Friday, June 29, 2012

Strawberry-Orange Sorbet

Oh it's been so miserably hot over here recently I'm always always  craving something cold and creamy.  This is a great little dessert that's not completly horrible for you.  Yes.  There's sugar in it.  But other than that, it's all good-for-you stuff.  Strawberries and orange juice and that's pretty much it.

The original recipe called for an ice cream maker, but I don't have one of those.  So instead of not making this at all, I improvised and made it like I would the Banana or Almond Milk Ice Cream in the food processor.  With a mostly frozen chunk of the strawberry-orange goodness.

Much to my delight, it worked!

Strawberry-Orange Sorbet
  • 4 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
-- Combine the liquid with the sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil and let boil until sugar is dissolved (3 minutes)
-- Add the sliced berries and low boil 8-10 minutes.
-- Turn heat off and using a hand blender, puree until smooth.
-- Using a fine mesh strainer, strain the liquid into a bowl.
-- Chill a little and then transfer to a loaf pan lined with tin foil and/or wax paper.  Cover. Freeze.

-- Once you're ready for your sorbet, take the "brick" out of the freezer and lob off a chunk.  Set it on the counter for 10-15 minutes or pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds if you're a little impatient like me, and then puree in the food processor until nice and creamy.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

a wee little break

Happy first day of summer!  I hope you all have fun things planned!

Life is busy for us all, I think, and for whatever reason, summer and the holidays are the 2 busiest times of the year for me.  Add to that fact that the heat makes me want to stay out of the kitchen and I realized I haven't been cooking new things as much. I've been playing it safe with supper easy, light, and quick dishes.

With each turning season, I try to step back and take stock of my life. I reevaluated this blog.  Really thought about it's true purpose (to bring to light some really great recipes out there that are easy, healthy, tasty and easy on the wallet!) and where it falls in line with my priorities.  And I'm happy to say that I don't get paid to post on here.  Because I wouldn't want anything to stop me from experiencing a fabulous summer through the eyes of a 4 and 2 year old.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm going to be taking a wee little break from the food blogging world.  Probably just a few weeks until life (read: summer camps, vacation, and insane heat) slows a little.  But I wanted you all to know that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  I'll be here. I'll be driving children here and there in search of cool things to do.  I'll be feeding my family our favorite tried and true summer dishes.  And, if I happen to try something new that I really like, I'll post it.  Just know that I won't be posting each and every Monday like I've been doing.

And when I come back, because I fully intend for this to be a very wee little break, I'll come back with a renewed gumption and a giveaway.

Don't you just love cliff-hangers?

Thanks for understanding.  And in the meantime, please riffle through the recipe index and find dishes you haven't tried yet.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Teriyaki Chickpea Stirfry

I venture over to Mama Pea's blog every now and again, and the last time I was there, I spotted this delightful little recipe.  I switched it up a little bit, but she gives a really good base recipe. I love stir-frys for their versatility.  It's kind of like a quiche - find whatever you have that almost about to go bad and throw it in.  Voila!  You have yourself a chocked-full-of-veggies stir-fry!  The marinaded chickpeas really add a nice touch here, and I would venture to say that no matter what veggie you throw in here, the pineapple is a must.

Even though it does require turning the oven on, I may actually do this once in a while this summer since it's so easy, light, and fresh.  And, maybe becasue everyone licked their bowls clean.  Seriously.

Teriyaki Chickpea Stirfry
Serves 4 hungry adults
  • 1/2 c low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 T water
  • 1/4 pineapple juice
  • 1 T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 t sesame oil
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • 1/4 t powdered ginger

  • 1 can chickpeas - rinse and drain
  • 1/2 red onion, diced or sliced
  • 1-2 cups chopped carrots
  • 2-3 ribs celery, sliced
  • 3 cups broccoli (frozen works just fine)
  • 1 can pineapple chunks (the pineapple juice comes from here!)
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • sesame seeds for garnish
-- Mix marinade (first 8 ingredients) together in a bowl and put chickpeas in with it.  Soak overnight or all day.
-- When you're ready to saute, go to it.  With just a little olive oil, saute the onion, carrots, celery, and broccoli until half done.  About 10 minutes.
-- Add chickpeas with marinade, pineapple, and kale and cook another 10 minutes until the veggies are nice and soft.
-- Spoon over cooked brown rice and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Veggie Burrito Bowl: Like Chipotle...but better

Oh dear me.  We've had quite the crazy week/weekend.  I try pretty hard to keep my personal life personal on here and have this be mainly yummys, but let me tell ya, I've had quite the weekend.  This recipe would have been up here on Friday if my sewer hadn't backed up Wednesday morning, flooding a small section of my basement, making it impossible for me to do the 4 loads of laundry I had planned for the day, and really, just messing up my week.  Add to that a whirl-wind out of town wedding with another few loads of laundry for when I got home Sunday night and you can kind of see why it's the following Wednesday that I'm finally getting this recipe up here.

Chipotle is one of my favorite places to eat. Fresh food.  I decide what I want or don't.  Big portions, little (comparatively) price tag.   It has a lot of great college memories attached to it since I had to walk by one on my way home from campus and would stop and eat there at least once a week.  I've met countless friends there to enjoy the fresh fare, and when Scot and I started eating healthier, it was a safe place to go when we didn't know what we were doing.

A couple weeks ago it was hot. Too-hot-to-turn-the-oven-on hot. I had either mis-meal-planned or something and instead of making pancakes, my go-to, easy, I-always-have-it-on-hand meal, Scot suggested Chipotle.  It had been quite a while and I was so excited to have a big veggie burrito bowl for dinner.  It was delicious as always, but it dawned on me how simple it would be to make myself.

Enter Pinterest.

I found countless recipes for copy-cat Chipotle guac, rice and salsas.   I took those basics and just created from there.  Here is the fabulous combination I came up with considering our personal preferences.  Do what you want, just enjoy it.  You really can't go wrong.

Oh, and did I mention that a Chipotle burrito bowl is about $6 now and I made this (4 huge portions) for just over $7!  Oh yeah...cha-ching cha-ching!

Veggie Burrito Bowl:  Like Chipotle...but better
Serves 4

Can be made up to a day ahead of time
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 T lime juice
  • 3 T fresh, chopped, cilantro
  • 2 t vegetable oil
-- Cook rice in water and 1 t veg oil.
-- Meanwhile,combine other ingredients.
-- When done, mix all together.

  • 1 can black beans, rinse and drain
  • 1 can sweet corn, rinse and drain or 2 cups frozen, thawed
-- Mix together.
(You can use pinto here or just black.  I like the corn salsa, but not the spice of it, so this was my way of getting corn into the bowl!)

Fresh Tomato Salsa
Can be made a day ahead of time
  • 1/2 - 3/4 lb ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced fine
  • 3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 T lime juice
-- Chop the tomatoes and pulse them in a blender or food processor just a little.
-- Add everything else and let the flavors get to know eachother

  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 large colored peppers, sliced
  • 1 cup packed kale
  • 1 t brown sugar
-- Saute the onion and the peppers until soft.  Add sugar and let caramelize a little.
-- Add kale and let wilt.

  • 1 large, ripe avocado 
  • 1/4 small red onion, chopped fine
  • 3 T fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 T combined lemon and lime juice at a 80/20 ratio
  • itty bitty pinch of salt if wanted
-- Mash all together and enjoy fresh

TO LAYER: rice, beans, salsa, veggies, guac
Optional: cheese, sour cream, extra salad greens

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers

And yet another recipe from Two Blue Lemons.  What can I say?  I found them and I'm working through the recipes that looked good to me.

These burgers were delicious.  I originally made them huge, as in 3/4 c patties (that's what's pictured), and they were a little on the didn't-hold-together-real-well side due to how thick they were.  But the second time around I used a packed 1/2 cup scoop and those were just right.  I guess sometimes I need to follow the directions, huh?  I topped them with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes, cilantro, and some honey mustard.

Super easy to throw together, I think they're almost fool-proof. The one thing you have to do, though, is get your hands dirty and squish and squeeze the burger mixture so it'll stick together.  A little disconcerting to some, maybe, to see the stuff squishing through your fingers, but it's fun.  Really.  I've done it twice in one week.

 But be prepared, your hands (and diamond!) could end up looking like this!

And here they are, all ready to be cooked!  YUM!

Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
Serves 4
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa + 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs, corn meal or pulsed oats
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1 T tomato paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Tomatoes
  • Sauted Zucchini
  • Spinach/Lettuce
  • Avocados
  • Fresh cilantro

--  Cook quinoa like you would rice on the stove or in a rice cooker. (This can be done ahead of time)
-- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and squish with your fingers to get it all to mash together.  You can try a spoon, but I fear your burgers will fall apart.
-- Form into 1/2 c (a good-sized 1/2 cup portions!) patties and pan fry 5 minutes each side.  (Scot and I also cheated on a really hot day last week and ate these still as burgers but without cooking them and they were still fabulous and didn't even break apart.)
-- Put on toasted bun, whole wheat English muffin or sandwich thin, top away, and enjoy!

Alternatively, you can break this mixture apart and put it in a tortilla with all the "toppings" and eat it as a wrap.  It's great!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Meal Planning

The benefits of meal planning are numerous, but two of the greatest benefits are its cost effectiveness and its ability to ensure you and your family are eating a balanced diet.   When you meal plan for a week or two at a time, you simply pick and choose meals to eat each night.  This allows you to go to the store only once every week or two, with just a few little trips for fresh produce if needed.  Even then, you can eliminate those little trips and plan your meals so the dishes which need the freshest of ingredients are the first ones made and the more pantry friendly dishes are the last. Everyone meal plans differently and you will find your own style of arranging your menus. You may decide to have meat one night a week, pasta another, a crock pot dish for a busy evening, or even a night you eat leftovers (if there are any!) to clean out the fridge before the next week starts.  

If you are new to meal planning, we suggest designating specific nights to showcase a certain type of main dish.  IE: Monday is chicken, Tuesday is pasta, so on and so forth. This will give you some direction and you can go through your cookbooks or on line and pick recipes accordingly, taking some of the stress out of the situation.  Once you are used to meal planning, making sure you are feeding your family a balanced diet will not only be easier, but it will make figuring out what to make for dinner a cinch.  If you like to be a little more spontaneous, you can still meal plan!  Just have a list of meals you are prepared to make and decide each night based on what’s available.  It takes a little getting used to, but it is well worth the discipline.

Have you ever wandered aimlessly through the grocery store, picking items up here and there that sound good, but then arrive at home with maybe enough to make one complete meal?  Meal planning eliminates buying unnecessary items at the grocery store -- you need to make a grocery list based on the recipes for the week, but it also typically eliminates those random trips to the grocery store for last minute or forgotten items.  To make your grocery list, collect all the recipes you will be using and write down any items you don’t have on hand.  Also make sure your pantry is stocked and write down items you’ll need to keep it up to date.  A well stocked pantry is a cooks best tool.

Meal planning is also very cost effective.  Not only will you be making less trips to the store, and therefore buying less items if you stick to your grocery list, but you have complete control over what you are buying based on what you’re serving.  To help keep costs down, you can make sure that for every meal that requires more expensive ingredients, you also have a meal on the list that is easy on the budget.  Also, each week, you have the ability to make a dish that is easy to double and freeze.  Just remember to use the frozen half the following week!

Meal planning also cuts down on food waste.  Do you have a recipe that calls for half a bunch of scallions?  Find another dish that calls for scallions as a garnish so the other half doesn’t end up in the trash.  If you have a recipe that calls for part of something, try to find another recipe that can use it to cut down on food spoilage.  Even pairing recipes up for future reference is a good idea.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Sweet Potato Tacos

I love the combination of sweet potatoes and black beans.

Need proof?  See this recipe, this one, or even this one.  They're all fabulous.

So when I saw a recipe for sweet potato tacos with black "re-fried" beans over at Two Blue Lemons, I knew I had to try it.


This is quite possibly one of the easiest dinner recipe I have.  No stove or oven required.  Just some chopping and mashing and a little microwave time and you're done.  Scot and I gobbled these up and the boys loved theirs, too.  I actually made the beans 2 days ahead of time and so when the time came to make this, I just had to chop the potatoes and nuke them.  And during that short time, I sliced up an avocado, chopped some greens and a tomato, and set the table. Dinner was ready in under 20 minutes.

Yes, it was really that easy!

I hope you make these and enjoy them just as much.


Sweet Potato Tacos
Serves 4-6
  • 2 medium-large sweet potatoes.  Cleaned well, unpeeled, chopped into 1 inch  chunks -- 6 cups worth.  
  • 3 cans of black beans (or kidney), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t cumin
  • 1 TBLS lime juice
  • 1 1/2 T tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • whole wheat tortillas
  • avocados
  • salad greens
  • cilantro
  • tomatoes
  • cheese
  • salsa
  • hot sauce
  • lime
-- Nuke the potatoes 8-10 minutes until fork tender
-- Meanwhile, combine the beans with the spices, oil and water.  Mash with a potato masher or large spoon until you achieve a "re-fried" texture.  Warm in the microwave for just a minute or two.
-- To prepare, smear the beans on a tortilla, top with a huge spoonful of sweet potatoes and what ever toppings you want.  Then get ready to have a party in your mouth!