Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marinated Mushrooms

Psst, I'm Italian.  Garlic runs in my veins.  True story.  And on Christmas, we skip the turkey/ham reprise and opt for Italian sausages and homemade raviolis.  Talk about comfort food!  But no Borgia feast would be complete without marinated artichoke hearts, or marinated mushrooms.  Shoot, I could eat both every day of the year!  Now, I don't marinate my own artichoke hearts... that's intense!  But, marinated mushrooms is beyond simple.  And super delicious.

Ingredients:
  • 1 package of fresh mushrooms
  • bottle of Italian dressing
Directions:
  1. Wipe mushrooms clean with a damp cloth.  Place inside a large ziploc bag, or tupperware.
  2. Cover mushrooms with dressing, refrigerate and let sit overnight.  The longer they marinade, the better!
Two ingredients and two steps.  The end  :)  Told you it was easy.  *B

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

still here

Thank you, dearest Candra, for making a lone blogger feel good about herself  :)  Sorry for the unintended hiatus.  I'll be back!  Soon(ish).  *B

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

holy tryptophan

I made the tough call to hold off on sharing my plethora of pumpkin recipes.  November isn't over yet!  But Thanksgiving almost is... So I've shared three of our family's favorite side dishes.  It's probably a little too late, but better now than never ;)  Besides, there's always Christmas?  Or fancy Sunday dinners?  Whatever, these recipes are amazing regardless the occasion!  And I swear, there will be pumpkin posts before the month is (officially) through.  I pumpkin promise.  *B

The GREAT Green Bean Casserole

Last year my dear hub wanted to be fancy and forgo the infamous canned beans and soup combo and make a fresh batch from scratch.  I tell you my dear friends, it was a revelation!  It has changed our lives.  For reals.  We learned a few things since then, and what we have here is a real winner.  It takes a little extra work, but man alive is it worth it!  It really does take your feast to the next level of dietary awesomeness.

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, rinsed, trimmed and halved
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • 2 containers of french fried onions
Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add 2 T. salt and beans and boil until cooked but firm (al dente?).  Drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In large pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and cook for a couple of minutes before adding remaining salt and garlic.
  3. Sprinkle flour over mushrooms and cook for a minute, creating a roux.  Add chicken broth and stir until it starts to thicken.
  4. Add half-and-half, Dijon, pepper and nutmeg.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it thickens.
  5. Remove from heat and add 1 container of french fried onions.  Add to green beans and stir until well combined.  Place in baking dish and top with the other container of onions.  Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Tip: when preparing mushrooms, do NOT rinse.  Get a damp paper towel and wipe clean.  Mushrooms are like sponges.  So save their soaking powers for the good stuff.  A waterlogged mushroom is a rubbery one... As for the half-and-half, I'm pretty sure you could get away with regular milk.  But my husband is picky when it comes to "creaminess" and so I leave this dish to him.  Otherwise I'd be trying to healthify it.  But in all honesty, I'll eat just about anything if I'm not the one cooking it!  *B

Sweet Cranberry Raspberry Sauce


The other day I was watching a cartoon about Thanksgiving.  And on the table were the traditional trimmings, including cranberry "sauce" in the form of a can.  I laughed at how traditional that shape, and taste, has become.  And I don't know very many people who actually like it... So, a couple of years ago I started making it from scratch.  Because everything tastes better homemade than can-made, right?  Plus cranberries are just so darn  fun to cook ;)  This sweet and tart sauce not only tastes great, it's literally a beautiful addition to your plate! 

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. water
  • 2/3 - 1 c. unbleached sugar (depends on how sweet you want it)
  • 1 bag cranberries, sorted, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small bag of frozen raspberries (12 oz)
  • zest of one orange
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • dash or two of nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt
Directions:
  1. Combine water and sugar in saucepan, bring to a boil.
  2. Add cranberries and bring back to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add raspberries, orange zest, lemon juice and spices.  Stir well and remove from heat.
When using a full cup of sugar, it tends to be a bit too sweet for my taste.  Which means it's probably about perfect for the majority of America ;)  This makes a relatively huge batch, so I love to freeze what's left and use it as jam.  Leftover turkey sandwiches will never be the same!  *B

Yummy Yammy Casserole

I'm not going to even bother tweaking this recipe...  If it ain't broke, don't fix it ;)  Although, I am making this with rice milk and a butter substitute for the casein sensitive feasters.  Either way, this is THE best yam/sweet potato casserole you will EVER have.  I guarantee it!


Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked and mashed red sweet potatoes or yams
  • 2.5 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 stick of butter, divided (softened)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • spices to taste (opt)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Directions:
  1. Mix together the sweet potatoes, 1 c. of brown sugar, salt, eggs, 1/3 stick of butter, milk, vanilla and spices and place in greased baking dish.
  2. Mix remaining brown sugar and butter with flour and nuts.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.
  3. Bake at 350 for 35-45 minutes.
Seriously, even the pickiest will find it hard to resist.  Behold, and beware, sugar and its power of persuasion!  Get ready to get your yum on.  *B

Sunday, November 21, 2010

this week's plan: nothing!

I don't feel like planning.  Try not to be too disappointed...  I have a lot of food on my plate this week, and I'm looking forward to the literal plates of food come Thursday!  I'll try and get some pumpkin recipes up tomorrow, just in case you still need 'em ;)  Actually, I'd LOVE to have a pumpkin linky party.  Anyone know how?  Let me know if you do, please!  Thanks in advance :)

And while we're at it, tell me what your favorite Thanksgiving food is.  Because I really want to know!  Mine is everything.  Ok, fine.  I'll try and narrow it down.  Hmmm, this is difficult...  I really do like everything but the turkey.  But I always have a bite, to be fair to the bird.  Maybe my favorite is gravy, because I drown everything in it!  I love sweet potato casserole.  And I have an awesome recipe for it.  Go figure.  So maybe I will try to get my act together and post a few of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes this week!  Like Brad's favorite creamy green beans (or maybe my dairy free green beans for those sensitive tummies out there).  Oh!  Homemade cranberry sauce.  It's the real deal folks.  And maybe my mom will share her amazing dinner roll recipe.  And her turkey brine.  Mmm, I'm starting to get hungry.  This feast can't come soon enough!  And the best part: leftovers.  *B

PS- New recipe(s) up on NPN!   Check it out: Fertile Friendly Foods.  I love my "job" :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

birthday dinner

  • tortilla crusted tilapia
  • stuffed mushrooms
  • garlic & herb cous cous
  • collard greens
  • marinated artichoke hearts
  • martinelli's
Everything tasted great.  I didn't even have to cook (much)!  And the best part?  We all ate together :) Me, husband, and our offspring.  I've never had a more pleasant meal in my life.  Happy birthday to me indeed!  *B

this week's plan: 11/15 - 11/21

I think the excitement induced numbness has worn off... But that doesn't mean I'm any less thrilled!  I've written two articles for NPN, and I'm looking forward to writing more :)  I've got a seasonal rendition of my granola "bars" called Harvest Spice Granola Rounds.  And just today, I posted a recipe for Coconut Hot Cocoa.  Try them, and tell me what you think!  Also, let me know if you have any of your own healthy recipes you'd like featured!  I'm always on the lookout for good ones ;)  And now, for this week's plan:

Mexican Monday: veggie fajitas
Oriental Tuesday: pad Thai with spring rolls
Twisted Wednesday: lemon poppers with eggs
Authentic Thursday: chicken cacciatore (crockpot)
TGIFriday: grilled cheese sammies with tomato soup
Super Saturday: jambalaya a la Brad
Special Sunday: pot roast with roasted veggie medley

Sorry for the lack of recipes.  It's not that I haven't been cooking...  In fact, I've made pumpkin spice cake, pumpkin pancakes, and pumpkin cider.  But they're not ready for the public :)  So hopefully this upcoming week, I'll tweak a bit and have some yummy pumpkin recipes!  I'd better hurry, because pumpkins will soon be out of style...  *B

Monday, November 08, 2010

cooking naturally

Brace yourselves!  I'm about to tell you my exciting news.  Are you ready?  Yes?  Ok :)  So...  I'm the new Cooking Naturally Editor for the Natural Parents Network!!!  Ok, so you may not be as excited as I am.  That's fine, I understand.  I'm not living your dream, after all.  I'm living mine ;)

Basically, I post a recipe every other week.  And on the other weeks, I feature recipes from our readers.  So if any of you have some nutritious, and delicious, recipes to share now's your time to shine!  I have to warn you though... I do not consider "low-fat" or "nonfat" items as healthy.  Unless they're naturally low-fat, of course.  I want to focus on cooking naturally.  It's only natural that I do so, right?  So, no recipes containing "nonfat" cream cheese.  That would be processed, not natural.  However, if you happen to substitute pureed pumpkin for the oil in a cake recipe, thereby making it low-fat, then yes that would count.  Because that's natural :)

That reminds me.  I have a pumpkin spice cake I need to share!  Along with a brown sugar Neufch√Ętel frosting.  And no, it will not be featured over there.  It will be featured here.  Because it's only natural that I do so.  *B

Sunday, November 07, 2010

this week's plan: 11/8 - 11/14

I have some super exciting news!!!  That'll have to wait until tomorrow, because I'm super tired.  But I already promised y'all a meal plan, so you'll get that tonight instead ;)  Let's just hope I follow this week's plan better than I did last week...
 
Mexican Monday: taco salad
Oriental Tuesday: fancy ramen
Twisted Wednesday: pumpkin pancakes with chocolate syrup
TGIFriday: veggie burgers w/ sweet potato salad and apricot/pear smoothies
Super Saturday: bday date night at PF Chang's (hopefully)
Special Sunday: Birthday Dinner - all I know is I won't be making it :)

Upcoming recipes: pumpkin cider, pumpkin spice cake, and pumpkin pancakes.  Hmm, I sense a theme...  I'll probably be so sick of pumpkin when this month is over, that it won't be until next October when I'll be ready to eat it obsessed with it all over again.  It's a vicious, and delicious, cycle.  Please tell me I'm not the only one.  *B

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Butternut Squash Ravioli & Browned Butter Sage Sauce

Ok, so this deviates a bit from my normal healthy meal...  But man alive, this is a good one!  And unlike most pasta dishes, this one is completely vegetarian and can be dairy free.  The sauce may be lacking somewhat in nutrition, but it easily serves 10 people.  So you don't have to be the martyr and eat an entire stick's worth of butter ;)  It's beyond simple, and it smells (and looks, and tastes) heavenly!  Definitely something worthy of a special occasion.  So ignore those pesky calories, and enjoy.  You're special, too :)

Ingredients:
  • butternut squash ravioli (Costco used to sell some, but this time I used 4 packs from Fresh & Easy - love that store!)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 9-12 fresh sage leaves, rinsed and dried
  • Parmegiano Regiano cheese, grated (opt)
  • ground nutmeg, to taste (opt)
Directions:
  1. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil.  Add salt and olive oil to water, if desired
  2. While water comes to a boil, melt entire stick of butter over medium-high heat in a saucepan.  Add sage leaves and allow butter to brown.  Remove from heat.
  3. Prepare ravioli according to packaging (only takes about 3 minutes).  Drain pasta and place on a large serving tray.
  4. Pour sauce over ravioli.  Sprinkle some cheese on, and just a dash or two of nutmeg.  Serve immediately.
Tip: I've found that placing raviolis on a plate, rather than in a bowl, keeps them from sticking to each other.  And the warmer they are when served, the more slippery they'll be.  Which means you'll actually be able to serve them, rather than ripping them apart from one another.  Not pretty.  Also, if you use unsalted butter, you might want to add salt to the sauce.  Or allow your guests to add salt to their liking.  The same can be said for the cheese and nutmeg... some people like a lot of either, both, or none at all.  I happen to like a lot of everything!  *B

meal plan schmeal schlan

My dear friends, I do apologize!  November is here (hallelujah!) and I am currently exercising my right to be lazy ;)  Just trying to recupe from all the junk and hullabaloo.  So, no meal plan for this week... But I promise, there will be one this Sunday.  I swear!  In the meantime, I'm going to try and post some of the recipes from my Halloween feast.  It was, in a word, fantastical.

Did you make anything special?  I'd love to see/hear it!  Pretty please?  *B

Sunday, October 31, 2010

the family that grows together, eats together


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Love, your fruit & veggies :)

PS- please, please, PLEASE excuse my nasty floors, fridge, and unfinished projects in the background. Instead, feast your eyes on this year's costumes ;)  And don't you fret, I'll be back tomorrow with this week's meal plan.  But for now, this chiquita is off to slumberland!  *B

Saturday, October 30, 2010

fanciful rustic Halloween feast

Do you have a traditional Halloween dinner?  Meal in a pumpkin?  I've never had it, but I'd probably like it.  My husband, however, would rather die...  So, I've been trying to come up with something special to serve on All Hallow's Eve. Imagine, a dinner party.  Outside.  Haunting!  And luckily for us Arizonans, we won't freeze to death.  Instead, we get to pretend that the infinitesimal hint of a chill means it's getting cold soon.  Which makes us feel like it might be Fall after all ;)

Now for the food.  Brace yourselves!  Braised beef short ribs.  Butternut squash ravioli in a browned butter sage sauce.  Spinach salad with a warm bacon dressing.  And dark, pumpernickel bread to soak up all the goodness with.  Pair it with a spiced apple cider, and then tell me you're not feeling the twitchings of bewitchings!

Your turn!  What has your taste buds spooked?  *B

Friday, October 29, 2010

rethinking my costume

I probably should have been a bee this Halloween...  Because this month has flown by, I've been so busy!  And this week is no exception.  I haven't made a single meal from this week's plan, and I haven't posted a single recipe listed in said plan.  Sorry to disappoint :( But hopefully things will calm down(?).  Ha!  That's snort worthy.  Maybe I should be a pig instead...  I do like to eat.  *B

Super Spiced Pumpkin Muffins

I might be biased, but these are amazing!  What can I say, I like my cooking ;)  But, I will have you know that my husband will eat three before I notice and yell at him.  And my coworkers will hoard them, and fight over the last one.  And my husband's coworkers will beg him to share, and make him promise to bring more.  So, I think it's safe to say that these are indeed pretty tasty... and very aromatic!

