Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gluten Free Recipes: Cranberry Citrus Muffins and Yummy Almond Bread

Last week we had dinner with some good friends, whose daughter is on a gluten-free, dairy-free diet. Some of you probably read my story about living with Crohn's disease, but I could really empathize with this girl. It's hard having to find alternatives to foods that you really enjoy and also making sure you are getting enough nutrition in your body because of having to avoid many foods. Here are a couple new recipes to try for those of you that are gluten intolerant and/or dairy free. I will create a new gluten-free and dairy free section on my blog and have every week or every other week new recipes that you can try. Below I have listed several resources for those of you that have Celiac Disease or are gluten intolerant. Hope this helps!

Muffin Recipe 
makes 12 muffins
1 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups Bob's Red mill gluten free all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
 2 TB flaxseed meal
1/2 cup (or 1 stick) soy margarine, softened
2/3 turbinado sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 tsp orange zest, grated
1/2 cup soy milk, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350* F. Spray muffin pan with cooking spray. Bring cranberries and orange juice to a simmer over medium heat in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, let stand for 15 minutes. Drain off excess liquid and set aside. 
2. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside. Whisk 6 TB water into flaxseed meal in a small bowl. Set aside. 
3. Cream margarine, turbinado sugar and orange zest with electric mixer for about 2 minutes or until fluffy. Beat in flaxseed mixture. Fold 1/3 of flour mixture into margarine mix. Stir in 1/4 cup soymilk. Repeat, ending with flour mixture. Fold in cranberries. 
4. Divide batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups. Sprinkle each with turbinado sugar. Bake 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown. Cool in muffin pan set on wire rack.  

*adapted from vegeterian times magazine May/June 2010

Yummy Almond Bread Recipe

 1 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
3/4 cup arrowroot powder
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
 4 eggs
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, arrowroot, flaxseed meal, salt and baking soda. 
2.In a large bowl, combine eggs until frothy, about 3-5 minutes.  
3. Stir agave and cider vinegar into eggs. 
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients. 
5. Pour batter into a well greased loaf pan (7.5"x3.5")
6. Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean. 
 7. Cool and serve.  

*check out for the original recipe


Gluten Free Resources

1. The most popular brand of gluten free foods is Bob's Red Mill. You can basically find any gluten free ingredients that you need from this one source. I've also heard that if you buy his stuff in bulk, it's usually cheaper. A lot of grocery stores and natural food stores will carry his products.
Bob's red mill page 
  Here's the all-purpose flour that I used in the muffins above. Amazon carries all of Bob's Red Mill products.
Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Baking Flour, 22-Ounce Packages (Pack of 4) 

2. Pamela's Products has some great baking supplies as well. Here is her web page and also an amazon link to purchase her products. 
Pamela's Products Page
Pamela's Products Wheat-Free & Gluten-Free Bread Mix, 19-Ounce Packages (Pack of 6)
3. One of my favorite gluten-free blogs is Elana's Pantry. There are a TON of recipes, and her stuff looks super yummy. That's where I got this almonds flour bread recipe from. It was quite tasty. :)
Elanas Pantry Page

4. I haven't done much with this one, but it looks fun. It's called Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. Beautiful pictures and very well written. 
Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef Page

Honestly, these are just a few resources to get you started. There is SOOO much else out there on the internet. Just google gluten-free blogs or gluten-free recipes and you will find a PLETHERA of information (I've always wanted to use that word)!

What motivates me to cook healthy meals?

 That has been the question that a lot of people have been asking me lately...where do I get my inspiration from? Why do I cook the way I do? To answer that, I have to dive a little into the past 12 years of my life. 
In my freshman year in college, I started experiencing intense stomach/intestinal pain, and it got so bad that I had to quit school and fly back to my parents house in Germany. They took me to an Gastroenterologist, and through many different tests it was determined that I have Crohn's disease (see my section below on what Crohn's is). For many years (7 to be exact) I did extensive research to try to find a diet that worked well with my illness and try to control it through food. I tried a vegan diet, vegetarian diet, macro-biotic, protein rich diet, etc.
It was really hard to pinpoint exactly what foods would trigger the flare-ups, but I knew if I ate a fairly "healthy" balance of organic foods, I would have less pain. To make a really long story short, I went on a new medication in 2005 called Remicade that returned my intestines to their healthy state, and I have been pain free, inflammation free ever since!  
Through my experience though, I have learned a lot about different kinds of foods and have really enjoyed cooking ever since. 
Also, having kids has really motivated me to find healthy recipes and foods to serve my family. My goal is for them to have a healthy appreciation of food and also educate them on how food is made and why it's important to use fresh ingredients in their natural state.  Have a hard time getting your kids to eat healthy? Check out my tips section below.
What is Crohn's Disease? 

