Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas morning Cinnamon Rolls

Is there anything better than warm, fresh, homemade cinnamon rolls on a Christmas morning? The smell alone wafting through the house had us walking around the house in a trance. Boy, they sure hit the spot!  We decided unanimously as a family we would be adding these to our traditions, and have them every Christmas morning from here on out!  
Honestly, they weren't that hard to make. Sure, they take up a little time the night before because of the rising time but with the trick of letting them sit in the fridge overnight, and just "steaming" them in the oven before baking them the next morning, had me excited about making them every year.  So if you are craving those yummy, ooey-gooey cinnamon buns Christmas morning, give these a try! I know you won't be disappointed!

*found this recipe on Heidi Swanson's yummy food blog here.

Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
Makes: 12-14 Prep: 2 1/2 hours or more Baking Time: 14 minutes

4 tsp yeast, dry and active
1 cup warm milk (105F-115F) (I used fat-free milk and it turned out great)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 TB ground cardamom (see Change It Up section below if you need to replace this)
1 tsp salt
4 cups flour

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 TB cinnamon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 

1 egg, beaten with 1 TB of water (I forgot to do this part and it still looked great)
turbinado sugar for sprinkling or icing

Icing (optional):
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
4-5 TB heavy cream or half-and-half
1 tsp vanilla extract 

1. Heat milk to specified temperature, and mix in yeast. Add a pinch of sugar and stir. Let stand a few minutes until foamy. Add sugar, egg, melted butter and cardamom.  Stir until smooth. Mix salt into flour, and add flour slowly, 1 cup at a time, and stir well after each addition (If the dough becomes too stiff to stir, go ahead and dump on to floured surface and incorporate the rest of the flour as you are kneading).
2. Add dough to a floured counter top or cutting board and knead for 8-10 minutes until it's smooth and elastic. Transfer dough to a oiled bowl (I used cooking spray), turn to coat, and cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Let it rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour (I turn on the oven for a couple minutes to let it warm up to about 100 degrees, turn oven off, and let the bowl with the dough sit in the oven for one hour).
3. Cut dough in half on a floured counter top or cutting board and form each piece into a ball. Roll each piece into a rectangle that is 12 inches long and about 1/2 inch thick.
4. Mix cinnamon and sugar for filling in a small bowl. Spread half of the butter for filling on to each rectangular piece of dough, Sprinkle half of sugar mixture evenly across butter (I've got to admit, I didn't use all the butter or sugar the recipe suggested, so use as much as you think you need). Tightly roll the dough up lengthwise, and pinch the seams so they don't come apart. Cut each roll with a serrated knife into 12 equal slices (my rolls each only cut into 7 slices, so again, use your best judgement, each round should be about 1 inch thick).
5. After you cut the rolls, you have several options.
You can bake them right away on parchment lined baking sheet, in cupcake liners, or in a oiled/buttered baking dish. I put them in a cookie sprayed glass pie dish that worked out perfectly. You want to arrange each slice about 1/2" apart from each other, unless you are using the cupcake liners.
you can freeze them on a baking sheet in the freezer and then place them in a freezer bag until you would like to use them. Once you want to use them, thaw them overnight on your counter top and pop them in the oven.
You can arrange them in your pie dish or whatever you will be using, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the refrigerator overnight. The next morning, place dish in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan about two-thirds full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close door, and let the rolls rise about 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and shallow pan of water from oven. Bake as directed below.
6. Place rolls in a 400 F preheated oven, and bake for 15-18 minutes. Make sure you don't overcook these things. The last thing you want is DRY cinnamon rolls! :) Remove from oven, and eat hot out of the oven, or slather each roll with some icing. Enjoy their ooey-gooey goodness.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 
 ~Before placing in oven, add some raisins or dried cranberries.
~Add some chopped walnuts
~Instead of 2 TB cardamom add a mixture of 1 1/2 TB cinnamon and 1/2 tsp nutmeg  or cloves or all-spice
~You can try making these with a mixture of all-purpose flour and whole-wheat flour or spelt flour.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pumpkin Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies

Hoping to find a special holiday cookie recipe? Well, look no further, because this one has a "pumpkin spice" twist to the well established oatmeal raisin cookie. I found this recipe in a cookie magazine under their "healthy holiday treats" section. Honestly, I wouldn't label this cookie healthy, because of the amount of butter and sugar in it...but, that said, it's probably healthier than most holiday cookies because of the oatmeal, pumpkin and raisins. You be the judge! :) I will probably play around with this recipe a little more to try to make it healthier. Although, who wants to eat healthy during the holidays anyways, right? :)

*this recipe came from Women's Day Holiday Cookies 2009 magazine. 

Cookie Recipe
Makes: 64 Prep: 20 minutes Baking Time: 14 minutes

 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used half all-purpose, half whole-wheat)
1 1/3 cup quick oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped
3/4 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease baking sheets.
2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. 
3. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a large mixing bowl until fluffy and light. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Mix well. Add flour mixture, and mix well. Stir in walnuts and raisins. 
4. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets. 
5. Bake in preheated oven for 14-16 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Swap out dried cranberries for the raisins
~Instead of walnuts, try pecans or roasted chopped almonds
~Add nutmeg, and/or cloves to the batter
~Swap out flaxseed for some of the flour to add fiber 

Friday, December 10, 2010

White Chocolate Pretzel Snowmen

 Since my kids are old enough now to help out in the kitchen, it's been fun trying to find new kid-friendly activities and recipes that we can make together as a family. When I saw these cute snowmen on the cover of a Family Fun magazine last year, I knew we had to make them! They were so much fun to make, that we added them to our list again this year. My daughter Hannah's favorite part was putting the mini-chocolate chips on...Oh, and of course eating the snowmen too!

*this recipe came from a Family Fun magazine. You can check out the original recipe here.

Snowmen Recipe
Serves: 8 Prep: 15 minutes Cooking Time:  0 minutes

 8 pretzel rods
1 cup white chocolate chips
mini chocolate chips

long sprinkles, orange decorator gel or orange gum drops
fruit leather
gummy rings
gum drops (large or small ones work)

1. With a scissors cut each fruit leather in half.
 2. Cut a small triangle on each end of the fruit leather.

3. Melt 1 cup of white chocolate chips in the microwave in 30 second intervals until it has melted all the way through, and forms into a thick liquid. Make sure to stir after each 30 second interval. 

4. Carefully dip each pretzel rod in the melted chocolate and with a plastic spoon or metal knife spread the chocolate 2/3 of the way down the rod. Set the pretzels on a sheet of waxed or parchment paper and press on mini chocolate chips for eyes and buttons. Place an orange sprinkle or use decorators gel for the nose. If you are using an orange gum drop, cut a small triangle out to resemble the carrot nose. 
5. Once chocolate has hardened or dried, hold the pretzel up and stretch a gummy ring over top. Add a small dollop of melted chocolate on the gym drop. Place on top of the gummy ring. 
6. Tie a scarf around the neck of the snowman and you are done! You can stand the pretzels in a mug or glass for a beautiful presentation.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Alicia's Cornbread

 I've been trying to find a really good cornbread recipe for a while and I think I've finally found it. Where, you might ask? Of all places, on the side of a soy milk container. No kidding! Even though I haven't checked out her new book "The Kind Diet," the recipe looked good. And it was! Super tasty, moist cornbread. It would compliment a hearty chili or squash soup very well. YUM! My mouth is watering just writing about it.

*this recipe came from a Earth Balance soymilk container . You can check out the original recipe from Alicia Silverstone's cookbook here.

Cornbread Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 30 minutes Cooking Time:  45 minutes

1 cup maple syrup
1 1/4 cup soy milk 
1/4 cup safflower oil (I used canola)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (can use all-purpose or whole wheat as well)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 400*F. Oil a 9x9 baking dish (or similar size) or a 12-cup muffin tin. Combine syrup, milk and oil in a medium bowl. Mix well. In a different bowl, stir together cornmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to wet mixture and mix just until combined.
2. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The top should be golden brown. That's it! Wasn't that easy?


