The Nog Face-Off

I saw a Facebook post comparing the health/calorie differences between traditional dairy egg nog and a non-dairy almond nog, which got me thinking… I currently have traditional dairy egg nog, non-dairy almond nog, and non-dairy coconut nog in my fridge. It’s time to take these comparisons to the next level. It’s time for a nog face-off!

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First of all, a serving size is ½ cup, which is represented in these pictures. I’m guessing most of us should double the calorie/fat/sugar content listed because when was the last time you poured yourself this small of a glass of egg nog?

For the stats, I’ve labeled them as “Traditional,” “Coconut,” and “Almond.” I put a picture of the nutrition facts of each below, but have highlighted some of the most commonly looked at stats.

Price:
Traditional – Darigold brand from Costco, $7.99 for two half gallons = $2.11 per liter
Coconut – So Delicious brand from Fred Meyer, $2.99 (on sale) = $3.34 per liter
Almond – Califia Farms from Haggen, $4.99 for one and a half quarts = $3.56 per liter

Calories:
Traditional, 190 – Coconut, 90 – Almond, 50

Total Fat:
Traditional, 8 grams – Coconut, 2.5 grams – Almond, 1.5 grams

Sugars:
Traditional, 19 grams – Coconut, 15 grams – Almond, 8 grams

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Now for the texture/creaminess and flavor rakings…

Traditional:

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Texture/creaminess: The traditional obviously has the creaminess you’d expect from egg nog. Thick and rich, heavy but still goes down smooth.
Rank: 1st place

Flavor:  I’ll be the first to admit that my judgment on flavor might be a little skewed, due to the fact that I rarely eat/drink any dairy products. This one definitely has a milky richness that easily stops me from drinking too much of it. The spices added gave it good flavor and it had, what I consider, just about the right amount of sugar (maybe a tad too much, but it was pretty good).
Rank: 2nd place

Coconut:

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Texture/creaminess:  While the coconut nog had a sort of creaminess to it, it was definitely the thinnest or most “watery” nog. I was still pleasantly surprised by how creamy it was, but if you like a good, thick nog, this isn’t your best bet.
Rank: 3rd place

Flavor: I thought the spices added to this one were perfect! It’s a little on the sweet side, I think due to the fact that coconut milk is already a little sweet, but I really enjoyed the flavor. If you don’t like coconut, you won’t like this one though. You can definitely taste the coconut, but I loved the spices and thought the flavors blended together perfectly.
Rank: 1st place

Almond:

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Texture/creaminess: Though not quite as thick as the traditional egg nog, the almond nog definitely came close. I was actually surprised at how thick they were able to make it, since plain almond milk is quite watery.
Rank: 2nd place

Flavor: Out of all three, this one underwhelmed me a little bit. The flavor that was there was ok, it was just too mild for my taste. If you’re not a huge fan of egg nog, you might like this one because it wasn’t nearly as sweet and the spices added were much more subdued. I prefer my nog to taste like nog though, which is why this one gets…
Rank: 3rd place

That wraps it up. Now go enjoy some nog!

Cooking Up a Storm

In preparation for Baby H’s arrival, I decided it would be a good idea to stock our freezer with a bunch of ready-to-go meals so I don’t have to worry about meal planning and finding time to make dinner in the midst of what I assume will be a chaotic, sleep-deprived state.

After busting my butt the past couple of weekends and standing until my feet looked like over-inflated balloons, I finally finished tonight! My freezer is stocked and everything is labeled with re-heating instructions.

It was a little bit challenging coming up with ideas for dairy-free freezer meals, but I think I managed pretty well with the following meals…

Honey-Lime Chicken
Spaghetti Sauce
Sloppy Joe Mix
Lasagna (for Jason, of course!)
Lentil & Ham Soup
Enchiladas (no cheese for me, please!)
Chili
Shepherd’s Pie
Chicken Parmesan (I’ll just have the breaded chicken and marinara, no parmesan)
Roast Beef Sliders/Melts
…And I also made a batch of chocolate chip banana muffins to throw in the freezer, because after everything else, why not some of those too?

