Sunday, October 28, 2012

Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash

I have not made this recipe yet, but a friend sent it to me and I wanted to be able to pin it for easy access. :)
Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing
This photo is actually of this recipe: http://www.chow.com/recipes/13566-roasted-acorn-squash-with-wild-rice-stuffing


Wild Rice Stuffed Squash... from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen Cookbook
(serves 6)

3 small acorn squash, cut in half crosswise
1/2 c wild rice
1/2 c long grain brown rice
2 c water
pinch of sea salt
1 TBL olive oil
1 leek
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley (optional)
1/2 c organic dried cranberries
3/4 c pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scoop out seeds and pith from squash and place squash halves flesh side down in a glass baking dish filled with 1/4 in water. Bake uncovered for 40 minutes or until the squash is fork tender.
2. While squash is cooking, prepare the rice. Place wild rice and long grain brown rice in a heavy bottomed two quart pot. Add water and sea salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to low and simmer for 45 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove pot from heat and let stand while preparing other ingredients.
3. Heat a 10-in skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and leeks. Saute about 3 minutes. Add crushed garlic, chopped celery, dried herbs and sea salt. Saute for 5-6 minutes more. Place the leek-celery mixture into a bowl. Add parsley, dried cranberries, pecans and cooked rice. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings as desired.
4. Take squash halves and evenly distribute mixture into the center of each. Place stuffed squash back into the pan and into the oven for 10-20 min or until heated all the way through (I actually didn't do this because I think it dries the squash out, but it's in the recipe).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bad blogger, but I have a good reason!

This blog has been sitting pretty empty lately, so I wanted to stop by to make sure that anyone who is looking for an update knows that updates will be coming ... eventually. I haven't been updating much lately because I haven't been cooking much lately.

I haven't been cooking much lately because I haven't been feeling like eating lately.

I have been feeling like eating lately because the hubs and I are having a baby and I have been plagued with a pretty nasty case of morning (aka all day) sickness. This means our meals have been either a) toast, b) soup, or c) a hodge-podge of whatever things I feel like I can stomach at the moment. My plan is to be updating as soon as my stomach will allow me to spend more than ten minutes in the kitchen.

In the meantime, I appreciate all your patience during this hiatus. :)


Friday, April 13, 2012

Orange Apple Carrot Juice

Juice.

What is there to say about juice?

First, I don't buy it. I bought some apple juice juice boxes last summer and still have them in the pantry. I used a few when I made jam - Aspen drank half of one when she was sick once. I think we maybe brought a couple camping and I probably drank them. Needless to say, we just don't drink a lot of juice.

Reasons? I don't like the amount of sugar in juice and I really don't like how processed the juices are. There is pretty much no nutritional value left in most shelf-stable juices AND it's really expensive! Especially considering the other two things I mentioned.

So, allow me to step off my soapbox for a moment and get to the point of this post.

I borrowed my friend's juicer yesterday because I wanted to give juicing a try. I've heard a lot about it, read a lot about it, and thought a lot about the pros/cons. Last night I decided to give it a shot and boy oh boy was I pleased! Here is the first recipe I came up with - it's just sweet enough and it tastes raw. That's probably my favorite part. It tastes like real food should taste. If you have access to a juicer, I definitely think it's worth giving it a try.

Orange Apple Carrot Juice
6 medium carrots
1 apple, cored and quartered
1 orange, peeled and quatered

Wash all produce and feed it all through the juicer. Whisk juice together to ensure ingredients are well combined. Serve immediately. This made ~12oz juice.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pear Syrup/Glaze/Sauce

This was supposed to be a compote for the top of our pancakes last week. The result of too much butter is a delicious sauce. This is probably one of the best mistakes I have made in the kitchen in a long time. The hubs loved it, as did I. The toddler would have loved it, but no way was she getting any of this sugary mess poured over her pancakes. Do as I say, not as I do, right?



Pear Syrup/Glaze/Sauce

3 ripe pears, any kind, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
5 tbsp cinnamon






Combine pears, sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cover and place over medium-low heat. Once the butter and sugar start to melt, uncover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pears break down and a thick syrup forms.

We used this as a pancake topping the first night and a filling for dessert crepes the next day. I am also envisioning this over a couple scoops of vanilla bean ice cream. Eat your heart out ... and maybe go for a run before making it. :)

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Meaty Marinara Sauce

I have gone through my ups and downs with pasta sauce in my life. My mom always made her own from tomato sauce and tomato paste, which I loved. However, even on my best days, mine always turns out a little watery. I can't seem to get the sauce:paste ratio correct. I've also gone the jarred pasta sauce route, but it's pretty expensive and not always the best quality.

Then, as I was perusing the canned tomato aisle, I stumbled upon something that has revolutionized my marinara sauce: crushed tomatoes.

