Monday, April 27, 2015

Turkey Sausage, Cannellini and Tomato Ragout

A delicious and lighter version of a traditional ragout, that doesn't skimp on the flavour!

I have started getting a few cooking magazines again. There was a time where I wasn't reading them, and they were collecting dust. In the interest of my sanity, I am again making time to do the things I enjoy - and I flip through them as they arrive now. I have decided to make at least 1 recipe from each issue of each magazine. If I can't find one I'd make after 3 issues, I'll cancel the subscription. 

This one comes from Cooking Light magazine, and when I saw it, I knew I'd be making it - because I had all the ingredients, and the cooking time was minimal. I actually made this in 20 minutes, including making the polenta to go alongside it.

And it was goooood. H wanted no part of it and demanded mac n cheese (denied). Cams tried the polenta, and wasn't a fan, but then he pretty much only likes yogurt anyway, so there's that. 

The Husband and I thought it was yum. I took leftovers for lunch!

INGREDIENTS:
  • 6 oz hot turkey sausage (can sub regular sausage)
  • Cooking spray (or 1 tsp olive oil)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble.
  2. Remove sausage from pan.
  3. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat.
  4. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  5. Add ¼ cup of the stock, cook 1 minute, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Stir in remaining stock, salt, pepper, oregano, tomatoes and beans.
  6. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 8 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Stir in cooked sausage, cook for a few more minutes.

SIDES: Rosemary/Parmesan Polenta


Aaah, polenta. Such an underused side dish. It's so good, and goes perfectly with italian food, can be made, cooled, cut into squares and then fried, if you really want to make it super special.

For me, the simple preparation of boiling some water, adding the polenta and then some flavouring (in this case, salt, pepper, parmesan and rosemary) was decadent enough.

Inexpensive, too - and something different to the usual pasta, mashed potatoes or rice type sides.

Yum!

ROSEMARY/PARMESAN POLENTA
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS


  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cup instant polenta
  • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon plain fat-free yogurt
  • 2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:


  1. Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. 
  2. Add polenta in a thin stream to the water, stirring constantly. 
  3. Reduce heat to low, and cook 3 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. 
  4. Remove pan from heat. Stir in cheese, yogurt, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Source: Cooking Light Magazine

1 serving is 3 Weight Watchers Points+

Monday, April 20, 2015

Spicy Chicken Soft Tacos

I know for a lot of you, any season is taco season. I personally think they're a great summer time dish, with their fresh flavours, and char-grilled tortillas adding that extra "outdoors" taste.  

These tacos, however, can be made inside right on your stovetop, and still taste like you slaved over a hot grill.

The leftover chicken is great in a quesadilla the next day, or made into taco bowls with rice, beans, chicken and the pico de gallo.

Hayden ate some of the chicken, a lot of the cheese and declared the sour cream to be "yogurt" and attempted to eat it with a spoon. Cameron rejected all components aside from a corn tortilla.

One day... one day... my children will eat like real people, and not like tiny neanderthals... some day...

Jaida, over at Sweet Beginnings often posts amazing looking taco recipes. Although it's not Tuesday, Jaida - I totally thought of you while I served these!

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 Cup tomato sauce (tomato puree, NOT ketchup, Kiwis and Aussies)
  • 1 Cup onion, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced very finely
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, butterflied or pounded to 1/4 inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 small corn tortillas

Optional toppings:
  • Cheese – feta, goat, queso fresco, whatever you like - crumbled
  • Fresh limes, cut into wedges
  • Guacamole
  • Pico de gallo
  • Sour cream
  • Extra cilantro

DIRECTIONS
  1. Mix together the tomato sauce, onion, jalapeno, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt in a bowl; set aside.
  2. Spray a large skillet with olive oil (using a mister); heat over high heat. 
  3. Season chicken lightly, then add to the skillet.  Cook for about 2 minutes per side (we're just browning here, not cooking through).
  4. Add tomato mixture to pan and pour in about 1/4 cup water (or as much as is needed to just cover chicken). 
  5. Reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate to rest.
  6. Increase heat to high and cook sauce, stirring a few times, until sauce reduces and thickens, about 5 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, shred the chicken, then add to the reduced sauce to heat through.
  8. Heat the corn tortillas in another skillet until warmed/charred.
  9. Serve and top as you want!
Source: Weight Watchers
This comes out to 8pts for 2 tacos (with a half cup of filling in each, plus some pico de gallo and some feta cheese), additional points for sour cream and guacamole.