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Chop up some dried fruit and/or chopped nuts to give it a little crunch.
~Instead of maple syrup try honey, agave syrup or brown rice syrup. Since honey is quite a bit sweeter, I would only do 3/4 cup instead of 1 cup.
~Add 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or cloves to the batter.

South American Squash and Vegetable Ragout

  This was a super fun dish to make because of all the beautiful Autumn colors in the ingredients like sweet potato, tomatoes, bell pepper, kidney beans and corn. My kids loved scooping their soup out of baked acorn squash bowls. They thought it was "So cool!" This Fall meal would be perfect to serve to guests, especially on a chilly day. The soup can be made up to two days ahead of time and then all you have to do is bake the acorn squash shells with the soup ladled in it when you are ready to serve dinner.  Voila!

*this recipe came from a Vegeterian Times magazine . Check out the original recipe here.
Soup Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 30 minutes Cooking Time:  45 minutes

6 dried pitted apricots
4 dried pitted prunes(see Change it Up below for other ideas)
4 small acorn or butternut squash
1 TB olive oil, plus more for coating the squash
1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
3 cloves of garlic, minced (1 TB)
2 tsp dried oregano
1 red bell pepper, diced (1 cup)
1 14.5 oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, juice reserved
1 small yukon gold potato, peeled and diced (1 cup) 
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (1 cup)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Place Apricots and prunes in a bowl. Cover with 1 cup boiling water and let soak for 2 hrs or overnight. Drain and coarsely chop, reserving liquid.
2. Preheat oven to 350 *F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray. Cut circular opening in squash tops, and reserve tops. Cut small slices off bottoms of squash so they stand up straight (if you cut too much off, there will be a hole, and the soup will leak through. If you accidentally to that, just patch it up with the piece you cut off by placing it in the inside of the squash). Scoop out and discard seeds and fiber from squash. Rub outsides of squash shells with oil and place on prepared baking sheet.
3. Heat 1 TB oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and oregano;saute 2-3 minutes. Add bell pepper and tomatoes with juice. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, and reserved apricot-prune liquid. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are almost soft. Add corn and apricot-prune mixture. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes more. Add beans and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
4. Ladle 1 cup stew into each hollowed squash; place lid on top. Bake 60-90 minutes, or until fork can easily pierce through squash.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of apricots and prunes, try dried cherries or dried cranberries.
~Use peas instead of corn.
~Add black beans or white beans instead of kidney.

Snack Idea: Monkey Bars

 The first time I told my daughter Hannah that we were having Monkey Bars for a snack, she gave me a funny look and said, "No, mommy, I can't eat monkey bars. That would break my teeth." Quickly I realized, she was talking about the monkey bars at our neighborhood playground. "Oh, not those monkey bars. I'm making a new snack called Monkey Bars, and they are called that because they have bananas in them." I saw a look of relief on my 4 year olds face. Needless to say, my family really enjoys these. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Creamy Chicken-Apple Chili

This chili recipe has been an Autumn favorite of my family's for the last 4 years now, and it never gets old. The flavors blend together perfectly to make a rich, creamy and satisfying soup. The total prep and cooking time is only 35 minutes, so you can whip it up on a busy night. Serve this meal when you have friends or family for dinner, and you will be sure to impress them. 
It makes great leftovers the next day...if your family hasn't gobbled it all up!

*this recipe came from a Rachel Ray magazine . Check out the original recipe on her website.

Chili Recipe
Serves: 8 Prep: 15 minutes Cooking Time:  20 minutes

 1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin 
salt and pepper
2 apples, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 onion, chopped
4 TB butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
(2) 15oz cans pinto or white beans, rinsed
2 cups monterey jack cheese, shredded
Toasted tortillas for serving (optional)
scallions, chopped (optional)

1. In a large, heavy pot like a dutch oven, heat 2 TB olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken, chili powder and cumin. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In the same pot, heat remaining 2 TB olive oil, Add apples and onion, cooking stirring until softened about 6 minutes. Add to the chicken. 
3. In the same pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour for 1 minute, whisk in chicken broth and milk until thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken-apple mixture and beans, bring to a simmer then stir in cheese. Voila! Bon Appetit!


