This blog... a compilation of my favorite recipes. They have been collected over several years found in various places: the internet, magazines, and cookbooks to name a few. These recipes are meals that I consider to "feed more than your body". These are meals that I hope nurish the heart and soul of those who eat them. I hope that when you have cleaned your plate, you feel like you have taken part in more than just a meal-that you have taken part in something bigger than yourself and food. Whether it is culture, your local place of living, or the life of the plant or those who share this planet, I hope these meals help your family-and mine-to appreciate that we are more than just beings consuming food; we are all connected. And more than that, I hope that these meals help you remember how fortunate you are and that "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.".

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Baked Felafel

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 scallions, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil

Oven at 425 degrees F. Combine all felafel ingredients except 1 tablespoon olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Process for 10 seconds. Stop motor and scrape down sides of bowl, then pulse for another 10 seconds, until all ingredients are well incorporated but mixture is still slightly coarse and grainy. Form mixture into 16 felafel balls and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil. Bake on a cookie sheet for 20 minutes, flip felafel balls and bake an additional 20 minutes, until felafel balls are crisp and browned.

**Note-I have tried at least half a dozen felafel recipes and this is the only one I have found that actually works. An added bonus is it's very healthy as the felafel are baked instead of fried!

**Note-Don't worry if you don't have every ingredient listed here-feel free to substitute what you do have or like-it won't change the flavor too much as long as you included cumin and garlic!

Quick Chunky Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a medium pot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for another 15 minutes.

**Note-Although I have a recipe that makes 10 cups of freezeable, no cook tomato sauce, this is a good recipe to have on hand when you are out of jarred tomato sauce and/or the freezeable sauce (or you just don't have time to wait to defrost your frozen sauce!)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Green Pea Soup

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (10-oz) bag frozen peas
4 teaspoons plain nonfat yogurt, optional

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over moderately-low heat. Add the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the broth, tarragon, salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook just until defrosted.

In a blender, puree the soup in 2 batches until very smooth. Return the soup to the pot and bring just to a simmer, to warm back up. Ladle into bowls. Stir the yogurt so that it is smooth and top each serving with a swirl of yogurt.

**Note-this is a great soup to make if you have a young child/baby-just add some baby cereal to it to thicken it up and everyone in the family can enjoy the same meal!

Roasted Chicken

1 (5 to 6 pound) roasting chicken
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoon dried thyme, divided
1 lemon, halved
1 head garlic, cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter, melted
2-3 potatoes (any variety, including sweet potatoes) cut into very large pieces**
1 large yellow onion, very thickly sliced
4 carrots cut into 2-inch chunks
Olive oil

Oven at 425 degrees F.

Remove the chicken giblets. Rinse the chicken inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pin feathers and pat the outside dry. Liberally salt and pepper the inside of the chicken. Stuff the cavity with 1 1/2 tablespoons dried thyme, both halves of lemon, and all the garlic. Brush the outside of the chicken with the butter and sprinkle again with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place the onions, carrots, and potatoes in a roasting pan. Toss with salt, pepper, remaining thyme, and olive oil. Spread around the bottom of the roasting pan and place the chicken on top.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.

**Note-Feel free to substitute any root/winter veggies you have on hand.

**Note-this is a pretty easy recipe and although I personally don't think the lemon, garlic and thyme add much taste to the chicken itself, it does make a very yummy sauce/thin gravy for the veggies and chicken.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Citrus Vinaigrette

1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake to combine. Should keep in the fridge for 1-2 weeks.

**Note-This dressing goes especially well with spinach salad and other softer leaf lettuce. The dressing itself is incredibly light and would not stand up to a sturdier leaf like romaine.

Holly Jolly Hot Chocolate

1 packet of instant hot chocolate mix
1 spoonful of instant coffee or enough brewed coffee for one cup

Combine hot chocolate mix and instant coffee in the bottom of a mug. Pour boiling water over top until full. Stir to combine-Enjoy!


Put hot chocolate mix in the bottom of your mug and pour in brewed coffee over the top. Enjoy!

**Note-Probably best to use a normal coffee mug and not a super big one otherwise you dilute the hot chocolate too much.
**Note-This is also extra yummy with any sort of extract that goes well with mocha flavor-peppermint, almond, orange, etc. Just add it sparingly at first until you find the amount that works for you. A candy cane also is delicious!

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 small onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, chopped
1-2 celery stalks, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons brown sugar, packed
1 (14.5-ounce) can chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (15-ounce) can 100% pure pumpkin
1 (12-ounce) can Evaporated Milk
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sugar; cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until softened. Add broth, water, salt and pepper; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Stir in pumpkin, evaporated milk and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer mixture to food processor or blender (in batches, if necessary); process until smooth. Return to saucepan. Serve warm.