Monday, April 13, 2015

Turkey & Black Bean Enchiladas


Oh myyyyy.  In my efforts to shed a little heft, I've been actively seeking out healthier, lower fat options for us to enjoy as a family - without compromising taste and enjoyment of the family dinner.

These enchiladas really really hit the spot! With a really simple and fast filling, you could cheat and use canned enchilada sauce (but if you have the time - definitely make the sauce - it's out of this world good), and have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes. Even less if you prep ahead!  If you were to use corn tortillas, it's gluten free, too!

If you care, each enchilada is 7 weight watchers points on the points plus program, without the sour cream.

TURKEY & BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

INGREDIENTS:


For the Enchilada Sauce:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup fat free chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste

Filling
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 15.5 can black beans, drained
  • 4.5 oz can chopped green chiles
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder
  • salt
  • 8 (6-inch) low carb whole wheat flour tortillas
  • 1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese  
Optional toppings:
  • Sour cream
  • Cilantro
  • Olives
  • Avocado or guacamole
DIRECTIONS: 

Enchilada sauce
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté garlic. 
  2. Add the chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. 
  3. Bring to a boil then, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. 
  4. Set aside.

Filling
  1. In a large skillet brown the turkey and season with salt then drain any liquid.
  2. Add the onion, garlic, black beans, chiles, diced tomatoes, cumin and chili powder and combine well.
  3. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20-25 minutes.  Add the cilantro at the very end, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Spray or grease a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish with non-stick spray/olive oil.
  6. Pour about a cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of the dish.
  7. Put 1/2 cup turkey mixture into each tortilla and roll it tightly. Place in dish seam side down and repeat with the rest of the tortillas (see below pic).
  8. Top with enchilada sauce and cheese.
  9. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 20-25 minutes, removing the tinfoil for the last 5
  10. Top with low fat sour cream, extra cilantro, olives and/or avocado/guacamole if you wish. 
Approximate amount of filling

Source: http://www.skinnytaste.com/

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Broccoli Chop Salad with Garlic Honey Dressing


With temps in Phoenix at 97 last weekend, I guess we can officially say that winter is over (bye bye soups), and Spring/Summer is on its way!

This means we have maybe a month or two where we can "live" outside and use the barbecue, eat outside, etc before the real heat begins. If it's 97 in March, I'm really really dreading June.

Guess this means we really need to clean up the back yard, wipe down the patio table, dust of the seat cushions and get ready for swimming?

ANYWAY - what I like about spring is that we CAN just come home, and go outside to the patio and hang there. Having a salad made ahead in the fridge ready to go as a great side with steak means I can spend more time with a glass of wine than in the kitchen madly prepping dinner.

This salad is super good for you. It brags lots of nutritional buzz words, and can be vegan if you switch out the honey for agave or maple syrup.

Plus, it's yummy. Sorry cilantro haters, this one isn't for you!

BROCCOLI CHOP SALAD WITH GARLIC HONEY DRESSING
INGREDIENTS:
For the Salad
  • 2 small heads broccoli
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 3 carrots shredded
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • chopped cilantro to taste
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

 For the Dressing
  • 1/2 cup Organic Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS:
Salad
Pulse broccoli and cauliflower in food processor until chopped roughly (don’t overchop, you don’t want mush).  Add broccoli and cauliflower to a large bowl, add shredded carrots, onion and cilantro.

