It’s Almost the Middle of the Month Already?!

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Have. Mercy. Cannot believe that this month is nearly half over. It feels like it was just yesterday that we rang in the new year. I have missed writing and sharing with you all, and I’m sorry it’s been over a month since I’ve added anything new. I was busier than I anticipated and put all my time and energy into the holidays, which left no time to take gobs of pictures or have enough mental juices left to concoct a blog post.

 

 

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How I felt every night after spending hours in the kitchen prepping, baking and cooking during December…I may have drooled a couple of times 😉 But I have no proof!

If I had been working in a restaurant I would have clocked 12 hours a day with a two hour break in between that I spent in the kitchen for a week and half before Christmas. I was SO ready for an actual vacation! You’d think that a three week vacation that was planned would have been enough, but alas it wasn’t. After Christmas was said and done, I was destined to have one more week of time off before our new school year was to begin. Thankfully, and honestly I cannot thank my Mom enough for this, my Mom told me to take an extra week for myself! I was beyond grateful! December 29th came and I declared that for that week I would do little to no cooking. At that point I was sick of being in the kitchen, tired of making food, and wanted nothing more than to just sit with my feet up. I almost held true to my words, there were a couple of times I got in there to help my Mom cook dinner 🙂

January 5th rolled around and thus began my week of leisure. Sunday evening, on the 4th, I started a trilogy by my favorite author and by Tuesday morning I had finished said trilogy. Immediately after finishing her trilogy I started reading her fourth book and by Saturday morning around 5am I was finishing up her 5th book. I have waited an entire year to read her books and FINALLY was able to get through them all within a week! I loved them all, each one taking me to different places(Victorian England, Medieval England, and my own Home Town) all from the comfy of my own bed. Now I did get back into the kitchen to cook dinner every night, but spending all day and late into the night reading her monster length novels was truly the escape that I needed. I saw very little of my family here, G–Man would come up every night to my room and hang out with me, bring in his legos and talk my ear off for a bit and I would listen intently to him relaying to me how his day went. Don’t judge me now, I rarely do anything for myself. I can count on my hand the times I’ve done anything remotely relaxing or enjoyable. Which amounts to two other times!
I’m not a mom who goes out and gets mani/pedi’s every month, neither do I go out with my girls every month, or send my child off to the grandparents because we live with the grandparents! And I’m in no way passing any judgment on those who are able to do the above mentioned. We all need those times when we can steal away for ourselves an hour, two hours, a whole weekend…or a week! It’s glorious when it happens and I confess even when I get two hours of time alone I never know what to do with myself. I’m so used to doing things around the house, doing stuff with G–Man or prepping up something that just to sit and do nothing…I have no words for it. It was a time I surely will never forget, a time well spent and coveted for the rest of my life!

And now we are in our post holiday school year, today was our first day back. The classroom was a balmy 47 degrees when we came up here, though the heater is on at the moment my fingers are still frozen. Tis’ the season! So what will this new year bring for the Night Owl Kitchen Blog? Hopefully tasty delights, healthy recipes, fun crafts, more 5 favorites, and as blessed a year as 2014 was! Truly there was so much to be thankful for last year and already I’m beyond thankful that our family hasn’t been stricken with the cold or flu *knock on wood*. 

I will however share one thing that I’m currently doing and it’s the 2015 Reading Challenge. I’m not going in order of the list of categories, but with 5 books already marked off(one being a trilogy) I’d say I’m doing pretty good!

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Anyone else willing to take this challenge with me? There’s still time to get in on it! I personally love this reading challenge because I can pick and choose which books I want to read within the categories listed. I don’t personally like having to read previously chosen titles of books that I would never in my life read. It reminds me too much of the AR program(Accelerated Reading program) in public school. But the above list allows the reader to choose books within a set category thus branching out from genres that we may necessarily not venture into. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Pulitzer Prize-Winning books, but I am carefully considering a couple and will make a final decision soon.
Currently I am reading a book my Mom loves, and this was hard for her to even decide on because she loves so many! But she did finally choose one from her collection and it’s titled Katherine(c.1954). I started reading it last night and will spend this week reading it when I can, but since I’m 5 weeks ahead of the reading challenge I could take some extra time enjoying it 🙂

And that’s all I got for today, I do have some recipes lined up to share and hopefully I haven’t lost any of you with my month long silence. Come back when you can, the kitchen is always open!!

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Book Nook Freebies(yes more than one!)

Got four free ebooks here filled with yummy smoothie and juice recipes! If you’ve been wanting to try some green smoothies and weren’t too sure if you wanted to spend money on a cookbook then look no further! Click each image to get your free ebook copy!