Peanut Butter Cup Pie

1-8oz package of cream cheese, softened
½ c plus 1 T creamy peanut butter, divided
1 c cold milk
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding
2 ½ c cool whip topping, divided
1 chocolate pie crust
3 oz chocolate (either Baker's chocolate or chocolate chips work too)

Beat cream cheese and ½ c peanut butter until well blended. Add milk and dry pudding mix, beat 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup cool whip. Spoon into crust and refrigerate until ready to use. Meanwhile, microwave remaining cool whip and chocolate in a bowl on high, 1 ½-2 minutes, or until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is well blended. Check after one minute, stirring after checking. Cool chocolate completely. Spread the chocolate mixture over pudding layer in the crust (on top). Microwave the remaining peanut butter in a small measuring cup, about 30 second, stir. Drizzle over pie. Refrigerate 4 hours, or until firm.

Easy Chocolate Bark

1 8oz package baking chocolate (either semi-sweet, milk chocolate or white chocolate-your choice)
1 1/2 cups total of add-ins of your choice-some examples are dried fruits, nuts, cereal, or pretzels, all chopping small pieces.

Microwave the chocolate in microwaveable bowl on high 1-2 minutes or until chocolate is melted, stirring after each minute. Add half (of each) add-ins. Mix well. Spread onto waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining add-ins. Refrigerate until firm. When cooled and hardened, break into pieces.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Italian-Style Pasta and Beans

8-12 ounces uncooked dried pasta twists (thin corkscrew, fusilli or elbow macaroni)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large (1 cup) onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (15-ounce) can low salt garbanzo beans, rinsed, drained (or any other can of white beans)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained**
2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4-inch
Mozzarella cheese, shredded

Cook pasta twists according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile while pasta cooks, heat oil in 3-quart saucepan until sizzling; add onion and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened (4 to 5 minutes).
Add all remaining ingredients. Stir in cooked pasta. Cover; continue cooking for 10 minutes. Sprinkle individual bowls with cheese.

**Note-if you are not using Italian style tomatoes, add to your veggie mixture: 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper
**Note-I like my pasta (and other dishes) very saucy. If you are like me, you may want to add an additional can of tomatoes or an 8oz can of tomato sauce. If you do this, you may need to increase the seasoning to taste.

Carmel Brownies

14 oz. package of caramels (unwrapped)
2/3 cup of evaporated milk (divided)
3/4 cup of melted butter
1 package of Chocolate Cake Mix (any chocolate cake mix will do, devil's food, chocolate, German chocolate, etc.)
1 cup chocolate chips

Oven at 350. Put caramels and 1/3 cup of evaporated milk in a sauce pan and heat over low heat. Stir frequently/constantly until caramels are completely melted. Set aside caramel mixture.

Mix together melted butter, chocolate cake mix, and the other 1/3 cup of evaporated milk until all blended. Spread half of mixture into bottom of greased 13 x 9 pan. The mixture should cover the entire bottom of the pan in a thin layer. (You may have to use a little more than half the mixture.) Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes. Pull out and let cool for about 1 minute. Then sprinkle the chocolate chips over it. Pour caramel mixture over chocolate chips. Take remaining cake mixture and drop in spoonfuls over caramel. Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. . The spoonfuls will expand while baking and will cover most of the caramel mixture but not all of it. Let cool for a few minutes and serve. These keep very well in a covered container for several days.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spinach, Veggie and Cheese Strata

1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 box (9 oz) frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed to drain
2 medium red bell peppers, cut into strips (or any color besides green pepper)
1 cup sliced leeks
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 loaf (9 oz) ciabatta or French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)**
7 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Spray 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish with cooking spray. In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add spinach, bell peppers and leeks; cook 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender. Remove from heat. In baking dish, spinach mixture, 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese and the bread. In large bowl, beat eggs, milk, mustard and pepper with wire whisk until blended; pour over bread. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar cheese. Cover with foil; refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

Oven at 325°F. Bake loosely covered 40 minutes. Uncover; bake about 30 minutes longer or until top is golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean.

**Note-In my family we save the bread ends in the freezer to use later for french toast. They also make a great substitution for the french bread loaf in this recipe.
**Note-You may also add several cups of chopped ham to the spinach mixture for a yummy addition.

Dijon Parmesan Vinaigrette

1/3 cup white wine vinegar (or any mild/sweet vinegar you have on hand like apple cider or rice wine)
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (or the salad dressing oil of your choosing)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar with a lid. Shake to combine. Store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Ginger-Molasses Cookies

¾ cup butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
¾ cup mild molasses
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
White sugar

Oven at 375. In a medium bowl, mix together butter and brown sugar. Mix in egg and molasses until well blended. In another bowl, mix together remaining ingredients. Stir into butter mixture. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
Roll dough into ½ balls (using about 1 tablespoon of dough for each ball). Roll balls in sugar for extra sparkle and sweetness. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies w/ a spatula. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until just golden brown around edges but still slightly soft. Remove from oven and immediately transfer to wire rack to cool.

**Note-You can really taste the molasses in these cookies. They are not very sweet cookies, but are still quite tasty. These are great for a time when you want something sweet, but not too sweet; or for the holidays when you've already had your fair share of desserts!

