Friday, July 26, 2013

happy friday!

it's finally friday. phew. it's been a long week. but time is slowly going by until moving day. but still got plenty of time to cook :) i think setting the oven on fire really did scare me away from baking! at least it's cool enough this week that i almost think about baking...almost.

this pasta dish was so simple to make. it comes from wholeliving which i think is a sub website of martha stewart. i upped the nutrients by using whole wheat pasta and used the grape tomatoes that i had gotten from costco (bulk produce really forces some creativity). i also did not put in dill weed or have white wine or the parmesan or fresh parsley. but this pasta sauce is so easy and delicious to make i wonder i ever used store-bought sauce. a nice kick with the red pepper flakes. i threw in the leftover smoked salmon at the last minute b/c i didn't want the sauce to taste super fishy.  

there were mushrooms hanging around in the fridge (i'm not particularly a fan of mushrooms but i wanted a side dish for the pasta and this just came to mind). i chopped the bottom part of the mushroom nice and tiny and mixed that in w/ the kale pesto then stuffed them real well and topped w/ slices of mozzarella. yum! baked in the mini convection at 350 for about 7 minutes (they cooked really fast in it).

in a totally different direction, i made tuna quesadillas last night. the avocados were getting rather ripe and the leftover mozzarella kept staring at me every time i opened the even though i would have preferred using the pepperjack (can't wait to use that big hunk of cheese!) i figured i shouldn't waste perfectly delicious cheese. 

Tuna Quesadillas
(serves 4-5 depending on how much your feedees like to eat)
5 medium whole wheat tortilla wraps (I used Mission 95% fat free for the fiber and protein)
2 cans tuna, drained (or grab some beans or grilled chicken)
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
big hunk of cheese, your choice (shredded is easier)
salt and pepper to taste (or any other spices)
pico de gallo/salsa (or a combination of both)

Combine tuna, pepper, onion and salt and pepper. Heat a non stick skillet on medium high and warm tortilla (flip every 10 sec or so) then once both sides are warm (maybe even nicely bubbly) lay the cheese and tuna mixture. Cover the skillet with lid and bring heat to medium. Let the cheese melt then fold the tortilla in half and press down with a spatula or whatever is handy. Remove from the stove and cut in half. Serve with pico de gallo and guacamole!

have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

s5 restaurant

it's restaurant week right now in my county (if you're in the hoco area check out all the participating restaurants at the tourist website here). everything looks amazing, but on a college budget, those prices are far out of my range, so instead, i get to play w/ M&D's money and cook us all a meal worthy of a restaurant :)

i've had kale hanging around in my freezer since i don't know when. i try to grab a handful and throw it into my smoothies in the morning, but sometimes i don't want to be green with envy. it's still hot (but thankfully the storms last night brought some relief, the mid-80s feel downright comfortable!) so actually cooking was not something i was interested in. so that brings us to kale pesto!

i grabbed the recipe from sprouted kitchen and also nabbed her idea for the salad. i didn't even blanch the kale. i just let it defrost in my fridge and then zapped it in the microwave for about 15 seconds. i'm just getting that lazy! i toasted my walnuts in the mini convection we have and toss and serve. yum! i may prefer kale pesto over basil pesto, but i'd have to try them side by side (maybe it's the toasted walnut thing).
i wasn't sure how D would like the kale pesto. in his own words, "i don't like sauces" so i needed to find something else for the meal. grabbed some smoked salmon from costco and toasted some sliced ciabatta to have little salmon bites. welcome to the family restaurant. happy eating!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

summer is for salads

i don't know if anyone else noticed, but we seem to be experiencing a heatwave. i drive to and from work and i can feel my shirt sticking to me and i know once i get out of the car i'll have that very embarrassing back sweat spot going on. 
it's too hot to bake let alone turn on the stove, so that's where salads come in. the one above was super quick and easy and required no stove or oven, just a knife and cutting board. you can jazz it up w/ your own favorite toppings

Tomato, Avocado and Bean Salad

Throw together grape tomatoes sliced in half, avocado, your favorite beans (or grilled chicken chopped up), onions, and lemon juice with salt and pepper. Toss together. I put it all on a bed of arugula and enjoyed it immensely at work!