All 31 unique smoothie recipes were designed for:

* Increased energy
* Increasing fruits and veggie intake
* Faster recovery from being worn out
* Faster than cooking
* And to taste great

“The book 40 Green Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss is ideal for those who want to start on a juice diet and even for those who are already juicing for weight loss and want to keep it healthy all the way.”

“40 Juicing Recipes for Weight Loss is a collection of fresh juice recipes for those who want to lose weight effectively without compromising their health. It is a perfect companion for dieters who want to lose a few inches and pounds while keeping their body nourished, strong and healthy.”

 

“Hi, my name is Troy Adashun.

I’m a fitness model, health freak, and long time Smoothie Enthusiast. I am passionate to share some of my favorite smoothie recipes of all time in this book.

Smoothies are one of the easiest and most convenient ways to get an abundance of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that will help you become the healthiest and most energetic you possible! The great thing about these smoothie recipes is that many contain both fruits and vegetables. This should not scare you, as the recipes are all tried and tested and blend deliciously – even for the person who doesn’t enjoy vegetables by themselves.

Enjoying one of these smoothies daily is a giant leap forward to fat loss and optimal health. In today’s day and age, many of us are consuming to many calories but are actually nutrient deficient. Enjoying one of the delicious smoothies every day in this recipe book will not only help you lose weight, but increase your overall health and energy levels. Once you feel the amazing health benefits of smoothies, you will not want to go one day without one.

Happy Blending and Good Luck to you all!”

 

I’m in love with each book, they offer delicious recipes, helpful tips and I’m learning how to customize the recipes to fit my dietary needs.

Feel free to share your favorite smoothie/juice recipes below in the comments. Always enjoy trying something new 🙂

CHEERS!

Book Nook Freebie & Friday Food Saving Tip

(Click the above picture to download your free copy)

Hello everyone! Since getting back to full on lower carb and alkaline lifestyles I have lost 5 pounds in a week. I’m sure that’s just water weight but that’s 5 less pounds that I no longer have to carry around. WOO-HOO!! I haven’t even really been able to work out with the way my schedule is and yesterday with my back being out. It was solely because of eating the right foods for me, so yes it can be done and you can do it too! One of the main things I’ve been eating are salads. Nothing special with a lot of ingredients, just lettuce, organic cucumber, chicken, and a little dressing. Lunches have been a hit or miss this week, I know that’s not good,  but when I do remember to eat I usually go for a simple chicken salad with black and green olives and shredded cheddar cheese that’s been mixed with some homemade mayonnaise. Sounds gross but it’s actually really good and filling! I was excited to see the above ebook on Amazon, love trying new things after all.  As I shared on Instagram this morning, it’s important to change up your meals to keep things interesting. For low carb eaters it can be difficult when there are certain things we can’t have. But of the foods that are safe and low in carbs I say load up on them, especially if they are carb free.

Now salads don’t have to be green in order to be healthy. There is a delicious pasta salad recipe in this book that looks very promising! I love using Dreamfield’s Pasta for pasta salads (I don’t recommend even Dreamfield’s Pasta for diabetics, please be aware that there not everyone can tolerate even that low carb pasta). It always comes out al dente, which holds up better in salad form and I love that these recipes can be tailored to your specific dietary needs! If you know you can’t have a certain ingredient or prefer a lighter or fattier version of oil you can use whatever you prefer. What’s important is that you pick and choose the right ingredients that will promote a healthier you! So be sure to head on over to Amazon to get your free copy of this yummy cookbook and start eating for a healthier you!

For two weeks now I’ve been cooking up turkey bacon, marinading chicken, boiling eggs, and keeping egg muffins in the fridge for quick and easy meals. It’s been nice going to the fridge and pulling out some cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast, and slicing up the chicken to eat on a wrap with lettuce and spicy brown mustard. It just takes a little planning, making sure you have everything for the first round of cooking, and by mid week cooking up an alternative to help keep from getting bored with my meals.
There have been days where I just chop up some cucumber, red onion, kale, and eat it for a meat free meal. That’s good to do every once in a while, kind of like a cleanse to detox your system. Be sure to balance out the fruits and vegetables that are safe for you to eat with the proper amount of protein and fiber.

For breakfast I like to prepare the following:

Boiled Eggs

Egg Muffins

Pork Sausage Patties

Turkey and Regular Bacon

Boiling eggs is pretty much the easiest thing to do. Well, I learned earlier this year the trick to getting the eggs to peel with ease it by putting salt in the water. I get liberal with the salt every time I boil up some eggs. Depending on the size eggs you’re boiling will determine how long you will need to boil them.  I always peel the eggs once they are cooled, wrapping them in a moist paper towel and store either in a plastic bag or container. This way my Dad won’t have to take the extra time in peeling them himself, he can just grab an egg or two and go. Makes his morning that much easier!

