Thursday, December 29, 2011

Easy Indian Stew Re-post

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas/Hannukah!

This recipe is on the blog already, but I thought I'd repost it and bring it to every one's attention.  I've made this quite a few times over the years and tweaked it just lightly.  I also took another picture of it instead of the dreadfully bright-beacuase-I-used-a-flash picture from before.

This is a meal that can be on the table in a flash if you have some brown rice left over from another meal.  I now like to slightly mash the chickpeas to give just a little nicer texture.  IE: so I don't feel like I'm just eating chickpeas in a sauce.

The boys love this meal, too, and it's incredibly tasty for the little amount of time and ingredients needed.  So if you haven't made it before, put it on your meal plan for sometime in the next couple weeks!

And have a wonderful New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pumpkin Pancakes

So over at Annie's Eats, there's this recipe for Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes that I've been meaning to try for over a year now.  I know, I know, how can such a simple recipe take so long for me to get around to?

I'm now super bummed that it took me this long.  Seriously bummed.  They are so incredibly good and easy and oh my my....just don't make the same mistake I did and take so long to make these.  Go to your pantry, locate that last can of pumpkin that you had no idea was there (or  what you were going to do with), pop it open and make these tomorrow morning for breakfast - or tonight, for dinner.

The only change I made to the recipe (which is why I'm not posting it here, was using Almond Milk instead of regular.  And I doubled the recipe, which made a dozen big pancakes.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's not too late

I went out this morning to get our healthy treats for our stockings in lieu of candy.  If you're confused by this statement, unconfuse yourself here!

So I ended up getting:
  • huge, succulent, Medjool dates
  • dried (sugar free) mango slices
  • dried (sugar free) papaya spears
  • dried pear sliced
  • dried sweet cherries
I still need to get the Cuties (shopping trip on Thursday for that and other things for Christmas Eve and Christmas day -- not looking forward to the crowds of people who are thinking the same way I am, but hey -- you gotta do what you gotta do, right?) and Poms, but otherwise, all other stocking stuffers are accounted for and wrapped.

 Speaking of wrapping, I was quite pleased with the way these turned out.  I am SO. NOT. CRAFTY. so I know these could be wrapped so much cuter, but this is me we're talking about here, so I was actually fairly impressed that they don't look horrible.  At least they're not in sandwich bags, right?

You laugh, but sandwich bags were what I was planning on using, or plain Saran Wrap with ties, if I hadn't remembered I had these goody bags and ties laying around.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Bark

These little chunks of pepperminty goodness were so easy to make my three-year old helped me!  They are pretty and fairly inexpensive to make a big batch to break apart and give as gifts or put in stockings.  I made one batch and was able to fill an entire paper plate and six little goody bags for neighbors.  Gotta love that, right? 

The recipe I followed called for more candy canes than I think is necessary, so while I followed their directions, the amount on here is what I think would be better.  Less chunks falling off and wasted. :)

Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  • 2 12 oz bags of chocolate chips - I used one milk and one dark and that was perfect
  • 2 t peppermint extract
  • 16 candy canes, unwrapped, put in a large ziplock bag, and smashed!  (so fun for a 3 year old!)
-- In a glass bowl, melt the chocolate chips in your microwave until smooth and creamy (4-5 minutes on medium)
-- Stir in the extract and about half of the crushed candy canes (I used a spoon to get the larger chunks into the chocolate, saving the smaller pieces and pretty dust for the top)
-- Spoon the chocolate mixture onto a wax paper-lined cookie sheet or jelly roll pan (preferred) and spread it as evenly as possible
-- Sprinkle the remaining candy canes on top and gently press them into the chocolate to prevent from falling off
-- Stick in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes until hardened and then break into chunks and enjoy the "crumbs"

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vegetarian Chili

This picture was taken of the chili without any of the cans drained...too soupy, but I didn't want to go and remake the chili just for a picture, ya know?
Since we went heart healthy, I have been determined to make all of our favorite dishes fit into our eating style without compromising on the taste.  My chili, which has meat in it, was on the top of my list to recreate.  Now that it's cold out, I was finally able to tackle the challenge.

I love a chunky, bean filled, chili.  Slightly sweet and with bold flavor, but not spicy.  I love different textures of my tomatoes.  So I brought all my favorite qualities to this chili.  Feel free to up the spice and change the type of tomatoes.  The simple formula for this is one can of tomatoes to each can of beans.  Simple, right?  Add in some extras and you're good to go!