Dressing
Make dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a lidded jar, and shake until well blended. Or use a whisk and a bowl, whatever... you choose.

To serve:
Mix salad and dressing together (add some, taste then add more until it's dressed how you like), then add the sunflower seeds on top to serve.


Source: http://eastplum.blogspot.com

Monday, March 30, 2015

Lemon Butter Chicken with Egg Noodles

Quick, easy, great for a weeknight when you are staring at the fridge and pantry "what to make... what to make?!"

I don't know about you, but my weeknights are chaos. In midst of washing bottles, packing bags for the next day, making lunches, folding laundry - somewhere in there, I need to produce something for us to sit down and eat for dinner.

I don't always have time to get fancy, sometimes I just need to cover the bases. Protein, vegetables and optional carbs. Ha. Right, like carbs are optional!

So, HERE WE GO:


LEMON BUTTER CHICKEN WITH EGG NOODLES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4  cup flour
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 8oz dry egg noodles

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces, and toss with flour.
  2. Heat a large pan to medium-high heat and melt 2 tablespoons butter.
  3. Add the chicken and cook until done, remove and keep warm.
  4. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package directions, drain and lightly butter.
  5. Add onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add chicken broth to pan and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from the pan.
  7. Add lemon juice and boil until mixture is reduced to about 1/3 cup.
  8. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  9. Return chicken to pan and heat through.
  10. Serve with egg noodles and steamed vegetables

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Garlic Parmesan Risotto


I'm not going to lie to you. Risotto is hands on. You have to stand there and stir, and add liquid, and stir, and monitor.

However, this isn't a 40 minute kind of deal, it's 17-25 minutes, I promise. AND you can still multi task and cook your protein or other sides while you do this. Really you can. 

It's totally worth it, because, hi there - yummy carb side that is not pasta (we're pasta'd out a little bit at our house - kids love it, but we're over it for right now).

We totally scarfed the entire pan of this with our Pork with Lemon/Dijon Pan Sauce the other night. What you see on the plate is about 1/4 of the recipe. What you don't see is my husband grabbing a spoon to get every last grain from the pan before doing the dishes.

I'm just keeping it real here.

This recipe comes from Mary-Ellen's Cooking Creations. She actually posted this before I even began blogging!  Full credit to her, I only adapted this very slightly.

Please make it - I promise you, you'll love me for posting this.

GARLIC PARMESAN RISOTTO

INGREDIENTS:
  • ½ medium onion, diced finely
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups of chicken broth (vege broth is fine if you're vegetarian)
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • ½ - 1 Cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (plus extra for serving)
  • 3 Tbs freshly chopped parsley (dried won’t cut it here, sorry)

 DIRECTIONS:
  1. Begin by heating your chicken broth and keeping it warm.
  2. Add butter and oil to a large skillet over medium heat (I actually use a wok for risotto!).
  3. Add the onions and cook until just tender, then add the garlic. Cook 1 minute longer.
  4. Add the rice and toss to coat, (making sure oil gets onto every grain of rice if you can).
  5. Add the wine and stir until it is absorbed.
  6. Add 1 ladle full of the chicken broth and stir until it absorbs.
  7. Repeat this until you have used almost all of the broth - it should take about 17-25 minutes.
  8. When you add the last ladle of broth, also add the parsley, but only let the broth absorb halfway and then add your cheese.
  9. Let it absorb until it is creamy and thick, but not soupy.
  10. Serve, adding extra parmesan if desired.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Pork with Lemon/Dijon Pan Sauce


Aaah, pork. We typically egg and breadcrumb our pork chops or make Parmesan Crusted ones, but thought I'd step outside the usual (although delicious) method of cooking.

What I LOVE about pork is that it's quick to cook, and relatively budget friendly. As long as you don't overcook (dry, stringy pork is no one's friend), pork is flavorful and versatile. 