Egg Size

Degree of Doneness

Time Required

Medium

Soft-cooked yolk

3 minutes

 

Medium-cooked yolk

5 minutes

 

Hard-cooked yolk

12 minutes

Large

Soft-cooked yolk

4 to 5 minutes

 

Medium-cooked yolk

6 minutes

 

Hard-cooked yolk

17 minutes

Extra Large

Soft-cooked yolk

5 minutes

 

Medium-cooked yolk

7 to 8 minutes

 

Hard-cooked yolk

19 minutes

Above is a chart that I have found to be extremely helpful when boiling large eggs. Print it out and keep handy on the fridge or in your favorite family cookbook! Image is courtesy of What’s Cooking America.

There are oodles of egg muffin recipes out there, which one to pick will be up to you! I am quite fond of the egg muffin (click here) recipe I shared from last week.  You can definitely add any vegetables you like, use different cheeses, use egg substitutes if you prefer, and really make it your own. The egg muffin recipe I used was a pretty basic recipe, nothing over the top and versatile enough to change up the flavors. I make a dozen every time, after turning them out of the pan you must let them cool completely before storing them in a ziploc bag or container. Everyone has enjoyed having them for breakfast and/or snack in the afternoons. These also freeze well so make up a bunch of egg muffins, wrap in saran wrap and place in freezer safe bag or container. All you’ll need to do then is take one or two out before you go to bed, place them in the fridge and reheat in the microwave the next morning.

     

(The images above are not mine, I found them through Bing Images, I love how neatly organized they are and how easily everything can be found. Even my fridge doesn’t look like this 🙂 If nothing else, let this serve as inspiration in how to store your prepared meals for the week. I’m definitely thinking of attacking my own this weekend to make it more efficient for our family.)

Feel free to cook up any breakfast meat you and your family will enjoy. Let it cool completely before storing in a ziploc bag or container. For a family of five I usually make a dozen patties because some mornings a family member might eat three instead of two patties and that’s all they may want for breakfast. Having a little extra for those occasions is a good idea! We make up two different kinds of bacon in our house, regular and turkey. Some family members like to eat both, so we buy it in bulk from Sam’s Club and keep it in the freezer until it’s time to cook up some more. Having cooked bacon in the fridge is a nice quick snack, addition to a salad or wrap. I never like to reheat it once it’s been cooked but you can certainly do that if you prefer. My son sure does 🙂

I haven’t branched out into make gluten-free breakfast muffins or quick breads. While it’s a nice treat to have, it isn’t very filling, the idea is to make meals that will hold everyone over until their next snack or meal without leaving them groggy or hungry two hours later. So choose wisely my young padawans 😉

For lunch and sometimes dinner I like to keep marinaded chicken cooked up and ready to go. It has become my staple these past two weeks, I’ve enjoyed them on salads, wraps, and even for breakfast with a boiled egg. You can use any marinade you like, I just kept it simple and used flavors that I’m familiar with. For seven chicken breasts I used:

Lemon Juice

Peanut Oil

Thyme

Rosemary

Garlic Powder

Dried Minced Onion

Salt and Pepper

Place it all in a gallon size bag. Mush it all around and let it marinade overnight. The next day either grill, bake or pan cook the chicken till it is completely done (or till the meat reaches 165 degrees). There is no reason to reserve the marinade, I just toss it out. Let the meat cool completely and store in a plastic bag or container. The chicken was the most tender I had ever eaten! I think letting it sit overnight in the marinade really helped tenderize it, even after reheating for a minute in the microwave it still retained it’s tenderness. I was very pleased! Note I did not include any measurements, it was literally something I threw together and didn’t think twice about being specific about (my Mom gets on to me for that a lot). However, below I’ve included some links to similar recipes like mine and this weekend I will write down measurements in case anyone is interested in trying my marinaded chicken 🙂

Have fun prepping and getting your family ready for a new week! Take care and have a blessed weekend!!

 

Book Nook Freebie & Food Storage Friday

Got a yummy free ebook for y’all! It’s all about easy jar recipes which can all so be stored for long term storage! If you find yourself running out of time to make holiday goodies for everyone on your Christmas list (teachers, neighbors, close friends, co-workers, extended family members, etc) then try your hand at making some jarred goodies and help free up your holidays just a tad more!

