Thursday, April 29, 2010

Helpful Tips: Using a White Board to Help You Stay Organized


I use a white board on my fridge, and LOOOVE it! It really helps keep me organized throughout the day. Every day I write our agenda on there, and stuff I need to remember to do. Also, I have my shopping list stuck on there, so if I run out of any pantry items, I can write it down right away, because I KNOW I will forget later when it's time to do the meal plans for the week. 
It also makes a great teaching board. Our daughter, Hannah, is learning how to read, and because I spend most of my time in the kitchen, I can easily write a word on there and she can practice sounding it out and try to read it. I don't have to stop what I'm doing (ie. cooking or washing the dishes) to help her with a word in a book she is reading, and this is a fun game for her. 
Does anybody else do this? If not, what do you do to keep your agenda organized? Is it on the computer, do you just remember, or do you have a day planner? I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sweet Stuff : Dark Chocolate Cherry-Almond Clusters

 
Doesn't just the name of these morsels just make your mouth water? Let me tell you, it's hard to just eat one! I just LOVE the combination of dark chocolate and dried cherries. They are the perfect combination together. 
Even though I know I am eating something sweet, I like to know that it is "semi" healthy as well. There is added benefit of eating dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao and these sweets contain almonds that are packed with minerals, protein and healthy fats. Almonds are also one of the best known sources of Vitamin E. So go ahead and have 1...maybe 2!
 
Recipe
 
1 cup whole almonds, chopped and toasted
1/2 cup dried cherries, chopped
6 oz dark or bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa), finely chopped

1. Chop the chocolate into a small bowl. Microwave on High for 30 second intervals until chocolate has melted. 

2.Stir fruit and nut mixture into bowl and mix well. 

3. Spoon heaping TB sized clusters of the chocolate mix onto wax or parchment paper lined baking sheets about 1 inch apart. Refrigerate until cool about 20 minutes. Store and serve at room temperature.

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Who likes to change it up?

~If you don't like dark chocolate try this recipe with milk or white chocolate.
~Use chopped peanuts instead of almonds.

~Replace cherries with dried cranberries.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday: Apricot-Lemon Chicken with Lemon-Mint Pear Salad and Orange-Cherry Orzo

 
 We've enjoyed this Cooking Light chicken recipe so much through the years that we made it for my daughter's birthday party last year, and it was a BIG HIT! The curry- lemon-apricot flavors mix perfectly together to create a savory dish. Place it on top of a bed of minty spinach salad and add a side dish of Orange-Cherry Orzo and your meal is complete. If you have leftovers, it makes a great chicken sandwich the next day!

Tuesday: Sundried Tomato Ravioli with Spinach Orange Salad

 
 Here's another super easy, delicious and quick meal by Cooking Light. As you may notice from the picture, I accidentally bought tortellini instead of ravioli...OOPS! :) Either one will work. The mushroom sauce is super yummy. Add a spinach salad with cranberries, sliced oranges, and slivered almonds and your meal is complete. You can also serve the sauce over chicken or pork as well.


Ravioli Recipe
4 servings

  18 oz package of small cheese ravioli
  2 tsp olive oil

1 8 oz package baby portobello mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion (about 1/2 medium)
1/2 tsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 TB half-and-half
2 TB sun-dried tomato pesto (such as Classico)(see Change It Up for alternatives)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Basil leaves, optional

1. Cook ravioli according to package directions. Drain and divide into 4 different serving owls.
2. Over a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and onions, and saute 3-4 minutes. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Add to skillet, stirring well. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 minutes until mixture has thickened slightly. 
3. Pour sauce over each serving bowl with ravioli in it. Sprinkle cheese evenly over each bowl. Garnish with basil.
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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.

~Grate Parmesan cheese and keep in air-tight container in fridge.
~Cut up onion and mushrooms, keep in air-tight container in fridge for up to 24 hours. 

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Use your favorite mushroom instead of portobello.
~Add cut up chicken, beef or pork to the sauce.

~Pour sauce over cooked chicken breast to create a different meal.
 
~Use regular pesto instead of sun-dried.