Tropical Upside Down Cake

2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 can pineapple rings (you will have extra left over)
Maraschino cherries

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon or orange zest
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Oven at 350.
For the topping:
swirl melted butter in a round cake pan, completely covering the bottom of the pan and as much of the sides without spilling the butter. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter. Arrange as many pineapple rings as will fit (5-6) over brown sugar, in a pleasing pattern. Dot with cherries as desired (in the holes of the rings, and decorated outside the rings as desired). Sprinkle coconut evenly over the top when done.**
For the cake:
Cream 6 tablespoons of butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.

Pour the cake batter evenly over the topping and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then, run a knife along the outside of the cake to loosen it and invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a pineapple sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners' sugar or serve with whipped cream.

**Note-this is a fun cake to do with your kids. You can let them sprinkle the brown sugar and make any design they desire with the pineapple and cherries.

Easy Cheesy Bean Tostadas

Premade Tostadas shells
1 teaspoon chili powder, divided
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained, rinsed
1 onion, diced
1 pepper, chopped
1/2 cup Salsa
3/4 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup shredded romaine lettuce
1 large tomato, chopped
1/4 cup sour cream

Saute onions and peppers in a skillet until softened, about 5-7 minutes. As they cook, sprinkled with chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Add beans and salsa; cook 4 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in half of the cheese.
Spread mixture evenly on tostados; top with remaining cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.

Roasted Squash and Chard Pasta

4 cups (1/2-inch) peeled cubed butternut squash
1 red onion, sliced
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
12-16oz whole wheat pasta of your choice**
4 cups torn Swiss chard leaves, stems discarded (about 5 ounces)
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 bacon slices, cooked crisp, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shaved fresh Parmesan cheese

Oven at 450. Toss the squash and onion in a large bowl with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread in a single layer on a nonstick baking sheet, and bake 25 minutes, turning until tender and browned.
While pasta is cooking (see next step), cook the bacon, When bacon is cooked, removed with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in your pan. Mix drippings with remaining oil, sage, and garlic. Cook about one minute, to infuse oil with the flavors of the spice and garlic, being careful not to brown garlic. (Note-the oil may be hot enough from the bacon to take it off the heat completely and still cook the garlic.)
Cook the pasta according to package directions until al dente. Place chard in the bottom of the colanders you are going to drain your pasta into. Drain the pasta into the colanders, over the chard; let stand 1 minute. Transfer pasta and chard back to the large pot you cooked the pasta in. Toss with with roasted squash and onion and oil mixture. Top with cheese and bacon and serve.

**Note-I highly recommend using whole wheat pasta. I always recommend it but this dish really stands up to it. This is a very hearty, nearly vegetarian dish, and really needs the bite and sturdiness of a whole wheat pasta.
**Note-You may want to substitute the garlic infused oil for butter to add more flavor.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Orange Cranberry Muffins

2 cups flour **
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
zest of one orange
1 egg
4 tablespoons melted butter or oil **
½ c milk
½ c orange juice
1 ½ c fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries**
½ c pecans or walnuts, chopped

Oven at 375. Grease a muffin tin. Stir together dry ingredients in a bowl. In another bowl, whisk together egg, butter or oil, milk and orange juice until blended. Add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy. Fold in the cranberries and nuts, being careful not to over mix. Spoon batter into the muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool in tin for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 20 muffins.

**Note-As always I encourage using whole wheat (or a combination of whole wheat and white) flour to boost the nutritional value of these muffins.
**Note-If you are using cranberry sauce (see note below), you may lower the amount of fat by half or more.
**Note-these taste yummy when you use leftover cranberry sauce, perhaps from the winter holidays. Use 1 1/2 cups of sauce, or a combination of sauce and whole berries, to equal 1 1/2 cups. We never know what to do with the leftover sauce, and now we have a delicious and totally new solution. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pumpkin Pie Cake Squares

1 (18.5 oz) box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 eggs, divided
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, softened

Oven at 350. Measure out one cup of the cake mix and set aside for later use. Lightly beat one egg, remaining cake mix, and the melted butter together. Press mixture into the bottom of a greased (and floured) 9x13" baking pan.
Lightly beat other 3 eggs, mix in pumpkin, both sugars, milk and cinnamon. Pour mixture over cake mix in the pan (this pumpkin mixture might be very liquidy. It will firm up upon cooking.)
Take reserved 1 cup cake mix and the softened butter and beat together until it forms soft crumbles. Sprinkle crumbles evenly over the pumpkin mixture in the pan. Bake 50-60 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Once cooled, cut into squares.

Sweet and Sour Veggies

1 medium onion, sliced
4 medium carrot, peeled, sliced
2 medium celery stalk, sliced
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup French dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. grated ginger root
1/2-1 cup water**
1 can (20 oz.) pineapple chunks, drained, liquid reserved
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 medium green pepper, sliced
1 medium red pepper, sliced
4-1/2 cups hot cooked rice

Place onions, carrots and celery in slow cooker. Add combined brown sugar, dressing, soy sauce, ginger and water. Cover with lid. Cook on low for 7 to 8 hours (or on high for 3-1/2 to 4 hours). During last 30 min. of cooking time, increase to high. Stir cornstarch into reserved pineapple liquid; add to slow cooker along with the pineapple and peppers. Cook 30 min. or until peppers are crisp-tender and sauce is thickened. Serve over the rice.