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 c. pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. unbleached white flour
  • 1/3 c. wheat flour
  • 1/3 c. wheat germ
  • 1/2 cup oats (thrown in a blender until fine)
  • 1/2 T. gluten
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. allspice
  • 1/4 t. ginger
  • 2 dashes of nutmeg
  • 1 dash of black pepper
  • 1/2 c. walnuts (thrown in a blender until fine)
  • 1/3 - 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Directions:
  1. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips (and nuts) and toss.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for 22 minutes.
These smell sooooo good.  They smell great before you even start baking them!  And it only gets better in your mouth.  Seriously, the spicy aromas coat your mouth and nose with Autumnal goodness.  Like I said, amazing.  And what's even more amazing is that these are healthy!  They easily have twice the amount of fiber of your normal pumpkin muffin.  They have 1/3 less sugar, too.  And they're made without any oil, shortening or butter.  Moist, fragrant, and deceptively delicious.  Like I said, amazing.*B

Black Bean Salsa

I seriously can't believe I am just now posting this.  Super shame on me, because this stuff is yumtastic!  Definitely my favorite go-to-dip.  It's different from your normal salsa in that it's nice and chunky, and it isn't spicy.  At all.  It's just fresh and fabulous, and full of pretty colors!  Truly a plethora of nutrients for your palate to enjoy ;)

Ingredients:
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black olives, drained and sliced/chopped
  • 1 can's worth of frozen corn
  • handful of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1-3 t. minced garlic
  • olive oil, 3 times around the bowl
  • balsamic vinegar, 2 times around the bowl
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Combine all the ingredients into a bowl.  Keep cool until ready to serve.
We usually make up a HUGE bowl, and more often than not it's gone within a day.  You can serve it as a dip with chips, a topping for salad/chicken, or a filling for burritos/quesadillas/tacos, etc.  Believe it or not, it even tastes better the next day!  But ours never makes it that long...  *B

Sunday, October 24, 2010

this week's plan: 10/25 - 10/31

I can NOT believe this is the last week in October!  I'm experiencing a strange mixture of emotions: sad, relieved and excited.  What's that all about?  This month has definitely been a busy one, and this week is bound to be busier.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it.  But, at least I have some yummy sustenance planned!

Mexican Monday: Indian Fry Bread with the works
Oriental Tuesday: tofu & veggie stir fry, with brown rice
Twisted Wednesday: french toast and scrambled eggs
Authentic Thursday: pizza stoup OR homemade veggie pizza
TGIFriday: veggie burgers with tater tots and banana-strawberry smoothies
Super Saturday: Halloween Party
Special Sunday: HALLOWEEN!!!  Plans in the works... will get back to you ;)

Upcoming recipes (maybe): Indian Fry Bread, French toast, banana-strawberry smoothie, and a continuation of the "how to cook/like tofu" series.  It is a pretty dang full week, though.  So forgive me if this week's recipes are MIA.  But, I will have some blog appropriate costumes to show you!  For those of you who already know, shhh.  *B

Monday, October 18, 2010

so gross

While walking with my son to school today, I saw a preteen girl with a sucker.  In her mouth.  On her way to be educated.  In the AM!  Seriously?!  Candy for breakfast???  Ok, I admit that on rare occasions I have  had leftover cookies, pie, or even cake for breakfast.  On a better day, a bite of chocolate with a handful of almonds... And while any of my choices are certainly on the less than healthy side, they at least have some bit of nutrition to them.  Even if that nutrient is fat ;)  But straight sugar?  For breakfast!  Insane.

Want to know what else is gross?  This is:


That being said, I love their fries.  *B

Sunday, October 17, 2010

this week's plan: 10/18 - 10/24

I think I may have fallen off the bandwagon of less meat.  Not like I've gone crazy with meat, but I've been lazy and complacent.  And, to tell you the truth, half the time meat sounds good to me.  So I eat it.  I don't know if it's the change in seasons, but I am craving meat more than usual.  Regardless the reasoning, my stomach et. al has not been too pleased with me.  So I'm going to try and cut back this week and refocus on more veggie friendly meals.  Who's with me?!

[crickets chirping]

Anybody???

Well then fine.  Be that way.  But here's my plan for this week anyway:

Mexican Monday: Southwest Salad with rockin' corn muffins nacho salad
Oriental Tuesday: veggie spring rolls with sweet & spicy peanut dipping sauce
Twisted Wednesday: garden veggie quiche with pumpkin spice muffins and a side of fresh fruit
Authentic Thursday: tortilla crusted Tilapia, sourdough french bread with herbed brie, and a green salad
TGIFriday: father-son campout
Super Saturday: Halloween party potluck
Special Sunday: Chicken Crock Pie with poppers

Upcoming recipes: Southwest Salad, sweet & spicy dipping sauce, and pumpkin spice muffins.  Oh, and a kick-butt sweet potato casserole.  Maybe.  And the  infamous black bean salsa.  Possibly.  *B

ETA, Oct. 24th:  Okay, so I lied.  I did not post a single recipe this past week.  But I did make some super awesYUM pumpkin muffins ;)  Will definitely try to share those this week.  For sure.  Hopefully...

Lemon Poppers

Now, these might sound similar to your grandma's German pancakes, puffin cake, popovers or puffy oven pancake.  And it kinda is ;)  But this version, like the custom crepes, are dairy free.  And they're made in a muffin tin.  And I can guarantee that our topping of choice will knock your socks off!

Ingredients:
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. rice milk
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • fresh lemons
  • powdered sugar
Directions:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Divide butter equally into muffin tin and melt butter in the oven.
  2. Beat eggs in a bowl.  Then beat in flour, rice milk and salt.  Be careful not to overbeat.
  3. Pour batter evenly into muffin tin.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until puffy and golden.
  4. Serve warm.  Squeeze lemon juice generously, and sprinkle with copious amounts of powdered sugar.
Boy howdy, are these things tasty!  Maybe not the best thing for you, but eaten every once in a while turns it into a real treat.  Especially with the lemon-sugar combo.  Reminds me of lemon bars!  I'm sure these would be great with jam, or syrup, but why bother ;)  In all honesty though, these would be pretty good served savory, too.  Try them with the Chicken Crock Pie recipe.  Mmmm.  Or, you can just stick to the sugared lemon topping.  I wouldn't blame you either way!  *B

Ravioli Bisque

There's this DARLING tea house close to where I live.  Ooh, I love a good cuppa...  Can't wait until it gets cooler here!  Then it's tea (and soup) time, my favorite.  Anyone interested in a tea party?  Anyway, one day I went with my mom to this lovely tea house and was spoiled with tea, fresh fruit, tea sandwiches, scones, lemon curd, and pastries.  And soup.  They served this tomato bisque that was so lip-smackingly delicious that it was borderline rude.  Here we are, trying to be civilized and fancy-ish, and we're licking our bowls clean!  As you can imagine, the soup bewitched me and I vowed then and there to make something similar.  And I believe I have :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 can mushroom soup
  • 1 can diced/crushed tomatoes
  • 1.5 can of water
  • 1 t. beef bouillon
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • basil and garlic seasoning, to taste (about 1/2 t. each, if you must know)
  • 2 handfuls of frozen raviolis (spinach & mushroom) -or- dried mini raviolis
Directions:
  1. Combine soups, tomatoes and water in soup pot.  Bring to a boil.
  2. Add bouillon, sugar and seasoning.  Reduce to simmer.
  3. Add raviolis and cook until tender.  Remove and chop raviolis; return to soup and stir.
  4. Serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
I'm sure the the tea house bisque was more refined.  And perhaps more complicated...  But, this soup is quick and easy.  And my entire family loves it.  Definitely a win-win in my book!  *B

how to cook tofu, part I


I made tofu this week.  It was ok.  I've never been a huge fan of the stuff, but I'm determined to find a way to make it more palatable!  My husband thinks it's a waste of time, but I love a good food challenge... so I'm going to document my tofu experiments in hopes of enlightening myself, and any others who might feel similarly ;)


This week I decided to just pan fry it.  First, I drained and rinsed an extra firm block of tofu.  Then I got my cookie sheets, paper towels and canned food.  And then I pressed those puppies good!  Next, I cut them up into little cubes and tossed them into a hot skillet with a little butter... I figured they could use a little fat.  And nothing makes food brown beautifully like butter!  I may be a nutritionist, but I know when to admit the benefits of butter.