Yes, I know I'm a loser. How could I not know about crushed tomatoes before now? I simply never had a reason to use them. So in case anyone out there is under the same rock I've been under all my life, here you go. (Or, if you knew they existed and just never thought of making your own marinara sauce, this is also for you.) Super easy. Super delicious. Super hearty.

Meaty Marinara Sauce

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
5 gloves garlic, roughly minced
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
3 tbsp extra  virgin olive oil
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp dried basil
3 tbsp dried oregano

3 tbsp Italian seasoning



Brown meat. Drain excess fat and season with 3 tbsp Italian seasoning.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a thick bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Saute garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes. This will leave the onions somewhat crunchy, so if you want them more tender, saute longer. Reduce heat to low. Add crushed tomatoes, basil, and oregano. Stir together. Add meat once it is cooked through.

Simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, or until hot.

Serve over your favorite noodles or with bread for dipping.

Note: This will make pretty chunky sauce, so if you want it more saucey, you may want to use 2 cans of tomatoes instead.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Still alive

Since it has been over a week since my last post, I thought I would check in. I'm still here and still cooking, but life has been very busy and tiring these last couple of weeks of both the hubs and me. We've been trying to stay low key as much as possible as a result. I promise to get something new posted before Sunday though. :)

Happy cooking (and eating)!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Roasted Chicken two ways - slow cooker style


I love roasted chicken. Love it. Until about 6 months ago though, I could count on two hands the number of times I actually made one because I can never figure out how to keep the meat from drying out before it's fully cooked. Then a friend of mine let me in on a little secret - put the chicken in the crock pot! It seriously leaves the meat falling off the bones and helps it retain so much moisture that you would never know it had been cooking for 6+ hours. Plus, who doesn't love a good crock pot meal? Especially when it means roasted chicken on a weeknight!

I'm providing the instructions first and then my two favorite ways to season the bird after since the cooking method is the same. You'll love how simple these directions are.

1. Clean the bird.
2. Pat the skin dry and season the bird liberally, inside and out.
3. Put the chicken in the crock pot.
4. Put the cover on the crock pot and turn it on low for 6+ hours.
5. When ready, remove chicken from crockpot and put on a baking sheet in the oven breast side up. Broil for 3-5 minutes until skin is browned to your liking.
6. Eat chicken!

You can leave it in there as long as you want. It will probably be done in less than 6 hours, but use a meat thermometer to ensure you've reached the proper internal temp. Mine is usually cooking away for 8+ hours, so I don't have to worry too much about it.

Here are my favorite ways to season - remember to season the skin AND the cavity of the bird -

Clean and easy -
A liberal amount of garlic powder, onion powder, and dill.
Sea salt


Citrus -
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
5-8 cloves of garlic, halved or whole
1 onion, sliced
Paprika
Sea salt

Season inside and out with paprika and salt. Stuff about half the lemons, onions, orange, and garlic inside the bird. Surround the chicken with the rest once it's in the crock pot.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Growing up, I hated bell peppers. Hated them with a firey passion. So much so that on stuffed pepper night I would hide the pieces of pepper under my placemat so that I could avoid eating them. Eventually my parents stopped fighting me and allowed me to just eat the rice mixture, which made dinner much easier.

At some point after getting married, I read some study that suggests that your tastebuds regenerate every 7 years, so as you get older, your tastes can change dramatically. At this point I decided to give green peppers another shot. Needless to say, I loved them. Then I decided I loved red peppers and yellow peppers and orange peppers. Now peppers are staple in my house and when I visit my mom, she buys me a pepper for stuffing.

The way I make stuffed peppers is different each and every time - here is tonight's variation. It might be my favorite so far!

Stuffed Peppers

1lb lean ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1 cup brown rice
4 carrots, peeled, and chopped into small pieces
1 onion, diced
6 small cloves of garlic, minced
8oz baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and sliced
8 sweet mini peppers, any color
1 quart + 1 pint vegetable stock (or water)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Ground pepper to taste
4 tbsp dried parsley
3/4 bunch cilantro, chopped (stems removed)
1 cup shredded cheese (we used sharp cheddar) + extra for the top of the peppers
3+ bell peppers (we used green), tops cut off and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tops off the peppers. Remove seeds. Rinse peppers and set aside.

Rinse rice and quinoa. Cook in a rice cooker or a large saucepan with stock (or water). If you use a saucepan, cook until the rice and quinoa is soft and cooked through and nearly all of the water is absorbed.

Add oil to a 12 inch non stick skillet and heat over medium. Add garlic, onions, carrots, mini peppers, and mushrooms. Sautee until onions are translucent and vegetables are done to your liking. Season with black pepper to taste. (I prefer ours to be pretty tender, so I sauteed them for about 12 minutes.)

Once vegetables are done, put them in a large bowl and set aside. You'll mix the rice/quinoa mixture and the meat in later, so make it a big bowl.