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory disease of the intestines. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease, with symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. Unfortunately, there is not a lot they know about the disease. My affected area is the small intestine in the ileum, but it can be anywhere in your small or large intestine.  If you want to know more about it, check this website out:

Information about Crohn's Disease 

How can I get my kid to eat healthier?
 Check Here are some tips and tricks that I have used in the past, and am still using to get my kids to eat well. This may or may not work for your kids, but its worth giving it a try. Those of you that have children, do you have any extra stuff to add to this list? 

1. If I eat healthy foods in front of them, they are more likely to at least try it. The rule in our house is you have to at least try one bite.
2. Keep offering the foods they don't like. Our daughter at first didn't like bell peppers or tomatoes. She literally would gag when she tried a bite of tomato. I kept trying though, and kept offering it to her, because we eat those vegetables a lot. Now she likes them...but usually only if I serve them with some kind of dip...which brings me to the next tip.
3. Try different dips and vinaigrette. My kids love dipping their veggies and meats into something. Some of their favorites include: Hummus, Paul Newman's Lite Balsamic Vinaigrette, and ketchup.
4. If they don't like a certain type of food, try serving it a different way. Like with veggies...stir fry them, grate them into different meals, try them raw, etc.

Hope these tips help!  

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday: Stuffed Syrupy-Sausage Apples with Simple Greens

I LOVE how simple and kid-friendly this Rachel Ray recipe is. Minimal ingredients, my kids devour it, and I'm not spending more than 10 minutes prepping this meal. This has become a popular dish with several of my friends that have kids. Hooray for kid meals!

Stuffed Apples Recipe
4 servings

4 large golden delicious apples, halved crosswise and cored

1 lb chicken or italian sausage, casings removed, chopped
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 TB purse maple syrup
olive oil for drizzling 

1. Preheat oven to 375* Fahrenheit. Add apples, cut side up to a greased 9x13 baking dish.
2. Combine sausage through maple syrup in a medium bowl. Stuff each apple half with sausage mixture, and mound it on top of each apple. Drizzle with extra maple syrup and olive oil. Bake for 40-45 minutes.

Simple Greens Recipe   
 4 servings

4 cups mixed greens
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2 tsp honey mustard or Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil 

1. In a salad bowl, combine vinegar and mustard. Whisk in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss greens with the dressing and serve with stuffed apples. Bon Appetit!


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.

~Combine the sausage, parsley and maple syrup in a bowl and keep in fridge until ready to use.
~Halve and core the apples. Store in fridge until ready to use. 
~Mix together salad dressing, and store in fridge until time of use.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP? 

~Try sprinkling a little Parmesan cheese over each apple half. 
~Instead of parsley try cilantro.
~Add chopped bell pepper to sausage mix to add a little color. 
~Replace sausage with chorizo for a little spicyness.


Tuesday: Portobello Lasagna Rolls

Super delicious meal! This Ellie Krieger dish took a little long to make (if you are short on time, just do bottled tomato sauce instead of homemade), but was so worth all the effort. The flavors were very rich, and the homemade tomato sauce was delicioso! You can easily freeze the rolls if you have a ton of leftovers. The Prep Ahead section will come in handy with this meal; make sure to check it out below before making this dish.