**Note-add the additional water to the consistency you like. I like a more saucy dish so I use the full cup of water. If you like thicker sauce, use less water. You can always add more water or more cornstarch to adjust the thickness of the sauce.

Vegetarian Biscuit Casserole

1 can (10-3/4 oz.) condensed soup (your choice of flavors)
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups (one 15 oz can) white beans
1 pkg. (16 oz.) frozen mixed vegetables
1 cup shredded cheese (your choice)
1 cup all-purpose baking mix

Oven at 375. Mix soup and sour cream in a large bowl. Stir in beans, vegetables and cheese. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish. Mix baking mix according to packaged directions. Spoon into 6 mounds over bean and veggie mixture. Bake 35 min. or until biscuits are golden brown and bean and veggies are hot and bubbly.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mexican Casserole with Cornbread Topping

1 cup onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons dry taco seasoning mix**
1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained
4 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
1 package of cornbread mix, prepared as directed on box.

Saute pepper and onion in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp tender, about 5 minutes. Open can of tomatoes and discard 2 tablespoons of the liquid. Add taco seasoning mix (and salt if using), tomatoes with remaining liquid, and beans. Mix lightly. Let simmer about 5 minutes. If too watery, mix 1 tablespoon of corn starch with one tablespoon of water. Add to mixture and let bubble 1-2 minutes to thicken. Spoon mixture into 9x12-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese. Pour prepared cornbread mix over the top. Spread to cover. Bake at 375ºF for 18-25 minutes or until cornbread is done.
Serves 4 to 6.

**Note-if using homemade taco seasoning, add about 1/2 teaspoon of salt along with the seasoning.
**Note-this can be made ahead and frozen, except for the cornbread mixture. Thaw completely in the fridge overnight and then cook as directed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Overnight Carmel French Toast

1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
12 slices bread
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6 eggs
1 ½ c milk
1 t vanilla

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, heat butter and sugar stirring constantly. Once sugar is dissolved/melted, remove from heat. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Top with the bread. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and remaining cinnamon. Pour over bread. Cover and chill 8 hours or overnight.
Remove from fridge 30 minutes before baking. Bake uncovered at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

**Note-with the carmel topping, I find this french toast sweet enough. The bread itself (if bites are eaten apart from the topping) is not very sweet. If you desire more of a sweet bread, you may add about 1/4 cup of extra sugar to the egg mixture.
**Note-While eating this, I thought it would taste delicious with apples in the carmel topping. If desired, stir in about 1 cup of finely chopped apples after the carmel has melted in the sauce pan.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kitchen Sink Black Bean Burgers

1 15oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 cup cooked brown rice
1/2-3/4 cup cooked/softened veggies**
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 cup bread crumbs (more or less as needed)
1 egg, beaten

Combine all ingredients, through chili powder, in a food processor. Process until consistency of precooked ground beef hamburgers. Remove mixture from food processor and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add beaten egg to mixture and mix until well Incorporated. Add bread crumbs, about half at a time, until mixture is as dry as you like it.
Form 6 patties** and cook on a skillet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook about 4 minutes per side.
Serve on hamburger buns and with traditional hamburger fixin's.

**Note-Part of the reason I call these "kitchen sink black bean burgers" is because it's a great way to use leftovers. If you have some left over rice and veggies from dinner earlier in the week, you can make these burgers. Use whatever veggies you have on hand-carrots, celery, onion, corn, etc. Just make sure the veggies are either cooked or softened. Feel free also to substitute the spices that sound good to you, or you need to use up.
**Note-I make my patties a bit thinner than traditional burgers as I want to insure that the middle gets cooked both to cook the egg and avoid a soggy burger.

Baked Spaghetti Florentine

1 large egg, beaten
2 teaspoons minced dried onion
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 cup sour cream
6 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups (16-ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1(10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
12 ounces spaghetti, cooked and drained
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Oven at 350*F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine egg, onion, garlic, sour cream, milk, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Add Monterey Jack cheese; mix well.
Add the spinach and cooked spaghetti and toss to combine well. Place mixture in the prepared baking dish and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan.
Bake for 15 minutes covered; remove cover and continue baking for additional 15 minutes.

**Note-this is a great dish to prepare ahead of time. It basically assembling everything and no cooking (you don't even have to cut onions or garlic!). I have made this during my kids' naps then after naps, we play outside, pausing only long enough for me to toss this in the oven. Perfect!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Pumpkin Apple Strussel Muffins

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour**
2 cups white sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups canned (pure) pumpkin
2 eggs
¼ cup veg oil
2 cups apples finely chopped**

¼ c sugar
2 T flour
½ t cinnamon
2 T butter

For muffins:
Oven at 350. Combine flour, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. In a separate bowl combine pumpkin, eggs, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened. Stir in apples. Spoon batter into muffin cups (sprayed or lined w/ paper). Makes 24 muffins.