So, the tofu browned up nicely.  And the texture wasn't too bad.  Flavor was ok, but that's probably because we drowned it in peanut butter and soy sauce!  So my next tofu adventure will include freezing and boiling.  And thus concludes the first of our tofu series.  *B

Monday, October 11, 2010

Custom Crepes

These babies are beyond versatile!  They can be sweet or savory; it just depends on what you fill them with.  And they freeze beautifully.  This is your basic crepe recipe, with just a little tinkering... I haven't tried making whole-wheat crepes, and I don't think I ever will!  That's what pancakes/tortillas are for ;)

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 T. unrefined sugar (but not coarse)
  • 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 c. rice milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla (omit for savory crepes)
  • butter or non-stick spray
Directions:
  1. Measure flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into bowl.  Stir in remaining ingredients and beat until smooth.
  2. Heat non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Melt butter, or spray pan, and pour just enough batter to cover bottom of pan.  When bubbles start to form and the edges start to curl, carefully flip the crepe and cook for another minute or so.  Both sides should be golden.
  3. Fill crepe with fillings of choice.  Roll up and enjoy!
Tip:  If you plan on freezing your crepes, simply place a sheet of wax paper between each crepe.  Put crepes in ziploc bag once cool and place on flat surface in the freezer.  They also freeze great when filled...  and you can't help but feel fancy when eating them.  You can make them as healthy or unhealthy as you want.  It all comes down to how you fill 'em.  Right now I'm dreaming of a pumpkin pie filling and topping it with some fresh whipped cream and chopped pecans.  Mmm.  *B

and the winner is

...[drum rolls ensue]...

TARA!!!  You, my dearest Texan, are one lucky lady.  I know my beloved plate will be equally loved by you :)

After all was said and done, I had over 40 entries!  Thanks to random.org for making my job easier ;)  You gals sure know how to make a girl feel good about herself!  Thank you.  And many thanks to everyone who commented, tweeted, face-booked, blog posted, etc.  And thank you for following my blog!  Seriously.  I hope you find this site a fun and helpful pit-stop amongst the world wide web...

Now, enjoy the rest of the month!  It's the best month of the year, after all.  So, who's ready for some yummy pumpkin recipes?!  *B

Sunday, October 10, 2010

sometimes sweet

Sometimes, when I'm feeling naughty/indulgent (which is more often than not), I add chocolate to my baking.  What, like you haven't noticed???  Yes, it's true.  Most of my healthy muffins have little bits of antioxidant goodness in them in the form of chocolate chips... I don't make many cookies, or sweets in general.  But, I do have a huge bag of chocolate chips in my fridge.  And when I say huge, I mean Costco HUGE ;)

Sometimes, we need to treat ourselves.  Reward ourselves for making good choices.  It's called positive reinforcement.  Perhaps you've heard of it?  I'd hate to go through all the trouble of making a nutritious muffin, or granola bar, and then have it sit uneaten.  By throwing some chocolate in there, I've turned something that is good for you into something that also tastes good.  If you're a super-duper health nut and you've banned sugar from your life and have no need for chocolate like us lesser mortals, then feel free to leave them out!  However, I like to leave mine in, in an effort to sneak the good stuff into the good mouths of my family and friends.

Sometimes, when I make my granola rounds, I'll put a few of those chocolate chips on top.  When I pull them out of the oven, I spread the now melted chips around and voila! a chocolate "covered" granola bar.  I don't know about you, but pulling teeth would be easier than getting my kid to eat his home-packed lunch at school every day.  He's much too busy talking/playing to be bothered with some healthy snack his mom made.  But when he sees that chocolate "covered" granola bar, he's compelled to devour it!  And he's left feeling special, while his tummy feels full.

Sometimes, this nutrition nazi of a mom needs to feel special, too.  And so she'll break up a normal granola bar and throw in a few chocolate chips and voila! chocolate cranberry granola for breakfast.  Yes, it's true.  Chocolate does indeed have antioxidants in it :) And sometimes, being healthy means treating yourself to something sweet.  *B

this week's plan: 10/11 - 10/17

Maybe I'm the only one who benefits from these weekly meal plans... But in case you're in need of some ideas, I will continue to plan and post!  Hope it helps jump-start your own creativity :)

Mexican Monday: Southwest Chicken crepes (ETA: not recommended together, but they're both good on their own... maybe if I came up with a polenta type crepe)
Oriental Tuesday: tofu with spicy peanut sauce, veggies and noodles
Twisted Wednesday: lemon poppers and scrambled eggs
Authentic Thursday: ravioli bisque
TGIFriday: hotdogs, carrot sticks and applesauce potato salad, and strawberry smoothies
Super Saturday: date night
Special Sunday: veggie lasagna, toasted sourdough French bread with herbed brie, and green salad

Upcoming recipes: custom crepes, how to cook/like tofu, lemon poppers, ravioli bisque, potato salad, and strawberry smoothies.  Wow, that's a lot of recipes!  I want to start reviewing cookbooks, and nutrition books, as well as certain cooking products (like MSG-free bouillon).  So, we'll see if I can sneak a few in this week, too ;)

Also, if anyone has a favorite meal that may be a little (or a lot) on the unhealthy side, and you'd like me to tweak it, let me know!  I love getting helpful feedback, and I thought you might, too.  Or maybe I'm crazy, and people think I'm crazy for wanting to healthify something like potato salad... But, I really do enjoy the challenge!  That's why I'm here, my friends :) And FYI, healthify is now an official word.  *B

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Peanut Butter Syrup


Look, a picture!  Sometimes I amaze even myself ;) Seriously though, photo or no photo, this stuff is pretty gosh darn amazing. 

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. maple syrup (the real deal)
  • 1/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • cinnamon to taste (opt)
Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low, until salt is dissolved and syrup begins to boil.  Remove from heat, stir well and serve warm.
Goes great with pancakes (duh), or waffles (duh again), but I'm positive it would be totally awesome over some vanilla ice cream.  *B

Blueberry Smoothies

This sweet drink is FULL of antioxidants and potassium.  So good, and so good for you!  Just the way I like 'em ;)