(Click the above image to download)

Just spent some time going through this book and already I want to get started on making up several jars to give away this fall and Christmas to friends and family. I love how simplistic Bonnie Scott has made it and she tells you what to include on the labels. Now the only thing missing are said labels…

I do have a few links of some free printable Mason jar labels.

http://limeshot.com/2012/free-printable-mason-jar-labels

http://www.overthebigmoon.com/holiday-jar-labels/

http://www.tipjunkie.com/organize/how-to-make-labels-jar-canning/  (There are 15 free printables here)

http://printthistoday.com/free-printable-christmas-and-holiday-labels-2/  (Various Holidays and Other labels)

Now I love printing these out on card stock paper, punch a hole at the top and thread some ribbon or twine through it to tie onto the jar. You can use coordinating ribbon to keep with the festive flare, or if you prefer you can print these onto adhesive label sheets for easy placement onto the jar lids.

Cookie mixes are always hit with most folks, but a lot of people just like having something ready to munch on. That’s why crackers, bridge mixes, chex mixes, and granolas are always on the top of my list to give! It helps to give others a break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday, allowing them to take a break from a hot kitchen and just relax before a roaring fire with their loved ones 🙂 Which there is nothing better than making sweet memories around the holidays!

So now’s the time to get started, get your bulk ingredients ready, buy up those summer canning jars while they’re on sale and that way you’ll be set to make some fantabulous jarred gifts instead of waiting to the last minute worrying about what to give everyone. That is never fun and causes more headache than enjoyment. Have a blessed Friday!!

Book Nook Freebie: Gooseberry Patch eBook

Good morning everyone!! It’s finally Friday, we made it, we survived another week, and the weekend is just hours away 🙂 Above is an amazing find, rarely do I find a free Gooseberry Patch book. Perhaps I’m not always looking in the right place but I just had to share this one in case someone didn’t have it (I know I didn’t).

Also found a yummy recipe for gluten free peanut butter cookies. Head on over to Shockingly Delicious (<—Click there) to get the recipe. I’m going to make them into bars/squares instead of individual cookies. Will update with pictures later 🙂

Hope you all have a blessed day!

Update

Decided to make a couple of changes to the recipe, since they were gluten-free I also wanted to make them sugar-free. Instead of sugar I used Stevia in the Raw and had to add an extra egg to compensate for the Stevia (you wouldn’t have to do that if you are using regular sugar). After mixing all the ingredients together I pressed the dough into a 9-inch round cake pan and baked it for 10 minutes. Let it cool for 3 minutes and served it up. I’m in love with this recipe, personally. It isn’t too terribly sweet, and if you wanted to add some finishing sugar on top you most certainly can. My son added a little Truvia to the top of his slice and he liked it even more. We had our slices with some turkey sausage patties to round out the “breakfast”.

If you want to add some chocolate chips or drizzle some chocolate over the top you can most certainly do that too. These were insanely easy to make and would be perfect to add to any lunch box!

Gluten Free Peanut Butter 001

Baked to perfection!

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Still warm from the toaster oven (I love baking smaller treats in our toaster oven hehe).

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These aren’t going to last much longer 😀

Book Nook Freebie: 31 Days To A Clean and Organized Home

So excited about today’s book nook freebie, I love reading books that give me a fresher view on how to improve the home. Hope you all head on over to down load it and share the link with others!!


You can either click the picture above or click “31 Days To a Clean and Organized Home” in order to download the book.

My favorite chapters so far are three, four, and five. Chapter four was bit of a tough love chapter because even I fail at keeping our home spotless and organize. It’s a great chapter and lays out why people fail. I think the thing for me is I get an idea of how I want it to be (aka perfect) and I fall terribly short of reaching that goal because let’s face it, I’m not perfect! So I need to work on stop setting these unreachable goals and stop telling myself there’s plenty of time to get around to cleaning.

Truth moment:

Because I’m blogging now, doing lots of research for my posts, advertising my site, and back into a new school year my plate feels doubly full and cleaning is the last thing I want to do. Honestly. If I could get away with not having to do it I would. So the clutter grows just a little bit more on the table tops, the laundry sits in the basket a few days longer before getting folded, and deep cleaning the stove top gets put off for another week. There’s really no excuse, no buts, just being lazy and not wanting to do yet one more thing.

Today’s Goal:

  • Clean off the table tops which includes dusting and wiping down the glass insert.
  • Fold basket of laundry.

What will you do today to clean or organize one thing in your home? It can be one area or one room (if you’re feeling motivated).

Have a blessed day 🙂

 

Book Nook Freebie

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Today’s free eBook: Scientifically Proven home Remedies is full of proven home remedies that will come in handy for just about any situation. Get it today, share the link with others and if you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app for your iPhone, iPod, iPad, and/or computer. I have it on my iPod and it works like a charm!