For streussel topping:
Combine sugar, flour and cinnamon in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle over muffin batter. (About one teaspoon over sprinkled over each muffin)

Bake muffins w/ topping for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

**Note-These muffins are quite nutty/chewy with all whole wheat flour. If you are more sensitive to that you may want to use half whole wheat flour and half regular flour.
**Note-I recommend shredding your apples, that way the peel is small enough that you can leave it on and not notice it in the muffins.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Baby Spaghettie Casserole

8oz spaghetti, cooked to al dente or just under
1/2 cup each onions, bell pepper, carrots and celery, all in small dice
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 can tomatoes, undrained
1 can creamed soup
1 can Cheddar Cheese Soup
Approximately 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Oven at 350. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, taking care not to cook past al dente. Saute onions, pepper, carrots and celery about 5 minutes. As they are sauteing sprinkle with chili powder and salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and saute about 5 minutes more to fully soften vegetables. Mix together the two cans of soup and add to the veggie mixture. When pasta is done, add to the vegetables, stirring to combine. Transfer to a casserole dish and bake, covered, about 30 minutes. Take out and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more, until cheese is melted.

**Note-this was a dish someone from our church made for us when we had our second child. We had a lot of it, but it was one of our favorite dishes we received. It is a dish we will always associate with the birth of our baby. I have altered it a bit to suit my tastes and cooking style more. Enjoy!
**Note-you could also double this recipe and freeze half of it. In that case, take extra care not to over cook the noodles as they might get a bit more mushy in the freezer. If you are making double, do not use 2 cans of cheddar cheese soup, instead just use 2 additional cans of a creamed soup of your choice.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Pork Chop and Pear Skillet

4 bone-in pork chops (1-1/2 lb.), 3/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/4 cup KRAFT Light Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing, divided
1 can (15-1/4 oz.) pear halves in juice, undrained

Cook chops in oil in large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat 3 min. on each side or until browned on both sides. Remove chops from skillet; set aside. Add onions, garlic, rosemary and 2 tablespoons dressing to skillet; stir. Cook 3 min., stirring occasionally. Return chops to skillet. Add pears and remaining dressing; simmer on medium 10 min. or until chops are done (160ºF). Serve chops topped with the sauce.

**Note-the main reason I included this dish is because when I was a newly wed, way back when, this was one of the first recipes I tried out on my husband. I felt like a real cook, not just someone assembling ingredients together like with hamburger helper, previously our mainstay meal. With how fast and easy this recipe is, I hope you too feel like a real home cook making this for yourself and your family.

Simple Honey Ginger Stir Fry Glaze

3 cups vegetables of your choice
1/2 cup Italian Dressing
2 Tbsp. honey
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 cup chicken stock or water
1/4 cup soy sauce

Saute vegetables of your choice in 1 tablespoon oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over vegetables. Simmer about 2 minutes to let flavors combine. Serve over rice.

**Note-As written this makes 4 side dishes and 2-3 main dishes. Increase veggies, sauce or rice as needed.

Suspiciously Simple Chrildren's Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened**
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
food coloring (optional)

Do not need to preheat oven. Beat together the butter and sugar until they are very fluffy. Mix in the cornstarch and flour until well blended. If you want to make rainbow cookies, mix in a few drops of food coloring. The dough will need to go in the refrigerator for an hour so it is not too sticky to handle. When ready, preheat the oven to 325 F. Break off pieces of dough and roll them between your hands into one-inch balls. Place the cookies on ungreased baking sheets and bake for about 15 minutes. Allow them to cool on racks. This recipe makes about 40 cookies.

**Note-if you didn't have time to soften your butter-and since this is a kid recipe and you probably have kids chances are you didn't have time!-then go ahead and melt (or partially melt) the butter in the microwave. The cookies turn out yummy either way.
**Note-While this recipe looks suspiciously simple, it really is very tasty. Only 4 ingredients and it takes less than 10 minutes to combine everything. Enjoy the simplicity and get in the moment with your kids!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Garden Fresh Pasta Salad

1 pkg. (16 oz.) farfalle (bow-tie pasta)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 bottle (8 oz.) Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing (or dressing of your choice)
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package, adding broccoli to the boiling water the last 3 min. Drain. Place in large bowl. Stir in peppers and tomatoes. Add dressing; toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle pasta salad with cheese right before serving.

**Note-Do I have to tell you this is a perfect dish to use up some of your vegetables from the garden? Use whatever veggies you have on hand that you think mix well!

Creamy Tomato Pasta Bake

1 jar (26 oz.) spaghetti sauce
1 pkg. (16 oz.) rotini pasta, cooked
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, drained
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese

Oven at 375. Mix all ingredients until well blended. Spoon into 13x9-inch baking dish. Bake 25 min. or until heated through.

**Note-This is the simplest of simple recipes! It is quick, tasty, easy and uses ingredients that you probably have in your pantry right now. What's for dinner tonight? This!