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c. grape juice
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 4 handfuls frozen blueberries
  • 1 handful of spinach (opt)
Directions:
  1. Combine grape juice and water in a blender.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend.
Tip: if you're a part-time lover and a full-time friend of fresh spinach, you can extend its shelf life by freezing it raw!  I like to buy a bunch or two of spinach, trim off the stems and give them a good rinse.  I end up rinsing them three times to get all the sand and grit off of them...  You can buy fresh, prepped spinach in a bag, too.  Then just stick as much as you can into a large ziplock bag and pop those green beauties in the freezer.  Break off handfuls when you need them (great for smoothies or soup).  So, go green and freeze those leaves!  *B

sloppy joe-schmoe variations

Of the less meaty kind!  Oh, these still have plenty of meat...  Just less of it. You can make these like you would combo tacos.  Just omit the taco seasoning.  Or, you can make them with 1 part ground beef, 1 part ground turkey, and 1 part cooked wild rice (brown rice would be fine, too).  Cook the rice in beef broth for extra flavor.  I made the rice variation just last night, and there were no complaints from the man-fan(s) o' meat.  You might want to make them less sweet, too.  Just tinker with the brown sugar until it suits your taste buds.  And you can always sneak more veggies in ;)  You can dice up some zucchini, or mushrooms, and cook them right alongside the red bell pepper.  You can even try reducing the tomato sauce by half, and substituting the rest with some sweet potato puree.  The possibilities are endless!  Be creative and have fun.  Because being healthy is just that.  *B

original recipe here

Friday, October 08, 2010

beadboard giveaway

If you've ever visited my home blog, you would know how CRAZY in love I am with beadboard!  I plan on using it in just about every room in my tiny townhouse...  And beadboard in the kitchen is like frosting on the cake.  Please tell me I'm not the only one who wants a kitchen like this:


Yeah, I didn't think so ;)  All that glorious beadboard!  Pardon me while I wipe the drool off my face.  Anyway, I just stumbled across a super fun food blog called Envy My Cooking.  Awesome site.  And right now they have an awesome giveaway!  So get your tootsies over there and enter.  I promise, I won't be too jealous if you win.  Ok, I might be just a tad bit envious.  Good thing green looks good on me!  *B

Thursday, October 07, 2010

wishin' for a dish

Just FYI, I will pick and post the winner of the spooky platter on Monday!  I hope to ship it out the same day, so that the lucky lady can display it before Halloween is over.  That'll be a happy day for whoever she might be, but sad for me... it's pretty cute and comfy at this girl's haunted house ;)  

Remember to let me know if/when you follow, tweet, post, etc. so your entries won't get missed.  Thanks much, good luck, and happy haunting!  *B

Panang Perfection

WARNING: this is not a low-fat meal.  But, it is super tasty!  It's also gluten free, dairy free, and it can also be vegan.  Oh, and it's fast and easy.  This is our absolute favorite Thai dish.  If you're calorie counting, you may not want to eat this every week...  Certainly not every day!  But do eat it every once in a while when you want to give your meal plan a quick, rich/exotic boost ;)

Ingredients:
  • 1 T. coconut oil
  • 1/4 c. carrots, diced in strips
  • 1/4 c. zucchini, diced in strips
  • 1/4 c. onion, sliced thin
  • 1/4 c. red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 1/4 c. mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 handfuls of chicken, cooked and shredded -or- 1 can chicken, drained (opt)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 3 T. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1/2 t. chicken bouillon
  • cayenne, to taste (opt)
Directions:
  1. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add veggies and cook.
  2. Add salt, pepper, curry paste and stir.  Cook for one minute.  Add shredded chicken and mix well.
  3. Add coconut milk and bouillon, stir.  Bring to boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes or until sauce thickens.  Add cayenne for some extra heat.
  4. Serve over prepared rice (Jasmine is best).
I will have you know that not only did us grown-ups slick it up, but so did the man-child -- veggies and all, sans complaint.  He may have licked his lips, once or twice, too.  The grown man might have licked his plate... *B

PS- As much as I love this with fresh veggies, this can be successfully made with a bag of frozen stir fry veggies (rehydrated in chicken broth) and a can of drained mushrooms.  Enjoy!

meatless "meatballs" update

I've tried my hand at these twice now, and they still need a bit more tweaking.  I'm getting close... but not close enough to share anything!  At least they've been palatable in the past, but they can stand to be better.  And so I continue to hone my meatless cooking abilities.  We all know real meatballs are good!  But where's the challenge in that?  I'll keep you posted.  *B

Monday, October 04, 2010

eat, drink, and be scary!

I interrupt this health-filled blog to post about something equally as important as nutrition:  Halloween!!!  Normal, candy-less, posts will resume in the next day or two...


In case you haven't guessed, I am OBSESSED with all things black & orange!  Shoot, I start planning next year's costumes the day after they're worn.  And this year, to help me with my infatuation, Lolly Jane has hooked me up (a few times) with some sahweet vinyl!  Let me just say, I'm brand-spankin'-new to the vinyl craze.  I mean, I've heard of it.  In fact, I used to design for Writing on the Wall, and you could find my boards in places like Poppy's and Orange Patch.  Anywhoo, I've never owned any.  Basically, I'm a vinyl virgin ;)  Lucky for me, the hotties behind Lolly Jane have kindly taken me by the hand and introduced me into this exciting new world.  My eyes have been opened.  Oh, the endless possibilities!  Be still my heart.

And so, without further ado, may I proudly introduce you to the love-child of my current crushes.  This here plate.  An orange plate.  A "scary" orange plate!  And because I am a proponent of eating and drinking (water!) and therefore highly recommend the use of plates (but not this one), I would like to give this tricked out dish to one of you.  So that you too may lovingly display your devotion to food, vinyl, and Halloween.


If you so choose, here's how to enter (one entry each):
  1. Be a taste-tester - follow the blogsy and {B}messy!
  2. Don't be a stranger - leave a comment, send an email, come and knock on my door...
  3. Spread the word - tweet, blog, facebook, etc.
  4. Share the love - Link up your fave Halloween tricks or treats.  Let's see those fab recipes/decorations!
Maybe, just maybe, no one will want this saucy saucer.  And then, I can keep it!  At very least, I'll give it to Kristi/Kelli.  You know, to say thanks.  And then, I'll let them twinners fight over it... *B

this week's plan: 10/4 - 10/10

Hello my few and faithful taste-testers!  It's October!?!  I was just getting used to August being over... Wait a second.  It's Monday???  Well then, let's just pretend it's still Sunday ;)

Mexican Monday: build-your-own quesadillas
Oriental Tuesday: Panang Perfection with tofu chicken, veggies and brown jasmine rice
Twisted Wednesday: baked potatoes and chili pancakes
Authentic Thursday: spaghetti and "meat" balls
TGIFriday: sloppy joe-schmoes, spiced sweet-potato fries, and blueberry smoothies
Super Saturday: date night at Chipotle (yay for gift cards!)
Special Sunday: to be determined

Upcoming recipes: Panang Perfection, how to cook/like tofu, "meat" balls (since I didn't get to them last week), blueberry smoothies, and hopefully some pumpkin-spice muffins/cookies.  And of course, a smattering of suggestions ;) Also, stay tuned for a super fun and festive giveaway!  *B

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Watermelon Smoothies

These might be more of a slushie than a smoothie... is there a difference?  I know Summer is on its way out in most places, but still it lingers on in AZ!  So whether you're just suffering in surviving the Valley of the Sun, experiencing a random heatwave elsewhere, or making plans for your next poolside BBQ, keep this sweet chiller in mind.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c. raspberry lemonade
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 handfuls of frozen strawberries
  • 4 handfuls of frozen cubed watermelon
Directions:
  1. Combine lemonade and water in a blender.  Add strawberries and watermelon and blend.
Tip:  I like buying the little, round watermelons.  The ones that are the size of other melons.  They tend to be sweeter.  And they're just the right size for my little family.  BUT, if you plan on taking this to a party, get a normal watermelon and serve your chilled concoction inside a scooped out watermelon bowl!  *B

Asian Fusion Soup

I also call this "poor man's fancy ramen."  I invented this soup a while ago, when money was tight and so was time.  Isn't that always the case, though?  Anyway, it's a great way to really stretch your wallet and use up what's in your fridge/pantry.  Super cheap.  Super easy.  It's super soup!