This is really kicked up a notch by adding the pan sauce. It doesn't make a lot of sauce (it's not gravy), but it packs a punch in the flavour stakes. A little goes a long way.

The husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this, served with a garlic/parmesan risotto (recipe coming soon), and steamed green beans.


PORK WITH LEMON/DIJON PAN SAUCE
Serves 2
  • 2 center cut pork loin chops (about 1 inch thick) , or 4 thin sliced chops
  • 2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1.5 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard

  1. If you are using 1 inch thick chops, cut them in half to make 4.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and mustard in a small bowl, set aside.
  3. In a large nonstick pan/skillet, heat butter over medium heat.
  4. Season pork with the lemon-pepper, and cook a few minutes on each side until a thermometer reads 140. Remove, cover and keep warm.
  5. Increase heat to medium high, then add lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and mustard mix to pan/skillet, and scrape the bottom of the skillet to get all the browned bits up.
  6. Cook for a few minutes until slightly thickened.
  7. Plate your chops, and add some of the sauce to each. Serve


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

CROCKPOT: Poor Man's Stew


With all the crud going around lately (our house has seen: pink eye, ear infections, chest infections, coughs, colds and general crappiness) having a meal in the crockpot has been a lifesaver. 

There is no way I feel like cooking when I get home at 6pm and everyone is starving. There are bottles to be washed, lunches to be made, baths to be given, snuggles to be had. Medication to administer.... ugh.  If I don't have a meal already prepped and ready to go, we can end up eating some pretty unusual combinations of things. 

Anyway - the reason I like this recipe, is because it's cheap, it's good, and it is just stuff that I had on hand already. Plus, it makes the house smell AMAZING. 

"Poor man's" stew is likely a reference to the fact that ground beef is a lot cheaper than beef sold for stews.

And apparently, when your husband comes in before you, and doesn't see the crockpot on the counter, he'll do a full oven, stove and refrigerator search. Hoping to find where the smell is coming from and steal an elicit sample before dinner.

I managed to hide it in full sight!!

Hope you enjoy it like we did. Next time, I'll add frozen peas to the last half hour of cooking!

CROCKPOT: POOR MAN'S STEW

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 lb ground beef, browned and drained
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced large (I don't peel, but you could)
  • 4 medium carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 0.5 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Add the ground beef, potatoes, carrots, onion, to your crock pot.
  2. Mix together the tomato paste, broth, salt, pepper, garlic powder,  onion powder and thyme. 
  3. Pour the mix over everything in the crock pot and mix well.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or 4 hours on high.
Source: Adapted from http://www.themagicalslowcooker.com 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Ham & Pineapple Cheese Ball

Aaaah. Apologies for the unscheduled break in posts. With 2 littles who are in daycare, my house gets hit with the cold yuckies more regularly than I'd like. Then it hits me or the husband, and there's really no recipes for "ginger ale and dry crackers"

ANYWAY... I made this, and thought I'd share. 

There are two distinct camps about mixing fruit and meat - those who love it (hi there Hawaiian pizza) and those who think it's all wrong and should never happen. 

And then there are those that love Hawaiian pizza, but say that fruit and meat should never mix in any other way, ever.  Hi there, Husband. Contradicting yourself a little there, but you just do you, okay?

I was particularly interested to see what he'd think about this recipe. 

I mixed this up in under 5 minutes, and set it in the fridge for later.


VERDICT: I learned that ham and pineapple are okay together on PIZZA but nothing else.

Whatever dude - MORE FOR ME!!

HAM & PINEAPPLE CHEESE BALL

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 small can crushed pineapple (well drained, but not to the point where it’s dry)
  • 1 Tbs powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbs chopped green onion
  • 1/3 Cup chopped ham  
  • ½ Cup chopped pecans


DIRECTIONS:
  1. Mix all ingredients together, and form into a ball (I put it in plastic wrap to shape)
  2. Chill until firm, then roll in crushed pecans.
  3. Refrigerate until serving





Monday, February 16, 2015

Chicken & Wild Rice Strudels


I found a great deal on some packages of phyllo dough, and they've been hanging out in the freezer for a while, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. I was a little intimidated by phyllo, but turns out - it's actually less delicate than I thought, and it was pretty easy to handle. 