Lasagna Rolls Recipe
6-8 servings
12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles  
2 tsp olive oil
12 oz portabello mushrooms, chopped ( I used baby bellas that were already pre-chopped)
1/2 tsp salt, divided
4 cups Easy Tomato Sauce, recipe follows or store bought marinara sauce
1 (15oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup chopped up fresh spinach or 1 (10oz) frozen, chopped
spinach, thawed and drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup Parmesan, grated
3 oz part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated (2/3 cup) 

1. Preheat oven to 375* Fahrenheit. Cook the noodles about 7 minutes or until el dente. Drain and then spread them out on aluminum foil or waxed paper to prevent them from sticking. 
2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp salt. Stir in 1 1/2 cup of tomato sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. 
3. In a medium bowl combine ricotta, spinach, egg and remaining 1/4 tsp salt, couple turns of ground pepper and nutmeg. 
3. Spread 1 cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of 9x12 inch baking dish. 
 4. Spread about 2 TB of ricotta mix on to a lasagna noodle. 
5. Top with 1 1/2 TB of mushroom mixture. 
6. Roll the noodle and place it into baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.
7. Spread remaining 1 1/2 cups sauce over lasagna rolls. 
8. Top with grated cheeses. 
9. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes more.

 Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe 

 1 TB olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (28oz) cans of whole tomatoes, drained and chopped or 2 (28oz)
cans of diced tomatoes, drained
3 TB tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf 

 In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, cook until soft about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients and let simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use on Lasagna Rolls above. 
Love this sauce? Make double and use for a different meal over whole-wheat spaghetti topped with fresh 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.

~If making Easy Tomato Sauce, cook ahead of time and store in airtight container in fridge.
~Grate cheeses ahead of time and store in airtight container in fridge. 
~Cook mushrooms, mix with the tomato sauce and store in fridge until ready to use. Heat up in microwave for a couple minutes before using. 
~Make Ricotta cheese mixture minus the egg ahead of time and store in fridge. Remember to add egg when ready to use. 


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Instead of topping lasagna rolls with Parmesan and mozzarella try swiss, monterrey or Gruyere cheese.
~Does your family not like mushrooms? Try steamed chopped broccoli, bell pepper . 
~Try chopped swiss chard instead of spinach.
~Swap out ricotta for low fat cottage cheese. 


Wednesday: Herb Quiche with Baked Tomato Cheese Slices

Can anybody say Ooh-La-La? Whenever I say the word "Quiche", I think of drinking tea with my pinky in the air, curtsying and saying "Merci", plus I imagine it's something Jane Austen ate back in her day. You would think it originated in France, right? WRONG! Check out it's history towards the bottom of this post. You might be surprised...I sure was! BTW-in case you hadn't noticed, I used my "Jane Austeny" plate in the picture below. I thought such a fancy dish should have the honor of being on an Ooh-La-La plate. 
What to do with leftovers? This dish makes a great lunch the next day!
This savory dish came from a Vegeterian Times magazine. If you don't have a subscription, and are interested, you can buy it online at amazon below.  
When the quiche was baking in the oven, I was trying to come up with a good side dish to go with it. Tomatoes and cheese kept popping into my head, so I made baked tomato slices with melted herb mozzarella cheese. You can add whatever side dish tickles your fancy though! Enjoy!

Quiche Recipe
4 servings

2 TB breadcrumbs (can be made with 1 slice of bread in the food processor)

2 small leeks, white and light green parts halved and sliced 1/2" thick
2 cups swiss chard, kale, collards or mustard greens, chopped
4 egg whites
3 whole eggs, beaten
1/4 cup low-fat milk
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 TB fresh tarragon, chopped (I didn't have this so I used oregano)
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
2 oz soft goat cheese 

1. Preheat oven to 425* F. Coat bottom and sides of a 9 in. glass pie dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on bottom of pie dish.
2. Bring 4 cups salted water to a boil. Add leeks. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat and add swiss chard until wilted, about 1 minute. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Squeeze out any excess water with your hands. Set aside. 
3. Whisk egg whites in a medium sized bowl until frothy. Whisk in eggs. Whisk milk and nutmeg in. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in tarragon and basil. 
4. Scatter leeks and Swiss chard over breadcrumbs in pie dish. Dot cheese on top. Pour egg mixture into pie pan. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool 5 minutes before slicing.

Baked Tomato Recipe

   2 large tomatoes, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup or less mozzarella cheese, grated
1/4 cup or less Parmesan cheese, grated
1-2 oz herb goat cheese, (use whatever you have leftover from quiche)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (or basil, oregano, thyme, etc)
salt and pepper 

1. Spray cooking spray on baking sheet. Place tomato slices on cooking sheet. Sprinkle seasoning and salt and pepper first. Then dot each tomato slice with the goat cheese. Mix the two cheeses (mozzarella and parmesan) in a small bowl. Sprinkle over tomato slices. Bake with the Quiche for 5-10 minutes at 425* Fahrenheit or until tops are browned.


