed, but what they needed too. They needed me to be unplugged from my phone and plugged in to them.

No worries though, I’m not going completely off grid. As soon as we got home I tackled my phone like a long lost best friend and spend the rest of the night going through what all I missed. However, I did realize a few things:

  1. My family is way too into their devices.
  2. I make better food choices when I’m not plugged in.
  3. I feel better and less stressed without technology (after that first hour or so)
  4. I’m missing out on a lot of things when I’m consumed by my device.

So, the moral? Am I going to make a huge life change and get rid of the phone and technology altogether? Um…NO. But, I am going to stop using it in the car (as a driver or passenger) and when the 4 of us are all together, or 3 as it will be soon, SOB!

Sometimes balance has to take place in other areas before you can try to balance your diet. You have to remove or modify the triggers. Mine happens to be stress eating crap. My phone makes me stressed = I eat crap.

What are your triggers?

 

Preparing for Winter: Preserving Basil

Believe it or not, winter is coming. Today, for instance, it was 86 degrees here in Oklahoma, but it is still the 1st of November. It’s hard when it’s this warm lately, but it is time to start thinking about winter and how to preserve the last of the garden, as well as my herbs.

Herbs are a wonderful way to embellish any recipe. Fresh herbs are best, however dried ones are wonderful too. Bottom line, I don’t like to waste anything and drying herbs is really really easy.

I don’t have a garden full of herbs, but I do have some in my raised beds and flower beds by the house. This past weekend was nutso and really busy, so of course it was the perfect time

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I have 4 basil plants, which doesn’t seem like much, but they are quite plentiful, even this late in the season. When you are ready to collect for the winter, I just cut the branches until there is about a foot left coming out of the ground.

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When collecting, I do really trim the stems ahead of time, I just take it all out at once. When I get back to the kitchen, it’s timem to trim the flowers and seeds off of the top.

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It’s also good to try to elimate all stems, or as much as possible. Once I’ve pulled the leaves off of the stems I give them a good washing and dry on paper towels.

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Once dry, it’s time to head to the dehydrator. I set the dehydrator at 155 degrees F, and set the timer for 12 hours. When placing the herbs on the trays, it is important not to overcrowd them.

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12 hours later, come back and see if they are crispy to the touch. If the leaves are limp at all put them back in for a few hours (2 or 3). If they are crispy to the touch you can go ahead and take them out. I store them in a gallon storage (Ziploc) bag and press all the air out. You can also store them in air tight containers as well. Use as you normally would in any recipe.

****If you don’t own a dehydrator, there are other methods to dry your herbs. I have listed a few links below to help you.

Other methods to dry herbs…

Drying Herbs in the Oven by Wife Mama Foodie

Drying Herbs in the Microwave with Serious Eats

How to Dry Herbs by Hanging by Mother Earth News