When I saw these, I thought OOOH. So, they went on the menu. Quite a nice change from all the pasta we've been eating lately!

I served these with steamed broccoli and a white sauce, which I also dipped the strudels into. Yum!!


CHICKEN & WILD RICE STRUDELS
  • INGREDIENTS:
  • 8.5oz cooked wild rice
  • 2 cups cooked chicken, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 12 sheets phyllo dough (14x9-inch size)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted

  1. DIRECTIONS:
  2. Preheat oven to 400°
  3. Place all the ingredients in a bowl (except for butter and phyllo dough) and mix until well combined.
  4. Place one sheet of dough on a work surface; brush lightly with melted butter. Layer with five additional sheets, brushing in between each layer. (Keep remaining dough covered with a damp towel to prevent it from drying out.)
  5. Spoon half of the chicken/rice mixture down the center of the dough, leaving about an inch at the ends.
  6. Fold up short sides to enclose filling. Roll up tightly, starting with a long side.
  7. Transfer to a baking stone, or cookie sheet (lined with parchment paper) seam side down.
  8. Brush with additional butter.
  9. Repeat for your second roll.
    (At his point you can cover with plastic wrap, and bake a little later)
  10. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and heated through. 
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DIY: Instant Oatmeal Packages

We go through a LOT of oatmeal in our house. Hayden (age 3) would eat it for every meal if we let him. Sometimes we do.

He really loves the peaches & cream, blueberries & cream and strawberries & cream kinds that we can buy at the store as well as the apple/cinnamon kind and the maple/brown sugar... oh ... fine, he likes them ALL

We run out of those often enough that we make the "normal" kind from scratch - and he likes that TOO.

I figured if I put together a few bags of this, it would be easy to pull out and use as needed. Blending some of the oats before mixing with the unblended oats makes for a smoother, creamier texture when cooked (closely resembling store bought).

Turns out... he likes the "mama made" kind better than the store bought. WIN.

The bags above show Apricots & Cream and Apple & Cinnamon

INGREDIENTS:

  •  cups of quick oats
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like your oatmeal - leave it out entirely if you don't need it)
  • 1/2 cup dry milk powder
OPTIONAL ADD IN IDEAS

  • dried apples, cinnamon
  • raisins, cinnamon
  • dried blueberries
  • dried strawberries
  • dried peaches or apricots
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Put 2 cups of the oats in a blender or food processor and blend until fine. 
  2. Combine with the other 3 cups of oats, the salt, sugar, and milk powder.
  3. At this point, portion out into 1 cup servings in ziploc bags, and add the mix ins if you're using. By mixing the add ins AFTER portioning, you can do more varieties
Note
For smaller portions (ie, like the packets - do 1/2 cup in each bag, and 0.75 to 1 cup water when cooking)

To make the oatmeal
Add the contents of a bag into a bowl, along with 1- 1.5 cups of water (depending on how you like it)

Microwave on high for 90 seconds, or until cooked.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Spiced Red Lentil, Tomato, and Spinach Soup


I'm going to be so sad when soup season is over.  A complete meal in a bowl or cup is my idea of fabulous. 

Gone are the bland, watery vegetable soups of old, and here to stay (at my house) are the bold, bright and richly coloured and flavored (and good for you) soups! 

I love that it can be made ahead, stored in the fridge, or made from scratch in under 30 minutes. This one is fantastic. Ramp up the heat and add extra cayenne and chili powder if you like things super spicy, but as written - this is fairly mild in heat, but big on taste (should suit the palate of a broader group).

Yum. YUUUUUUUUUUUM.