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 leeks and swiss chard ahead of time, and keep in fridge until time of use. 
~Make breadcrumbs and keep in airtight container.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Instead of leeks try green onion or red onion chopped. 
~Try spinach instead of swiss chard. 
~Use your favorite fresh or dry herbs instead of what is listed. 
~Replace goat cheese with feta. 
~Instead of using bread for breadcrumbs, try crackers.


A Little Background on Quiche

Quiche is originally from Germany! It came from the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, and which the French later renamed Lorraine (hence the popular Quiche Lorraine). The actual word comes from the German word 'Kuchen', meaning cake. It's definitely not something I ever ate in Germany when I lived there, so it must have adapted into a French dish.

Like the Vegeterian Times recipes I've been posting? You can buy a subscription online on amazon. 

Thursday: Delicious Tuna Noodle Casserole

The traditional noodle casserole is made with some kind of canned mushroom or celery soup that has a TON of preservatives and sodium. This Cooking Light version is so much healthier, using fresh ingredients and brightly colored vegetables. Serve with yummy garlic bread or a wholesome green salad.

Casserole Recipe
6 servings

8 oz (1 cup) wide whole-wheat egg noodles (or any short whole wheat pasta you choose)

2 TB olive oil
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/3 cup carrot, chopped
2 TB all-purpose flour
2 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup (4oz) less-fat cream cheese, softened
2 TB Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I was out of peas-used soybeans-see Change It Up below)
1/2 cup (2oz) Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
2 cans (5oz) albacore tuna in water, drained and flaked 

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add oil. Add onion and carrot; cook for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. Add flour and then gradually stir in milk; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk until slightly thick. Stir in cream cheese, mustard, salt, and pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. 
3. Remove pan from heat. Stir in noodles, peas, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and tuna. Spoon mixture into a shallow 2 quarter baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

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 carrots and onion and keep in fridge.
~Grate cheese ahead of time and store in airtight container in fridge.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Instead of topping casserole with Parmesan try swiss, monterrey or mozarella.
~Try different veggies like chopped broccoli, bell pepper, corn, spinach, zucchini or soy beans.

~Replace tuna with canned salmon.
~You can easily make this into a vegeterian meal by not adding the tuna. 
~Chop up some cooked chicken, beef, pork or sausage instead of tuna.


Friday: Yummy Chicken Cashew Dinner with Brown Rice

This stir-fry dish is packed with a ton of flavor. My family really enjoyed it. Honestly, any dish that has rice in it, my daughter will eat it. That's probably her favorite food right now...rice. Plain. No frilly chopped vegetables or sauce with it. Just rice. Our favorite take out is sushi, so she gets one of those "children plates" that has a mound of rice with it. That's the first thing she attacks.
This is another Cooking Light dish, so you know it will be low in calories. Only 257 per 3/4 cup, without the rice. Here's to healthy eating!

Chicken Cashew Recipe
4 servings

3 TB low-sodium soy sauce, divided

2 TB dry sherry
4 tsp cornstarch, divided
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup chicken broth, fat-free less sodium
1 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1 TB honey
2 tsp sesame oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1 TB ginger, grated and peeled
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cashews, dry roasted and unsalted

1. Combine 1 TB soy sauce, sherry, 2 tsp cornstarch, and chicken. Toss well. Combine remaining 2 TB soy sauce, remaining 2 tsp cornstarch, broth, chili-garlic sauce and honey in a small bowl.
2. Heat 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mix to pan, sautee 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in pan. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pan, saute 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and sautee for 1 more minute. Return chicken mix to pan, sautee for 1 minute. Pour in broth mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with green onions and cashews.

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 onion, celery, bell pepper and green onion. Keep refrigerated until time of use. 
~Mix together soysauce, cornstarch, chili-garlic sauce, broth and honey in small bowl. Keep refrigerated until time of use. 


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Replace chicken with pork for variety.
~Instead of cashews use roasted sunflower seeds. 