Wednesday: Apricot glazed Meatloaf with Spiced Sweet Potato Spears

 
 This is definitely not your traditional Plain-Jane meatloaf (no offense to anybody named Jane...where did that saying come from anyways? My daughter's middle name is Jane and there is nothing plain about her, that's for sure!). Add some yummy cinnamon-nutmeg spiced sweet potato spears and you've got yourself a flavorful meal! I made the original Rachel Ray recipe a little healthier by substituting half turkey, half beef instead of all beef, and it came out YUM-O!

Meatloaf Recipe
4-6 servings

  2 sliced of sandwich bread, chopped (I like a whole wheat variety)
  1/2 cup milk

2 TB apricot jam

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce 
1 LB ground beef
1 LB ground turkey breast
  1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted (I've tried putting them in un-toasted, and it's just not as flavorful, so it's worth toasting them)

7 dried apricots, chopped
2 tsp curry powder

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl soak bread pieces in the milk. Set aside. In a different bowl, whisk the jam and Worcestershire sauce. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl add the meat, almonds, apricots and curry powder. Add the breadcrumb mixture, and mix together with your hands (yeah, you're going to have to get your hands dirty on this one).Transfer to a loaf pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Brush top of meatloaf with jam mixture. 
3. Bake for 1 hour. Pour off the fat, and let cool for 10 minutes before taking it out of the pan. Serve with sweet potato spears.

Spiced Sweet Potato Spears

1 LB Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cut into spears ( I try to buy the smallest ones, cut them in half,then cut each half into 3-4 pieces)
2 TB Olive Oil
1/2 tsp cinnamon, or more to taste

1/4 tsp nutmeg, or more to taste

1/8-1/4 tsp salt

1. Mix potatoes and oil in a medium sized bowl. Lay them out flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg and salt on them. Bake with the meatloaf at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes-1 hour.
Check on them after 30 minutes to make sure they are not too crispy!

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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.

~Mix together the meat through curry powder in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and keep in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead until ready to use.
~Toast almonds ahead of time, and keep in airtight container. 
~Cut up sweet potatoes, and keep covered in plastic wrap in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours ahead.

That's it! 

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Try Orange Marmalade instead of Apricot Jelly.
~Swap out ground chicken for the turkey .

~Use all turkey instead of half beef.

~instead of Worcestershire sauce try soy sauce.

Thursday: Creamy Tomato Cod over Brown Rice Medley

 
  I ripped this recipe out of a Eating Well Magazine, and am so glad I did! This fish meal is very rich in flavor and only 227 calories per serving. What I love about white fish is that it doesn't take very long to cook...only 5 minutes. I usually pair it with a nice green salad or steamed green beans, to add something green to your plate. Yummy!

Fish Recipe
4 servings

  1-1 1/4 LB Pacific cod or tilapia fillets, cut into 4 pieces
  3 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1/2 tsp salt, divided

1/4 tsp pepper
1 TB olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup white wine
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 tsp cornstarch
Parmesan Cheese for sprinkling, optional

1. Season fish with 1 tsp thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, garlic and 1 tsp thyme. Cook for about 1 minute. Add wine, tomatoes and fish to the pan. Bringing to a simmer, cook for 4-6 minutes.  Only transfer fish to a plate, cover with foil to keep warm.
2. Whisk cream and cornstarch in a small bowl. Add to pan. along with 1 tsp thyme and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook for 1 more minute.Serve sauce and fish over rice. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

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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 garlic and shallot and keep in air-tight container in fridge. 
~Make rice ahead of time; then just reheat when ready to serve.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~ Replace shallot with red onion.
~Instead of thyme try oregano. 

~Use couscous or barley instead of rice. 

Friday: Artichoke-Walnut Pesto Pasta

 
  I love making this dish on a night that I just don't want to cook! All you have to do is boil the noodles and put the rest of the ingredients in a food processor. Voila!  Serve this tasty Rachel Ray with some garlic bread and a salad to round out the meal.

Pasta Recipe
4 servings

  1 LB your favorite pasta
  1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

1 15oz can artichoke hearts, drained

1 large garlic clove, cracked away from skin
1 lemon, zested
flat-leaf parsley, a handful
1/3 cup Parmesan, grated
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup olive oil

1. Boil the noodles according to package directions. Toast the nuts in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until walnuts have browned.
2. Place the rest of the ingredients except olive oil in your food processor. Turn on, and slowly stream the olive oil in. Continue to process until it's a thick and pasty consistency.
3. Put the pesto on the bottom of a large serving bowl. Pour pasta over top and toss well. 