Serve this with some cornbread and a good salad.

Vegetarian Chili
Serves 10-12
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans (loosely drained)
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans (loosely drained)
  • 2 cans Italian diced tomatoes
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes with diced green chiles
  • 1 can sliced stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can corn (drained)
  • 1 bell pepper - diced
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 1-2 packets chili seasoning (to taste)
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • dash or two of cinnamon
-- Mix everything together in a large stock pot or in the crockpot and heat through.
-- Add some broth if it's too thick
-- Top with whatever you want: cheese, lettuce, more onions, sour cream, Fritos

Monday, December 12, 2011

Comfort Quinoa

I was originally going to make Sweet Potato Hash, but it was cold out and I was in the mood for more of a hearty stew.  It's not quite wet enough to be a technical stew, and not dry enough to be a salad, but it's somewhere in between.

So I created this and it went over really well!  Don't you love it when that happens?

The boys licked their bowls clean and Scot and I both went back for seconds.  No complaints there!

Comfort Quinoa
Serves 4-6
  • 1 medium onion - diced
  • 1 cup celery - diced
  • 1 red pepper - diced
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes - bite sized with skins still on
  • 1 can black bean - rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 t powdered ginger
  • 1 t herbs de province
  • 3/4 t cumin
  • 2 t basil
  • 3/4 c dry quinoa
  • 3 c vegetable stock/broth 
-- Nuke the potatoes for a few minutes to cut down on the total cook time.  Meanwhile...
-- Saute the onion, garlic, celery, and red pepper for 5 minutes
-- Add the potatoes, beans and saute for another 5 minutes.
-- Add the herbs and spices and quinoa and stir for a couple minutes
-- Add the broth, bring to a boil, cover and simmer (low heat) for 20 minutes until the quinoa is all cooked.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lentil Soup: Again

I just wanted to let you all know that I really do make this soup all. the. time. in the cold months.  And we never get tired of it.

I finally remembered to take an updated picture and thought I'd just remind you all of the amazing goodness a fantastic lentil soup brings to the dinner table.  Just add cornbread and a salad and you have yourself one well rounded wholesome meal!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Black Bean Soup -- Two Ways!

I've had my fair share of black bean soups over the past few years.  Being a med student wife trying to cook on the cheap, black beans are just a regular part of the diet.  Now that we've graduated to a residency paycheck (still not a lot for those of you who may think doctor = lotsa mulah) black beans still make an appearance in our diet.  Only not quite as often.

I've been seeing black bean soup recipes flying all over the internet but they're all different.  Some with more tomatoes, some with none at all.  Some with sweet potatoes, some with pumpkin.  Some with corn, most without.  Some pureed, some left chunky.

So here's just one more different recipes, with a variation.  It has pumpkin in it, is pureed, and does use a can of diced tomatoes.  The added ingredient that I feel makes this soup go from good to amazing?  Dry Sherry!'s my new favorite way to saute things, add to dishes, and just give anything it touches that wonderful soft flavor.  Or, use the apple cider vinegar with some cinnamon version for a more comforting twist.

Black Bean Soup
Serves 8 (12 cups)
Active time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Serving Suggestions: I served this with my cornbread and a great green salad.

What you'll need:
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion OR 1 TBLS onion powder
  • 1 1/2 TBLS minced garlic OR 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15oz can pure pumpkin
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 TBLS cumin (or 2 tsp if using ACV)
    1 tsp cinnamon (only if using ACV)
  • 1/3 cup dry sherry (or 3 TBLS Apple Cider Vinegar)
  • 2 TBLS lime juice (optional, and only if using sherry)

What you'll do:

  • Saute the onion and garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes until the onion is tender.
  • Add all the other ingredients and heat through.
  • Puree with a hand blender or very carefully in a regular blender.
  • Stir in lime juice if using

Time tip:
Use powdered ingredients if you’re short on time.
If you don’t have a hand blender, consider blending the beans and tomatoes prior to adding to the pot

NOTE: This soup is even better the next day after flavors have mingled.  It's also a great soup to freeze.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Vegetable Lasagna

I really enjoy a hearty lasagna.  Since we've gone heart healthy, I really miss my easy Spinach Lasagna.  So now, when ever I make a lasagna, I make sure to just chock it full of veggies and replace the common ricotta with a very soft tofu.  I figured I'd share the basic recipe with you all.  I don't really go by a recipe, but I'll give you what I do. 

