HAPPY BLOG-A-VERSARY!

HAPPY BLOG-A-VERSARY!

Hi Smileys!

Thank you so much for your support this past year. It has been such a joy sharing some of my passions with you. Whether it be cooking, wine, or tips to financial peace you have been here and I truly appreciate it. Family and friends have wanted me to start a blog for years and I wasn’t really interested. I took a stab at it by starting on YouTube first but  eventually added the blog. I enjoy sharing on both avenues but what I love most is that I have been able to have a central place where everyone can go when they have a question for me in regards to a recipe, wine or finance.

I look forward to many more posts and I hope that you are enriched each time you visit.

Keep Smiling, XOXO Danny

 

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One Pan Dinner, Delicious!

One Pan Dinner, Delicious!

Hi Smiley’s,

You know I am always trying to find ways to make life less hectic all within a defined budget. But I must say, cooking everyday, three times a day, can be very exhausting. Especially when it is followed by mountains of dishes. YES, I use the dishwasher and YES, I use paper plates but some items must be hand washed and paper plates don’t rid of all dishes. And to be honest, I’d rather wash plates then buy them because that is money that goes into the trash everyday, literally!!!! Anyway, it is a small sacrifice that helps lighten a burden.

Well, this month while drowning in loads of laundry and dishes, I found myself thinking: “There’s got to be a better way!!!” For centuries, hot, delicious and nutritious meals were made all while houses remained spotless. Where am I going wrong? I mean there’s always: sandwiches, salads, and eating out. But eating out all the time has it consequences: budget and health. Sandwiches, same thing, a bunch of refined carbs and processed meats shouldn’t be the foundation of one’s diet. And salads, salads are great but everyday, twice a day and that’s it?? hmmm, nooo, my family likes me to break up the monotony and now I’ve grown accustomed to it.

So, one day I was out at Barnes and Noble and normally when I am down in the food menu planning dumps I go buy a cookbook but this time I thought I would browse the Magazine section. While doing so, this recipe caught my eye! It was the answer I was looking for: One Pan Meals!!! Yes, Yes, Yes. So we have the CrockPot… Now, we are adding this beauty to our Toolkit of Simpleness. And what I love most is that it stays within my guidelines of Nutritious and Delicious.

Magazine: Diabetic Living, Summer 2018

Recipe: Sheet Pan Orange-Apricot Drumsticks

(Smiling Danny Tweaks/Additions will be notated with a **)

You will need:

  • 1 pound multi-color fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
    • ** I did not cut the fingerling potatoes
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed
    • ** I bought Organic Green Beans that were bagged so I did not trim them since they didn’t have a stem
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
    • ** I diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ** Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
    • ** I did not use salt, you get plenty of salt from the soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
    • ** I used all the pepper on the veggies and did not add to the marinade
  • 4 large chicken drumsticks (1½-2 lbs. total), skin removed
    • ** I used 5 drumsticks, skin attached
  • 1 orange
    • **I used 2 tablespoons of orange juice instead
  • 3 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
    • ** I used reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Place potatoes, green beans and onion on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. Nestle chicken into the vegetables.

Grate ½ tsp. zest from orange and squeeze it to get 2 Tbsp. juice. Combine the zest and juice, preserves, soy sauce (or tamari), garlic and the remaining ¼ tsp. each salt and pepper in a small bowl. Brush the chicken with half of the glaze.

Roast the chicken and vegetables for 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables; turn the chicken and brush with the remaining glaze. Continue roasting until the chicken registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer and the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes more.

Before

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After

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So Smileys, I hope this helps you this month with your menu planning and with making your life a little less hectic. This magazine also featured 35 recipes plus a week long menu plan (not sponsored). Check out the Wine section of the website to see which wine I paired with this delicious meal. Also, check out the Finance section to see my budget tip of the month. I also updated my Cooking and About sections. You can visit my YouTube Channel for more recipes. Channel: Smiling Danny.

In the Meantime, Bon Appetit and Happy Tasting.

XOXO, Smiling Danny

Fast Food Fixes and Cutting Corners

Fast Food Fixes and Cutting Corners

Hi Smileys!

I hope you all had a wonderful month of January and found ways to save $$$ and cook more at home. I sure have. I noticed through the month though that there were times when I had a taste for Chinese food or Mexican food. Instead of going out to eat though, I whipped up a couple of dishes that were simple and delicious.

The first dish I made was what I call: Green Chile Enchilada Chicken. I sauteed some chicken breast tenderloins (1 lb) in olive oil. Chicken was seasoned with lemon, parsley and black pepper (You can add salt). Then I took one packet of green chile enchilada mix and poured it over the chicken. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I made some black beans and I also roasted some zucchini and squash. Once the chicken was nice and simmered I plated it along with the sides. Once plated, I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top of the chicken and black beans. Then I added pico de gallo on top of the beans as well. Very delicious! I felt like I went out to eat.