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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.

This is one of those meals that is super quick to make, so don't bother making anything ahead.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~ Try pecans or almonds instead of walnuts.
~Use this pesto as a base for your favorite homemade pizza. See  Skillet Pizza Recipe

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Snack Idea: Spiced Mixed Nuts

 
This Ellie Krieger recipe has just the right balance between spicy and sweet. My kids even enjoy them! They are packed with fiber and protein, and you really only need a handful to feel satisfied. :) Enjoy!
 
Recipe
 
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup almonds
1/3 cup pistachios
1/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  1 TB maple syrup
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp rosemary
1/4 tsp salt

1. Toss everything in a bowl to combine.
2. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread mixture on oiled cookie sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Keep in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

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Who likes to change it up?

~Use your favorite nuts like walnuts, hazelnuts, etc. instead of what is listed
~Replace the cayenne with smoked paprika or chili powder.

~Use thyme instead of rosemary. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dutch Oven Chicken and Herb Biscuits

 
When my husband and I were first married, I didn't know anything about cooking or even how long to boil an egg for. We got this dutch oven (family heirloom) as a gift from my Grandpop as a wedding present, my first thoughts were "Wow this thing is heavy!" and "What am I supposed to do with it?"  Well, I am sad to report, it sat in the back of our kitchen closet for several years collecting dust before I had the nerve to ask my mom what I could make with it. This is the meal she told me about, and WOW were we impressed. 

Tuesday: Some Like It Hot....Some Not So Much...Flavorful Tortilla Soup!

 
Want to impress some friends or family coming over for dinner? Try this Emeril Lagasse inspired recipe! Plus you can make it as mild or spicy as you want. I have two different variations of the Tortilla Soup below. One is the spicy version and the other is milder. Our family doesn't like foods too spicy so we choose the milder version and it still has TONS of flavor. If you made the Dutch Oven Chicken recipe the night before, just use the chicken broth and cut up chicken from that. Also, check out the vegeterian option under "Change It Up" towards the bottom of the post. Happy Eating!

 Tortilla Soup Recipe with a Kick

2 TB olive oil
  1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 large)
2 tsp garlic, chopped (about 2 cloves)

1 poblano or anaheim or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

  1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 TB tomato paste (you can easily freeze the rest of the tomato paste.I usually put in 1 TB at a time in small freezer bags to use for another time)
6 cups of chicken stock or broth (if you are buying 32 oz containers, you will purchase 2 containers)
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, cooked (about 2 cups of chicken pieces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tsp fresh lime juice (see "Change It Up" for options)



Milder Tortilla Soup Recipe


2 TB olive oil
  1 cup onion, chopped (about 1 large)
2 tsp garlic, chopped (about 2 cloves)

1 poblano or anaheim pepper, seeded and chopped

  1 green or red bell pepper
, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 TB tomato paste (you can easily freeze the rest of the tomato paste.I usually put in 1 TB at a time in small freezer bags to use for another time)

6 cups of chicken stock or broth (if you are buying 32 oz containers, you will purchase 2 containers)

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes, cooked (about 2 cups of chicken pieces)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tsp fresh lime juice, about 1-2 limes(see "Change It Up" for options)

1.  Make sure you chop all the ingredients from onion to pepper into small pieces.
2. Swirl oil in a soup pot or dutch oven, heat over medium-high heat. Add all the ingredients from onion to coriander. Cook for 5 minutes, until onion is translucent. Stir in tomato paste, cook for another 1 minute. 
3. Add chicken stock or broth, bring to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add chicken, and simmer for another 5 minutes. 4. Stir in cilantro and lime juice and remove from heat.  



 Foods to add to your soup bowl

1 avocado, cut into chunks
  Sour cream or yogurt (we use the light version)
Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into cubes

Tomatoes, cut up or Salsa
Tortilla Chips
Cilantro, chopped to sprinkle on top


Assembly Instructions
 Add cheese, then avocado, then sour cream or yogurt. Next you will add tomatoes or Salsa. Crumble tortilla chips at the end. Ladle soup in bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro. YUM!!!! 






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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 onion through peppers and cilantro ahead; keep in air-tight containers in fridge.
~Zest and juice limes and keep in air-tight containers in fridge.
~Chop chicken; keep in air-tight container in fridge. 
~The avocado and tomatoes should be chopped right before assemble the soup in your bowl, because they go bad so fast once you chop them.

