Holidays and stress go hand in hand. We want to enjoy family and friends but our need to have everything perfect, only leads to a huge build up of stress.

The expectations of social events, gift shopping, and entertaining guests can become too much for even the most festive types. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association 8 out of 10 people expect to experience an increase in stress over the holiday season.

With stress comes a greater risk of anxiety and depression, and reports from the Mayo Clinic show that depression is frequently an unwelcome guest over the holidays.

All is not lost however, there are many ways you can minimize your stress and anxiety to allow you to truly enjoy the season.

Set A Budget

A lot of the stress that we experience during the holidays is due to financial pressure and the Mayo Clinic suggests that setting a budget can be beneficial to your stress levels. Work out how much you can afford to spend on food and gifts, and stick to it, even if you have to leave the mailman off the gift list.

Exercise

The American Heart Association wants you to stay active all the time, and it’s extremely important to keep that up during the holidays. Any activity or exercise you can fit in will help reduce your stress and elevate your mood. It’s going to stimulate endorphin production and trigger a positive feeling in your body.

You might be busy, but if you can find time to exercise for half an hour three times a week, you will feel better. You can go walking or jogging, swimming or biking, play sports with your kids or just plain get off your butt and move!

Take It Easy

There are parties and gatherings and we are constantly surrounded by people. It’s great to be with the ones we love and laugh about the old days.

You shouldn’t miss all those great times, but what you should be careful of, is setting unrealistic expectations. You can’t do everything, and it’s okay to take time out for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes.

If you do a whole lot of hosting, make sure you delegate, whether you ask everyone to bring a different dish, or you rope in family to take on certain tasks.

Stay Smart

The holiday season is a time of indulgence, but, it doesn’t mean you should abandon your healthy ways. There’s no need for a free for all that will just add to your stress.

Enjoy yourself, but try having healthy snacks before holiday gatherings so you don’t over snack while you’re out. Make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep, as you are more likely to overindulge after a poor night’s sleep.

Bottom Line

Self-care is conscious choice and this is even more true during times of more stress, such as the holiday season. Make sure to take the time and create a deliberate plan! Remember, the holidays are supposed to be a time of fun, family and relaxation, don’t let stress interfere with this great time of year.

Food safety and barbecues should go hand in hand. Keeping your food at the right temperature before and after cooking is very important.

food safety

Barbecues are a great time to get together with friends and family. The noise of loved ones, fresh air and the wonderful aroma of barbecued foods is a recipe for a great time. But with this fun comes the responsibility of knowing all of the food safety tips for barbecues.

Proper Refrigeration

No one wants food poisoning, and because of this you need to make sure to keep your foods properly refrigerated before and after they are barbecued.

Foods, and especially meat of any kind, needs to be kept in the refrigerator as long as possible before being cooked. Don’t let the meat marinate on the shelf, as bacteria can begin to grow under these circumstances. Play it safe and move the items in your fridge around the night before so that you have ample room to store all your various foods there on the day of the barbecue.

Keep an Eye on the Temperature

Always know the temperature on the day you are having your barbecue. Whether your meat is being brought back into the house or sitting outside, know what conditions you are working with temperature-wise.

If it is a hot day, be sure to keep the meat in the shade or indoors. Don’t ever allow food to sit in direct sunlight as it can spoil very quickly. If it is hot both indoors and out, put the most sensitive items in the fridge or in a slow cooker, with a sign directing guests where to fill their plates.

Make Only as Much as Needed

When you are cooking items such as meat, make only as much as needed, plus a little more. Although everyone loves leftover barbecue, it is much more important to keep food safety rules as first priority, and to get rid of any leftovers.

Because of this, make smaller batches of food and simply quit once everyone seems to have gotten their fill. If this means that individuals have to wait for second helpings, this is preferable to food spoiling and harming your guests. Besides, they will surely be able to find someone to chat with while waiting for their steak or burger to cook.

What Meat Can Be Eaten Pink?

There are rules of barbecue safety that must be followed if you want to have an incident-free event. Pork and chicken must always be cooked thoroughly.

When it comes to beef, there is a rule of thumb that should be followed. Any meat that has ever been exposed must be cooked. That means that when it comes to steak, you can leave the inside pink if you wish, as long as the outer edges are well-cooked. For ground beef, since all of it has been ground up and exposed at some point, it must be cooked through.

Don’t Cross-Contaminate

Vegetables will not need to be cooked as long as meat. For this reason, leave your vegetable skewers and other non-meat items separate from the meat. Add the vegetables to the grill near the end when the meat is almost cooked, instead of the beginning when raw juices are on the grill.