The next dish I made was Orange Chicken. From Sprout’s Grocer I bought a bag of orange chicken and heated it per package instructions. Meanwhile, I made some brown rice, simmered some frozen broccoli (seasoned with pink salt and pepper) and I baked some vegetable egg rolls. Once the chicken was done I plated my meal: brown rice, broccoli on top, then chicken on top. Deeee-licious!

So Smileys, these are a couple of recipes that you can use so that you can get that going out to eat feel without messing up too many dishes and without spending too much money. The family enjoyed both meals!

Lastly, this month I went through my grocery list and found ways that I could save money on my purchase. Of course you know that I enjoy using coupons. I also found that I can save money by brewing a pot of tea versus buying a gallon. Another thing I found was that I could buy my salad leaves and chop it myself versus buying it in the bags. Warehouse stores such as Sam’s and Costco also have their salad at a good price. Buying value packs of cheese and fruit (apples and oranges) saved money and lastly, buying frozen mixed berries versus fresh berries was also a money saver.

I hope you find these tips helpful!

 

Bon Appetit and Happy Saving, Smiling Danny

 

 

January Challenge

January Challenge

Hi Smileys!

As you know, I enjoy cooking AND budgeting/saving. This year I am determined to reject that urge to order take-out and embrace the leftovers that I have in the fridge. My family doesn’t eat out often but the few times that we do, we find it to be very expensive and not always tastefully satisfying. This year I intend on doing a lot more cooking and a lot more saving. I feel weird saying that because I cook A LOT! But like I said, $30-$50 per take-out adds up and will look very nice sitting in a savings account versus leaving my fingertips.

I’ve tried the planning your meals bit but find that I don’t cook what I intended on cooking. I usually cook based off of what I have a hankering for; with the exception of breakfast/lunch. I do intend on trying that again as a means to save money but not sure how successful I will be with that. Any other suggestions?

Anyway, I’m sure you are wondering: Sooo Danny, what’s the challenge? The challenge is to cook more this year as a means to eat out less and also to save money. So, will you join me? Will you join this: “Cook more, Spend Less challenge?” I sure hope so. I would love for us to do this together; encouraging each other along the way. Your reasons for cooking more this year may be different from mine but whatever reason, we will make a great team!

Happy Cooking, Smiling Danny

Recipe:

I kicked off my month this month by cooking Turkey Spaghetti with a Butternut Squash Sauce. Deee-lish!

Ingredients: 1lb Ground Turkey Meat, 1/2 pkg wheat spaghetti noodles, Dave’s Gourmet Butternut Squash Sauce,  Pink Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder

Instructions: Season and Brown Meat, Cook Noodles, Simmer sauce. Combine cooked meat and sauce, season with salt and pepper. Once sauce tastes to liking, remove from heat and add cooked noodles. Let stand for 5 mins. Bon Appetit!

 

 

What’s for Dinner? Leftovers, Nooo… Can we have Take-out?

What’s for Dinner? Leftovers, Nooo… Can we have Take-out?

I know, I know. Sometimes, we get in that mood where we don’t want leftovers for dinner. Or as I like to say: Fir Dinner, hahaha :). However; leftovers, can be convenient and beneficial to your household because it saves time, money, energy, thought, debates, and can improve your health. How does it improve my health Danny? It improves your health because it forces you to stay on the diet that you have determined for yourself, that is if you are cooking the appropriate meals conducive to your diet, and you get to dictate what and how much salt, sugar, butter, etcetera that is going in your dish. And my favorite, it saves money because you aren’t paying double, sometimes triple, the price for a meal that you can cook better yourself.

So here is what happened tonight, I went to the fridge to do my mid-week: “what’s in the refrigerator that we need to eat so that it doesn’t get wasted bit?” I found some boneless ribs. Let me tell you, I WAS NOT EXCITED about having this for dinner but I wanted to end the year and start a new one with a bang, so I refused to spend grocery money on eating out. These ribs looked so bland and lifeless. I could taste my palate desiring something else… Something else like…. Ramen Noodles. RAMEN NOODLES! YES! Ramen Noodles! And No, not the fancy smancy gourmet kind but the the 25 cents, high sodium, cardiac arrest Ramen noodles. Oriental to be exact. Instead, I took those ribs, put them on the stove on low heat and began thinking of what I could do to elevate this dinner. I am watching my sugar intake and since I don’t eat much desserts I am cutting back in other areas such as carbohydrates and condiments. So I knew my go-to adding BBQ sauce wasn’t going to work because it is loaded with unnecessary sugars. So I took some raw unfiltered honey and some steak sauce and mixed those together. (1 part honey, 2 parts steak sauce) and wha-la! I had my own delicious sauce and my family truly enjoyed! I heard yums and palate tunes all throughout dinner. My heart was so filled. It was if I had been in the kitchen all day.