-------------------------

Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Try adding lemon juice instead of lime.
~Skip the chicken and add vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to make a vegetarian meal.


-------------------------
Do you have your own tortilla soup recipe? 
 I would to hear from some of you that make tortilla soup at home. What do you like to add to it? Is it much different from version? Do you like it spicy or mild?

Wednesday: Chili-glazed Salmon with Minty-Orange Snap peas and Rice Medley

 
Does anybody else LOVE Cooking Light? That's where this recipe came from, and it is delicious! When I first made it, I was relieved that it wasn't as spicy as I thought it would be. The orange marmalade and soy sauce balance the chili sauce out nicely. My kids couldn't get enough of these snap peas, plus they are so easy to make! I whipped up this meal in just 25 minutes...the cookbook advertised it as a 15 minute meal, but everything seems to always take me twice as long to make. Hmm, maybe the kids have something to do with that. :) Check out the Fresh Food Fast Cookbook at the bottom of the post. It is my favorite go-to cookbook for quick, healthy meals.

Salmon Recipe

  3 TB chili garlic sauce with garlic (I use Trader Joe's,see picture below)
3 TB green onions, chopped, only green parts (3 green onions)

1 1/2 TB orange marmalade

3/4 tsp lite soy sauce (I use Bragg, see picture below)
  4 6oz salmon fillets


1. Preheat broiler. Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Place each fillet, skin side down on a piece of tin foil where the ends are rolled over to form a cup. The top of the fillets are not covered with the tinfoil. Place tin foil packets on a baking sheet. Brush the fillets with half of the sauce.
2. Broil for 5 minutes. Brush the rest of the sauce on the fillets. Broil 2-4 more minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork. Serve with the minty-orange snap peas and your favorite rice. I used Trader Joe's (TJ's) Basmati Rice Medley.
I took this picture for a different recipe, but here's the chili-garlic sauce and soy sauce I use:

Minty-Orange Snap Peas

1 tsp canola oil
1 8 oz package fresh sugar snap peas
1 TB fresh mint, chopped

1 tsp orange rind, grated

1/4 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat; add peas. Saute 2 minutes or until peas are crisp tender. Stir in rest of the ingredients.


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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.

~Make sauce and keep in fridge in air-tight container.
~Chop green onions, and keep in air-tight container. 
~Chop mint, grate orange rind, place in air-tight container.

That's it! 

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Try Apricot Jelly instead of Orange Marmalade.
~Instead of green onion, try chopped red onion or shallots.

~Replace snap peas with snow peas, or try it with just regular green peas.

~Grate up some lemon zest instead of orange zest.


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Can't find the Chili Garlic Sauce?


Here's a good one to try from amazon.  Just click on the link. 

 Chili Garlic Sauce Huy Fong 16 Oz
 

Chili Garlic Sauce Huy Fong 16 Oz

Thursday: Delicioso Black-Bean Quesadillas

 
Here's another super easy but delicious Cooking Light recipe. We had some friends over for dinner, and the husband told me afterward that he wasn't a big fan of mushrooms, but he loved this dish! So to all of you who don't like mushrooms or have a family member who doesn't like them...give this one a try! You might surprise yourself. :)

 Recipe

  4 whole-wheat tortillas (about 8")
2 portobello mushroom caps (about 4 1/2"), rinsed, stems removed and chopped

  2-3 TB light balsamic vinaigrette (I use Newman's Own)

1 cup low-sodium or no sodium black beans, rinsed and drained (1 15 oz can or see my note about making homemade below)
  1 2 oz jar diced pimiento, drained (or 1/2 red bell pepper chopped) 
1 cup Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)


1. Stack tortillas, and microwave on high for 1 minute. Leave in microwave while making filling. 
2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and add portobello mushrooms. Cook for 2 minutes, until tender. Add vinaigrette, beans, and pimiento and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Mash bean mixture slightly with potato masher. 
3. Place 1/3 cup bean mixture on to each tortilla. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, onions, and cilantro. Fold tortillas in half. 
4. Wipe skillet with paper towel. Place quesadillas on skillet coated with cooking spray. Over medium heat cook 2-3 minutes on each side until cheese has melted. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges and serve with your favorite salsa and salad.

