Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

Yummy, easy egg muffins April 14, 2017

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 9:00 am
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eggmufinsWhile I know that breakfast is an important meal, I admit that I often have a difficult time eating a good breakfast. I’m usually hustling out the door to work or an exercise activity without a lot of time to make something healthy. My typical meal is grabbing a granola bar and coffee that I can eat at my desk or in the car.

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But I’m trying to get better about what I eat. So I was happy to discover a new dish for easy to make egg muffins. The eggs provide good protein and the extra ingredients help fill me up. The size makes them easy to pop in the microwave to heat.

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I’ll provide the basic recipe below but you can use any ingredients that you want! Make all vegetable, add some meat or bake with just eggs. Here’s the recipe:

 

 

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Ingredients:

12 large eggs

1/2 cup red peppers, chopped

1/2 cup green peppers, chopped

1/2 cup shredded cheese

1 cup mushrooms, chopped

1/2 cup turkey pepperoni, finely sliced (optional)

1/2 cup bacon bits (optional)

Salt, pepper (or other seasonings) to taste

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Instructions:
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

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Break eggs into mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Add ingredients to eggs and mix well. Season to taste.

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Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Pour egg mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups (I use a 1/3 measuring cup for easy filling). Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of muffin comes out clean.

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Place remaining egg muffins in sealed container and refrigerate. Enjoy!

 

Make a vision board for the new year January 18, 2017

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Cheers to a great year!

Week 3 of my best year ever started! So far, it’s been a good year. I kicked off my fitness routine (more to come on that later), biked a few times, met up with friends many times, and got working on some professional projects.

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One of my favorite activities that I like to do to kick off a new year is make a vision board. It’s a fun, simple way to  keep my goals, and dreams, in a visible spot (I usually keep it in my home office but since I’ve been in a temporary apartment while house hunting, I keep my board on top of the microwave and it’s proven to be a great spot. Every time I heat up some tea, food, whatever, I look at my board. It often reminds me of where I want to head and to lose the distractions!).

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Making a vision board is also a perfect excuse to get some friends together (not that we need excuses!). While you can of course make one on your own, I find it fun to get together to share your goals and see the creativity others use when making a board. My friend hosts an annual vision board making party with a bunch of women, food, drinks and craft supplies. It’s a lot of fun! I couldn’t make it a few times in the past so gathered my sisters and other ladies together because I really wanted to make a vision board. Last year, I helped plan a vision board party for my sorority alumnae chapter. And if you want to make it on your own, go for it!

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Remember that nothing on that board has to be perfect, nor is it set in stone. It’s your vision board! Some women get detailed both with their goals and creativity with paper, stickers and images, while others think broader, find what they need and glue it on wherever the whim takes them. And that’s beautiful because…say it with me….it’s your vision board! (Getting the picture that this project is all about you?)

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You need simple supplies to get started:

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Your goals. Some people get detailed (lose 10 pounds, get a puppy, go to Italy, find a new job, etc.). You can do whatever you want. It is after all your vision board! I often set some specific goals but this year I am focusing more on broader goals, with a few details included.

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Poster board. This can be any type of poster board. I usually choose a  standard white board with a little thickness (for easier display) and cut it to 15″ x 20″ size. It keeps it manageable to make and to display.

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Magazines. Use any magazines to find images of your goals, words, letters, whatever you want. If you make your board with a group of people, ask everyone to bring what they can. It’s fun (and easier) to have a variety of choices.

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Craft supplies. Stickers, sparkles, decorative paper and any other fun crafty item you want to include on your board.

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Scissors. For cutting your images and paper.

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Glue sticks. Place your items and stick ’em on!

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You can add any other item to your list. Whatever helps you get started and focused. No one is going to knock on your door to check the status of your projects/goals. The idea is to keep you focused on what you want. As I said, sometimes those goals change and sometimes you simply decide you want to do something else with your year and life. Have fun with this project! It’s your vision board! (okay, I couldn’t resist.)