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of monterrey jack try mozarella or gouda.
~To add a little kick, try chipotle chili powder instead of regular.

Roasted Butternut-Apple Squash Soup

Happy Fall! This is definitely my time of year. When we moved to the Sacramento area 9 years ago, the one thing I liked least about this place is the hot, hot summers. So, when the cool breezes come in October, I am in perfect bliss and I usually go on walks every single day to enjoy the beautiful weather and admire the color changing trees. Besides, what is there not to like about picking apples from Apple Hill, pumpkin patches, and of course eating delicious soups that warm your insides? Here is an awesome recipe I found that uses the flavorful taste of roasted squash, onions and apples. Super simple! Check out the fun condiments to top things off!

*this recipe originally came from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics. . Check out her book on amazon

Roasted squash-apple Recipe
Serves: 4-6  Prep: 20 minutes Cooking Time:  50 minutes

 3-4 lbs butternut squash, peeled and seeded, and cut into 1-inch cubes2 yellow onions, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 McIntosh apples, cored and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used Fuji)
3 TB olive oil
2 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp pepper, divided
2-4 cups chicken stock/broth
1/2 tsp curry powder

Optional Condiments:

Scallions, white and green parts, trimmed and sliced diagnolly
Flaked sweetened coconut, lightly toasted
Cashews, toasted and chopped
Diced banana

1. Preheat oven to 425*F. Place cut up squash, onions and apple on two baking pans, and toss with 3 TB olive oil. Sprinkle with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Roast for 35-45 minutes until very tender.
2. Meanwhile, heat the chicken stock/broth to a simmer in a small pot. When vegetables are done, in batches coarsely puree them. Add a little chicken broth (about 1/2 cup) so they will all puree together well. Place vegetable puree in a large soup pan, and add chicken stock/broth until you have a thick soup. Add the curry powder, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Serve with optional condiments.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try chopped pumpkin or acorn squash instead of butternut squash.
~Instead of curry, try garam masala.  
~Use shallots instead of onions for a slightly different flavor. 
~Add a couple cloves of roasted garlic to the mix. 
~Feel free to swap the chicken broth of vegetable broth. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tortellini Soup

 This is a yummy soup, and super popular with our kids. I mean, c'mon, what kid doesn't like tortellini? Plus they are getting some healthy veggies in the process like zucchini, carrot and tomatoes. This meal is very quick and has minimal ingredients. Feel a hankering to serve it with warm, homemade bread? Try out a Honey Oat No-Knead Bread recipe that I really enjoy and make a lot. If you've never made homemade bread before, this is a good first bread recipe to try.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Snack Idea: Kale Chips

Want to get more veggies in your diet? Try snacking on Kale Chips. They are super easy to make, minimal ingredients, and delicious! There are so many different variations that you can make, but if you've never made them before I would stick with the Original Kale Chips Recipe at first. Then you can branch out with some Parmesan Cheese sprinkles, sauteed garlic, etc. In the picture above I made a parmesan cheese variety and the other is just plain. Hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Original Kale Chips Recipe
Serves: Prep: 5 minutes Cooking Time:  10-15 minutes

1 bunch of Kale
2-4 TB Olive Oil
Sea Salt (about 1/2 tsp)
Black Pepper (optional)

1. Remove the stems from the leaves. Tear the leaves into bite size pieces. Place them in a bowl.
2. Rinse them off well with water. I sometimes use a fruit and veggie wash, but that's optional of course. 
3. Drain the water and dry the leaves off well with a clean towel. 
4. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the leaves on 1-2 baking sheets, making sure they are not too crowded. 
5. Bake in a 415*F oven for 10-15 minutes until chips are crunchy. 