SPICED RED LENTIL, TOMATO AND SPINACH SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 0.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 0.5 tsp smoked sweet paprika
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (can sub chicken)
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  •  salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 handfuls baby spinach leaves (can sub kale)

 DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large pot, cook the onion and garlic in oil for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add in the celery and cook for a few minutes more (you want the celery to begin to soften)
  2. Stir in the bay leaf and the spices (cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika, cayenne) and mix with the onion/garlic/celery mix - cook for a minute.
  3. Stir in the can of tomatoes (including juice), broth, and lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and then simmer, uncovered, for about 20-25 minutes, until lentils are tender and fluffy.
  4. Stir in spinach and season to taste. 
  5. When the spinach is wilted, remove the bay leaf, and serve

Source: http://ohsheglows.com


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Chocolate Cranberry Almond Energy Bites

Having homemade snacks on hand to grab and go when needed are a great way for me to know what we're eating, and to get as much bang for my buck as possible from a nutritional point of view. 

I put these into snack sized bags, and put them in lunch bags, or throw in my bag on the way out the door for an on the go boost.

These are absolutely not a new concept, and there are many variations of this similar theme out there. I've made maybe .... 5? different versions of these balls, and will post a few more here and there as I remake some of my favourite combinations!

I made them here: Peanut Butter Protein Balls and have expanded them since.


This particular recipe was adapted only slightly from http://www.seededatthetable.com - I made them because I already had all the ingredients available, without requiring a trip to the store. 

For this recipe, you might notice that I used a lot of Pampered Chef tools. I used to be an independent consultant for Pampered Chef, and loved all the tools I got to use and play with and show other people.  Although I am not a consultant anymore, I still love and use the tools pretty much every day.  Whenever I want the new items now, I turn to my friend Sarah (Umble) to get my gadget fix.  If you see an item YOU like - she can hook you up! See her here on Facebook (she lets you know when there are good sales on) or just grab what you need directly on her Pampered Chef site. I listed the items used down the bottom of the recipe, to help you out!

CHOCOLATE CRANBERRY ALMOND ENERGY BITES

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (click for homemade recipe) (can sub peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats (not the quick cooking kind)
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup flax seed meal
  • 1 Tablespoon chia seeds (optional)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the peanut butter, honey, vanilla and salt until well mixed.
  2. Stir in the oats, almonds, cranberries, chocolate chips, flax seed, and chia seeds (if using).
  3. Using a cookie scoop, scoop mounds onto a baking sheet, then form into a balls by rolling between your hands.
  4. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week (if they even last that long).
Items used:



Monday, February 2, 2015

Skillet Lasagna


Yippee! Another weeknight winner!

I love traditional lasagna, but don't always have the kind of time required to make it the traditional way. This is all cooked in one skillet, and you can clean the other couple of bowls used while this cooks. Making the sauce, assembling and throwing in the oven leaves you free to do other things before dinner (like drink wine).

You could sub the cottage cheese for ricotta, and the no boil lasagna sheets for regular, you could use different seasonings... you could change this up a whole bunch based on what you have on hand.

This is how I made it, and I think it was pretty good!  Since there were no leftovers, I can only assume that others in the family enjoyed it too. Hope you try this and let me know how it goes!

SKILLET LASAGNA

INGREDIENTS:
  • 1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt/pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce (puree for the Aussies/Kiwis)
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1.5 cups grated mozzarella
  • 8 no-boil lasagna noodles, each broken into 4 or 5 pieces (you can use regular, but cook it slightly longer)