~Try different vegetablesd like baby bok-choy, broccoli and bamboo shoots to change it up. 
~Instead of serving this with rice, try soba noodles.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Whole-Grain Fruit and Veggie Muffins

These muffins are by far our family's FAVORITE snack...hands down! We have made these beauties a hundred times, and we never get tired of them. They have a ton of flavor, and our kids love them.  They are packed with yummy fruit, fiber and veggies, and are the perfect snack or breakfast treat. They can be eaten alone, or spread some low-fat cream cheese, peanut butter, almond butter or honey on them. 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Homemade Laundry Soap

I've always wanted to make homemade laundry soap, so when my friend Tracy posted a recipe on her blog, I was inspired to try it. I've only been using it for a couple of days, but am surprised how well it works. It has gotten all the stains out of the kids clothes, and believe me...their clothes were DIRTY. They had a great time playing outside in the dirt yesterday, and were making mud pies and all sorts of fun concoctions. So, I thought I would put this new soap to it's test, and am impressed how clean their clothes are. 
I was a little worried at first when I was grating the fels-naptha soap, because it had a very strong smell to it. I am super sensitive to fragrances, but I stuck with it, and when I used the homemade laundry soap in the wash, the clothes didn't have a strong smell to them, so I was relieved. If you want, you can also add a couple drops of essential oils like lemon or orange to give your clothes a citrus boost. 
I will definitely be using this laundry soap from now on because it is SOOO much cheaper than buying regular detergent from the store. My friend Tracy calculated it to be $1.15 for 2 cups of laundry soap (which is how much the recipe yields). You are only using 1 TB per batch of clothes so you can get 32 loads of clothes for $1.15! Per load you are only spending 3.5 cents. Not bad! 
I found all of these items at my local grocery store, so next time you go shopping check them out! This laundry soap is great for HE Washers, because it is low sudsing. 

 Laundry Soap Recipe
1 cup Fels-Naptha Soap, grated, use the smallest holes on your grater or my friend Tracy suggested using a microplane
1/2 cup washing soda (not baking soda)
1/2 cup Borox

1.Mix everything up in an old container...I used an old washed out yogurt container.
When doing laundry, use 1 TB per batch.


Overnight No Knead Honey-Oat Bread

This bread is AWESOME! I was surprised how easy it was to make. This would be the perfect bread recipe for a busy/working mom who still wants to provide yummy homemade bread for her family or for those of you that just do not feel like kneading bread. I made the dough the night before, and left it overnight at room temperature. The next morning I put it in the bread pan, let it rise for about 2 hours, and then baked it. That's it! The crust is slightly crunchy, and a yummy chewy inside.  Now you don't have any excuses to make homemade bread. :) This recipe is a keeper!
 Bread Recipe
2 cup quick-cooking oats, divided
3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose, divided
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp rapid-rising or instant yeast
6 TB honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1.Spread 3/4 cup oats in the microwave. Microwave on high for 1 1/2-2 minutes until fragrant. 
2. Mix 1 1/2 cup water with 1 cup ice cubes in bowl. Combine 3 1/4 cups flour, salt, yeast, and toasted oats in separate bowl. Measure 1 1/2 cups ice water and combine with honey and oil in different bowl. Stir vigorously honey mixture into flour mixture. Brush top with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap that has been coated with cooking spray on one side. Let rise at room temperature for 8-12 hours. (I turned on the oven and waited until it reached 100 degrees. Then I turned the oven off, and placed the covered bowl in the oven. That's my fool-proof method for getting a proper rise out of the bread).
3. Vigorously stir dough. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup flour. Should have a stir-able but stiff dough. Spray cooking spray in a loaf pan (9x5inch). Transfer dough to pan, smooth surface with spatula. Press remaining 1/4 oats on top of loaf. Cover with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Turn on oven. Wait until it reaches 100 degrees. Turn oven off. Place loaf pan in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you don't have that much time, you can also place in refrigerator for up to 48 hours, then set out at room temperature when ready to bake.
4.Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove plastic wrap. Bake loaf for 30-35 minutes until top is well browned. Cover with foil and bake another 30-35 minutes until skewer inserted in thickest part of loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let sit for 5 minutes in pan. Take loaf out of pan and place on a wire rack to cool.
Yields 1 loaf. The kids and I like to have a couple slices before the loaf cools all the way. Can't beat homemade warm bread with a little butter!