Parmesan Kale Chips Recipe
Serves: Prep: 5 minutes Cooking Time:  10-15 minutes

1 bunch of Kale
2-4 TB Olive Oil
2 TB or more Parmesan Cheese

1. You won't want to add salt to the Parmesan Cheese version, because they turn out WAY too salty. I made that mistake with the first batch. Follow the original kale chips recipe above.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Add 1/4 tsp smoked paprika and 1/4 tsp granulated garlic to original recipe
~Sautee some garlic and/or onion in a frying pan and pour over kale chips when they come out of the oven. 
~Add 1 TB apple cider vinegar to the original recipe.
~Use 1 tsp soy sauce instead of sea salt. 
~Sprinkle 1 tsp lemon juice on the original recipe.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Big Curry Noodle Pot

One way to introduce tofu to your family's repertoire? Add it in a soup! Even though my husband tells me all the time, "Warn me ahead of time, before you make anything with tofu!" he actually really enjoyed this meal.  The flavors blend so well together, and the peanuts on top add a bit of crunchiness. It does have some funky ingredients like coconut oil, red curry paste and coconut milk, so make sure your store has them or check out a natural food store. 
This is the perfect meal if you are in a hurry for dinner. Took me only 15 minutes, and that's with a TON of kid interruptions, as usual when you have two little ones at home. :)

*got this recipe from Heidi Swanson's cookbook Super Natural Cooking . This cookbook has some amazing vegeterian recipes, so check it out! 

Big Curry Noodle Pot Recipe
Serves: 4-6  Prep: 10 minutes Cooking Time:  10 minutes

8 oz udon noodles
 2 TB coconut oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp red curry paste
12 oz extra-firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 can coconut milk
2 cups vegetable stock or water
12 tsp ground turmeric
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB sugar
juice of 1 lime
slivered shallots (optional)
cilantro (optional)

1. Cook noodles in plenty of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in garlic, onion and curry paste. Mash the paste with the back of a wooden spoon until it is distributed evenly. Cook for a couple of minutes. 
3. Add tofu and gently stir until it is coated with the curry paste. Stir in coconut milk through sugar. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and remove pan from heat. Add noodles. Serve in individual bowls. 


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Chop ingredients ahead of time and keep in fridge.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Instead of tofu try shredded chicken.
~Instead of peanuts try cashews.
~Instead of lime juice try lemon.

Parsnip Ginger Soup

 I tend to enjoy trying out "unique" recipes, so the unusual combination of parsnips and ginger caught my eye. This was surprsingly tasty, and my whole family loved it. My husband prefers it with chopped bacon and a dollop of sour cream. I prefer the "healthier" version of  roasted pepitas and fat-free plain yogurt. 
 My kids like it with ALL of those toppings. To each his own!

*got this recipe from Jamie Oliver's cookbook Jamie's Food Revolution.

Parsnip Ginger Soup Recipe
Serves: 6 Prep: 15 minutes Cooking Time:  25 minutes

2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 medium onions, diced
1 lb parsnips, sliced
a thumb piece of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1  3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth or stock
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro Sprigs

1. Heat broth in a small saucepan until boiling. Keep it at boiling. In a large soup pan add 2 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add all your chopped ingredients. Saute till soft about 10 minutes with lid askew.  
2. Add the boiling broth to the vegetables. Give it a good stir, and simmer for about 10 more minutes with lid on.
3. Take off heat, and with an immersion blender or standing blender mix all the ingredients until smooth. Sprinkle with cilantro.


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Chop all your vegetable ingredients and keep in fridge until ready to use.
~Make soup ahead of time, and then reheat later.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Use extra carrots instead of parsnips.
~Add some cinnamon or nutmeg.
~Instead of cilantro use parsley.

Lentil and Spinach Soup

My favorite season is fall. I love the weather, leaves changing colors, apple cider, and all the delicious yummy soups to enjoy on a windy, blustery day. Soups are so simple, aren't they? You really can throw just about anything into a stock pot with some water, add a little seasoning and you are done!  Here's a delicious Lentil and Spinach Soup that uses red lentils. Much to my surprise, the lentils didn't hold their color...they turned yellow when I cooked them! Still makes a colorful soup though, with the green spinach, red tomatoes and orange carrots.