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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 portabellos, red bell pepper, green onions and cilantro in air-tight containers.
~Shred the cheese and keep in air-tight container for up to 48 hours. 

That's it! 

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Use your favorite mushrooms  instead of portabello.
~Add fresh corn to the quesadillas.

~Instead of cilantro, try parsley.

~Replace black beans with pinto or white beans.
~Add chopped chicken or beef strips to the quesadillas for those meat lovers.


-------------------------

Try homemade beans instead of canned

 When I first made stove-top beans, I was surprised how easy it was! You will save a ton of $ making your own instead of buying them canned and you won't have all those nasty preservatives and extra sodium that you will find in canned foods. 
I use whatever I need for a recipe, and then freeze them in freezer bags, putting 2 cups in each one (which equals 1 15 oz can). Out of a 1 LB bag (16 oz) bag of I usually can fill 4-5 freezer bags of beans, with 2 cups in each. 
Depending on what kind of beans you are making, you usually need to soak them first. Why? It slows the cooking time and removes the indigestible complex sugar from the outer coating of the beans.  There are two different soaking methods: 

Long Method

 1. Check out this Soaking Chart link to see how long you need to soak whatever beans you are going to cook, but it's anywhere from 4-8 hours:  Soaking Times
 2. Rinse beans 
3. For 1 LB of beans, add 16 cups of water (all beans have the same water to bean ratio) 
4. Simmer for 1-2 hours depending on type of bean. See times below.
5. 10 minutes before beans are done, add 1-2 tsp salt (optional).


Quick Method

 1. Boil beans in a soup pot or heavy pot with water for 3 minutes.  
2. Cover and set aside for 1-2 hours. 
3. Drain and discard water. Rinse beans. 
4. Simmer for 1-2 hours depending on type of bean. See times below. 
5. 10 minutes before beans are done, add 1-2 tsp salt (optional).

Note: If you are making Split Peas, Lentils or Butter beans, you do NOT need to soak them. 

Bean Cooking Times

Black Beans and Chickpeas-1 1/2 - 2 hours
Black-Eyed Peas, Cannellini , Great Northern-1-1/4 hours
Navy , Pinto , Red Kidney -1- 1/4 hours
Lentils- 20-30 minutes 

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What are Portobellos?


Here's an excerpt that I copied directly from the Cooking Light Cookbook called "Fresh Food Fast." You can buy it on amazon below. I use this cookbook ALL THE TIME, so I would highly recommend it!


"Let a cremini grow a few days longer, and you end up with a portobello. This falying saucer-shaped mushroom, which often measures from 3-6 inches across, is firm, meaty, and intensely flavored. "






Friday: Choose Your Spicyness Tomato Sauce with Gnocchi and Spinach-Orange Salad

 
I don't know about you, but I LOOOVE having options, and that is exactly what you have with this meal. You can choose the mild, medium or spicy version of this Ellie Krieger inspired recipe. What else do I love about this recipe? The sauce is super fast and easy to whip up. You just mix it together in a food processor! Feel free to swap the gnocchi with whole wheat spaghetti or linguine. Don't know what gnocchi is? Read more about it below. Check out what else you can use this sauce for under "Change It Up." Bon Appetit!

 Mild Sauce Recipe

  3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 28 oz can plus 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes

  3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

1 TB plus 1 tsp red-wine vinegar
  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 tsp salt


Medium Sauce Recipe

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes plus 1 14 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
(check out note below)
  3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

1 TB plus 1 tsp red-wine vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste(see Change It Up for options)
  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 tsp salt

Spicy Sauce Recipe

3/4 cup slivered almonds
1 28 oz can plus 1 14 oz can of Fire Roasted diced tomatoes

  3/4 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves

1 TB plus 1 tsp red-wine vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper or to taste(see Change It Up for options)
  3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 
1/2 tsp salt


1. Toast almonds in a large dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until golden.
2. Transfer almonds to a food processor and process until finely ground. Add rest of ingredients except olive oil, cheese, and salt. While processor is running, drizzle in oil in a steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stir in Parmesan Cheese. Heat over medium heat until hot to serve over pasta or gnocchi. Top with more Parmesan cheese.

-------------------------

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.

~Toast almonds ahead of time and store in airtight container until time of use.

That's it! 