Who likes to change it up?

~Add sunflower seeds, chopped pecans and or flaxseeds (1.2 cup each) to dough to make a multi-grain bread.

~Try adding dried cranberries to raisins (about 1/2-3/4 cup) to the dough. 


Did you know?  

Back in the day, before people knew about kneading bread, this method above is the way they made it. So you are making ancient bread! :) Eventually they discovered by pulling, beating, stretching or "kneading" the bread, it speeds up the gluten-developing process. 

Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday: Black Bean Burritos with Fiesta Spoon Bread

Not sure what to make for a potluck? Rachel Ray's Fiesta Spoon bread is the perfect side dish for a potluck or party. I have made it numerous times through the years, and have gotten rave reviews from it. What's the difference between spoon bread and cornbread? Spoon bread is a lot creamier and you have to use a spoon to eat it. Cornbread is firm enough to eat with your hands. 
Pair the spoon bread with these easy, yet tasty Cooking Light black bean burritos and you've got a match!

Black Bean Burrito Recipe
4 servings

1 (7oz) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (I didn't have a can of this, so I used 1 tsp chili powder and 1/2 roasted bell pepper chopped)

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1 (15oz)can black beans, rinsed and drained (or use frozen black beans that you made earlier...see How to Make Beans )

1 cup frozen corn, thawed
4 flour tortillas, 8-inch 
1 cup bottled salsa

1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.
2. Remove one chile from can, chop up. If you don't have the adobo sauce chili, see instructions above. Combine sour cream and chopped chile or chili powder and bell pepper. Let stand 10 minutes.  
3. Place half of beans in a food processor. Process until finely chopped. Add chopped beans, remaining beans, and corn to sour cream mix. 
4. Spoon 1/2 cup bean mixture down center of each tortilla. Roll up tortillas, and place seam sides down, in an 11x7 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread salsa over tortillas, sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until thoroughly heated. If making with the fiesta spoon bread, place burritos in oven, after you have cooked the spoon bread the first 15 minutes. That way, they will both be ready at the same time.

Fiesta Spoon Bread Recipe 
 6 servings
 1 (14.75 oz) can creamed corn 
1 red bell pepper, roasted and chopped (see instructions below for the roasting)

2 scallions or green onion, chopped

2 large eggs
1 stick butter, melted
1/2 cup half-and-half

1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cornmeal

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (3 cups)

1. Turn on broiler. Place bell pepper in a baking dish, and heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, until it has blackened all over. Remove from oven, place in a plastic sandwich bag, stick in the fridge and let sit for 15 minutes. Remove bell pepper, take off blackened peel (should come off easily), seed and chop.
2. Turn oven to 400 degrees F. Use cooking spray on a 2 quart or 8 inch square baking dish. Set aside. In a medium bowl, stir together corn, bell pepper, scallions, eggs, butter, half-and-half and salt. In a small bowl, sift together cornmeal and baking soda. Add to corn mixture. Stir in cheese. Stir until just combined, don't over mix. 
3. Pour mixture into prepared baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for another 20 minutes or until set. Serve hot. Voila!

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 sour cream mix for burritos ahead of time and keep in fridge. 
~Chop up veggies for spoon bread and keep in fridge. 


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Add chopped sausage to fiesta spoon bread.
~Use a different cheese like mozzarella, swiss or pepper jack instead of monterey jack.

~Chop up some cilantro and add to fiesta spoon bread mixture.


Tuesday: Pomegranate Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Green Beans

 The night I made this dish, my husband came home from work and asked "What are you baking?" This Rachel Ray chicken dish smelled SO aromatic that he thought I was baking cinnamon bread. :) I gotta say, at first I was a little skeptical adding Pomegranate juice to the dish, but I was surprised to find all the flavors blended very well together. This meal only took 30 minutes to cook! It took me about 10 minutes to prep everything, but if you do that ahead of time (see my section Prep Ahead below) that will make for a no stress dinner. Add rice and steamed green beans with cherry tomatoes to the menu and you've got a delicious dinner for you and your family!