*got this recipe from Jamie Oliver's cookbook Jamie's Food Revolution. Really awesome cookbook. Check it out!

Lentil and Spinach Soup Recipe
Serves: 6 Prep: 40 minutes Cooking Time:  35 minutes

2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 3/4 quarts vegetable broth
thumb sized piece of ginger, thinly sliced
1/2-1 fresh red chile, sliced
10 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups red lentils
7 cups spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive Oil

1. In a large soup pot, heat up 2 TB olive oil. Add carrots to garlic. Saute for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent. 
2. Add vegetable broth, ginger, chile, tomatoes and lentils. Cook for about 30 minutes until lentils have softened but still hold their texture, check them after 15 minutes of cooking.
3. Add spinach. Cook for 2 more minutes. Take off heat and season with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of plain yogurt to each bowl.  DONE!


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Chop up all the veggies and keep in fridge until ready to use.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Use green lentils instead of red.
~Add 1 TB of lemon juice at end to change the taste a little.
~Instead of carrots try parsnips. 
~Try swiss chard instead of spinach. 

Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber and iron, and have an advantage of cooking quickly. There are several types of lentils including french green lentils, brown lentils, pink lentils and red lentils. No need to soak these guys, but do make sure to rinse them out and look for any stones or debris.

Monday, August 30, 2010

2 Fishy Recipes to try

Here are two yummy fish recipes that I think you and your family will enjoy. They are filled with flavor and are just plain delicious! I included two yummy side dishes to accompany them. Feel free to pair the side dishes with a favorite main course of your own. Click on the title of each meal to view the recipe. Enjoy!

Paprika Salmon on a Bed of Wilted Spinach and Rice Pilaf

Salmon is a favorite food item that makes it on our meal plan almost every week. It is super easy to cook, can be made so many different ways and really absorbs the flavor of whatever spices you put on it. Salmon is a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, and research shows it is good for heart function, inflammation, depression, arthritis, and pregnant women. This yummy recipe brings out the flavors of smoked paprika, orange peel and cinnamon topped with a hint of brown sugar. Serve with Rice Pilaf and grilled zucchini slices. Delish!

*got this recipe from a a McCormick advertisement in a magazine.

Salmon Recipe
Serves: 8 Prep: 40 minutes Baking Time:  15 minutes

1/4 cup orange juice
2 TB plus 1 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp thyme, dried or 2 TB fresh
2 lbs salmon fillets
1 TB brown sugar
1 TB smoked paprika
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp orange peel, grated
1/2 tsp salt
10 oz spinach leaves

1. Mix orange juice, 2 TB oil and 1 tsp thyme in a small bowl. Place salmon in a large ziplock bag or glass dish. Add marinade. Coat well. Place in refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes.
2. Mix sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, salt and remaining 1 tsp thyme in a small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade.Rub mixture all over salmon.
3. Either preheat oven to 400*F or prepare BBQ grill to medium-high heat. Cook salmon 10-15 minutes in oven or 7 minutes on each side in BBQ until fish flakes easily with fork. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook Spinach for 2 minutes or until wilted. Serve with salmon. 

Rice Pilaf Recipe
Serves: 6 Prep: 10 minutes Cooking Time:  40 minutes

 1 cup brown rice 
2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 tsp oil 
1/2 small zucchini, cut into fourths
1/2 carrot, chopped 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper

3. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes until vegetables have softened. Add rice, water/broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for approximately 40 minutes until water/broth has evaporated.


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Marinate fish ahead of time. 
~Make rub mixture ahead of time and store in fridge until ready to use.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try this marinade and rub mixture with chicken, pork or tofu.
~Add some nutmeg or powdered ginger to give it a little extra spice.
~Instead of orange juice and zest, try lemon juice and zest.