Barbecues are a good time to showcase your cooking skills. Keep it safe and learn how to make your time enjoyable and free of food poisoning episodes. Follow these rules and you will have a great time as you barbecue, leaving your food safety worries aside.

 

 

 

 

Pizza anyone?

When kids are at that difficult stage where everything is “mine”, you can make their little hearts go pitter-patter by serving them an individual pizza and letting them choose their own toppings. This thin crust recipe may be the answer to that age old question of , how do I do that?

Everyone's Favorite, Pizza

You will need these ingredients:

1 cup of warm water

½ package of active dry yeast (about 1 & 1/8 teaspoon)

1 and ½ teaspoon of granulated sugar ½ teaspoon of salt

3 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

3 cups of bread flour

Blended Pizza Cheese (Mozzarella and Provolone)

Instructions:

This dough does not have to rise.  Using a large bowl, combine the warm water with the yeast, sugar, oil and salt. Mix until the yeast dissolves. Use a wooden spoon, to mix in the flour, ½ cup at a time. Once it’s all mixed together, knead it on a floured counter until it feels elastic.  Divide into 4 parts, roll each into a ball and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Assemble your favorite toppings.  You can use a jar of prepared pizza sauce or make a simple sauce yourself by combining a 15 ounce can of tomato sauce with 1 and ½ Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 1 Tablespoon of Italian seasoning and a pinch of sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. A pizza stone will deliver a crispy crust, whether thick or thin. Otherwise a baking sheet will do. Shape each individual dough ball into a round crust about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Add the sauce and a few toppings (not too many) and sprinkle on pizza cheese.

Bake at 425 degrees for 11 to 17 minutes turning once or twice after 10 minutes if needed to achieve the crust to your liking.

Yay, pizza for everyone!

Not long ago I read that you should not place your fruits and vegetables into the drawers that are provided for that use in our refrigerators.  Of course I though that can’t be right, why would they be there if it was for the storage of fruits and vegetables?  I had to check this out.
fruits and vegetables
Well, after moving my fruits and vegetables to one of the shelves in my refrigerator, using two of those small plastic baskets you can by at any dollar store, for a week, I found the article was right.  By having the fruits and vegetables where I could see them, I used them more often and had less waste in my food and food budget.

So now my fresh foods are on the shelf and my ketchup, mustard and mayo are kept in the drawers. Sometimes we just need to rethink things in a new light to get a better look at them.  I love having my favorite foods up where I can see them and know what I have on hand.  Not only do I eat more of them but it stops me from buying extra and wasting my food budget.

Did you know that fresh corn on the cob, should not be stored in the refrigerator?  By doing so, you allow it’s natural sweet flavor to turn to starch, loosing it’s moisture, thus becoming hard to eat and digest.  Store it with it’s natural covering left on, for up to 48 hours, in the coolest part of your pantry. Generally on the bottom shelf or floor.   Fresh corn should be eaten as soon as possible.

Another [fruit] vegetable, Tomatoes, should not be stored in the fridge either.  They also loose most of their natural sweetness in the cold.  Keep a pretty bowl on your counter and let their beauty shine.

As I keep saying, savings are all around us, we just need to keep our minds and eyes open to them.

What is your favorite savings tip, comment below?

Sometimes it’s just hard to come up with a recipe to feed a large group for breakfast.  One of these recipes could be your answer to that problem.

Veggie Cheese Breakfast Casserole

 

You will need:

1 12-16 ounce package of Country Sausage

2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

9 eggs, beaten

1-2 Cups of fresh veggies, chopped in bite size pieces

[carrots, broccoli, onions, peppers, etc]

If you don’t have fresh, frozen will do but do not use canned. There is too much liquid in canned. Your casserole will not bake good. The bread will become soggy and it will taste terrible.

2 cans of refrigerated crescent rolls

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Crumble and brown the entire package of sausage and pour off any fat.

Coat a 9” x 13” baking dish with a non-stick spray and line it with one package of the crescent rolls. Put the cooked sausage on top of the rolls and top with the cheese.

Add in the veggies, then pour in the eggs and top with the second package of crescent rolls. Bake 35 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Serve warm with a buttery maple syrup on the side.

Breakfast Bacon Egg Cup

breakfast egg cup

You will need:

A muffin pan

Enough sliced bread to fit one in each muffin hole, crust removed [save the crust]

12 ounce Package of Bacon, cut in half

An egg for each muffin hole

1-2 Cups of Shredded Cheese, your choice

Directions:

Coat each hole in the muffin pan with cooking spray.

Criss cross 2 pieces of bacon in each hole

Press a slice of bread into each hole, to form a pocket

Break and drop an egg into each pocket.

Top with the cheese, then pull the bacon up over the top of the pocket.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, until the bacon is

crisp and the egg is done.

Serve with fresh fruit and a warm drink for your complete breakfast.

**Vegetables can also be added to the egg pocket, just remember to keep

them bite size so they will cook in the same temperature.

You can organize one or both of these recipes the night before and be ready to cook breakfast in no time, come morning. 

What does Chicken Noodle Soup have to do with a wedding, you might be thinking?  Last week my grandson got married.  He and his new bride did something at their reception that I had never seen before.  They ask some of their family members to make soups for the reception.  My grandson ask me to do his favorite home made Chicken Noodle Soup.

It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take long to put together in a slow cooker. It’s a soup I have made for him and others several times over the years. I’m going to share the recipe with you, you never know when you might need a memory to share.

Zac’s Chicken Noodle Soup

hassieskitchentable.com

You will need:

8 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of Cooked Chicken, cubed

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

2 Carrots, sliced into 1/4 pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Season

2 Cups of Pasta, I used bow ties but any pasta will do.

Place everything except the pasta into the slow cooker.  Stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Cook on high for one hour then lower the heat to the low setting.  While the mixture is cooking on low, cook your pasta on your stove, as directed on the package, until they are almost done, el dente`.  I have found trying to cook pasta in a slow cooker, will reward you will a gummy mess, most of the time.  So I prefer to cook it on my stove, then drain and add to the slow cooker, stir to well incorporated.  You will want to cook for another 30 minutes on low, allowing the pasta to absorb the Chicken Noodle Soup flavor, then serve while hot.*

*If you have a newer slow cooker, it might have a keep warm setting, if so, place the soup on that setting.  Refrigerate your leftover soup within 2 hours after removing the heat source.

As you can see from the picture, because I was making two gallons, I had to make it in my large soup pot.  If you have a large gathering, you can double the recipe and do like wise.

12 Tips for Soup and Salad Lovers

1. With soup, it is easy to “Cook Once, Eat Twice” (or three times!). Soup is the perfect freezer food, which means leftovers won’t go to waste. Soup will keep in the freezer for a couple months, so don’t hesitate to whip up extra large batches to enjoy now and later.

soup and salad lovers

2. Freeze leftover soup in muffin tins for easy-to-transport single-serve lunch portions.

3. Allow soup to cool overnight in the refrigerator before freezing. Putting hot soup into your freezer can briefly increase the internal temperature of your freezer, which could negatively impact your already frozen items.

4. Don’t add cold milk or cream straight from the refrigerator to your soups while cooking. To prevent curdling, warm the milk and cream up before adding to the simmering soup.

5. Mirepoix is a combination of diced carrots, celery and onion used to add flavor to soups, stocks and broths. The smaller the pieces are cut, the faster they will release their flavor.

6. When making soup, “sweat” aromatics, like onions or garlic, first. Simply sauté these ingredients in a little olive oil or butter until they are soft. This will release their flavors and enhance the final taste of your recipe.

7. Give your soup a chance to cool a bit before adding final seasoning. When soup is boiling hot, it is difficult to tell whether or not it actually needs more salt or other seasonings.

8. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime to broth-based soups before serving to “brighten” up the flavors. Citrus has a natural fresh taste to it that will liven up the other flavors in your soup.

9. Save time cleaning up by making your salad dressing in the same bowl you plan to serve your salad in. Mix up your dressing ingredients and let them sit for a while to give the flavors a chance to meld. Then add the rest of your salad ingredients to the bowl and toss to coat right before serving. If you make more dressing than you need for one salad, simply pour off the excess into another storage container before adding your salad ingredients.

10. When making homemade vinaigrette, add a little Dijon mustard or mayonnaise to emulsify the mixture. This will help hold together the oil and vinegar (or other acidic components) longer.

11. No one likes a soggy salad. Don’t add dressing until right before you serve it to keep your lettuce crisp.

12. It’s important to thoroughly wash lettuce before eating it, but it can be challenging to get it dry enough to hold your dressing. If you eat a lot of salad, a salad spinner is definitely worth the investment.