Using the same skillet, brown the ground turkey. Season with dried parsley. Once meat is cooked through, add it to the bowl with the vegetables.

When the rice/quinoa mixture is cooked, add to the bowl with everything else. Add cheese and combine thoroughly. 

Fill peppers with the rice/veggie/meat mixture and top with more cheese. Put about an inch of water in an 8x8 baking dish, carefully add peppers, and cook at 350 for 25+ minutes. 25 minutes will give you a warm, but crisp pepper. Cook the peppers longer if you want your peppers softer.

Serve immediately with extra rice or cheese if desired.






Note: this recipe will make A LOT of leftover rice. You can make the same amount if you are making more than 3 peppers (I probably could have filled 6-8 additional peppers) or you could use less rice/quinoa/meat. I like to eat the rice by itself for leftovers, which is why I made so much.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Eggplant Grilled Cheese

I have a love-hate relationship with eggplant. I really want to love eggplant because it is so vibrantly beautiful. It taunts me with it's gorgeous shade of purple and makes me want to buy it. That and my two year old really seems to enjoy it. And on top of that, my husband actually loves it. That said, it's not really my favorite thing to cook with because if not cooked properly, it can become slimy and really, who wants to eat a slimy vegetable?

Anyway, this is an eggplant creation I can get on board with. So on board with it that we have actually had it twice in the last month. I even convinced our new roommate (who hasn't had eggplant before) to give it a shot and she said it was tasty. That must mean something. And, if that's not enough of a glowing recommendation for you, let it be known that this is a grilled cheese sandwich and anything smothered in melted cheese is automatically to die for. Even if you are not an eggplant lover, you should still try this one on for size. The crispy eggplant is a nice alternative to the gooey mozzarella.

This would be delicious with mushrooms or spinach added to it. Or bacon (because bacon makes everything better). Or avocado. Or jalepenos if you like a little kick. Honestly, I can't really think of anything that wouldn't be good on this sandwich, but at least with this, you'll have a starting point.

We made these (+bacon) for dinner on Valentine's Day, served with my favorite, bacon avocado salad. We were so full after dinner that we barely had room for dessert!

Eggplant Grilled Cheese

2 slices eggplant, approximately 1/3" in diameter
1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 slices of bread (I use Dave's Killer Bread, my personal fav), buttered  on one side
1 egg
1/4 cup each cornmeal and breadcrumbs
2-3 tbsp oil for frying

Crack egg into a bowl. Lightly scramble together the yolk and the white. Add a little water if necessary to help combine.

Combine breadcrumbs and cornmeal in a separate bowl. Set both bowls aside.

Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dredge eggplant in egg so that the entire piece of eggplant has been covered. Place eggplant in breadcrumb/cornmeal mixture and cover completely. Tap off excess breading. Place in frying pan when oil is hot. Repeat with second slice of eggplant.

Fry eggplant for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Flip and fry on the other side until golden brown. Remove from oil and set aside.

Remove oil from pan, but do not wipe the pan down. Return pan to stove and turn heat to medium-low. Place one slice of bread, buttered side down, in the pan. Top with cheese, both slices of eggplant, and the other slice of bread. Put a cover over your pan to help steam the sandwich. This will allow your cheese to melt without your bread burning. Cook until bread is cooked to your liking. Flip sandwich and replace cover, continuing to cook until cheese is melted and bread is crispy.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Back from a temporary hiatus + new recipe: Apple Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

It has been nearly a week since my last post - oops! Last week was kind of a whirlwind of a new roomie, long days at work, a cranky toddler, and getting ready to go out of town for an extended weekend. Needless to say, there was barely time for the cooking, let alone the documenting of said cooking!

But I'm back with a really delicious muffin recipe. Apparently I'm on a muffin kick. And by apparently, I mean that I am on a muffin kick. So much so that I made two different kinds of muffins tonight because I couldn't decide which one sounded better. My family and coworkers will be very happy.

My favorite muffin recipe is this delicious apple muffin recipe. I generally make it as is (although I always use all whole wheat flour), but tonight I decided to kick it up a notch. After my last batch of muffins that included quinoa turned out brilliantly, I thought I'd see what other kinds of muffins I could integrate quinoa into.

So ... here you have it. Muffin-heaven part 1.

Apple Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins
Makes 2 dozen muffins
 
3 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt (Greek would also work)
1 cup pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 cup cooked quinoa (~1/2 cup dry)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
6+ tbsp cinnamon (be generous)
3 large apples, cored and cubed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Prepare muffin tins by spraying with nonstick spray or lining.

Rinse 1/2 cup dry quinoa before placing in a small saucepan. Add approximately 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 15-18 minutes, or until water is almost completely absorbed and quinoa is tender.

Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together in a large bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Mix on low speed until fully incorporated. Add yogurt, pumpkin puree, and quinoa. Continue to mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Add dry ingredients. Mix well.

Fold in apple chunks and spoon batter into prepared muffin tins. You can fill your tins pretty full. The muffins will rise some, but not much.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 400 degrees and bake an additional 5 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry when inserted into the muffin.
 
Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. These muffins are delightful when served warm but are equally delightful when served at room temp.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sauteed Mushrooms

Is there anything in this world more fabulous than a mushroom sauteed in olive oil, butter, and garlic? I think not. They are a staple in our home because of their versatility and because of that, they deserve their very own post. That is all you really need to know before making this recipe. That and the fact that I could eat these straight out of the pan all day long.

Sauteed Mushrooms

8oz mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
Ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes. Add mushrooms and butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute until mushrooms reach desired tenderness. (Mine usually cook for 8-10 minutes before reaching the perfect tenderness.)


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Avocado chicken salad

I love chicken salad sandwiches but I do not love mayo. This obviously presents a problem as mayo is generally the base for chicken salad. I've added avocado to smoothies before - the result of which was delightfully creamy. I also made this avocado sauce pasta and it was to die for. In my quest to add more vegetables and healthy fats to meals, I decided to throw in an avocado to see what happens. Needless to say, I think next time I'll probably throw in two avocados and cut the mayo down even more because this was really yummy! I served them on these rolls, which I have made two Sundays in a row because they are just that good.
Chicken Salad Sandwiches

2 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 avocado, pitted and mashed
1/2 cup mayo
Pepper to taste
Bread, rolls, or tortillas for serving

Put chicken breasts in a large saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Boil for 35-40 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Remove from water and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, cut into bite size pieces.

Put chicken in a large bowl. Add chopped celery and avocado. Mash avocado with a fork. Add 1/4 cup mayo and mix together. Continue adding up to another 1/4 cup mayo until salad has the desired consistency and taste. Add black pepper to taste.

Serve immediately or chill until ready to use.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Crepes

Crepes.

What can I say about crepes? Delicious. Versatile. Savory. Sweet. Absolutely best thing ever.

The hubs and I had a crepe dinner party - we started with crepes filled with cheese, spinach, sauteed mushrooms, peppers, scallions, eggs, ham, and all the savory deliciousness we could come up with. Then we devoured chocolate and jam filled crepes. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night!

This is the crepe recipe I have in my recipe box - I have no idea where it came from originally, but it works equally well for savory and sweet crepes, although you could certainly add 1-2 tbsp sugar if you wanted the batter to be on the sweeter side.

Make these!

Crepes

2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp butter, melted

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on low speed until batter is thin and lump free. For best results, let batter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.

Heat a 12" nonstick griddle pan over medium heat. Use a small amount of butter to grease the pan. Keep your butter handy, you'll probably need to rebutter the pan every 2-3 crepes.

Once your pan is nice and hot, pick it up off the heat with one hand. With the other hand, add approximately 1/3 cup batter, swirling the pan quickly to spread the batter as thin as possible. Cook for about 4 minutes (or until light brown) and then flip. Cook an additional 4 minutes (or until light brown). Repeat until all batter has been used.

To keep crepes warm, you can put them on an oven safe plate in the oven at the lowest heat setting possible.

Next time I make these I will try to take note of how many they made. I tripled the recipe for a dinner party and had enough for 4 adults and 2 kids, plus we still had about 8 leftover.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins

Now I know some of you will turn up your nose at a muffin that has the words "whole wheat" and "quinoa", but seriously, these are SO good. Even more impressive (to me anyway) is that I actually created this recipe because it was what I wanted to make and I couldn't find anything on the internet that had banana, pumpkin, and quinoa in it. Part of the reason I am so thrilled that this worked out is because in my VERY last post (about chocolate molten cakes) I mentioned that I don't bake from my own head because I'm afraid of messing it up. Well folks, here's to a new beginning!

Anyway, these muffins are moist (thank you pumpkin puree, mashed bananas, and yogurt), full of protein (thank you yogurt and quinoa), and I'm sure they must have a decent amount of fiber in them. Most of all, they are delicious! Toddler approved and the hubs said they are the best muffins I have ever made (and he is one who usually turns up his nose at all things 'whole wheat').


Whole Wheat Banana Pumpkin Quinoa Muffins
Makes 24 muffins
 
2 ripe bananas, mashed (the riper, the better)
1 cup pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
1 cup cooked quinoa (=1/2 cup dry, rinsed quinoa)
4 tbsp melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
 1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups whole wheat flour (or all purpose) 
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare 24 muffin cups by spraying with nonstick cooking spray or lining with muffin cups.

Rinse 1/2 cup dry quinoa and put in a saucepan with ~1 cup water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, allowing it to simmer for 15-20 minutes. The quinoa should be soft, but not mushy, and most of the water should be gone. Drain any excess water.

Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine bananas, pumpkin, eggs, butter, yogurt, sugar, molasses, and vanilla. Mix to combine well. Add 1 cup cooked quinoa and turn on to a low speed to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix well, scraping the sides as needed to ensure that the ingredients incorporated fully.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake at 400 degrees for 22-24 minutes. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chocolate Molten Cakes

Hubs has a favorite dessert. He isn't much of a dessert guy in the traditional sense - he doesn't really care much for cakes, ice cream, pies, etc. He has a sweet tooth, but it comes more in the form of gummy candy, sweet crepes, and these babies.

Chocolate molten cakes.

This recipe is directly from a blog I frequent - Delicious Shots. She has been blogging for about a year and not only does she have an incredible ability to take gorgeous photos of the food she creates, but her recipes are truly inspiring. With most things, I take a recipe and end up changing it around so much that it's only a slight resemblance of the original, but with baking, I don't take nearly as many chances. In the case of something as daunting as making a chocolate molten cake for the 25th birthday of the most wonderful guy I know, I was definitely looking for something easy and fool proof. This recipe fits the bill.

Chocolate Molten Cakes
From Delicious Shots
Makes 4 cakes

8oz Bittersweet chocolate (I used a semisweet baking bar)
8 tablespoon butter (1 stick)
Nonstick cooking spray for ramekins (or butter)
3 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously butter four 6 ounce ramekins.

Place the prepared molds on a baking sheet and set aside. Melt the chocolates and butter in a double boiler. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until pale, about two minutes, beat in the vanilla. Stir in the egg mixture into the chocolate and then add the flour, mix well. Divide the batter among the prepared ramekins and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. The edges should be firm and set but the center will still look a little wet. Serve immediately. You can serve them in the ramekins or run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto dessert plates.
(If I wasn't in a chocolate induced coma, perhaps I would have remembered to take a photo of the molten inside. Trust me though, it was warm, melty, and absolutely heavenly.)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

No Fail Whole Wheat Pancakes

I love pancakes. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. It doesn't matter. Give me a pancake and I will love you forever. When I learned that I could make delicious pancakes without Bisquick, my whole world changed. While I'm sure you will see several variations of pancakes pop up as time goes on, this is my go to recipe.

The extra baking powder helps keep these whole wheat pancakes from being too dense, which is a huge bonus. I love whole wheat pancakes, but don't like when they sit in your stomach like a brick because of their density. This recipe does not do that. It creates delicious, fluffy pancakes that are a blank canvas for any kind of toppings and extras you like. My little one loves them with fruit of any sort (the other night she had one that had blueberries, bananas, and pomegranate seeds). Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Pancakes

2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Optional add ins (the options are endless)
Bananas
Berries
Pomegranate seeds
Apples
Pears
Honey
Cinnamon

Whisk all ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth.

Spray a griddle with nonstick cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Pour about 1/4 cup batter onto hot griddle. Make sure your griddle is hot when you pour the batter on to keep your pancakes from spreading too thin.*

Flip pancakes when you see bubbles on the uncooked side. Cook for another 2-3 minutes or until cooked through.

*Note: If you are adding fruit, I suggest putting it in the batter once you have the pancake on the griddle to ensure even distribution and to ensure that it doesn't break up in the batter. If you put it in the bowl of batter, gently fold it in after you whisk the rest of the ingredients together.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Mexican Pizzas


We eat a lot of Mexican food - a lot. Generally in the form of tacos and burritos, but every once in a while, we like to mix it up and throw in something new. This is one of the new creations, inspired by Hubs' love for Taco Bell and a recipe I saw on pinterest. The nice thing about this is that it became a quick way to clean out the fridge: leftover chicken from this dish, black beans that were already in our fridge from toddler dinners, cheese, etc. The hardest part of this dish was making the guac.Quick. Easy. Delicious. Customizable. I could green mine up with spinach and Brandon could add extra cheese. Probably not super healthy, but hey, we can't be healthy all the time, right?
Mexican Pizzas
Makes 4 

2 10" flour tortillas
8 tostada shells
1/2 can black beans, drained
1 can  refried beans
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (pepperjack would be a nice addition)
1 cup cooked chicken, cubed

Additional toppings:
Salsa
Sour cream
Spinach/lettuce
Guac
Hot sauce
Tomatoes

Turn oven on to broil. Warm up beans and meat. Spread a thin layer of warm refried beans on one side of each tostada shell. Top with a little bit of cheese. Cut each flour totrilla into quarters. Put one quarter of the tortilla on top of the tostada and beans. Add more beans and cheese, then another tostada shell. Add another layer of beans, cheese, and top with another quarter of tortilla. Do the same thing for each of the remaining tostada shells.