Prosciutto Wrapped Cod with Roatsed Parmesan Potatoes and Zucchini

Whenever I cook anything with prosciutto, I always think of Fancy Nancy. My daughter is really into this series of books about a girl named Nancy who LOVES anything that looks or sounds fancy. I can just imagine her saying "Ooo-La-La" to a meal that has prosciutto in it.
When you are short on time, cooking white fish for dinner is the way to go! 8 minutes and you are DONE. Plus, this menu has minimal ingredients, so you should have a meal for 4 that cost you under $10. Serve with Roasted Zucchini and Potatoes that are baked to perfection with a crunchy exterior and soft on the inside.

*this cod recipe came from Ellie Krieger's cookbook. Find it here Prosciutto Wrapped Cod
* the potato recipe came from Giada De Larentiis. Find it here Broield Zucchini and Potatoes with Parmesan Crust

Cod Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 10 minutes Cooking Time:  8 minutes

4 cod fish fillets (5 oz each)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 oz sliced prosciutto
cooking spray

1.Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper. Wrap 1 wide or 2 thin pieces of prosciutto around each cod. Spray with cooking spray. Preheat non stick skillet to medium-high heat.
2.Add the fish fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Serve with potatoes and zucchini.

Parmesan Potatoes and Zucchini Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 15 minutes Cooking Time:  30 minutes

 4 small new potatoes (red or white or both)
2 TB butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 small zucchini, cut into fourths
1/2 carrot, chopped 
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper

1. Bring water to boil over high heat in a medium sized pot. Add potatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes. Drain, cool, cut them in half. 
2. Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add butter, garlic, thyme and rosemary and let cook until butter melts, 2 minutes. Season cut sides of zucchini and potatoes with salt and pepper. Carefully place zucchini and potatoes cut side down in the melted butter. Let them cook until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. 
3. Preheat broiler. Line baking sheet with foil. Place browned zucchini and potatoes cut side up on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with parmesan. Leave under broiler for 4 minutes. Transfer to plate.


Plan and Prep Ahead 

Here are some helpful techniques to make life a little easier once dinner time hits. These tips will especially help those that work full-time and don't have a lot of time to prepare dinner. 

~Boil potatoes ahead of time, refrigerate.
~Cut zucchini ahead of time and keep in fridge.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Wrap the fish in a couple slices of bacon instead of prosciutto.
~Use different veggies like asparagus, bell peppers, or broccoli.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

2 Quinoa Recipes = 1 Quinoa Cook-Off

About a month ago, my husband Travis e-mailed me that his work was having a Quinoa Cook-off and they were accepting entries, two dishes could be made per household.  The staff would be taste testing all the entries, and would vote on a winner.
Boy, was I excited! Quinoa is one of my all-time favorite grains, and I had a TON of recipes. Only problem? I had a hard time picking just two. So, the weekend before the cook-off, I made four different quinoa meals and our family did a taste test. We got to vote on which two would make it to the grand finale.These two salads were our favorites. 
The day of the contest, I made a gigantic batch of each one, and brought them to my husbands work. It was really fun sitting there, watching each one of the employees come into the cafeteria and taste all the different dishes (there were 7 entries total). 
Later in the day, Travis e-mailed me with the results. The Summery Corn Quinoa Salad won! The Black-Bean Quinoa salad came in fourth. Not bad! Here are the recipes for both. Enjoy!

Black-Bean Quinoa Salad Recipe
Serves: 4 Prep: 20 minutes Cooking Time:  15 minutes

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 TB olive oil
4 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2-3 TB cilantro, chopped finely
2 TB scallions, white parts only, chopped finely
2 tsp jalapeno peppers, chopped finely
1 1/2 cups black beans (or 1 15oz can)
2 cups tomatoes, diced
1 cup bell peppers, diced (to make it a multi-colored dish, get 1 orange and 1 yellow)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse Quinoa well. Place carefully in sauce pan with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
2. In a small bowl combine olive oil through jalapeno peppers. Mix well.  
3. In a large bowl add black beans through bell peppers. Add cooled quinoa. Mix well. Add scallion dressing. Mix well so all of salad is coated. Serve with tortilla chips.

Click on this link for: Summery Corn Quinoa Salad


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