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