Once assembled, top with chicken, black beans, and the rest of the cheese. Spread mixture evenly. Carefully place them on a cookie sheet and put them in the preheated oven. Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly brown.

Serve immediately with your choice of additional toppings.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Vegetable Stock


In my kitchen, there are four things that make me want make more things myself. Even if only two or three of these conditions are met, I will lean toward making it myself whenever possible.

1) It is healthier.
2) It is cheaper.
3) It tastes a million times better.
4) It means less waste and/or getting more use from the things I already have.

Let me tell you something - vegetable stock fits the bill all the way around. Here's why.

I use vegetable (and chicken) stock all the time - for making soup, for cooking quinoa, for cooking rice, for adding extra flavor to vegetables that are going in pasta dishes, for cooking lentils, for fondue, for ... for ... for ... I think you get the point.

While it's not a huge expense at the store ($5 for 64oz usually), it's an unnecessary expense. Why? Because you make vegetable stock out of the same vegetables you're already eating. Peel your carrots? Great, throw them in the stock! Onion ends? Mushroom stems? Celery ends (or celery that is about to go bad)? Pepper tops? I use virtually every vegetable scrap I have, with the exception of potato skins because I don't want the stock to get starchy. All I have to do is add water. This means my stock is free. Sure, I paid for the vegetables, but I would have done that anyway. But now, I'm using the scraps before throwing them out, which means I am getting more bang for my buck. (If I were a good gardener, I would compost them, but I can only take on one thing at a time.) Plus, it means no added sodium, no added preservatives, no added anything. I have complete control over what goes into it and it doesn't get much easier than that.

Now, if I haven't convinced you that this will be an easy and worthwhile task, perhaps the fact that this post is much longer than the actual recipe will.

Enjoy!

Vegetable Stock

1 gallon size bag of vegetable scraps
Water
2 bay leaves (optional)
I don't add salt, but if you want to, you can. You can also add herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, etc. 

Put vegetable scraps in a large saucepan. Cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Turn heat to medium/medium low and simmer for 2-3+ hours. Remove from heat. Strain through cheesecloth and allow to cool completely before storing.

Notes:
*If you leave the lid on or cracked, you shouldn't have to worry about boiling out all your water. 
*I store mine in quart size mason jars. If you are going to put them in the freezer, make sure to leave at least 1/2" of space to allow for expansion.
*This can also be done in a slow cooker while you're at work for extra convenience.
*Store scraps in a gallon size bag in the freezer to keep them fresh until ready for use.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Muffins

Muffins. Who doesn't love them? Quick, easy, delicious, and (when made correctly) pretty healthy. These muffins are sugar free, egg free, and dairy free. I'm skeptical any time I see a recipe that uses those three terms, but believe me, this one turned out delightfully!

Note: In order for this to remain sugar free, you'll want to use sugar free applesauce. I used homemade cinnamon applesauce and I don't add sugar to it. Also, after making and eating these throughout the week, I would suggest being fairly liberal with the cinnamon in order to give them a little more flavor.


Whole Wheat Banana Muffins
Makes 26 muffins
Adapted from Homemade Baby Food
 
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 heaping tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cinnamon
6 medium bananas, peeled (the riper, the better in my opinion)
1 cup sugar free applesauce
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 muffin tins with muffin holders or grease them thoroughly.

Break up bananas into thirds and place in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add applesauce and almond milk. Mix on low speed until bananas are pretty well broken up, about 2-3 minutes. Add flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Continue to mix until combined. If the batter is too thick, add additional almond milk slowly. (I ended up needing 1-2 additional tbsp.)

Bake at 400 degrees for 12-14 minutes or until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the muffin.

Remove from muffin pan and cool on wire rack. Eat up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pint sized fruit and yogurt parfait

This gem makes a perfect breakfast, snack, dessert, etc. My kiddo loved it. She loves most things I make, but this one is a favorite. It's a nice "treat" for after her dinner (and it's nice that my two year old thinks this is a treat). As usual, there are several homemade elements in this dish that can be purchased at the store.


Fruit and yogurt parfait
Note: substitute your favorite seasonal fruit or your favorite yogurt (including Greek) for a new twist.

1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1 tsp homemade blackberry jam
1/4 pear, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 c homemade granola

Mix yogurt, fruit, and jam together in a bowl. Top with granola. Serve and enjoy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Hummus

One of my greatest loves in life is hummus. Seriously, I love everything about it. While the hubs is not a huge fan, I have turned my 2 year old into a hummus lover (which I am quite proud of. How many 2 year olds eat hummus by the spoonful?) Anyway, I love hummus. I love making hummus - it's cheap, it's easy, it's delicious. Allow me to introduce you to my latest hummus creation -- spinach artichoke hummus. Hubs says it tastes just like spinach artichoke dip. My coworkers devoured it in 45 minutes. It's good. Trust me.