Cinnamon-Brown Sugar Fruit Dip

1/4 cup Cream Cheese, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and serve with cut up fruit of your choice.

**Note-I love this recipe because it can help you use up left over cream cheese, which, at my house, I never know what to do with and also it's a great dip to entice your children to eat their fruit-especially for a snack!
**Note-Using the milk makes it a more runny dip, so if you'd like yours a bit more solid, use less milk to start out with and add more as necessary.

Easy Chili Mac

1 1/2 c uncooked macaroni
1 green pepper
1 onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 t cumin
2 t chili powder
1/2 t salt
1 can beans
1 can diced tomatoes undrained
Cheese for topping

Saute onion and green pepper in olive oil until soften some. Add garlic last minute or two of cooking. Add cumin, chili powder and salt. Saute a minute or two more. Add beans and tomatoes and let simmer while pasta is cooking. Before starting veggies, boil water and cook macaroni according to package directions. Once cooked add to "chili". Top with cheese.

**Note-You can keep the chili and mac separate in case we wanted to use them differently for leftovers.
**Note-I think this is a great recipe for nights when you haven't planned anything and need to use up leftovers. You could easily adapt this recipe for what you have on hand: ground beef, other veggies, etc.

Spinach and Swiss Quiche with Potato Crust

1/2 pound (Depending on the size of potatoes, 2-4) Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded**
3 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 onion, diced
1 10 oz package of frozen, chopped spinach
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie dish** with cooking spray. Toss potatoes with 1 teaspoon oil and 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Press into an even layer in pie dish, up the sides like a crust. Bake until golden brown at the edges and dry, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Lower the oven to 325 degrees. Heat 2 teaspoon oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened and golden, about 5 minutes. Add spinach, garlic, nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until any water from the spinach evaporates; 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together eggs, milk and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. Spread the spinach mixture in an even layer in the pie dish, and top with an even layer of the cheese. Carefully pour in egg mixture. Bake until firm around the edges and egg is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Let cool, and serve warm or at room temperature.

**Note-you can use whatever potatoes you like-I used regular baking potatoes (Russet) and they worked perfectly.
**Note-You can also use an 8x8 square baking dish.
**Note-although this recipe seems complicated, it is fairly simple and very very tasty. It is nice that the crust is made out of potatoes, which are a vegetable. So you are still getting a "carb" crust but it's a vegetable also!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Crockpot Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 cup instant rice
2 eggs
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup hot water
1 package dry onion soup mix

Mix ingredients, form into a round loaf in a crock pot that has been completely lined with aluminum foil. Cook 6-7 hours on allow. Remove carefully.

**Note-my mother made this recipe quite often as a child, and to be honest I never liked it. I haven't tried it since childhood. I have included it, however, because it is my great-grandmother's recipe. My mother was very close to her grandmother and this is one of the only, if not the only, tangible thing I have of my mother's memories of her grandmother. So I have included it for that reason.

Cheddar Baked Potato Slices

1 can cream soup
4 medium baking potatoes, cut into 1/4" slices
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Oven at 400. Grease a 2 quart baking dish. Arrange potatoes in overlapping rows. Pour soup on top and then cover with cheese. Cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more or until potatoes are fork tender.

**Note-again, this isn't the healthiest dish, but sometimes when you buy a big 10lb bag of potatoes and have exhausted every other recipe, this is a good one to have on hand. It's also perfect for a potluck or gathering as what's not to like about potatoes, creaminess and cheese?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rotini and Black Bean Salad

8oz rotini pasta, cooked according to packaged directions
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup corn (my use frozen, fresh or canned)
¼ c green onions
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped

Mix oil, vinegar and garlic together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside. Mix pasta and other ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour dressing over the top. Toss gently to combine. Refrigerate at least one hour, up to 24 hours.

**Note-to make this a main dish, add cheese cubes and or cubed chicken.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pepper steak with rice

1 lb round steak, cut 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 cup beef broth
2 green peppers, cut into strips
2 tablespoons corn starch
2 large tomatoes, cut into eighths
1/4 cup, each, soy sauce and water
Cooked rice

Cut meat into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle meat with paprika. Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Brown meat in butter. Add garlic and broth. Cover and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in green peppers. Cover and cook 5 more minutes. Blend cornstarch, water, and soy sauce together. Stir into meat mixture. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add tomatoes and stir gently. Serve over rice.

**Note-this dish tastes just like Chinese takeout!

Meatball Espanol

1 lb ground beef
1 c bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped onions
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon garlic salt
1 can stewed tomatoes
2 1/2 cups zucchini, thinly sliced
1 cup beef broth
1/2 teaspoon, each, oregano, basil and sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cooked rice

Oven at 375. Combine beef, bread crumbs, onion, celery, worcestershire sauce, egg and garlic salt. Form into meatballs. Bake for 20 minutes in a casserole dish. When done, remove from dish and place on paper towels to drain fat. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, zucchini, and remaining seasonings in a small saucepan. Simmer for five minutes. Blend cornstarch into beef broth and stir into tomato mixture. Return meatballs to dish and pour tomatoes over the balls. Bake for 10 minutes longer. Serve over rice.