Happy reading!!

Book Nook Freebies

Morning all, today’s Book Nook Freebies (yes more than one!!) are for kids! Unless your children are like Phineas and Ferb, always doing something each day, they most likely get bored fast and easily (mine does every year). With that said, I found a good assortment of free Kindle downloads from Amazon. Jokes, stories, interesting facts, the classics, projects, recipes etc. I’ve been downloading like crazy this morning 🙂

  1. Guinness World Records 2013 Bonus Chapter
  2. Tongue Twisters for Kids
  3. 101 Best Jokes
  4. Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
  5. Lily Lemon Blossom Welcome to Lily’s Room
  6. Jokes for Kids: 299 Funny and Hilarious Clean Jokes for Kids
  7. No Way Out–And Other Scary Short Stories
  8. Ripley’s RBI 01: Scaly Tale
  9. SMART SCHOOL TIME RECIPES: The Breakfast, Snack, and Lunchbox Cookbook for Healthy Kids and Adults
  10. Robinson Crusoe
  11. A Little Cook Book for a Little Girl
  12. Gulliver’s Travels
  13. The Legend of King Arthur and His Knights
  14. Oliver Twist
  15. Practical Duct Tape Projects
  16. Duct Tape Bags
  17. Riddle Chest: 50 Original Riddles to Stump Your Brain
  18. Quirk Books Entertains Your Kids
  19. Children’s Rhymes, Children’s Games, Children’s Songs, Children’s Stories A Book for Bairns and Big Folk
  20. Survival 101: The Essential Guide to Saving Your Life in a Disaster
  21. Volcanoes for Kids
  22. Bow & Arrow Archery Set for Scouts
  23. Dolphins: Amazing Pictures and Fun Facts on Animals in Nature
  24. History of Billy the Kid
  25. Why Are Turtles So Crazy Awesome?
  26. Treasure Island
  27. Grimm’s Fairy Tales

There are a plethora of other books, other titles that may interest your child, some are only free if you are an Amazon Prime Member. Happy reading!

 

Amanda Gayle

Book Nook Freebie & Food Storage 101 Tip

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This is so exciting, yesterday I watched a 30 minute video about aquaponics and today I found this free eBook! I find aquaponics to be interesting, see I can’t go outside like I used to. Three years ago I started to have a bad reaction to mosquito bites. It’s common to get the little itchy bump to which you add a little anti-itch cream and you go on with your life. For me,with each passing year the reaction has turned into a hypersensitivity/allergy. Every time I’m bitten the bite(s) grow into welts and spread out into weird shapes. Plus each bite feels like I’m on fire, hydrocortisone cream does not stop the itching, if anything it makes it worse. My mom is concerned I’ll go anaphylactic one of these days, and at times it can seem like I’m already there. Especially when I have multiple bites all at once. I can no longer tend a garden, go outside with my son, sit around the fire pit making s’mores with my family, I can’t go to the park to watch a movie, or watch fireworks. DEET products do not work for me, all natural products barely work,  and this year we didn’t start up a garden. The pro and con is (1) we can help support the local farmers which is great, (2) we’re unable to be self-reliant, and I miss that.

Solution?

Aquaponics! This can be done anywhere, basements, in small apartments, outside, and while today’s eBook is about growing Tilapia you can have other fish to help give you a variety. The best thing is you can grow stuff year round! There are people who do this in the dead of winter, snow on the ground kind of winter. I don’t profess to having much of a green thumb, I kill indoor plants…but this is different, practically self sustaining with minimal upkeep.

Food storage tip: It’s best to have a variety of food sources. Having the expensive cans of freeze dried food is ok, stocking up on MRE’s is alright too, but it shouldn’t be the ONLY food source for you and your family. Having a way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables is a nice change, plus the fresh fish will help add variety to your daily meal. Your pets will benefit from the fish as well, you can dehydrate fish and use them as doggie treats! No harsh chemicals or questionable ingredients, just wholesome treats.

I hope you all enjoy the free eBook and be sure to pass it on to others! Have a blessed day 🙂

Amanda Gayle

Book Nook Freebie!!

Today’s book nook freebie is…

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AARP 2013 Almanac: Free Stuff, Scams and Savings, Diet and Health Tips, Movie Classics and More

This handy book is chock full of information on things to do each month, movies to see, recipes to make, famous birthdays, anniversaries, shopping seasonally(and not just food), fitness tips and so much more! Be sure to share this with all your family and friends!

Have a safe summer!!

Amanda Gayle