Spinach Artichoke Hummus
Makes approx 1.5 pints

1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 6.5oz jar artichoke hearts
1 cup spinach, washed
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
4tbsp tahini paste
2+ cloves garlic (I put 2 in this batch, but am known to add up to 6 or 7 cloves, depending on how I'm feeling)
Olive oil

Put everything except the olive oil in a food processor and turn it on. Slowly add oil until you reach the desired consistency. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Seriously, that's it.

So easy. I will never buy hummus from the store again.

Tips: As it sits in the fridge, it will thicken up. If it gets too thick, just add a little more olive oil and stir it up. Also, if it separates at all while in the fridge, just stir to combine.  


Truthfully, hummus doesn't last long in our house, but I imagine this will probably stay good for up to a month if stored properly.




Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Quick weeknight meals are a must. Especially in my household. I get home from work between 6 and 6:30, depending on what time I left the office. When I get home, it's time to feed the ravenous toddler, chase said toddler around the house, bathe her, read to her, love on her, and get her to sleep. Hopefully before 8:15pm. The hubs and I often eat after she goes to bed, which means I don't even start dinner until 8:00(ish) a lot of times.

This meal fits the bill. It even got a thumbs up from the hubs, who isn't a huge spinach/salad type of guy. Tonight, however, he liked it so much that he went back for seconds. That means it's a win.

Lemon Pepper Chicken Salad with Feta and Balsamic Vinaigrette
Note: the ingredients in this are, of course, completely customizable to what you like and have on hand. 

Chicken -
2 chicken breasts (we have plenty of leftovers - we could have gotten away with one)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
Lemon pepper to taste

Salad -
Spinach, washed and dried
1 roma tomato, sliced
2 slices red onion, halved
2 carrots, thinly chopped
1/4 cucumber, skinned and chopped
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Feta cheese

Balsamic Vinaigrette -
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of kosher salt
1tsp fresh ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Cut chicken into bite size pieces and put in hot skillet. Season with salt and lemon pepper. (I am pretty generous with the lemon pepper seasoning.) Cook until done.

Meanwhile, wash vegetables and prepare salad. Set aside until ready to eat.

Combine all ingredients for vinaigrette in a container. Shake vigorously to combine before serving.


To keep greens from wilting, put the warm chicken on the plate first, then pile salad over the top. Dress and serve immediately.



Sunday, February 12, 2012

Roasted sausage and veggies

An important thing to know about me - I am a sucker for veggies that have been cooked in the oven for any length of time, especially when they come out perfectly tender and flavorful. My favorite thing about this dish is that it is completely customizable! Use whatever vegetables you have and whatever kind of meat you like. Sure it takes a while to chop up the veggies, but the end result is worth it - trust me! (Also, I know the ingredient list looks torturous, but seriously ... use the veggies you like and have! This is what I had on hand.)

 
Roasted Sausage and Veggies

1 parsnip, sliced
1 purple carrot, sliced
2 yellow sun carrots, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3 purple potatoes, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
10 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
8oz mushrooms, stems taken out

Sausage (any kind of your liking. We went with chicken)
1 pint chicken stock
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp Italian seasonings
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut up all the vegetables and put them in a roasting tray.

Combine chicken stock, cilantro, Italian seasonings, and oil. Pour over vegetables and toss to evenly coat. Cover pan with foil and put in the oven for 40-45 minutes, until veggies are tender.

In the meantime, brown the sausage. Remove from pan, cut in half, and set aside. When vegetables are done, place sausages in the pan. Drizzle apple cider vinegar and balsamic vinegar over everything. Put uncovered pan back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until sausages are cooked through.

Serve and enjoy.





Kid proof oatmeal

My life is infinitely easier when I don't have to buy "kid friendly" food. It's also better for my grocery budget. Oatmeal is one of the most versatile ingredients we have in our house - Brandon can sweeten it up and I can add as much fruit as I want. This morning's masterpiece made an otherwise bland bowl of oatmeal into something chalked full of vitamins, antioxidants, and deliciousness. While I made it for my toddler, I would absolutely eat this bowl of oatmeal any day! You can follow this recipe or change up the ingredients to make it your own. (Our oatmeal concoctions change daily.)


Kid Proof Oatmeal

Instant oats (we also use steel cut sometimes)
Milk
Banana, sliced
Pomegranate seeds
Cinnamon applesauce

Put oats and milk in a bowl (the ratio of oats:milk depends on how wet you like your oatmeal. Aspen likes hers pretty dry, so we do 2:1 oats:milk). Microwave for ~1 minute. If it's not cooked or if it's still too wet, continue to microwave in 30 second increments.

Add a large scoop of cinnamon applesauce (I canned a lot of applesauce in October, so I use homemade), pomegranate seeds, and banana slices. Mix together. Serve immediately.

Seriously, it doesn't get any easier than that.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Portland Farmer's (Winter) Market

One of my favorite things about living in Portland is the abundance of fresh, good, local food at all times of year. I was tipped off about the Portland Farmer's Market's winter market a few weeks ago and decided to give it a go this weekend and see what we could find! I have a couple produce stands and I frequent in the late spring, summer, and early fall, plus we had our own garden last year. Wintertime farmer's markets are new to me! 

Anyway, we headed downtown today and enjoyed a delicious lunch (tamale for the hubs, market egg sandwich - loaded with delicious mushrooms and greens - for me) and people watching. Aspen snacked between the two of us and then we bought her an apple (that she shared with me) as well. Yum!
We also bought some produce - nothing fancy, but absolutely delicious looking and, of course, 100% local. Apples from Hood River, spinach from Albany, purple potatoes from Salem, carrots (three different varieties) and parsnips from Tillamook, and some pretty amazing dry cured salami from Portland. (We splurged a bit on the salami, but it is absolutely worth it!) I don't have a menu planned for the week, but from the looks of it, we'll be eating a lot of root veggies!

Part of what I hope to do use this blog for is to really develop and learn to articulate my food philosophy. As a family, we have been eating a lot more whole foods than we ever have before, and I am excited to have a place to explore that more.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Avocado sauce pasta

I often find recipes and then sit on them for a while. They either get pinned on my recipe board on Pinterest, stashed away in my cupboard, or filed away in my recipe box. This recipe was different. The moment it was discovered, it went on the dinner menu for the following week.

Avocado. Basil. Olive oil. Lemon. Garlic. YUM.

I made a few additions and could not have been happier with the results. I'm salivating just thinking about how scrumptious this meal was. Whatever you do - go make this. Right now.

Avocado sauce pasta
Inspired by Oh She Glows

1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1/2 lemon, juiced (Hubs says there was too much lemon. I disagree. Adjust to taste.)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
4oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
Feta cheese
Pasta (We used whole wheat thin spaghetti)

Cook your pasta according to the directions on the box.

Heat ~2 tbsp olive oil in a nonstick frying pan. Add sliced mushrooms and season with pepper to taste. Saute until they are slightly tender. 

While pasta is cooking, put everything but the olive oil in your food processor and whirl away, adding olive oil until you get a smooth consistency. If you want to thin it out and make it more sauce like, add a couple teaspoons of the pasta water (I used 5 tsp).

Combine warm pasta with sauce. Top with mushrooms and feta. Serve immediately.

Note: This sauce made enough for three small servings or two large servings. Adjust accordingly for the number of people you are serving. Avocados don't reheat well, so you'll want to devour this one right away.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chicken and shrimp gumbo

I have to admit something - I'm not very good at measuring spices. I also love garlic. A lot. Generally I just eyeball it and dump in what seems to be an appropriate amount. Then I taste whatever I'm cooking and adjust accordingly. I also like my food to be well seasoned. That said, I'll do my best to give an accurate(ish) measurement of the spices in my dishes, but you would be wise to adjust according to your taste buds. 

This was our dinner tonight and it was absolutely delicious. After a long day at work, it was also great to have something quick, easy, and warm to settle down with. This dish is chalked full of veggies and to make it an easy weeknight meal, I used leftover rotisserie chicken from last night's dinner, premade chicken stock (you could used store bought), and frozen okra. This is super versatile, so add whatever veggies you have on hand!

You'll have to excuse the lame photography. I'll become more dedicated to my Nikon one day.


Chicken and Shrimp Gumbo
(Note: this recipe made enough for the two of us + 2 quarts of extra. You may want to cut it in half unless you like leftovers and/or you like to keep soup in the freezer for later like I do!)

1lb jumbo prawns, cooked, peeled, and halved
1/2 rotisserie chicken (I used the breasts)
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
4oz baby bella mushrooms, quartered
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 (small) bag frozen, chopped okra
1 small onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red pepper flakes (we like a bit of a kick, so adjust to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook shrimp according to directions on bag. When done, chop in half and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Saute onions and garlic under onions are translucent. Add chicken stock, veggies, chicken, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until ready to serve. Add shrimp ~5 minutes before serving to heat through.

Serve over brown rice, quinoa, or enjoy as is.

Welcome!

At the urging of my sweet husband, I have decided to create this blog - my own little corner of the internet completely devoted to my love for yummy food, happy bellies, and my ever growing passion for living sustainably.

I've always had a love for food, but my love for good food started when I gave birth to our lovely (and lively!) daughter in December 2009. Nourishing her little body has become one of my greatest joys. I have always loved to cook for my husband and the more I learn about food, the tastier our meals become.

With that - here we go!
Step one - come up with name for blog. Complete.
Step two - make a post. Complete.
Step three - stop taking pictures of our meals with my phone and start using that fancy schmancy camera of mine. Maybe next time.