Ingredients for A Creamy Cheesy Potato Soup

hassieskitchentable.com

Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them, including this wonderful simple soup.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three

minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are

fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream

cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,

once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.

If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup,

to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

The Healthiest Foods You Can Get

The following is a list of the healthiest foods that you can get. This will help you get an idea as to what foods are the best for your body.

Fruits

Apricots

Apricots contain Beta-carotene which helps to prevent radical damage and also helps to protect the eyes. A single apricot contains 17 calories, 0 fat, and one gram of fiber. You can eat them dried or soft.

Mango

A medium sized mango packs 57 MG of vitamin C, which is nearly your entire daily dose. This antioxidant will help prevent arthritis and also boost your immune system.

Cantaloupe

HassiesKitchenTable.com

Cantaloupes are in the top 10 when it comes to eating one of the healthiest foods. They contain 117 GG of vitamin C, which is almost twice the recommended dose. Half a melon contains 853 MG of potassium, which is nearly twice as much as a banana, which helps to lower blood pressure. Half a melon contains 97 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 2 grams of fiber.

Tomato

A tomato can help cut the risk of bladder, stomach, and colon cancers in half if you eat one daily. A tomato contains 26 calories, 0 fat, and only 1 gram of fiber.

Vegetables

Onions

An onion can help to protect against cancer. A cup of onions offers 61 calories, 0 fat, and 3 grams of fiber.

Broccoli

Broccoli can help protect against breast cancer, and it also contains a lot of vitamin C and beta-carotene. One cup of chopped broccoli contains 25 calories, 0 fat, and 3 grams of fiber.

Spinach

Spinach contains carotenoids that can help fend off macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness in older people. One cup contains 7 calories, 0 fat, and 1 gram of fiber.

Grains, beans, and nuts

Peanuts

Hassieskitchentable.com

Peanuts and other nuts can lower your risk of heart disease by 20 percent. One ounce contains 166 calories, 14 grams of fat, and over 2 grams of fiber.

Pinto beans

A half cut of pinto beans offers more than 25 percent of your daily folate requirement, which protects you against heart disease. Half a cup contains 103 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 6 grams of fiber.

Skim milk

Skim milk offers vitamin B2, which is important for good vision and along with Vitamin A could improve allergies. You also get calcium and vitamin D as well. One cup contains 86 calories, o fat, and 0 fiber.

While Skin Milk is in the healthiest foods category for the younger generation, as we age we need a little more fat in our diet, so using regular or 2% milk in your diet is ok, too.

Seafood

Salmon

Hassieskitchentable.com

All cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are excellent sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which help to reduce the risk of cardiac disease. A 3 ounce portion of salmon contains 127 calories, 4 grams of fat, and 0 fiber.

Crab

Crab is a great source of vitamin B12 and immunity boosting zinc. A 3 ounce serving of crab offers 84 calories, 1 gram of fat, and 0 fiber.

With just a few changes in our diets, we can assure ourselves that we are doing our best to eat the healthiest foods from the garden or grocery stores.

If you’re looking for a meatless meal that satisfies, look no further. This isn’t an exact recipe, it lets you choose your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices.  Instead it is meant to inspire you for your next veggie only meal.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then open your refrigerator and see what is in the vegetable draw.  Choose your favorites and begin chopping up some veggies.  Next add some herbs, such as, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano or mint.  Drizzle with Olive Oil, then lightly toss.  Add a pinch or two or my favorite spices, salt and pepper, lightly mix to mingle the flavors.  Using two pieces of foil, [or as many as you need] divide the vegetables and place on the foil, folding them into small pouches.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for a hot crunchy texture or 35 minutes for a completely cooked meal. 

Hassieskitchentable.com

In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes with basil, parsley and oregano.  You can also add, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies.  Most will work well in this little quick and easy [no] recipe meatless meal.

Take care when opening the pouch as steam can burn fingers and noses, if gotten too close.  The aroma will be amazing but don’t stop there, add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic reduction or soy sauce, then serve over rice, pasta, Quinoa or just have it by itself.  With all the flavors and texture of this meatless meal you will not miss the meat at all.

hassieskitchentable.com

If you prefer your food grilled, this [no] recipe can be done on your grill, also.  Just be sure to use one of the vegetable baskets made just for grilling so your chopped veggies will not fall through the grill while cooking.  Complete the cooking before adding the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or Olive oil to the hot vegetables.  Toss to incorporate the flavors before serving. Serve with some slices of warmed french bread that has been sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese for a meal to remember.