Chicken Recipe
4 servings

5 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 lb), cut into quarters

1 TB olive oil
1 onion, cut in half then sliced
1 clove garlic, smashed
3/4 cup walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4-1 cup pomegranate juice (or cranberry-pomegranate)
2 TB flat-leaf parsley, chopped

1. Season chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spray large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Place chicken carefully in skillet, and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until browned but not all the way cooked. Transfer to a plate. Add the onions, garlic and walnuts to skillet and cook, stirring often, until softened about 5 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon. Return the chicken to pan, add pomegranate juice and simmer until chicken is cooked all the way through, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer chicken mixture to a plate. 
3. Cook sauce about 3 more minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Add parsley. Serve with green beans and rice.


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.

~Slice onion and chop walnuts. Keep in refrigerator until time of use.
~Chop parsley and keep in fridge. 
~Make rice ahead of time, and reheat when you need it. 


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Try slivered almonds or cashews instead of walnuts.
~Use diced sweet potatoes or your favorite vegetable instead of green beans. 

~Use cranberry juice instead of pomegranate.
~Try this sauce on pork or beef.


Wednesday: Turkey Burger with Goat Cheese Spread and Garlic-Broccoli


This is one of my favorite burgers. I love that it has some sort of vegetable (spinach) in it. This Cooking Light Burger makes me feel good about serving it to my kids. The lemon zest gives it an extra burst of citrus goodness. :) Serve with a side of garlic-broccoli and you have made yourself a healthy dinner! There are only 269 calories per burger. YUM-YUM!

Turkey Burger Recipe
4 servings

2 tsp lemon rind, grated

1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground turkey breast
1 cup of fresh spinach, finely chopped
1 large egg white
1/8 tsp pepper, divided
6 English muffins, toasted
6 green leaf lettuce leaves
6 slices red onion 

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Divide turkey mixture into 6 portions, shaping each into a patty. Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add patties to pan, and cook for 8 minutes on each side or until done. 
 2. Toast english muffins. Spread 1 1/2 TB yogurt mixture on bottom half. Top with 1 lettuce leaf, 1 onion slice and 1 patty. Place top half of bun on each serving.

Yogurt/Goat Cheese spread Recipe 

1/2 cup low or nonfat yogurt or Greek style yogurt (if using low or nonfat-see additional instructions below) 
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup (1oz) crumbled goat cheese (I like using an herb variety)
2 TB flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 TB fresh oregano, chopped
1 TB fresh mint, chopped 

1. If using Greek style yogurt, go to step 2. If not, follow these instructions. Place yogurt in a paper towel lined strainer. Drain yogurt over sink for about 15 minutes. This thickens the yogurt, and turns it into something similar to Greek-style yogurt.
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, stirring well. 

Broccoli Recipe 

1 lb Broccoli crowns, cut up into bite sized pieces
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 TB olive oil 

1. Steam broccoli for about 4-6 minutes until it is still crunchy. In a medium skillet, heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Add cooked broccoli and saute for another minute until everything is blended together. Serve with Turkey burger. 

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.

~Combine turkey mixture ahead of time and keep in fridge for no longer than 24 hours. 
~Make goat cheese spread ahead of time, and keep in fridge. 
~Slice red onion ahead of time and keep in fridge.


Who likes to CHANGE IT UP?

~Use ground chicken, pork or beef instead of turkey. If using beef, make sure to get lean cuts to cut down on the fat content.
~Try chopped rosemary and basil instead of oregano and mint. 

~Swap parsley for cilantro. 
~Yummy sourdough bread or french bread rolls would be good with these burgers. 
~Instead of goat cheese try feta. 
~Zest up a lime instead of lemon for the burgers. 
~Add some sprouts instead of lettuce. 


Have you ever tried goat cheese?  

When I first discovered goat cheese, I was going to college in Arcata, CA and as some of you know, Arcata is ALL about organic food and health food. At one of the coffee shops they used to serve a toasted Foccasia bread sandwich with goat cheese , marinated artichokes and portabella mushrooms. Ever since then, I have been in love with goat cheese!

Goat cheese has a very distinct tangy flavor. It is tolerated well by those that are lactose intolerant and comes in many different flavors. My personal favorite is an herb variety. If you've never tried goat cheese, check it out next time you are at the grocery store. You might be pleasantly surprised how much you enjoy it. It's super yummy on a spinach salad with strawberries and slivered almonds.


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