-------------------------

Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Swap out the crushed red pepper for smoked paprika or chili powder.
~Try your favorite nut type instead of almonds. 
~Swap gnochhi for a whole wheat spaghetti or linguini. 
~Serve the tomato sauce over chicken or pork with a side dish of rice.

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Can't find Fire Roasted Tomatoes?

 You can either swap them out with Diced Tomatoes with Chili's or you can get a couple cans on amazon below.


Muir Glen Organic Diced Tomatoes, Fire Roasted, 14.5-Ounce Cans


Friday, April 16, 2010

New Feature: Now you can search your recipe by type!

I'm super excited! Now, if you want to have a chicken dinner,vegeterian dinner, etc. you can search under that type on the left hand side of my blog. Just click on whatever tickles your fancy, and it will take you to all my recipes under that label. Try it out!

If any of you know me, I DO NOT have a technology minded brain. When I first started this blog a couple weeks ago, I thought I would just be updating, writing and maintaining the blog while my husband would be the go-to person for anything related to making the blog more functional. While he's still the one I ask if I have any technically related questions, I've surprised myself by trying to figure a lot of this stuff out by myself and actually enjoying it. Go figure!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Have you ever made fresh homemade bread?

 
Do I have anybody's mouth watering with this picture? :) I gotta say, the first time I ever made homemade bread, the kids and I probably went through half the loaf right after it came out of the oven...it smelled and tasted SO GOOD! There's nothing better than holding a warm piece of fresh bread with butter melting on top of it. I usually make a couple loaves at the beginning of each week, and we use it for sandwiches, with soup, with salads, etc. I don't even buy bread from the store anymore, because I can save a ton of $ making my own. You can also make 4 loaves and freeze two of them, and then you only have to make it every other week. It is a lengthy process though, because of the rise time, so make it on a day that you will be home for at least half the day. Below is one of our favorite bread recipes. You might be surprised how much you enjoy making homemade bread...especially the kneading part! It's a good anger-management solution! :)
 
Whole-Wheat Oatmeal & Honey Bread Recipe
 
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup maple syrup, brown sugar or honey
1 TB honey
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 TB salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pkg of dry yeast of 2 1/4 tsp dry yeast
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
4 cups of all-purpose flour or bread flour

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine water, oats, maple syrup, honey, butter, salt and cinnamon. Cover with a dinner plate, and let cool to lukewarm (about 20-40 minutes).
2. Add yeast. Stir to combine. Then add flours, spooning it into the measuring cup and leveling off with a knife. Keep stirring to form a rough dough. 
3.On a floured surface (I usually use a cutting board with a little flour on it) knead the dough for about 10 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes with a mixer until the dough is smooth and satiny. 
4.Turn on oven, and let it heat up for a couple minutes until it is warm, but not over 100 degrees. Transfer dough to a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray, turn dough over so the top will greased, and place a dish towel over the bowl to cover it. Turn your oven light on and place bowl in oven. Let rise for about 1 hour. 
5. Divide dough in half.  Spray two bread loaf pans (8 1/2" by 4 1/2") with cooking spray, and place each piece of dough in it, forming it to the pan to look like a loaf. Turn oven on and repeat step #4.  
6. Place both pans covered with towels into oven, and turn the oven light on again. Let rise for another 1 hour. 
7. Remove pans from oven. Turn oven on to 360 degrees and bake loaves for 33 minutes. For the next 20 minutes your house will smell heavenly! Enjoy!

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Who likes to change it up?

~Add sunflower seeds, chopped pecans and or flaxseeds (1.2 cup each) to dough while kneading it to make a multi-grain bread.
~Instead of maple syrup just use regular white sugar.

~Try adding dried cranberries to raisins (about 1/2-3/4 cup) to the bread while kneading it.

Hot Creamy Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Toasted Pecans

 
I was first introduced to this amazing grain called Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah) when I was taking an Ethnic Studies class at Humboldt State, and have been using it  in many of my dishes ever since. Here's a breakfast version that I make at least once a week and have gotten the kids hooked on as well. Quinoa is very high in protein and will provide long-lasting energy throughout your morning.

Snack Idea: Delectable-Healthy Trail Mix Balls

 
These don't last long in our house...because they are just SOOOOO GOOD! They are filled with fiber, protein, and are sweetened with honey. The pumpkin seeds give them an iron and magnesium boost as well. Plus, they make great snacks on the go!  I bet you can't just eat one! 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

New Feature: You can print the page that the recipe is on now!