some other recipes i'm eyeing if this heatwave continues:
Happy melting! (stay hydrated, hang out in my favorite place- the library for some a/c)

Monday, July 8, 2013

empanadaaaa (also known as fire fire!!)

i almost wish i had gotten a picture of the oven after i had melted the microwave plastic cover thing in it when i was preheating the oven...but what should have been a rather straight forward foray into empanada making became a multi hour ordeal of how to scrap dried plastic off oven surfaces and glued to metal racks. but i'm hoping i'll never forget to check the oven again (and baking soda does put out a plastic fire :)

moving onto happier more yummy topics. luckily, we have a mini oven so while the burnt smells of plastic got to cool in the actual oven my empanadas could still get baked (although in baby batches of four...i suppose a sort of physical moderation on the speed of my consumption)

doesn't this one look like a spotted cow?? as i'm moving to vt in a little over a month, seems like a good omen! 
there was that adventure actually making the empanada shells a while back with s4. but buying premade are just so easy. i take my short cuts where i can. these babies are kind of like the stir frys i make for the parents- stuffed with any ol vegetable i find in the house. the great thing about empanadas (dumplings, momos, samosas or whatever form yours takes, is that it can really be stuffed with anything you want. the empanada shells are a pastry shell so it can handle all sorts of flavors, as you'll see later with a sweet version).

this recipe came from the mexican food blog i found that i mentioned last time. loosely adapted but i liked all the spice ideas she had (along with some of my own add-ins).

Tuna and Veggie Empanadas (makes about 13*)
adapted from Pati's Mexican Table

Olive oil (for skillet)
3/4 c chopped onion
1 T minced garlic, or to taste
2 handfuls kale, chopped (w/o stalk)
1 c frozen mushrooms, thawed with water remaining
1 ear of steamed corn, kernels removed
1/2 c black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt, or to taste
1/2-1 tsp cumin
1/4-1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 T dried parsley
2 cans 5 oz chunk light tuna in water, lightly drained
2 T salsa, just b/c i had it leftover

To make empanadas
1 packet Goya empanada discos (containing 10)
1 egg

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Saute the onions and cook until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about another minute. Add the kale, mushrooms and black beans and cook out the water. Add the tuna and salsa (or chopped tomatoes) and then all the spices. Cook until soft. Taste for salt. My mix was dry but if you add tomatoes and really let it cook down you will have something more mushy and moist.

Brush the egg (I just had the yolk, I used the egg white at breakfast) around the edges of a disco and then scoop 1/4 cup of the filling into the middle. Press it to fold over the circle and seal the edges of the empanada with the tines of a fork until sealed. If baking immediately preheat oven to 350F and brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. If not using immediately, lay out the empanadas on a tray not letting them touch and freeze until solid then transfer to a bag.

*I realize the goya comes in packs of 10, and yes, it is obnoxious to have to buy another set of 10 just to make 3, kind of like having an odd number of hot dogs to hot dog buns, but based on the ingredients i used i had this many, so feel free to decrease any vegetable or ingredient you're not wild about, b/c if not, you'll buy more empanada shells and think you actually need 2 more sets and then the craziness never ends.

another savory version to test out. i actually preferred the tuna one over this one, but M&D both voted this one as their favorite (i swear if i put cheese in anything my mother will absolutely gobble it up).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas 
Makes 10

1 large sweet potato (mine was 0.95 lbs)
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 c onions, chopped
olive oil
garlic, to taste
salt, to taste
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp dried chili powder
1/4 c shredded pepperjack cheese

10 empanada shells, defrosted
egg wash (egg + 1 T water)*

Bake the sweet potato about 15-20 minutes at 400F until easily pierced by a fork. Unwrap and let cool then mash in a large bowl. While the potato cooks saute the onion in olive oil until translucent then add garlic and cook for a little longer. Add to mashed potatoes and add beans and spices. Combine and let cool.  Spread egg wash on the edges of the empanada shell then scoop 1/4 of the filling, fold over the shell and seal the edges together (with fork or fingers). Brush the outside with the egg wash.* Bake at 350F for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Or you can freeze them and not brush the egg wash across the outside. 