**Note-this is another recipe compliments of my mother that I am including purely for the ease of the dish and sentimental reasons.

Turkey Divan

1 package of frozen broccoli, thawed
Left over turkey slices/pieces
1 can creamed soup (your choice of flavor)
1/3 c milk
8oz shredded cheddar cheese

Oven at 450. Arrange thawed broccoli in a shallow baking dish. Top w/ turkey. Blend soup with milk and pour over turkey. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake until heated through, about 15 minutes.

**Note-this is a very easy and very yummy dish (what's not to love about creamed soup, turkey and cheese?). Although it isn't the healthiest, I have included it for sentimental reasons as well as it is a perfect way to use up left over turkey from the holidays.
**Note-This dish would freeze well. Do not defrost the broccoli and lower the amount of milk to 1/4 cup. Assemble in a disposable pan. When ready to use, thaw completely in the fridge and bake as directed.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Fruit Pancakes Two Ways

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes:

Mix up everyday pancake mix as directed on the package. To it, add one cup of finely chopped apples and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Fry in a frying pan and serve.

Banana Pancakes:

Mix up everyday pancake mix as directed on the package. To it, add 3/4 cup mashed bananas and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Fry in a frying pan and serve.

**Note-as with other recipes in this collection, these are both staples from my childhood. I can remember my mother or father sitting at the kitchen table on weekend mornings, meticulously chopping up apples for the pancakes or saying that morning that the bananas were going to go bad so we were having banana pancakes. Although these two recipes are not very inventive or unusual, I included them purely for sentimental reasons. May your family start memories as I have.

Broccoli-Cheese Muffins

1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli pieces
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 package (8.5 oz) corn muffin mix

Oven at 400. Grease muffin tin. Microwave broccoli for about 2 minutes, to defrost it. Meanwhile, whisk together egg, milk, and cheese. Add muffin mix and stir until just combined. Remove broccoli from microwave and press out any extra water. Finely chopped the broccoli and add it to the muffin mix. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake 12-14 minutes, until the muffins just begin to brown around the edges and spring back when touched.

Tortilla Pie

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery stalk, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15-oz can yellow corn, drained
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained
1 15-oz can black beans, drained
1 15-oz can small white beans, drained
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 tablespoon taco seasoning
1 tablespoon dried basil
5 10- to 12-inch soft tortillas
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Oven at 350. In a frying pan, heat oil and saute the onions, celery, and garlic until onions are transparent. Add corn, beans, tomato paste, and seasoning, heat thoroughly. Set two tablespoons of the bean mix aside. Place one tortilla shell on a baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray, and spoon a few tablespoons of the bean mix onto it; spread evenly. Place a tortilla on top of beans, top with mix again, and repeat until pie is five layers high. Add two tablespoons water to the remaining mix and spread over the top of the tortilla (this will prevent it from drying out during baking). Bake at 350 for 35 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake until cheese is melted. Let sit for 15 minutes. Serves six.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Rice Pudding

3 eggs
1/2 cup raisins
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups cooked rice, cooled
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoons salt
Ground cinnamon

Oven at 325. In a bowl combine all ingredients except cinnamon. Bake in a large, greased, baking dish for 25 minutes. Stir. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Return to oven and continue baking 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted comes out clean. Serve warm or cold, with cream or milk, if desired.

**Note-this is another one of my mother's recipes. I remember this rice pudding very clearly from my childhood. I always loved to eat it for breakfast, heated up with cold milk on top.

Basic Vinagrette

1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or basil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine.

Easy Spanish Rice

1 1/2 cups rice (preferably brown)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1/4 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon chili
1 4oz can of diced green chilis (optional)

In a medium sauce pan, heat oil. Add garlic, onions and peppers. Saute until softened. Add rice and chili powder. Stir and saute for 5 minutes, until rice browns a little. Add broth, tomato sauce and chilis, if using. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer according to packaged directions.

Kids Twirly Whirly Pizza

1 tube (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded Italian-mix cheese, divided
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves

Oven at 400 degrees. Unroll dough from tube. Spread pizza sauce on top. Sprinkle with half of cheese and top with spinach leaves. Roll up, starting with short end. Cut into 8 pieces, then lay pieces flat in a greased pie tin. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake 22 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

**Note-this is a perfect dish for kids to help out with. They can spread the sauce and sprinkle the cheese and spinach. It is not the most sophisticated pizza but sometimes having fun with your family is more important.

Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables

2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 cremini mushrooms, halved
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
1 pound penne pasta
3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup grated fontina cheese
1/2 cup grated smoked mozzarella
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Oven at 450 degrees. On a baking sheet, toss the peppers, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and onions with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and dried herbs. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook for about 6 minutes. Since you will be cooking the pasta a second time in the oven, you want to make sure the inside is still hard. Drain in a colander.

In a large bowl, toss the drained pasta with the roasted vegetables, marinara sauce, cheeses, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Using a wooden spoon, gently mix, until all the pasta is coated with the sauce and the ingredients are combined.