I'm super excited! I just figured out (okay...the truth is I googled how to do it, and used a free tutorial) how to add a print option on my blog. Now this will allow you to print out each individual post instead of having to write it down. YEY! Just click on one of the items you want to print on the left hand side called Blog Archive. Once you have gone to the individual post, you will see a button labeled Print This Page, and if you don't want to print the whole post, you can just click on however many pages you want to print to get the recipe.

As I'm trying to figure out this world of blogging, you will see more and more new features as the time goes on. My question for today is, "What features would you like to see on this blog?" 

Happy Reading And Eventually Eating!

~kristina

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday: Apricot-Tomato Chicken with Apricot-Almond Couscous

What's my favorite thing about this recipe? There's not a lot of ingredients and it's super easy to make. I tore this one out of a Real Simple magazine four years ago, and our family fell in love with it. We had it every week on our meal plan for about 2 months. Remember to check out the "Change it Up" section below to see what else you can make with this yummy Apricot-Tomato sauce.  

Tuesday: Homemade Falafel on Warm Pita Bread with Yogurt Dip and Honeyed Carrots

Two words come to mind with this meal: NO LEFTOVERS!! Seriously, these Falafel are amazing and very simple to make! Plus they are super healthy (check out the calories below). Short on time? Check out my new section called "Plan and Prep ahead." I found this recipe a couple years ago in a magazine I subscribe to called "Vegetarian Times." If you think you might be interested in the magazine, get a  subscription at the bottom of this post. 

Falafel Recipe

1 15 oz can chickpeas (also called garbanzo beans), rinsed
  3 TB tahini (what is it? See below)
1 large egg

2 TB grated lemon zest

  1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 garlic clove, minced (about 1 tsp)

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 TB finely chopped onion
2 TB chopped parsley
1/2 tsp baking powder
Olive oil or cooking spray for frying

1. Pulse chickpeas through salt in a blender or food processor until smooth, but still a little chunky. Transfer to a bowl, stir in flour through baking powder.
2. Over medium-high heat, pour about 3-4 TB olive oil in pan or use cooking spray. Using a 1/4 cup, scoop chickpea mixture and place in pan. Use back of measuring cup to flatten out. Make sure patties don't touch. Cook 3 minutes per side or until they have browned. Transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate to drain. Serve with yogurt dip, warm pita bread, lettuce, and sliced tomatoes.

Yogurt Dip Recipe

1 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat)
3 TB cilantro, chopped 
2 TB lemon juice

2 TB lemon zest (tip: you will need at least 3 lemons for both the yogurt dip and falafel recipes)

1 TB cumin
1. Combine all ingredients in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. 


Honeyed Carrots

4 medium or large carrots, chopped (baby carrots work well too! You don't have to cut them up...just throw them in)

1 TB butter 
1 TB honey

dash of salt (optional)

1 shallot, sliced (optional)

1. In a medium or large saucepan boil carrots with about 1-1 1/2 cups of water for about 10-12 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain, remove from pan.

2. In the same pan, combine butter, honey and salt and optional shallots. Stir over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add carrots and cook uncovered a couple minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with pepper.


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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 onion, parsley, cilantro ahead; keep in air-tight container in fridge.
~Zest and juice lemons and keep in air-tight containers in fridge.
~Make patties ahead of time without cooking them; keep on a plate, saran-wrapped in the fridge up to 24 hours ahead.
~Make yogurt sauce ahead of time and keep in air-tight container in fridge up to 48 hours ahead.
~Chop carrots and keep in fridge.

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Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Instead of pita bread, serve falafel with fresh bread like sourdough or french.
~Swap cilantro for parsley and vice-verse.

~Instead of yogurt sauce, try sour cream.

~Add sprouts instead of lettuce. 
~Use parsnips or turnips instead of carrots
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What is Tahini?



Tahini is ground sesame seeds that become a creamy paste. It is a major component of hummus and other Middle Eastern foods. You should be able to find it in a natural foods market or in the foreign/international section of your grocery store. If you can't find it, you can always buy it online here:


Krinos Tahini 16 Oz Jar



Want to get a subscription to Vegeterian Times?
 
Buy it here:  

Vegetarian Times (1-year) 


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