 

Warm up with delicious chili and soups January 15, 2017

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 7:54 pm
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Winter weather is still finding its way to Michigan. When the temps are low and cold, I enjoy a warm meal at the end of the day. I try to eat fairly healthy, which means trying to cook more at home.

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I love using my slow cooker. It’s so easy to drop ingredients in it, go to work and come home to a great smelling home and food ready to eat. Something about cold winter weather makes soups and chili sound pretty appealing so those type of slow cooker recipes keep making their way out of my cookbook. These are a few of my favorites that I’ve made several times, with variations of my own.

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Chicken taco chili

I love tacos and chili so a combination of the two is a win for me. And this slow cooker chictacochilirecipe is a definite win in the taste and easy to make categories.

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Ingredients:

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) diced petite tomatoes
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 package taco seasoning (I use low sodium)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder

Place all ingredients, except chicken, in slow cooker and mix well. Place chicken breasts on top and gently press down so chicken is covered by liquid mixture. Cook on low for 10 hours or high for 6 hours. About 30 minutes before cook time ends, remove chicken breasts. Shred chicken and return to slow cooker and stir, then let sit for remaining time. Serve with whatever toppings you prefer (sour cream, tortilla strips, shredded cheese, cilantro, etc.).

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*Adapted originally from skinnytaste.com

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Chuck Wagon-Style Turkey Chili

I’ve made this Weight Watchers recipe many times and slowly have added my own adaptation of it to fit my tastes. It is delicious and filling. The only downside is that the original recipe makes only enough for one bowl for maybe four adults (and not really hungry men) so if I’m having company, I make a double recipe.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound uncooked lean ground turkey breast
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 15 1/2 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 10 oz bag of frozen corn
  • 3/4 cup barbecue sauce (I’ve used hickory, honey or Sweet Baby Ray’s)
  • 1/3 cup canned tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium high heat. Add the turkey, break it up, and cook thoroughly. Transfer the turkey and any juices to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker. Add all remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover and cook until vegetables are softened – usually 4-5 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low. Stir in additional water if chili appears dry.

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Vegetable soup

This soup is healthy and delicious (yes they can be both!). It’s easy to make and full of vegsoupgood things! You can increase or decrease the vegetables listed below, based on your preference. For instance, I like the shredded cabbage in this soup so sometimes add more.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1-2  celery stalk(s), diced
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 2-3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 10 oz frozen corn
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp table salt or to taste (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice (optional)

Add vegetables, broth and oregano into large pot. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to low heat, partly covered, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to your taste.

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You can also use a blend of frozen vegetables for the soup. If you want to add a meat, I sometimes add cooked, diced chicken or sliced chicken sausage.

 

Tomato/cucumber salad holds onto summer September 23, 2016

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 11:45 am
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tomatoesI know the first day of fall happened yesterday but I’m not quite ready to pull out the sweaters, boots and chili recipes. Instead, I’m wearing shorts and sandals today, and snacking on some refreshing summer vegetables.

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Believe it or not, I wasn’t a fan of tomatoes until about two years ago. Yes, I ate tomato-based foods (spaghetti sauce, salsa, etc.) but I politely declined any fresh tomato. Then I happened to try grape and cherry tomatoes and loved them. Now I buy containers of the mini tomatoes from the road side farm stand near me almost weekly since I love to snack on them. I even grew a small plant on my balcony, which produced some delicious cherry tomatoes. But, sadly, not enough to keep me fulfilled, thus I continue to support our local farmers.

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In case you’re wondering (as I did) about the difference between grape and cherry tomatoes – it mostly comes down to the shape. Cherry tomatoes are round and small, similar to cherries. Grape tomatoes are typically oblong, and a little hardier and smaller than cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes tend to be a little sweeter than their grape size counterpart.

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Anyway, I digress. With this love of the mini tomatoes, I started making a tomato and cucumber salad over the summer. Each time I made it, I added various ingredients to switch up the flavors based on my appetite.