I’m ready to stop doing dishes and start enjoying some of those meals! Just another thing to look forward to at the end of this month, right? 🙂

Tasty Bites: Spanish Rice Bake

I have to admit that once again, this recipe was originally from Allrecipes.com… I don’t create amazing meals, I just edit to my taste preferences.  This recipe has made its way into our regular meal rotation, so I decided it was about time to share!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • ½ onion (medium size), finely chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can canned tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 cup water
  • ¾ cup uncooked long grain rice
  • ½ cup chili sauce
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. brown sugar (forgot this the last time we made it and it turned out ok…)
  • ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • We’ve also been known to add taco seasoning and/or some black pepper, depending on our moods.
  • Grated cheese (for Jason)

Directions:

Brown ground turkey in large skillet. Drain excess fat and transfer to a large pot over medium-low heat. Stir in onion, tomatoes, water, rice, chili sauce, salt, brown sugar, and Worcestershire.

(preheat oven to 375 degrees)

Let this simmer for about 30 min., stirring occasionally (make sure it’s simmering, so the rice gets cooked and the water cooks off… ask Jason what happens if it’s not hot enough.) 😉  Then transport to a 2-quart casserole dish. Press down firmly and sprinkle cheddar cheese over top.

Bake uncovered for 10-15 min. or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  Let cool before you try to eat (just ask Malorie…)

Sometimes we eat this as a casserole, sometimes as a chip dip, and sometimes rolled in a tortilla… and sometimes we add sliced olives… It’s a versatile dish.

Enjoy!

Made With Oven Lovin’

There’s a first time for everything, and last week I had a “first.” I think it’s important to have “firsts” in life, keeps things new and interesting. This “first” took 23 years to happen, but it’s happened and there’s no turning back now. Jason and I… ordered pizza and had it… delivered.

While this may be a weekly occurrence for some of you (or a daily occurrence for some college students), it was new to me. I grew up in a family that watched our pennies… all of them. Sure we ordered pizza sometimes, but that exorbitant $2.00 delivery fee was just too much to ask. We ordered and picked-upped, that’s just the way it was.

When Jason found out about my lack of delivery experience he decided it must be remedied that night. Once our dinner plans were decided upon, we didn’t even call the order in. We got online and placed our order, then eagerly watched the real-time updates on the progress of our pizza – order placed… prep… bake… box… delivery – What’s that I hear? Could it be a knock on my door? Sure enough, standing there in the rain was the pizza delivery boy with our dinner. That’s pretty fantastic stuff!

The pizza turned out to be pretty mediocre, but it was all in the experience. Going online, which is something I regularly do anyway, then have pizza magically on your doorstep 20 minutes later is my kind of dinner preparation.

To be honest though, it will probably be a long time before that happens again. A $2.50 delivery fee plus tip is just a few too many pennies for me. 🙂

Made With Oven Lovin'

Tasty Bites: Slow Cooker Taco Soup

I found the base for this recipe on AllRecipes website, but have added a few variations of my own. Jason and I eat this soup a lot… Mostly because it’s easy for me to make. Finding time to cook when you work full time and spend an hour or more on the road each day isn’t always easy, so I highly recommend this recipe to anyone “too busy to cook”.

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans – I use “hot chili beans” don’t know if that makes a difference – drain most of the liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans – drain most of the liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained – I usually have frozen corn on hand and use what I imagine to be a little less than a 15 oz. can
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can chicken broth
  • 2 (10 ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning – I buy my taco seasoning in bulk and I’m not really sure what 1.25 ounces looks like, so I just give it a couple of shakes. I try to go light on the taco seasoning and add cayenne and red pepper flakes for extra flavor/spice.
  • 2 whole skinless, boneless chicken breasts 
  • shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • sour cream (optional)
  • tortilla chips (optional)

 Directions:

Place the onion, chili beans, black beans, corn, tomato sauce, chicken broth, and diced tomatoes in a slow cooker. Add taco seasoning (cayenne and red pepper flakes), and stir to blend. Lay chicken breasts on top of the mixture, pressing down slightly until just covered by the other ingredients. Set slow cooker for low heat, cover, and cook for 5 hours.

Remove chicken breasts from the soup, and shred. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup, and continue cooking for 2 hours. Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and serve with tortilla chips, if desired.

Malorie’s side-notes to those directions:

I combine all of the ingredients (see step one) the night before, then leave the soup mixture in the fridge overnight. Then the next morning – when you’re running late – all you have to do is pull the soup out of the fridge, put it in the slow cooker, turn it on low, and run out the door! I usually end up letting it cook for almost 10 hours, until I get home from work. The chicken will easily pull apart with a couple of forks by this time, and I usually try to add it back to the soup for another 30 min. or so to let the flavor soak in. Jason and I usually eat it half like soup (with a spoon) and half like dip (scooping it out with tortilla chips). Yum!

Happy One-Year-Dating Anniversary To Us!

Jason: So who here can believe that Malorie and I have been dating for one year? I wouldn’t believe you if you told me that, so you shouldn’t believe me either. Actually, you should believe me, because it’s true! We started dating on July 6, 2009.

Malorie: It should be easy to remember our anniversary date, since it’s right after the 4th of July, but I still forgot. 🙁 I remembered on the 4th, but by the time 2 days had passed, I forgot. Jason brought me flowers which I thought was a random act of kindness, but I guess it wasn’t so random. Pretty flowers, aren’t they?

Flowers

Thanks Jason!

Us: So, we celebrated the day after. We decided to enjoy the fantastic summer weather we’ve been having by going to dinner at The Cliff House Restaurant overlooking Bellingham Bay. In retrospect, it may have been a little too nice of summer weather (aka, it was hot!), but we enjoyed their outdoor seating anyway. Dinner was delicious, as you can see from the pictures.

Walnut and Herb Encrusted Halibut

Walnut and Herb Encrusted Halibut

Seafood Pasta Primavera

Seafood Pasta Primavera

We also got to watch the sailboats practicing for the sailboat races.

Sailboats

View From Our Table

Jason: Through all the great times and hardships we had this past year, I can’t wait to see what this next year has in store for us!

Malorie: Jason and I have gotten to know each other pretty well this past year. We’ve seen each other go through good, exciting things and frustrating, disappointing things. And after a year of it, we’re still happy to be dating – I think that’s a good sign. 🙂

One Year Anniversary!

One Year Anniversary!

Tasty Bites: Chipotle Aioli

Jason and I tried this recipe as a dipping sauce for our sweet potato fries and fell in love with it. We use it for fries and on burgers/sandwiches.

Chipotle Aioli:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp. lime juice (I use “generous teaspoons”)
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder (Jason and I couldn’t find chipotle powder at Fred Meyer, so we used “Mexico Arbol Melido “ found with the peppers and spices in the Hispanic food section)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve. Jason and I try to make it a day in advance and chill overnight – this allows the flavors time to blend.

Chipotle Aioli

Tasty Bites: Kung Pao Chicken

Jason made this yummy dish over rice for dinner last night. Go Jason!

Kung Pao Chicken

Marinade Ingredients and Chicken:

  • 1lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast – cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp. white wine
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbsp. of water (unless you’re lazy, then you just throw them in separately)

Combine white wine, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch/water and mix to create marinade. Place chicken in ziplock bag or glass dish, toss in marinade, cover and refrigerate for 30 min.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp. white wine
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp. corn starch dissolved in 2 tbsp. water (see lazy version above)
  • 2 oz. (1/4 cup) hot chili paste (Jason and I used Thai chili paste from the Asian Food Market)
  • 2 tsp. distilled white vinegar
  • 4 tsp. brown sugar
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 (8 oz.) can water chestnuts
  • 4 oz. chopped peanuts

Combine ingredients in saucepan, heat until “aromatic”… (or until chicken is cooked – see below)

Saute chicken with marinade in large skillet until “meat is white and juices run clear” (aka – cook the chicken). Add sauce to chicken and let simmer together until sauce thickens.

Eat and enjoy!