*making an egg wash as i learned from Pati's site makes the stuff last longer, but also gave that spotting browning (as in my cow) and sort of inconsistent browning. my batch with kale had just egg yolk brushed onto it.

a sweet empanada, the empanada shell can handle any sort of flavor. i'm thinking for D next time i'll go for a thanksgiving empanada and just put in shredded turkey, mashed potato, corn and maybe some peas or something. his tastebuds would probably handle that better ;) the empanadas are pretty high calorically (not that two won't be more than filling) but i made up for that by making all the fillings very much on the healthy side, including this sweet creation. which is probably why it came in last place for flavor for M. 

Apple, Cranberry and Pecan Empanadas
Makes 10

3 medium apples, peeled and chopped into small pieces
1/4 of an orange, squeezed for the juice
1/2-1 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg, optional
heaping 1/4 c dried cranberries or raisins
1/4 pecans, chopped

Cook down the apples with the orange juice in a pot (about 15-20 minutes until tender). Let cool. Drain juice in a colander over a bowl.  Transfer cooked apples to a large bowl and mix in spices, dried cranberries and pecans.  Brush the edges of the empanada shell with egg wash. Scoop a small 1/4 cup amount of filling into the center of each shell. Seal the edges together with the tines of the fork and brush the outside with egg yolk or egg wash. Bake at 350 for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. 

happy baking and eating!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Guac me up!

feeling very cooking inspired these days. maybe b/c it's in the mid 90s and feels like the 100s so turning on the oven sounds like the last thing i want to do. 

anyway, it's a mexican kind of layout w/ variations on the taco and i think one of my all-time favorite breakfasts-huevos rancheros. these dishes are super quick and easy once you have all your ingredients. and you can make it more homemade or less time consuming based on your preference.

yes i know, i got too lazy to crop out all the background stuff, but really, i was too focused on getting the food ideas to you! this was the spread for make-your-own fish tacos (homemade guacamole, coleslaw, baked cod, corn tortillas and store bought salsa...this i wish i had made myself, but it was cheaper and easier, so i'll take some short cuts).

on the left is the fish taco, on the right is the tofu taco

guacamole (i just sliced the avocado and placed it on top of the taco)
2 ripe avocado (chopped, but not pureed, i like mine chunky)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 steamed corn (slice down the side of the cob to get the corn kernels)
1/2 jalapeno pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
i forgot to buy a lime and my parents don't like cilantro, both of which i would have loved

coleslaw for the fish tacos
3 c shredded green and purple cabbage
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 T sugar
~ 2 T white vinegar
Toss everything together and let it marinate for as many hours as possible

coleslaw for the tofu tacos (which everyone agreed they liked better) was from pioneer woman cooks (of course)

other ingredients to top with: raw onions, black beans, salsa, etc. the great thing about tacos is that they are so versatile and whatever ingredients you like

btw, i baked the cod for about 15 minutes after lightly coating in cumin. tofu was pan "fried" with cumin and chili powder
so now that you have all these wonderful ingredients prepped and leftover, what to do with all the yummy ingredients- make huevos rancheros. slight detour with this one. it is a corn tortilla topped w/ a runny egg (a must!), black beans and salsa, i also added hash browns, leftover guacamole and raw onions. enjoy!

oh, and i almost forgot, this blog/show/recipe person i stumbled upon today, everything looks absolutely delicious and easy (my two requirements of any recipe), check out pati's mexican table. the great thing is she breaks down all her Mexican foods and the ingredients along with a dash of history and culture. i think the first thing i'll try to make is an adaptation her empanadas.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

dessert explosion!

this is quite possibly the most i've ever baked in one's a little over the top when i'm just hit with the inspiration to bake this much. but enough chit chat, happy dad's day (most of these were for him). and on to the yummy stuff!

Blueberry Yogurt Loaf 
(adapted from smitten kitchen)
makes 1 loaf

1 1/2 c + 1 T all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 c plain yogurt
1 c plus 1 T sugar
3 extra large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c olive oil
1 1/2 c frozen blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
* Comes out very wet/dense. Not sure how I feel about that. Would be great with the lemon flavor but didn't have lemons on hand. Or spread with lemon curd. 

Oatmeal Cranberry Chocolate Chip cookies
(from Ocean Spray)

1/2 c + 2 T (1 stick and 2 T) butter, softened
2/3 c brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 c old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 5-oz Ocean Spray Craisins
2/3 c semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs mixing well. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients to butter mixture. Stir in craisins and chocolate chips. Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool.

* Would taste better without chocolate chips and nuts in their place

Chocolate Hazelnut Crunch Cookies
(from SugarHero)

1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 c chocolate hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 c chopped toasted hazelnuts
2/3 c semi sweet chocolate chips

To toast hazelnuts:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Coarsely chop 1/2 c filberts and place on baking sheet in the oven and bake for 10-15 min, lightly tossing throughout. Let cool.

For cookies:
Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a larger bowl cream the butter, chocolate hazelnut spread, sugar, and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Slowly mix in flour until just combined and then add hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Scoop small spoonfuls onto cookie sheet, bake until lightly golden about 10 minutes. They will smoosh and spread but if tiny not too bad.

Makes  about 3 dozen cookies.

*These are sweet cookies and are very thin on the crunchier side.  

Olive Oil-Basil Cornmeal Cake with Strawberry sauce
(adapted from Better Homes and Gardens)

1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 + 1/3 c yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4  c granulated sugar
1/2 c skim milk
1/2 c olive oil
1 T dried basil
1/2 T sparkling sugar

Strawberry Sauce recipe
2 c frozen strawberries, thawed
1 T granulated sugar
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375F. Grease and flour a 9" cake pan, set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Set aside.  In a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk and olive oil. Mix dry ingredients and basil into wet mix and pour into prepared cake pan, spread evenly. Sprinkle with sparking sugar. Bake about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan for 10 minutes and then remove cake from pan. Cool cake completely and when serving top w/ Strawberry sauce.

For the sauce, combine strawberries, sugar and balsamic vinegar until smooth. Cover and chill for up to 24 hours.  
*This one comes out very cornbready, might be b/c i put in too much cornmeal. but w/o the sugar would make great cornbread for thanksgiving.

still with me??? sugar rush hasn't gotten to you yet? just one more and it's my favorite of the bunch!

Soft and Chewy Ginger Molasses Cookies

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c shortening
1/2 c white sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 T water
1/4 c molasses

Icing (optional)
1 c powdered sugar
1-2  T water
splash vanilla

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets w/ parchment paper or silpat. In a medium bowl mix all dry ingredients (flour through cloves). Set aside. In a large bowl cream butter, shortening, white sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, water, and molasses until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until combined. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Roll dough into desired size (I went with about a 1/2 T size) and flatten hand (will stick completely to the bottom of a glass cup) and place about 1/4" apart on cookie sheet. Bake for about 7 minutes. Remove and cool. Prepare frosting if desired by mixing powdered sugar, water and vanilla and frost.

*She's not lying when she says you have to make these cookies ASAP. If you are a ginger cookie fan these are amazing. Soft and chewy, gingery and molassy. By far my favorite gingerbread cookie yet.

Friday, June 14, 2013

easy cooking: mac 'n cheese

i'll tell you a secret, I absolutely love the boxed macaroni and cheese mix. the day before I flew out for india I made myself a box. it'd been years since I had it as a child and it still tasted as good as I remember. maybe it's a childhood thing, but I much prefer the box mix over homemade. the inner processed child in me :)

this recipe is as easy as it gets and as great way to throw in vegetable produce in the fridge or freezer that's been hanging around too long. plus, if you make extras, perfect for lunch the next day at work! this can be modified to your taste so if you love sausage or ham or peas and squash feel free to cook it up and toss it in. if you want cheesey goodness throw in shredded cheese while the macaroni is still hot and melt it in all nice and oozy.

Everything in the kitchen mac 'n cheese
Serves 4

1 box macaroni and cheese mix
2 c broccoli, chopped
2 handfuls kale, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
handful grape tomatoes (throw these in last to sauté briefly)
1/4 c fat free milk
1/2 c ricotta cheese
1 can tuna, drained
some cannellini beans
1 tsp red pepper flakes
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
any other spices you might like (I added sriracha to my bowl)

This is very much an add what you have/what you like recipe. Bring a pot of water to boil and toss in macaroni noodles and cook as directed on the box (usually around 7-10 minutes). While the noodles cook, sauté the veggies with garlic and olive oil. When the noodles are cooked, drain, toss back into the pot you boiled them in, pour in milk, cheese powder pouch (if processed powdered cheese makes you squeamish feel free to make a rue and cheese sauce) and at this point I threw in the ricotta. If you put in any other shredded cheeses you can also keep the pot on low heat to get it all to melty goodness. Mix in red chili pepper flakes, the tuna and the veggies. Spice as you wish and serve!
other great add ins: onions, frozen peas, zucchini, ham, more beans, pureed cauliflower, spinach, etc.



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

roll with the punches

if you haven't noticed yet, my baking can be spontaneous and usually in those moments of me really feeling antsy and having the need to bake it comes down to finding what's in the house to use. M mentioned the apricots were getting too ripe and that they were rather tasteless (i don't know about anyone else, but i only ever usually like the dried apricots to begin w/ b/c the fresh ones never taste like much to me). 

i also don't know what anyone did w/o the internet to search for recipes with specific ingredients with just a few searches. i found a couple recipes, but this one seemed the most interesting and easy to play with. 

oh, and about the title, M&D spent the last month taking care of their grandson so wanted to bake them something nice to eat after they got back from the airport dropping off my sister and her baby. i had just popped the cake in to be ready for when the parents got back when i got a call that D had run out of gas and was stuck on the side of the road by the airport. so i had to shut down the oven and take the poor cake out and drive out to the airport with a gas can (this is also when tripe A or something similar seems helpful). i wasn't sure what an hour out of the oven after starting to bake would affect the cake but it tastes darn tasty to me and the consistency and rising of the cake doesn't seem to have been ruined either.
ripe ripe apricots all laid out (i actually ended up doing another layer on top b/c i sliced these suckers so thin).

Apricot Upside Down Cornmeal Cake 
makes one 9" cake
adapted from LA Times

2 T unsalted butter
3/4 c loosely packed light brown sugar
5-6 fresh apricots, cut into eighths lengthwise
1 1/4 c all purpose flour
3/4 c cornmeal
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1/2 c granulated sugar
3/4 c olive oil + plain yogurt (about 2/3 c olive oil and the rest of the measuring cup with yogurt)
1/2 large orange, juiced

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In  a small bowl microwave butter until melted and stir in brown sugar until mixed. Press into the springform pan. Spread the apricot pieces in a circular design in two layers.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and white sugar until mixture is pale and golden, 3-5 minutes.

Alternately add dry ingredients and oil/yogurt into the wet ingredients starting with the dry ingredients sifted into the bowl, until just combined. Stir in the orange juice and scrape and smooth into the pan so it covers the apricots.

Bake the cake until it is golden and springy to the touch, about 40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate over the pan and flip the pan over, release the spring mold and peel back parchment. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

vt = maple syrup

among other things as well, but i will be moving there in the fall, so i should start getting to know my new home, yes? spent last week up in New England (and have the but bites to prove it) and also came back with "The Official Vermont Maple Cookbook" (2nd ed). it's got recipes for real foods as well as breakfast and desserts. so of course, i have my lovely jar of maple syrup from the vermont country store still left and so i picked a recipe that was quick and fast (trying to bake before my nephew sleeps so i don't make any noise is a very interesting dilemma, if only i was getting skinnier...haha).

i chose the maple gingerbread recipe and made just one tweak for ease and to decrease calories and boost the nutritional value of it.

Maple Gingerbread (makes 1 large loaf)
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup maple syrup (i used B grade)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (the recipe originally called for 1 cup sour cream, if that's what you have on hand, feel free to use)

Preheat oven to 325F. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix maple syrup with beaten eggs and add yogurt. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and pour into greased bread pan (or 8" x 8" cake pan) and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown and pulling from edges. You can serve with whipped cream or ice cream (it tastes really good as a bread too by itself). Eat it when it's warm, it's amazing then!

*you can really taste the ginger in this bread, although while it was baking all i could smell was the maple syrup. the bread is really soft and moist (go yogurt!) and it would probably make great french toast bread or bread pudding but it's so good by itself that it might take away from the taste. now i'm out of maple syrup again....and still a dozen recipes to go...guess i need to make another trip to VT before i move there!

and lest you think there's no future dietitian in me, here's the low down on maple syrup- i never knew it had manganese and riboflavin (along with other minerals)!

i'm not done! if you're looking for a super quick and easy dinner idea this can be prepped the morning of (or night before and kept in the fridge until you can pop it into the oven). it's also very versatile and can be made to fit your tastebuds and what's on hand in your kitchen.

i'm calling this mexican lasagna b/c it takes the form of lasagna and i had lots of mexican ingredients on hand. i spooned salsa on the bottom of the baking dish, layered corn tortillas next, then i had frozen broccoli and kale so in that went. then followed chickpeas and black beans (rinsed and drained), chopped onions and sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. i made two layers and left it in the fridge while i was at work. when i got home i popped it into a 350 F oven and baked for about 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melty (feel free to add or take away any ingredients- avocado, olives, chicken for you meat eaters, etc would all be really good in this)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


i have a huge sweet tooth. sometimes i have control of it and sometimes i just let it run wild :)
both of these recipes are very different from one another but they are both relatively straight forward. for mother's day i wanted to use up the rest of the key lime juice i have (no luck) but also wanted to make something healthier than the strawberry coffee cake i had made last week (i'm behind on post, but it was pretty good, but i needed to add more sugar)

this key lime mousse pie is completely raw. the crust is unbelievable and would make a great energy bar. the filling is really creamy and rich and it's nice and tart w/ the key lime. i adapted the recipe from here w/ some tweaks. 

Raw Key Lime Mousse Pie 
(makes one 9" pie)
1 c quick oats
1 cup shredded coconut*
1/2 c almonds
1/2 c pitted dates
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 T key lime juice
Dash of salt
*The recipe calls for unsweetened but I can never find unsweetened so I just omitted the sugar they call for

4 large ripe avocados
3/4 c key lime juice
1/3 c honey
2 tsp vanilla extract

Pulse the crust ingredients in a food processor and blend until dough like. Spray or grease a 9" pie pan and press the dough evenly into and up the sides of the pan. Food process all the mousse ingredients and pour over the crust. Chill in the fridge or freezer depending on your texture preference for at least 3 hours (we chilled in the fridge and it took longer than 3 hours for it to hold.)

these cookies on the other hand are not raw but the recipe is very straight forward and took all of one hour to whip up start to finish and only has 4 ingredients. how easy is that? the coconut macaroons i've ever had have to be the ones at presti's in little italy, cleveland (not completely random, s4 is studying there). but these little suckers are so quick and easy and kind of taste like a denser coconut goodness of angel food cake. i had to take a picture really fast before the family descended onto them.

Coconut Macaroons (from Alton Brown)
4 egg whites
Dash of salt
1/2 c sugar
8 oz sweetened shredded coconut (could probably decrease the sugar amount b/c of the coconut. I also forgot to toast before tossing them into the oven, but that probably would have made these suckers amazing)

Preheat oven to 350F. Whip the eggs and salt until white and begin to stiffen. Add sugar in 3 parts. Continue to whip until the whites are very stiff. Using a rubber spatula fold in the coconut. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto silpat, parchment paper or a greased surface about 1 inch distance from one another. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the outside (they will be deliciously soft on the inside).

Sunday, April 28, 2013

lunch 101

Having to always eat lunch out of the house whether at work or school, I have to make meals that are appetizing and yummy enough that I won’t be tempted to buy something every day.  As a dietetic student we learn how to counsel clients in building nutrition and healthy foods into their diet in an economical and easy way- 1) making grocery lists, food prepping all in one day, etc. it’s one of those things that sometimes comes to “do as I say not as I do.” Because really, everyone has a busy schedule, who has the energy after a long day at work or school to go grocery shopping and cook rice and veggies and prep foods that are healthy and satisfying?
But that’s where I’m trying to improve myself and hopefully give you some ideas to make your lives easier. I’m busy- I go to school part time, I have 4 jobs and I like to workout and relax and have a social life (some of those things definitely get pushed to the bottom of the list when things get really crazy), but I also want to eat well and make sure I have foods that make my stomach happy (currently, processed foods are on the “makes my tummy sad list”).
When I research recipes to fiddle or try the ingredient list is the first thing that decides whether or not I will try it. Not just if the ingredients are archaic and things I don’t want or have the money to buy, but if it’s longer than say 7 items (not including salt and pepper) then I usually find it too overwhelming. I want simple, straight forward recipes that won’t take my whole life to figure out. And if I can just use one piece of equipment or use two at the same time to save time, more power to the recipe.

As the weather gets warmer my lunches get more colorful and lighter (salads, wraps, etc.) as opposed to my colder weather lunches which usually include veg chili and things that need to be microwaved. My go-to building of a lunch for spring/summer includes:

Starch            +       Vegetable                         +              Protein
Brown rice             Lettuce (arugula,                                Beans
Wild Rice               Mixed greens, romaine, etc)                Tuna salad made with yogurt
                             Cucumber                                          Hardboiled eggs
                             Tomato, etc.                                     Hummus
I cook rice in batches of 1-1.5 cups for the week (in ½ cup servings that can usually last me 5 days). Rice can be boiled simultaneously as you prepare your vegetables…
I finally got around to roasting some squash and zucchini. Just slice, drizzle with olive oil both sides and season (I just did black pepper and garlic) and then bake in 400F for about 20 minutes. I also threw in some red onions for extra fun (my kitchen smelled amazing!).  The idea of prepping your vegetables for the week is actually a really great idea. If I have them cut up in the size of how I plan to eat it for the week it makes it really easy to make a stir fry really quick one night or to grab some carrots for snacking with hummus.
Protein is usually from a can or an egg. I know dried beans in a bag are cheaper and don’t have the sodium of canned ones, but by the time I remember I need beans I’ve forgotten to do the presoak and I’m saving time just popping a can open. I’ll rinse the beans really nice to get extra salt off and then toss together for a bean salad or combined with rice and veggies (like the fake fattoush). Tuna from a can is probably one of the easiest ways to get protein and made into a tuna salad with carrots or celery and old bay is eum eum good! Hummus (I usually buy sabra or I’ve delved into making my own) is a great way to get creamy protein in a salad. 
tuna and egg salad lettuce wraps are a great lunch/snack option,
just add some grains if you make it lunch
Snacks are another place of contention in my life. I don’t want to eat the same stuff I ate in my meal so it comes down to more creativity, pinterest, and just google searching. So far, my go-to snacks throughout the day are:
  • ·         Fruit
  • ·         Carrots and hummus
  • ·         Handful of nuts
  • ·         More fruit (I can never have too much fruitJ)
  • ·         Dried fruit
  •        I'm still on the fence about roasted chickpeas, maybe i just made it wrong
  • ·         If you don’t have a lactose problem string cheese is always a nice addition here
  • ·         If you don’t have a peanut butter addiction like me, where once you have one bite somehow the entire jar disappears, peanut butter energy balls are a great snack

         happy cooking! and have fun w/ it :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

fake fattoush (great for lunch!)

packing lunches can be no fun. esp doing it every day. so a great way to avoid that morning panic and spending $ everyday at the food court you can make something every week or every 2-3 days to pack for lunch. this is a fake "fattoush" or at least the version i'm going with :) i took great liberties but i'm enjoying it (maybe not the amount if made, but def like how it tastes. it's also very easy to modify to your own tastes.

Fake Fattoush (gluten free)
(makes 6 two cup servings)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, chopped into bite size pieces
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup wild rice, cooked and cooled
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4-1/2 c olive oil
paprika, to taste
cumin, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Cover and chill.

Friday, April 12, 2013

wrap it up

as soon as i typed that title i wondered if it sounded awk, and then i thought, oh boy, am i 15? so i left it there. if anyone else thought it was sort of "tee-hee-hee" please let me know. it'll make me feel less immature.
the wrap pictured on the left isn't actually filled w/ the mix on the right, but i wanted to show you that this recipe really is flexible and can be made to your own taste. and the really great thing about this recipe is that it takes under 30 minutes start to finish depending on how crazy you want to get with the add-ins. i make the tuna mix before work in the morning and when i get home i pre-heat my mini oven and roll up my tuna wraps. you can also sneak in all sorts of vegetables and proteins into this wrap, case in point, i hid smashed beans in my second wrap for the parents. the peanut broccoli salad was my first attempt at making a peanut sauce. which turned out really well actually. i made some modifications to the prevention recipe but i'm sure their recipe tastes fine as well.

Tuna Melt Wrap (makes 3)
3 tortilla wraps, 8"
2 cans tuna in water, drained
3/4-1 c black beans, rinsed and crushed
~ 1/2 c yogurt or mayo, or to desired texture
Diced carrots or sauteed kale or other vegetable, also to desired quantity
Cheddar cheese
spices to taste (I usually do old bay and black pepper)

Preheat oven to 350 F. While you wait for the oven to heat up you can dice your fresh vegetables or saute vegetables. Crush black beans and combine tuna, yogurt/mayo, vegetables and spices. Place a third of it in the center of the wrap like a log and top with cheese. Fold in the short ends, then wrap the long ends. Place on the baking sheet crease side down. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until toasted on the bottom.

Peanut Broccoli Salad (serves 3)
adapted from Prevention
A little more than 1/8 cup white vinegar
~1.5 T canola oil
2 T creamy peanut butter
2 tsp tamari ginger
3-4 cups frozen broccoli florets

Whisk all the ingredients except the broccoli. Saute broccoli until lightly browned and cooked. Top with the sauce and serve warm.

Friday, April 5, 2013

can you modify too much?

i love browsing food blogs. looking at yummy food pictures and reading over the recipes. but even when i find a recipe i'm dying to try i can't help but think about the changes and/or additions i could make to the recipe.

found a new blog and tagged about half the recipes i shuffled through, but this one caught my eye- 1) b/c it's bread, 2) b/c it had sour cream (still some leftover from my fish taco birthday lunch), and 3) b/c i really needed to stress bake

i've also never cooked with american sweet potatoes. if you've seen or tried korean sweet potatoes, they don't look the same, and they certainly do not taste the same. i'm definitely still a sucker for korean sweet potatoes, but i'm guessing b/c these are so orange much more nutrient rich. 
the recipe comes from averie cooks, and i've made several changes to not only make it healthier but also to fit the taste buds of m&d who are not the most spice happy people out there. 

Sweet Potato and Pecan Bread

Yield: 1-9x5 loaf

about 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potatoes (2 medium or 1 very large), roasted
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp baking soda
1 T + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch salt, optional and to taste
¼ c chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray and flour one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan; set aside.

Roast sweet potatoes in the oven at 400F for about 35 minutes or until when poked with a fork gives easily. Mash sweet potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the eggs.

Decrease oven to 350F

To the sweet potatoes, add the eggs, yogurt, sour cream, vanilla and whisk until combined; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients - flour, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, optional salt, and whisk to combine. Pour the wet sweet potato mixture over the dry ingredients, and stir to incorporate.

Turn batter out into prepared pan. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes for a 9x5 pan, or until top is domed, golden, loaf is springy to the touch, and cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow bread to cool in pan for 10 minutes before turning it out and gobbling it all up.

loved the pecans in it, b/c i roasted the sweet potatoes the decrease in sugar was definitely worth it (you wouldn't get quite the caramelized goodness if the potatoes had been microwaved and more sugar may have been needed). oats changed the texture of the bread, but since i haven't tried the original yet, i'm quite happy with my nommy bread :)

happy baking