Ingredients:
  • 4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 t. garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, diced (opt)
  • handful of spinach
  • 1/2 c. fresh/frozen/canned mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 can mushrooms, drained (opt)
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. honey/brown sugar
  • 2 T. coconut oil
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • dash of cayenne (opt)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 package of prepared pad thai noodles -or- handful of wantons
Directions:
  1. Bring broth to a boil and add coconut oil.
  2. Add garlic, onions, spinach and frozen veggies.  Reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Add soy sauce, ginger and cayenne.  Stir.
  4. While whisking soup, add beaten eggs.
  5. Stir in noodles and heat through.
Tip: If you want more protein, add a handful or two of cooked, shredded chicken.  Add as much cayenne as you want spice.  Other yummy add-ins are mushrooms, celery, bok choy and brown rice.  I forget how much I like this soup until I make it, and then I wonder why I don't make it more often!  And believe it or not, my kids love it, too.  Family tested, budget approved soup for you.  *B

Combo Tacos

While I'm usually not a huge fan of meat, especially the ground kind, when I do use/eat it I prefer to pair the lean turkey with the more flavorful beef.  Adding black beans just brings more protein (and fiber) to the table.  Still working on the wannabe taco meat... but in the meantime, here's a more meat friendly version ;)

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. ground turkey
  • 1 c. ground beef
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 T. taco seasoning
Directions:
  1. Brown meat until slightly pink; add chopped onion and cook until onions are soft and meat is cooked.
  2. Add taco seasoning and stir.  Add about a 1/4 c. water and allow mixture to come to a simmer.
  3. Add black beans and cook until liquid is gone.
  4. Serve meat as a filling for tacos/burritos or as a topping for nachos.  Add additional toppings such as salsa, diced tomatoes, lettuce, olives, avocados, etc. as desired.
Tip:  We tend to buy our ground beef and turkey in bulk, from Costco.  When we get home, we chop up an onion and cook both meats simultaneously.  Once cool, we combine the cooked turkey and beef and divide it up into individual ziplock bags and pop 'em in the freezer.  Then, when it's time to make tacos, or spaghetti, or chili, the nasty-time-consuming part (aka. meat cooking) is already done!  Just add your spices and you're good to go.  *B

Sunday, September 26, 2010

this week's plan: 9/27 - 10/3

Does the title make sense to anyone else but me?  I hope so.  Also, I'm sorry I didn't post any recipes this past week...  Turns out we're super poor and I had to rearrange some meals to fit in with our meager budget.  Meaning I had to make use of what was in our pantry, fridge and/or freezer ;)  But back pats for me for remembering to post meal plans!

Mexican Monday: Combo Tacos
Oriental Tuesday: MSG-free noodle soup
Twisted Wednesday: french toast and eggs
Authentic Thursday: spaghetti and "meat" balls
Super Saturday: date night, with the kids.  No money = no babysitter.  Time to hit up Nana! Conference at the folks'!
Special Sunday: hoping someone invites us over for dinner ;)  Otherwise, cold cereal? Conference at the folks'!

Upcoming recipes: watermelon smoothies, combo tacos, MSG-free noodle soup, and hopefully "meat" balls.  And if there's time I'm feeling super ambitious, updating some posts with photos!  Almost as fun as buying groceries with our upcoming pay checks.  *B

so you want to lose some weight...

A few years ago at a family reunion I had a couple cousins, and my grandma, ask how I got "so skinny."  Let me just say that I've grown up a bit and lost some baby fat...  But, I also happen to have curves, extra baggage, and dimples.  Some days I like the way I look, and some days I don't.  I'm a girl.  That's what we do.  Anyway, so here I had family members ask me what my secret was.  And I've had friends ask me the same after I lost some weight in college.  "What's your secret?"  And every time I tell them, their faces drop and then they shrug their shoulders and keep on doing what they're doing (which isn't working for them).  So here's my secret.  You ready?  You sure?  You're sure you're sure?  Okay then...  Watch what you eat, and eat right.

For some strange reason, most people think it's easier (or more fun) to work their butts off.  Literally.  I'm not a huge fan of sweating buckets.  And frankly, I don't believe our bodies need to be pushed to exhaustion in order to be healthy.  But I pay attention to what goes into my body.  And you can workout as much as you want, but if your body isn't getting adequate amounts of GOOD fuel, then that might be the reason you're hitting a plateau.  So stop killing yourself at the gym.  Stop eating bad food.  Eat right and use (not abuse) your body.  And make feeling good, not just looking good, your main goal.  Got it?

I'm just going to throw these next few tips out there for anyone who may be interested...  it's worked for me in the past, it's worked for family and friends, etc.  It may or may not work for you.  So, here are a few suggestions.  Some might seem easy, and some may make you groan.  But you decide how you WANT to feel.  And I think you'll find the strength you need to make good choices ;)  Are you ready?  Here we go!
  1. Stop drinking pop.  Soda.  Whatever you want to call it.  I don't care if it's "diet "(don't even get me started!).  Just stop.  Drink water instead.  Lots of it.
  2. Stop eating/drink dairy.  Or at least seriously limit your intake.  If you must, eat a slice of cheese OR a small helping of yogurt.  One serving, once a day.  That's it.
  3. Eat a piece of chocolate a day.  Go ahead.  I give you permission.  But don't over-indulge on desserts.  Stop baking those cookies.  Or make them and give them away.  If you are addicted to sugar (and most people are), this will be the hardest choice to make.  But it will also be one of the best.  If you have to have some dessert, then eat one dessert a week.  Set aside Sunday (or whatever day) as your special day, where you treat yourself to a small slice of pie (or whatever it is).  Just one slice.  Eat that pie.  Enjoy it.  And then move on.
  4. Snack throughout the day.  Your snacks should include fruits, vegetables and nuts.  NOT that reduced -fat crap they sell at the store.  If you're hungry, then take a drink of water.  Still hungry?  Eat a healthy snack.  Then take another drink of water.  Still hungry?  Go do something to distract you until it's mealtime ;)
  5. Here comes the meal planning portion of this so-called diet:
    • Breakfast: Protein drink with a handful of almonds on the side.
    • Lunch: Huge salad with a serving of protein.  Light on the dressing.
    • Dinner: Just one serving of protein and whole-grains, and then as many vegetables as you want.  No, potatoes do not count.
And that's it.  You're not going to starve.  And it's not for forever!  The key is to keep things interesting.  Please, please, PLEASE, don't have the same protein drink/salad/dinner every day.  You will get so bored so fast which will lead to discouragement and self-doubt, both of which are more poisonous than you can imagine.  Listen to your body.  Love your body.  Eat what sounds good.  Try fun  and exciting recipes.  Go on walks.  Do yoga.  Smile.  Be happy.  And feel good about yourself.  *B

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

the nitty gritty

I'm really going to try and be better about posting my meal plans.  Forgive me for being lazy!  But at least I'm posting more regularly, right???  Meh, you win some, you lose some ;)

First off, let me explain how my plans have been working for me lately -- just in case I haven't already.  I have themes for each day of the week.  I find that it keeps our food palate well rotated and our oral palates happy.  Who likes to have Italian three days in a row (besides me, but that's because I am one)?!  Another reason why I like our theme routine is that if a planned meal doesn't sound so good, of if I find myself running out of time, then instead of playing the what's-for-dinner guessing game, I can at least narrow our options down to one genre.  For example, if I have Oriental Chicken planned but forgot that I left my crock-pot at my mom's, then I'll throw some frozen veggie spring rolls in the oven and make a peanut dipping sauce as a replacement.

As of late, I have been labeling our days of the week as follows: Mexican Monday, Oriental Tuesday, Twisted Wednesday, Authentic Thursday, TGIFriday, Special Saturday, Super Sunday.  The first two are pretty self-explanatory... except for Tuesdays.  Most of the time it ranges from Thai to Chinese, but sometimes it's fish with rice.  Either way, rice is always a Tuesday ingredient.  I'll describe the rest so they make sense, lest you're interested in copying me ;)  Feel free to, by the way.  Please.  I don't mind.  Promise.

Wednesday is our day for leftovers.  But instead of just pulling stuff out of the fridge and plopping it on the table, I try to reinvent it.  Let's say a couple of weeks ago I made pot roast for dinner.  Instead of sticking the leftovers in the fridge, I would cut up the meat, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. and throw it in a big ziplock baggie, along with the leftover gravy.  Then I would promptly stow it in the freezer.  Two weeks go by, and I pull that bag out and throw it in my stockpot and make a killer stew (whilst adding some colored water!).  Brilliant!  If I don't have any leftovers to twist, then we'll usually have breakfast for dinner.  Because, you know, that's twisted too...

Thursday is the day for fancy French food or comforting Italian food.  That's about all there is to it.  Usually involves pasta of some sort.

Friday is our classic American family food.  Burgers, casseroles, pigs-in-a-blanket, etc.  The week is over, the weekend is nigh and it's time to have a picnic either outside or in front of the TV watching a movie.  It's our fun day.

Saturday is our date night.  We usually treat ourselves to a meal out via coupon clipping.  Brad and I LOVE eating out, so we've allowed ourself one night a week.  Just us.  No kids and no cooking.  It's a special day.

Sunday we either spend time with family, friends or the hub prepares the meal.  I've also deemed meat absolutely acceptable that day.  Without complaints from moi.  You can guess how super Brad feels about that ;)

And there you have it!  My week in meal plan form.  I realize it's Tuesday, but I'll go ahead and share this week's plan.  You know, just for kicks and giggles.

Mexican Monday: burritos and watermelon
"Oriental" Tuesday: tortilla crusted tilapia (a la Costco, love much), broccoli, brown rice revolution
Twisted Wednesday: Watermelon, grilled corn on the cob, a salad of some kind(?)
Authentic Thursday: Ravioli Bisque (coming soon to a blog near you!)
TGIFriday: veggie burger for me, chicken burgers for the rest, side of spiced fries, watermelon smoothie
Special Saturday: Chipotle (free) vs. Rubio's (coupon) ...decisions, decisions...
Super Sunday: plans pending

FYI: I'll try and post any upcoming meal plans on Sunday.  Sound good?  I know, now I'm hungry too.  *B

colored water

I was talking with a friend, before I started back up with this blurg, and she suggested I throw in a tip here and there.  Sound like fun?  Heck yeah  :)  Quick, pop quiz!  What do you do with your veggie water?  Throw it away or use it?  The correct answer, my friend, is to use it.  Go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back if you guessed correctly.  Do it now.  We I'll wait...

Moving on!  Today's tip is brought to you by tonight's meal: tortilla crusted tilapia from Costco (truly amazing!), steamed broccoli (go green!), and brown rice revolution (recipe coming soon!).  So here I had some broccolified water, and instead of dumping it down the drain, I added it to my rice.  Awesomeness.

In case you haven't heard, vegetables are fantastic.  They're just so full of goodness!  Eating them raw is great, but some people do better with them slightly cooked.  A little bit of goodness is lost when we cook it...  If you use a micro, that goodness is gone for good.  But if you steam/boil your vegs, you can use that goodness found in the water you cooked them in/with!  Make sense?

Basically, use your cooking water.  Use it right away if you're already cooking (like I did), or pour it into a jar and stick it in the fridge for later.  It makes for a great addition to soups, smoothies, rice, bread, etc.  It's kinda magical... maybe I'm that sounds crazy, but just try it and then see how you feel about it!  *B

Thursday, September 16, 2010

a post to keep you posted

Just in case you were twiddling your thumbs, wondering if I were sitting on mine... I'm not!  And no, I have not gone back into hiding ;)  In the past, when this bloggity blog came into existence, I would post recipes willy-nilly.  Not so anymore.  Nowadays I only like to post fail-proof and taste-tested recipes.

I'll have you know, I cook like my mom.  For example, if I bring a pot of soup over to a potluck and everyone raves and HAS to have the recipe... well, chances are high I don't have one.  I don't measure; I just add and dump, mix and taste.  Repeat.  My cousin finds it infuriating.  So I'm trying to be better about coming up with actual recipes.  Recipes where you, and I, can (re)create with some sort of guarantee that it'll turn out.

Currently tweaking:
  • wannabe taco meat
  • ravioli bisque
  • various crepe fillings
  • after-school snack ideas
  • caramel apple crisp
  • pumpkin spice granola
Oh, and I've been taking pictures!  It's much more exciting/entertaining/alluring to see pictures of food on a food blog, don't you think?  I concur.  *B

Monday, August 23, 2010

Granola Rounds

I love granola bars.  Let me clarify: I love good granola bars.  And good granola bars are usually pretty pricey.  Enter homemade granola bars!  Except these are not so much bars as they are round... But have no fear, what they lack in way of angles is by no means related to how they taste.  Because they taste totally awesome :)

Ingredients:
  • 2 c. oats
  • 1 c. raw almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 c. shell-less sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 c. ground flax seed OR wheat germ
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 c. agave nectar
  • 1/4 c. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. dried cranberries
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Toss oats, nuts and flax/wheat germ in bowl; transfer to large, ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, stirring every five or so minutes.
  2. In a small saucepan, add brown sugar, agave, apple sauce, peanut butter and salt and heat over low heat until all ingredients are well combined.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.
  3. Lower oven temp to 300.  Pour dry oat mixture back into bowl; add cranberries and sugar mixture and mix until everything is well coated.
  4. Using 1/3 c. measuring cup, spoon wet oat mixture into muffin tins and pack tight (I use the bottom of the measuring cup and my fingers).  How full you pack your muffin tins will determine how thick your granola rounds turn out... I only pack mine half full, which leaves me with some leftover granola that I just bake on the baking sheet, alongside the granola rounds.  Or, pack them full and you'll have no leftovers, only thick granola rounds.
  5. Bake at 300 for 15-20 minutes, depending on how thick your rounds are and how chewy/crunchy you want them.
  6. Remove from oven and allow to cool COMPLETELY before devouring.
These are perfect for snacks or meals on the go...  Full of fiber and protein to give you the energy you need, minus the sugar crash and cavities you can certainly do without.  Now that's what I call well-rounded (oh yes I did)!  *B

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Beth's Better Bread


I'm not one for baking... BUT, I've been trying to change that as I search for tastier ways to sneak whole grains to my family.  Also, I'm pretending that Fall is nigh, which makes me want to bake.  Plus, there is something magical about the oven.  I love (and prefer) the stove top, but there's nothing that makes me feel more homemakey than when I bakey ;)

I have yet to master baking bread in the oven.  BUT, I believe I have mastered it in the bread machine.  Please tell me that gets me at least one brownie point! Anyway, it's too hot here to turn the oven on for very long.  At least, that's what I keep telling myself.  The real reason is I'm too lazy to do all the necessary steps to make a loaf of bread.  Enter bread machine: it's like a crock-pot, for bread!  Love it.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. white, unbleached flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. wheat germ
  • 2 heaping T. vital wheat gluten
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1/8 c. rice milk
  • scant 1/3 c. agave nectar
  • 2 T. applesauce
  • 1 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
  • handful of sunflower seeds (without the shells, in case you were wondering)
Directions:
  1. Combine flours, wheat germ and gluten together and set aside.
  2. Combine water, milk, agave, applesauce, and salt and pour into bread pan.
  3. Add dry ingredients to bread pan.  Make sure the wet ingredients are covered.
  4. Add yeast and sunflower seeds to the top of the mixture.  Insert bread pan into bread machine.
  5. Use the following settings: basic cycle, light crust, 1.5 lb. loaf size.
  6. When your bread is finished baking, remove bread pan from machine.  Carefully dump out your loaf and allow to cool while resting on its side.
After the bread is sufficiently cool (but still warm!), slice it up and enjoy!  Butter, of course, tastes amazing on it.  Which you can justify using (every once in a while) because you didn't use any oil or fat of any kind when making the bread ;)  I make a loaf a week... I slice the entire loaf at once and stick it all in a big ziploc baggie, with a folded paper towel sheet.  We don't eat a ton of bread or go through it too fast, so I keep it in the fridge.

Of course, everyone's bread machine (and oven, for that matter) is different.  This recipe works wonderfully for me, but feel free to experiment until you get results you're happy with.  I just love homemade bread!  Who doesn't?!  Seriously though.  No nasty preservatives, no high-fructose corn syrup, and no hydrogenated nothing.  Just good, wholesome ingredients that result in a good smelling and good tasting loaf of happiness.  *B

Warm & Nutty Applesauce

There are two ways to make this: super-easy-quick vs. minimal-effort-quick.  You choose.  Although, I do recommend staying away from the micro as often as you can, especially when fruits/veggies are involved.  Nuking our beloved foods tends to leach out all the good nutrient stuff... anyway, enjoy this warm and yummy treat, and dream of dead leaves and grinning pumpkins :)

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • handful of chopped almonds
  • cinnamon to taste
Directions:

Version 1: Microwave applesauce for a minute, add cinnamon and nuts.
Version 2: Roast nuts in dry pan over low heat until nuts are fragrant.  Add applesauce and cinnamon and stir until warmed through.

Not quite ready for Fall?  Then try the crafty applesauce instead!  Either way, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away!"  *B

Monday, August 09, 2010

The Not-So-Guilty Brownie Muffin

I DID IT!!!  If I were a dancer, I'd be doing an ecstatic jiggity-jig.  If I were a cheerleader, I'd be doing back-flips and sporting spirit fingers.  If I were a monkey, I'd be waving my arms around and frantically pounding my chest.  I'm not any of those things, but I think you get the idea... I'm just so dang thrilled with myself!  And success has never tasted so sweet ;)  Voila! my twist on chocolate muffin/brownies:

Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • ½ c. brown sugar
  • 1 banana, pureed
  • ½ c. sweet potato puree
  • ½ c. black beans, pureed
  • 1 c. flour blend (white flour, wheat flour and wheat germ, 1:1:1 )
  • ½ T. gluten (opt)
  • 2 heaping T. cocoa powder
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • ½ t. salt
  • handful of Chocolate chips
  • Chopped nuts (opt)
Directions:
  1. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add chocolate chips (and nuts) and toss.  Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
These can be made/served as muffins or brownies.  They're full of fiber, protein, AND chocolate!  Sinfully sinless.  Go me!  *B

Sunday, August 08, 2010

work in progress

I just thought you all (my two followers) should know that I'm working on a chocolate muffin recipe!  I'm REALLY excited and I am sooooo close to mastering it.  And then I can share it with the world, bwahahaha!  Ok, I may need to come up with a not-so-evil laugh... I've also got a superb salsa that kicks butt.  I cannot believe it's not on here already!  I swear I posted it, but the blog don't lie 'cause I can't find it nowhere nohow.  Oh, and I am THIS close to conquering a whole wheat bread recipe.  So, lots of yummies for your tummies are on the horizon.  Huzzah!

I will leave you with a tiny tip for today, though.  Just in case you've been waiting with bated breath to hear from Beth ;)  On your next sandwich, wrap or burger, forgo the mayo and say yes to hummus!  Just a little otta do ya.  Tonight we I had a veggie burger with a smidgen of hummus smudged on, and a side of homemade baked beans.  In other words, my dinner was meatless but proteinful (it's a new word, starting... now)!  And oh so delish.  Lest you think I'm perfect, I also had a handful (or two) of Doritos.  GASP!!!  I know, I know...  simple carbs + bad-for-you fats + food dye + MSG = tasty nastiness -- a true conundrum.

Oh well, tomorrow is a new day!  The healthy possibilities are endless!  And, there are no naughty chips to tempt me.  *B

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rockin' Corn Muffins

I love muffins!!!  Especially good tasting and good-for-you muffins...  And boy, does this corn muffin have it all!  It's savory AND sweet, hearty AND moist.  It basically rocks, but doesn't taste like one ;)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. flour blend (white flour, wheat flour and wheat germ, 1:1:1 )
  • 1/2 c. cornmeal
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. applesauce
  • 1/2 c. white beans, pureed
  • 1/2 c. corn, pureed
  • handful of shredded cheese
Directions:
  1. In one bowl, mix all the dry ingredients.  Add shredded cheese and toss together.
  2. In another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients.  Fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.  Bake at 350 for 22-24 minutes.
Add a little honey and eat alongside some awesome meatless chili.  Whole grains and incomplete proteins, unite!  *B

Awesome Meatless Chili

Here's the deal about protein: it all comes down to complete vs. incomplete.  A complete protein contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need.  An example of a complete protein would be meat or dairy.  An incomplete protein still contains amino acids, just not all of them.  So any of your grains, legumes, nuts/seeds would fall under that category.  But here's the magical part: by pairing certain incomplete proteins together (whether in a single meal or throughout your day), you create a complete protein!

What I love best about this chili is that it's full of flavor, complex carbs, protein and fiber (thanks to beans and lentils).  Serve it up with some crushed tortilla chips and a side of cornbread and voila! a complete protein.  It's a super powerhouse meal that makes for a happy mouth and a happy bowel ;) 

Ingredients:
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can worth of prepared brown lentils, rinsed & cooked (about 1/2 c. dry)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 can worth of frozen corn (or drain a can of corn... I just prefer the flavor of frozen)
  • 1 1/2 cans worth of water
  • 1/2 onion, chopped -or- 1-2 T. dried onions
  • 1 t. garlic, minced -or- 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 T. chili powder (1/2 t. if chili powder is spicy)
  • 1 T. cumin
  • 1 T. beef bouillon
  • 1-2 T. brown sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
Directions:  Place all ingredients in a slowcooker and stir well.  Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Enjoy!  I know your heart will.  *B