DIRECTIONS:
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, oregano, basil red pepper and salt/pepper and saute 5-6 mins til onion is soft.
  3. Add the ground beef and cook 4-5 mins until no longer pink.
  4. Add the tomatoes and sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (around 5-6 mins)
  5. In a small bowl, combine the cottage cheese, parsley, and 3/4 cup mozzarella.
  6. Transfer 2/3 of the sauce to a bowl, leaving 1/3 the sauce in the skillet
  7. Lay half the noodles over the sauce in the skillet, spoon half the cheese mixture over the noodles, then repeat with sauce, noodles, cottage cheese,and last 1/3 of the sauce.
  8. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake until the noodles are tender, 23 to 25 mins.
  9. Remove the foil.  Sprinkle with the remaining 3/4 cup mozzarella and bake or broil until the top gets brown and delicious.
  10. Remove from the oven, and let it rest a few minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley, and serve.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

What are we... last week in January? Good. So your resolution to give up dessert is probably waning. If not, this recipe will probably nail it for you!

This is really easy, and tastes amazing. Instead of a large deep dish pie, I opted to make these into 4 smaller individual tarts. You could use a regular pie dish with the same amounts of crust, caramel and ganache I used.

Great for making ahead and pulling out of the fridge with a flourish and a "ta-da!"


Chocolate Salted Caramel Oreo Tarts

Ingredients
  • ½ package (about 18) whole Oreos (filling and cookie included)
  • 1 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • ¾ cup heavy whipping cream, divided
  • 6  oz dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp flaky salt (I used kosher)

Directions
Crust
  1. Crush the oreos with a food processor, or put them in a ziplock and smash with a rolling pin until finely crushed.
  2. Place crumbs in a bowl, then stir  in 4 tablespoons melted butter until well combined.
  3. Press firmly into your pie plate or tart pans (bottom and sides). Freeze crust for 10 minutes until set.

 Caramel
  1. Combine 8 tablespoons butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. 
  2.  Over a medium heat, cook,  whisking constantly, until mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, for 1 minute.
  4. Remove from heat. Beat in 1/4 cup cream until smooth. Cool about 15 minutes.
  5. Pour the caramel over the Oreo crust, and then return to freezer for about 30  minutes until chilled and set but not frozen.
Ganache
  1. Place chocolate chips in a glass bowl. In a saucepan, bring 1/2 cup cream to a simmer over medium-high heat. 
  2. Pour the cream over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until completely smooth. 
  3. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and freeze for a final 30 minutes, until just chilled and set or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

 Before serving, sprinkle the top with a flaky sea salt like kosher salt,


Store covered in the refrigerator and serve chilled.

Source: Adapted only slightly from www.kevinandamanda.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cauliflower Cheese Soup



Another day, another soup? 

Seriously, I've lost my blogging mojo a bit lately in favour of survival mode. The other night, I "threw frozen things in the oven, and called it dinner". Didn't make me especially happy, but I hadn't prepped ahead - and both boys were in terrible moods when I picked them up, and I needed to get something, ANYTHING on the table fast so I could move quickly towards bathing, jammies, stories and bed for them.


As a working parent, it can sometimes be tough to balance everything.  Sometimes, something just has to give. Eating well is one of the things that can often go by the wayside, but the double whammy for that is, if you don't eat well, you don't feel well.  Getting a dose of vegetables in my belly as often as possible (and in the yummiest way possible) makes me feel better! Adding cheese never hurts, either.


Making things ahead on the weekends (if I can) really does help me out during the week. Having a batch of soup in the fridge for a last minute dinner, or having it all portioned out and ready to go in my lunch bag (especially a healthy one), is awesome!


I particularly enjoy this soup - it is easy, quick and freezes well. 


CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tsp butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut in florets
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 3 Cups chicken (or vege) stock
  • 1 2/3 Cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 3.5 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • Cracked black pepper and salt to taste
DIRECTIONS:

1.   Melt butter and sauté onion until soft (5 mins).
2.   Add cauliflower, potato, stock, milk and seasoning.  Bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
3.   Using a stick blender, blend until smooth adding a little more milk if it is too thick.
4.   Cool to freeze, or stir in cheese just before serving.


If freezing
Thaw, then warm on stove or microwave until heated through. Stir cheese in just before
serving.
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