Vegetable Lasagna
  • 1 - 2 T white wine or a really dry sherry (I use this instead of OO sometimes to add extra flavor)
  • 1 large onion - chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - minced
  • 4 cups sliced zucchini and squash
  • 1 pack froen spianch or 1 can spinach - drained
  • 1 box soft tofu (not the firm or extra firm kind) drained
  • 1 T herbs de provence (or other spices to your liking)
  • 1 large can your favorite pasta sauce
  • whole wheat lasagna noodles
  • a wee bit of cheese for the top
  • some nutritional yeast (2-3 T) if you have it on hand for the top
-- Saute the onion, garlic and squash and zucchini in the wine until everything is nice and soft. (I like to puree it at this point because my boys eat it better when they think it's just part of the spinach, but you don't have to)
-- In a bowl, combine the tofu, spinach, sauteed vegetables, and spices and stir until "creamy".  This is your cheesy mixture. :D
-- In a 9x13 baking dish, put just a little sauce.  Now layer: noodles with a little sauce on top, and then half the "cheesy mixture" with a little more sauce.  Now, do it again.  End with the noodles, sauce, and then sprinkle as much cheese and nutritional yeast as you'd like on the top.
--Spray some tin foil with Pam, and cover the lasagna, Pam-side down, and bake for an hour at 350.

I always serve lasagna with yummy bread and a big hearty salad.  ENJOY!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Healthy Stocking Treats

What typically fills your stocking Christmas morning?

I know for everyone, the answers are different.  And until just recently, I had no idea what would fill our stocking since we now try to be heart healthy.  No, I'm not being a Grinch about candy, I just didn't want the stocking full of it.  Especially since this year, Christmas is on a Sunday ... who wants hyped up kids at church?!  NOT ME!

So I got to thinking...what do I put in our stockings (besides small gifts and trinkets and little necessities) that can still be fun and exciting and edible?

Growing up, we had candy, nuts, lots of gum & mints, small presents, and an orange in the toe.  I LOVE stockings and want the boys to love them, too.  But without the presence of lots of candy, I knew I had to make up for it somehow.  (And as a note, Christmas is just not the same without York Mint Patties and Andes I have one small bag/box of each of those, and that's it for the candy front)

This is my list of ideas:

  • Specialty dried fruit from Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  (IE: Dates, Sugar-free Mango, Pineapple...)
  • I got a box of these already in order to help fill the stockings
  • Spiced nuts (mostly for us adults)
  • Lots of Cuties
  • Gum and Mints
  • A Pomegranate or Grapefruit for the toe
  • For the adults: Special teas, fun spreads/jams, fancy mustard...
Those are just the edible ideas, of course.   

What are you putting in your stocking that's on the healthier side?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Carrot Cake

I love carrot cake.  It's my favorite cake by far.  And I was determined to make a version of my favorite without all the oil but with the same flavor.  I came up with this recipe which will be making many more appearances, I know.  The texture was really the only difference in this cake than your typical carrot cake.  Instead of being light and fluffy, this cake is thick and moist and totally wonderful.  Not as dense as a fruit cake would be, though.  Oh, and the flavor was incredible. 

The cream cheese frosting is really what sets this cake apart.  It's sweet and creamy and brings the carrot flavor out just a tad bit more -- which is what I like!

Carrot Cake
  • 2 c sugar ( I used 1 1/2 c white sugar, and 1/2 c brown sugar)
  • 1 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce  or oil if you want the light fluffy cake with the extra calories
  • 4 eggs 
  • 2 c flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1-2 T cinnamon
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 3 c grated carrots (1 1-lb bag baby carrots, thrown into the food processor)
  • 1 8oz black low fat cream cheese - softened
  • 1/2 c butter - softened
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • 4 c confectioners/powdered sugar
-- Cream together the sugars and applesauce.  Add the eggs and beat until cream.
-- In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
-- Slowly add dry to wet and mix until all combined.
-- Stir in the carrots and grease your pan/s.
-- Pour into a 9x13 OR 2 8/9 inch round pans
-- Bake at 350 for 60/70 minutes for the 9x13 OR 30-35 minutes for the rounds

--To make the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese together.  Add the vanilla and then slowly add the sugar.  Spread on completely cooled cake.

Don't you love seeing all those carrot pieces?

From this:

To this: