Monday, April 30, 2012

Gazpacho for the Spring

I found this recipe in my health magazine and just had to try it!  A gazpacho without green peppers?  Yes, please!  I'm so picky on when, where, and how I eat my green peppers.  And gazpacho is one place I'd rather not see them.  I don't know what it is.  Call me crazy if you like, but it's just a turn off for me.  So when I saw this recipe, I knew I would have to try it!

Summer cooking is a challenge for me.  Usually, I'm not in the mood to cook.  And since our house doesn't have central AC or an exit exhaust for the stove/oven, I try my absolute hardest to not turn the oven on once the temperatures start to rise.  So cold soups and hearty salads are my go-to dinners in the heat.  I think this one will be gracing our table quite a bit this summer.

I love the fresh flavors, the slight sweetness, and the creamy texture in this gazpacho opposed to the typically chunky and sometimes bitter usual kind.

I served this with a new quinoa dish.  One with shredded carrots and zucchini.  Keep on the lookout for that one! It's coming soon!

Gazpacho for the Spring
Makes a lot
  • 6 medium tomatoes or 10 romas - cubed
  • 1 medium cucumber, skinned and cubed
  • 2 yellow bell peppers.  Gutted, sliced, and cubed
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c white wine vinegar
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T dry tarragon
  • sat and pepper to taste
-- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.   Let chill at least an hour, but it's best if you have the time to let it sit all day or even overnight.
-- Take out about 1/2 cup of the mixture and proceed to puree everything else in your food processor or with a hand blender.  You may add a little water to get it to the right consistency if you want.
-- Ladle into bowls and use a spoonful of the reserved chopped veggies as garnish!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Baked Tomato Pasta

One of the meals I so miss since we went heart-healthy is my homemade mac n cheese.  I don't think I'd go and just eat a chunk of cheese anymore (my taste buds have indeed changed to the point where it isn't even a temptation), but melted extra sharp white cheddar with noodles...oh yeah, baby, I'll take some of that!  Or the spinach artichoke version...yeah...I'll take a scoop of that one, too, please.

But given the fact we don't eat very much dairy, homemade goodness in the form of mac n cheese is a rare treat indeed.  Which is sad, since it was my #1 comfort food.  Thick and creamy and scrumptious.  Mmm...

Well, I think I just found my replacement meal.  It's not cheesy at all, nor is it supposed to be.  But it is thick and creamy and scrumptious in a different, more tomato-y way.  (WARNING: If you do not like tomato, don't even touch this recipe.)  The best part?  It's so simple!  I thought I had misread the directions or something when I made it, or thought the magazine had left out a step or something, but no.  It really is that easy.

Originally a Giada recipe, I felt it was a little too simple, so in Sarah-style, I spruced it up just a tad.  If you try it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  (This is very kid friendly, too!) I served this with a protein packed bean/corn salad, broccoli, and a green salad.

Baked Tomato Pasta
Serves 4-6
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 2 cups (8oz) small pasta.  I used whole grain penne.
  • 3 T Olive Oil (divided)
  • 1 T dry oregano
  • 1 T dry basil
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 5 beef steak tomatoes or 10 romas - sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 T Panko (opt)
  • 1 T nutritional yeast (opt)
-- Slice your tomatoes first or else you'll be caught needing them before you know it!
-- Combine tomatoes, broth, garlic in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.
-- While you're waiting for that to boil, grease an 8x8 baking dish and then line the bottom and sides with 1/2 to 1/3 of the tomato slices
-- Once the sauce boils, add noodles, 2 T olive oil and spices. Stir for a couple minutes.
-- Pour sauce/noodles into the baking dish.  (The noodles won't be cooked at this point, just warm)
-- Place remaining tomato slices on top of noodles and sauce.
-- Sprinkle nutritional yeast and Panko on top if you're using
-- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes @ 450  (you may want to use a baking sheet under the pan to catch anything that drips out!)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Chili for Spring

I don't know about you all, but I have a very real love-hate relationship with Springtime weather.  A few weeks ago, the 10-day forecast (and beyond) was all 70's.  I pulled out shorts and short sleeve shirts for the boys and myself, I put away some of our heavier clothes (I've lived in OH enough to know that warm weather in the Spring does not stay) and we just enjoyed being outside and the like.  It was great.  This past weekend, though, the temperatures were closer to freezing.  So I made a Springtime chili.

I like to start out the cooler months with a big chili dinner.  I also like to send the cooler weather off with the same.  Hopefully the weather got the hint. I just made my last batch of chili until after summer.  I think.

This chili was kind of a hodge-podge, but it turned out fabulously!  Scot liked it better than my others, and I think I did, too.  Who wants a just-bean chili when you can have great vegetables in there, too?

We ate this with cornbread the first go-around, and chips and salsa with the leftovers.

Chili for Spring
Serves 6-8
  • 2 cans kidney beans (one light, one dark, or both same) rinsed and drained
  • 3 cans diced tomatoes (I had 2 of them be Italian diced to add flavor.  You could also have one be with the little chiles in it if you like things spicy)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (or a can, drained)
  • 1 zucchini, 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, skins on, 1 inch cubes (nuke these if you want things to go faster)
  • 1 T onion powder -- or a medium sized onion, just saute it if you go that route
  •  1 packet chili seasoning
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth, depending on the consistency you like
  • 1 T brown sugar
-- If you're using raw onion, go ahead and saute that in a little olive oil in a large pot or stock pot or dutch oven.
-- Combine all ingredients in the stock pot/dutch oven and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, (or uncovered if it's too watery for you) for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are nice and soft.  Stir occasionally.
-- I went ahead and pureed a small portion of the chili with my hand blender to make it a little thicker, but you don't have to do that.
-- Top with cheese or sour cream if you want to.

You could also do this in the crockpot.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A summer treat and the giveaway winner!

And our winner is...Charissa!  Congratulations!
(I'll get your contact info via facebook or email...)

Thanks to everyone who played in the giveaway!  Again, I think this little giveaway proved that I need to give something away people will actually use.  So keep on the look-out for the next giveaway.  Which I hope you'll find more intriguing.

Thank you, too, for letting me in on what some of your favorite summer treats are!  I whipped this little guy up the other night and it is going to be a family favorite for sure once it starts getting hot out! 

Doesn't it look just amazing?

It tastes fabulous, too!  All smooth and creamy and full-on vanilla flavor.  Oh yes, I found my ice cream substitute!

The best part for me?  There's not actual milk in it!

Almond Milk Ice Cream
serves 4 (1/2 cup servings)
  • 2 cups Almond milk
  • 3 T sugar
  • 1 t vanilla (or almond?) extract
  • good pinch of salt
-- Mix all ingredients together and freeze in a freezer-safe/airtight container.
-- When needed/wanted, remove from freezer and let sit 10 minutes on counter
-- Blend in blender or food processor until creamy and scoop into a bowl to enjoy

I'm excited to try different combinations and toppings!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

last day

It's the last day to enter the giveaway! 

May I publicly state the obvious? I think the choice of my "giveaway" is not what everyone would like to have. 

Lesson learned.  Next giveaway will be an apron, kitchen towels or kitchen gadget, or something of that nature.

Hey, I'm new to all this.  Thanks for bearing with me and playing anyway. :)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Giveaway time!

Thanks to over 100 "likes" on my Hearty Helpings Facebook page, I am now hosting a little giveaway to say thank you!

I am giving away a set of 4 hand crafted wooden napkin rings in the shapes of adorable barn yard animals from Williams-Sonoma.  2 Roosters and a 2 Pigs to be exact.

Aren't they so cute?

And each animal is different enough that you'll be able to easily tell them apart. 

Also, giveaway winner will receive a recipe card with my famous Best-Banana-Bread-Ever recipe on it.  It's not on the blog, and it's not really very healthy, so if you don't want it, or just hate bananas, let me know and I'll write a different recipe out for you.  One that's healthier and minus the bananas. :)

And of course, the rules...

Giveaway rules:

1) In order to be eligible to receive the giveaway, you need to comment on this blog post telling me about one healthy treat you enjoy in the summer.

2) You may also link to this blog post and share on facebook to receive a second chance to win the giveaway (just make sure you comment a second time!)

3) Lastly, you may blog about this giveaway to up your chances even more!  (Again, just leave a second or third comment letting me know!)

Giveaway closes Thursday (4.19) night at 8pm, EST.  Giveaway winner will be posted the following morning.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus

This is one of the amazing side dishes I served with Easter dinner.  Can I say delish?!  It was simple, elegant, and, of course, super tasty!

Wait, did I say that already?

Anyway, even if you don't like asparagus, you should try this recipe.  Both of my boys (who have turned their cute little noses up at the super nutritious green spears before) cleaned their little piles of asparagus with no urging!

I got the recipe from Mama Pea and I'm so happy she posted it.  I hope you'll be happy I posted it, too!

Roasted Balsamic Asparagus
Serves 4-6

  • 1 lb Asparagus spears, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 t EVOO
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1 t soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 t balsamic vinegar
-- Toss the asparagus pieces with the 1/2 t EVOO and put on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and roast for 12 minutes at 400 (until tender).
-- Meanwhile, combine the EVOO, Soy sauce and Balsamic vinegar
-- Once asparagus is done, toss with EVOO mixture until fully coated.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


A while ago I made a facebook page for this little blog and now....

I will have a GIVEAWAY on here once the facebook page receives 100 "likes".

So please spread the word and like the facebook page if you haven't already!


Monday, April 9, 2012


Why do we substitute?
Cooks in the kitchen substitute ingredients all the time and for a myriad of reasons.  Sometimes, an ingredient’s flavor is not liked by the cook or people eating the dish and so the cook has to find a similar item with a different flavor index.  Like carrots for sweet potatoes, for instance.  Sometimes, there are allergies, and sometimes, the item needed is not on hand and the cook is then left to figure out what they have have in their pantry or fridge that can stand in for the missing ingredient.  Other times, the cook is short on time and needs a quicker version of the ingredient called for and reaches for the canned or powdered versions of the ingredient in need.  Please don’t be scared to substitute.  
How the subs work?
In most all of the recipes, we have tried to make things as easy as possible.  To keep you from skipping over a recipe because you don’t have a specific ingredient on hand, provided for you right there on the recipe is a suggestion for a substitution.  These substitutions are not the end-all-be-all either -- if you are comfortable, please feel free to substitute as you see fit.  Part of the beauty of cooking is tailoring meals to your own personal tastes.

This list below lays out some easy substitutions if you are just trying to eat healthier. Sometimes, simple substitutions can help start you on the right track!

Basic list of healthy subs:

Ricotta  -------------------------------------
Alfredo sauce  ----------------------------
Oil in baking  ------------------------------
White bread/pasta/tortillas  ---------
White rice  ---------------------------------
Ketchup/BBQ sauce  --------------------
Mayo  ---------------------------------------
Chips and cream dip  -------------------
“Cream of” canned soup  -------------
Ice cream  ---------------------------------
Pop corn  -----------------------------------
Pizza  ----------------------------------------
Sour cream  -------------------------------
Super-processed cereal  ---------------
Scrambled Eggs  --------------------------
Red meat (beef)  -------------------------
Cream based soups  --------------------
Sauté in oil  --------------------------------
Soy sauce ----------------------------------
Soda pop  ----------------------------------
Sugar-added juices  ---------------------
Syrup ---------------------------------------
Cottage Cheese or Tofu
Red sauce
Unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas, or avocados
Whole grain versions
Brown rice or quinoa
High fructose corn syrup free versions
Olive Oil version or Greek yogurt
Pretzels & mustard and/or Veggies sticks & hummus
Make your own
Frozen yogurt or Sorbet
Make your own in a paper bag
Make your own with less cheese and lots of veggies
Low-fat yogurt
Oatmeal, homemade granola, whole-grain cereals
Half (at least) egg whites
White meat (turkey, chicken, fish)
Broth based or pureed soups
Sauté with broth or wine
Low sodium soy sauce
Water,  iced teas, or seltzer with fruit slices
Fruit only juice as a treat
Pureed fruit

Baked Salmon with Caramelized Onions

 For Easter, I wanted something special, but not a meat-meat (beef, foul, or pig).  So I settled on the super healthy Salmon option and then set about to finding how I wanted it cooked.  Pan-fried was out and baking was in.

I thought I had the perfect recipe.  And I did.  I just couldn't find the recipe card.  So I turned to my lovely mother who is visiting and she told me how she always makes her mouth-watering salmon and I was sold.

This was incredibly easy and it came out moist and perfect and full of flavor without overpowering the beautiful salmon's own flavor.  A favorite part for me, since I love caramelized onions so much, was the no-work caramelized onions this recipe produces. Score!

This is my plate for Easter: Salmon, harvest grain mix from TJ's, sweet potatoes, delicious asparagus (recipe to come!), fresh-from-the-oven French bread, and, of course, salad (not pictured, but I did eat it).

Baked Salmon with Caramelized Onions
serves 4-6 (1/2 lb Salmon per 1 adult)
  • 2-3 lbs Salmon
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 c white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (1 t)
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
-- Mix brown sugar, soy sauce, wine, and garlic together.
-- Place onions in a baking dish that will just hold the salmon.
-- Place salmon, skin side UP, on the onions.
-- Pour the marinade over the salmon so it's all over and under the salmon.
-- Let sit at least 3 hours (refrigerated for at least 2) 
-- Pull salmon out of fridge 1 hour before transferring to the oven
-- When you're ready, dump the marinade out, but reserve the onions
-- Put salmon skin side DOWN to bake with the onions on top and around
-- Bake at 350 for 30 minutes (flesh should flake easily with a fork)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Simple Basil Spaghetti

I got the idea for this recipe here, but I didn't like how much oil was in it, so, being me -- I tweaked it. And then I tweaked it again.  And then it was good for me.

This is not something I would serve to company due to its simplicity, but it's a step up from just pouring jarred sauce over pasta for the family.  It's also almost just as easy as pouring jarred sauce over the noodles.  I loved the lightness of this meal, the freshness of the ingredients, and the way my tummy felt full after I was done!  Granted, I had a slice of really hearty whole/multi-grain bread and a salad...and some cantaloupe, but still.  It was all great and I think this would even be great chilled!

It was so good, this is what my plate looked like at the end.  I sprinkled some salt on the leftover oil on the plate and dipped my bread in it -- YUM!

Simple Basil Spaghetti
Serves 4-6
  •  1 lb spaghetti (or a 13.25 oz box will do)  - whole grain/wheat is best in order to get some protein 
  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil
  • 3 scallions -  sliced thin
  • salt to taste
  • Parmesan for garnish if desired
-- Start by cooking your pasta according to directions
-- In a large skillet (enough to hold the spaghetti when done), heat the EVOO over medium heat, add the tomato paste and minced garlic and stir and saute for 5 minutes until all combined.
-- Add in fresh herbs and scallions and cook over low, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is done.
-- When pasta is done, drain and rinse, and add to pot of tomato paste.
-- Stir to combine.  Add salt and Parmesan to taste and as desired.