I also kicked this meal into a high gear by changing up my sides and by not using paper plates. Instead of the regular and routine brown rice I would normally use, tonight I did wild rice with carrots and peas. Delicious!

So now, we ate good and we have money to eat out when we like, we get to order what we want and can truly enjoy the experience and fun of eating out at a good restaurant.

So Smileys, take your leftovers to the next level by changing up the sides, sauces and/or seasonings and even by using different dishes (that you already have in your home) and surprise your family and their taste-buds with a new recipe or meal created and made by you!

Happy Eating!

Smiling Danny

 

This month’s recipe:

No Sugar Added BBQ Sauce:

1/8c Honey (Raw and Unflitered)

2/8c of Steak Sauce

Steak, heat on low heat until warm, serve on meat of choice

Danny’s meat of choice: Pork Ribs

Wash 12 boneless ribs, season with Himalayan Pink Salt, Black Pepper and Garlic Powder. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven until pork is no longer pink. Let meat rest.  Serve with sauce poured over meat. Enjoy.

 

 

Life Made Simple

Life Made Simple

I love my family! I love doing all I can for them: cooking, baking, teaching and conversing. Family is a good thing and Praise God for that blessing that He has given unto us, to enjoy them here on earth.

These past couple of months have been filled with hills and sweet calm lakes and I am Thankful for the lessons learned in both.

One thing I learned was to “Give yourself some Grace.” Yes, it is wonderful to pour into your family but that does not necessarily mean draining yourself of all you have in the process (Thank You Friend, You know who are). The other sweet nugget I was told this month was by my Loving Mother in Law, She said: “Hey, It’s okay to serve your food on paper products, Then you won’t have to wash dishes.” Oh My Goodness, what an Epiphany! I can do that! Not only can I do that, I took it to the next level: I began cooking and baking with aluminum products and the end was an easy clean-up!

So this month my advice to you is to Enjoy your Family and Friends! What a blessing they are and what precious, sweet, little time we have with them here on earth. In the meantime, we can still make and serve a delicious and nutritious meal without draining ourselves in the process.

Happy Cooking and Baking,

Smiley Danny Girl

The Breakfast Rut

The Breakfast Rut

Hi Smileys!

Have you ever found yourself getting up in the morning and not knowing what to make for breakfast? Or really not having a taste for anything but extremely hungry? It seems like breakfast, or any mealtime for that matter, can be monotonous:  Eggs, Oats, and Salty Pork. Of course we can switch it up a bit by making omelets, frittata’s, quiche’s etcetera; but it is still eggs. We can also switch our protein but……I still find myself getting bored very quickly with the breakfast menu.

This month, as a means to find my way out of the tunnel of The Breakfast Rut, I added some fresh fruit, seasonal english muffins, and a mocktail mimosa to our breakfast menu just to add a bit of excitement to my life and taste buds. And I have to admit, it was very nice. On the morning that I made our “Mimosa’s”, it felt like we had went out to a restaurant for brunch! It’s the little things. So although breakfast may seem tedious and overwhelming, little changes here and there can spruce up the menu and add a little excitement along the way.

Well Smileys, that is all that I have for now. I hope you are enjoying the beginning of the holidays with your friends and family. I absolutely love the Fall! Enjoy this time and season, as you can’t get it back. Don’t get caught up in things that are unimportant and frivolous: such as breakfast menus. Instead, enjoy your loved ones and eat good food along the way.

Happy Cooking,

Smiling Danny

Recipes:

  1. Mocktail Mimosa:
    • Ingredients:
      • 1 Part Sparkling Water
      • 2 Parts Orange Juice
    • Serve in a champagne flute
  2. Oven Crispy Bacon
    • Place bacon on a sheet pan
    • Place in cold oven
    • Heat oven to 375 degrees, 400 degrees  if thick sliced
    • Turn over after one side has browned
    • Cooking time depends on bacon manufacturer and bacon thickness so keep an eye out.
  3. Egg Muffins
    •  Ingredients:
      • 6 eggs
      • Your Choice: garlic, onions, peppers, meat, cheese
      • 1/4 c milk
      • Salt and pepper
    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    • Beat raw eggs as normal
    • Add whatever vegetables and cheese to eggs
    • Season
    • Add milk
    • Pour egg mixture in greased muffin pan
    • Cook for about 10 to 15 mins or until egg is firm