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tomatocucumbersaladIt’s such an easy recipe. I slice a handful of grape tomatoes in half (length way). How many I use depends on the salad I’m making. Just for me? Maybe 10-12. To share? I add more. Then I slice a cucumber into small pieces and mix the vegetables together. Some other ingredient options:

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Fresh mozzarella balls, sliced

Bacon bits

Chopped hard boiled egg

Fresh spinach

Chopped chicken

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Then I add mix 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then drizzle onto the salad. Toss lightly and enjoy!

 

Summer pasta, bacon and vegetable salad September 7, 2016

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 4:00 pm
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pastasaladThe humidity finally slid out of Michigan, leaving wonderfully warm, yet relaxing weather. Despite the pumpkin seasoning and haunted houses appearing in retailers, it’s still the summer season so I’m still enjoying all things summertime! This means that I am not ready to turn the hot oven on to cook. I shared in a recent blog that I’m trying to make myself prep meals more often so I dug through some favorite recipes again.

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This easy summer pasta salad came from a Kroger mailer! I’ve tweaked it a bit to add some variety for my taste. It’s such a simple, yet tasty salad that you can really make it any way that suits you.

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Here are the ingredients for this yummy salad:

  • Cooked pasta (I use approximately 6-8 oz uncooked)
  • 1-2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (you can also use spinach)
  • 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
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Dressing:

  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (sometimes I use flavored olive oil, like basil)
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Once the pasta is cooked, run under cold water to cool. Mix all ingredients together. Add the dressing – I add a little at a time, then toss the ingredients to determine if I need more dressing. You can also optionally add salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.

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To make this a heartier meal, I’ve added diced cooked chicken, fresh cut broccoli and cucumbers. I also switch up my pasta, at times using wheat, veggie or gluten-free pasta. It’s really an open recipe based on your palate!

 

Easy slow cooker shredded chicken August 22, 2016

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 2:00 pm
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shreddedchicken

Easy slow cooker meal.

I’m going to admit something. Here goes…..my interest in cooking this summer has been small. No, actually it’s been pretty nonexistent. I don’t know what happened. I really got into cooking this past winter and spring. I made many new recipes and enjoyed the process. But this summer, I’ve struggled to find the enthusiasm to cook and some days even to eat (no worries, Mom, I am eating.). I don’t know if it’s the hot, humid weather or too much on my schedule. I even told a friend that I thought eating was over-rated, which made her gasp (she’s a big food lover and enjoys cooking so probably not the best person to confess to!).

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But this week, I realized that I’m drinking too many smoothies for dinner or nibbling on edamame. Probably not the healthiest way to eat. So I decided to go back to my easy to make recipe that provides a few meal options. I thought I’d share it in case you’re in need of an easy meal.

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I was fortunate to work from home the other day while I finished some newsletter articles. That allowed me to be home to think about dinner in the early afternoon and remember this easy recipe!

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Ingredients:

  • 1-2 pound(s) skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 1-2 cups salsa (I tend to use more salsa because I like the extra ‘sauce’ at the end. I also use chunky, mild salsa but you can use whatever brand/type you prefer.)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp fajita seasoning (optional)
  • Green and/or red bell peppers, sliced (optional)

Easy prep:
I add all of the ingredients to my slow cooker, then lightly mix everything together. I make sure that the chicken is mixed in and covered with the salsa. Then cover with the lid and cook on low for 4 hours. Once the chicken is cooked, remove and shred with two forks. Mix shredded chicken back in slow cooker and let cook for 10-15 minutes.

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chickensalad

I love chicken fajita salad!

Once cooked, you can make the chicken into any meal. I often make a chicken fajita salad with lettuce, chicken salsa mixture, shredded cheese, vegetables and tortilla strips. I also make chicken tacos and fajitas.

 

Essential oil recipes for a healthy, relaxing home & life April 30, 2016

For the past few years, I’ve been trying to transition into using more natural, safe products in my home and on my body. Using essential oils is one way to achieve this.

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I started using essential oils after some digestive issues wouldn’t go away.  Medical tests thankfully kept coming back negative or inconclusive, however, I grew frustrated with my symptoms not going away. I had heard of many people using essential oils for various reasons but hadn’t paid much attention until a high school friend shared her experience with essential oils. I tried a few different oils, and admittedly, was surprised at the quick, positive response. My issues pretty much disappeared after regular use of a particular digestive blend for a few months (applying a few diluted drops to my abdomen area almost daily). Happy with the outcome, I expanded my use of essential oils to mood management and then began making household cleaning and beauty products, as well as items to help me relax. Not only are these items more natural than store bought items, they ultimately cost less too. Essential oils are potent so a little goes a long way.

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EO items_HHHere are a few of my favorite recipes* for home and body:

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Bath salts:
I love a relaxing, warm bath, especially in the winter or after a long, stressful day. This mix of bath salts is a perfect addition to a bath. The scent fills the bathroom and always relaxes and improves my mood!

1 cup Epsom salt
2 tbsp. baking soda
10-15 drops of your favorite essential oils

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Add ingredients to jar/container, seal and shake to mix. Add 1-2 tbsp. to warm bath and relax! My favorite combinations include: Elevation (Joyful Blend) and ylang ylang; lavender and wild orange; grapefruit and lemon.

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Relaxing linen/pillow spray:
Perfect to use before bed or a nap to help relax and unwind.
4 drops Lavender
2 drops Wild Orange
Add oils and water to a 2 oz. spray bottle. Light spray pillow and/or sheets before getting into bed (sometimes I spray on a tissue, then place next to or under my pillow). Shake well before each use.

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Congestion shower relief:
Feeling congested from a cold, sinuses or allergies? This quick relief is perfect while you’re in the shower.
1-2 drops melaleuca (tea tree oil)
1-2 drops lavender

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Add drops to shower floor in front of you with water running. The steam from the shower mixes with the oils to help clear congestion. And your bathroom smells wonderful too!

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Ouch away spray:
Got a scratch or scrape? This combination of oils helps take the pain away while also providing a disinfectant.
10 drops frankincense
10 drops tea tree
10 drops lavender
1 tbsp. witch hazel

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Add ingredients to 4 oz. spray bottle filled with water. Shake before each use.

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Poo-pouri spray:
You may laugh at the name but this works wonders in the bathroom! It’s a natural alternative to air freshener sprays.
5 drops lavender
5 drops peppermint
5 drops tree tree
5 drops Citrus Bliss blend (or wild orange)

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Fill 4 oz. spray bottle half-way with water. Add oils, top with water. Spray in toilet before use. Shake well before each use.

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Carpet deodorizer:
Your house will smell great with this mix and this oil blend helps kill dust mites!
1-2 cups baking soda (depends on size of container)
10 drops lavender
10 drops Cleansing blend

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Add ingredients to glass container (I use mason jars) and shake well. Sprinkle mix on carpet. Let sit for a few minutes before vacuuming.

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I also make inhalers to take on the go with me – perfect to stash in my purse, desk drawer, pocket, wherever I need it! My go-to inhaler is a blend of Elevation (Joyful Blend) and ylang ylang. My latest inhaler is combination of frankincense, wild orange, lemon and grapefruit – I call it Sunshine Mix! It’s so cheerful and perfect to perk me up during a long day at work, overcast day or just when I need it. Now that people know I carry inhalers, I often get asked for a ‘breath of good smells and mood!’

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To learn more about essential oils and to order, click here.

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*Do not get essential oils near or in eyes, or inside ears and nose. If you do, do not use water – dilute with any vegetable oil. Keep out of reach of children (essential oils should be treated like medicine as they can be painful or harmful if large quantities of the wrong oil are ingested or gets in eyes). Use caution with children. Cut recipes in half for use on children. I am a wellness advocate for an essential oil company so earn a percentage of sales if you use the above link.

 

 
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