Pour the pasta into a greased 9 by 13-inch pan. Top with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan and butter pieces. Bake until top is golden and cheese melts, about 25 minutes.

**Note-feel free to use all Mozzarella if you don't have Fontina
**Note-this makes a great potluck dish or a dish to give to a friend who is sick or just had a baby. It's also a perfect, quick weeknight meal when you don't know what to make. Chances are you have all ingredients on hand and all you really have to do is chop everything up.

Primavera Orzo

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 small zucchini, chopped
2 small carrots, chopped
1 teaspoon curry powder
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup orzo pasta
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, a handful
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a slow stream. Add garlic, shallots, zucchini and carrots. Saute 5 minutes. Add curry, chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add orzo and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally until pasta absorbs the liquid and is al dente in texture, 10 minutes. Uncover and stir in cheese, parsley and peas. Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

**Note-feel free to substitute any vegetables you have on hand.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Tomato and Spinach Pasta Toss

2 cups Rotini pasta, uncooked
1 pkg. (6 oz.) baby spinach leaves (7 cups)
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup shredded part-skim Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, cook tomatoes and spinach 2 min. or until spinach is wilted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm. Drain pasta; return to pot. Add tomato and spinach mixture and cheeses; toss lightly.

Creamy Pasta Primavera

3 cups Penne pasta, uncooked
2 tablespoons light Italian Dressing
2 zucchini, cut into chunks
1-1/2 cups cut-up fresh asparagus (1-inch lengths)
1 red pepper, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
4 oz. (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) cream cheese, cubed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed on package. Meanwhile, heat dressing in large skillet on medium heat. Add vegetables; cook 5-7 min. or until veggies have softened stirring frequently. Add broth and cream cheese; cook 1 min. or until cheese is melted, stirring constantly. Add Parmesan cheese; mix well. Drain pasta; return to pot. Add vegetable mixture; toss lightly. Cook 1 min. or until heated through. (Sauce will thicken upon standing.)

**Note-may substitute any veggies you have leftover and need to use up.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moroccan Cous Cous

1 cup uncooked couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can chickpeas
2 cups vegetables (good for this recipe would be peppers, zucchini, or carrots but use whatever you have on hand), chopped to match in size the chickpeas
1 cup jarred or homemade salsa
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons golden raisins (or whatever dried fruit you have on hand)
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or whatever natural sweetener you have on hand)
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cooked couscous in water according to packaged directions. Cover to keep warm and set aside. Meanwhile, in a skillet, saute your veggies in the oil until softened, about 5 minutes. The last one minute, add garlic, being careful not to burn it. Add the remaining ingredients to the skillet, stirring to combine. Let simmer/warm for 10-20 minutes, letting the flavors blend.

**Note-this is a recipe I altered to fit what I had in my cupboard at the time. It is very versatile and perfect for using up little bits of left over things. Don't have brown sugar? Use honey! Don't have raisins, use dried apricots! There is a lot of play in this recipe, which is great when you clean out your cupboard and realize you have 2 bags of dried cranberries and don't know what to do with them.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pineapple Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup natural apple sauce
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup crushed pineapple (drained)
3 cups whole wheat flour**
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Oven at 350. Cream eggs, oil, apple sauce and sugar. Add vanilla, zucchini and pineapple, mix well. Add dry ingredients, mix until moistened. Stir in the raisins and walnuts. Divide batter between 2 greased standard loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour. Slice each loaf into 12 pieces.

**Note-You can use regular flour or a mix of whole wheat and white flour, but I encourage you to use at least some whole wheat flour as it is a super easy way and tasty way to get whole grains into your diet.
**Note-this recipe does not taste too much different than standard zucchini bread recipes. I included it because with apple sauce, zucchini, pineapple and raisins, each slice has nearly a 1/4 cup of veggies and fruit in it, which is much more than your standard zucchini bread recipe. Because of all the added fruit, it is an extra moist bread as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Double Chip Cookies

1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cups brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 ½ cups flour
¾ cup white chocolate chips
¾ cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped, salted cashews

Oven at 350. Melt butter in microwave. Mix in the sugars. Add vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix well. When the mixture is cool enough, add the eggs. Add 1 cup of flour, mix well. Add the chips and the nuts and mix thoroughly. Add the remaining flour, stirring well.

Drop by teaspoonful** onto a greased cookie sheet**. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheet for 2 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to finish.

Yield 5-6 dozen cookies

**Note-I would highly recommend using parchment paper or a non-stick cooking mat for these cookies. They do not exactly stick to the sheet but they do tear and break apart some when you try to take them off the sheet without using paper or mat.
**Note-These cookies do spread out quite a bit and tend to get very thin. I recommend using a normal table wear teaspoon and not overfilling it when dropping these cookies.
**Note-These are really yummy cookies-very similar to a regular chocolate chip cookie, but a step up.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Easy Bake Cheddar Biscuits

1 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup milk.

Oven at 450. **In a food processor, combine all dry ingredients with a few pulses. Add butter and pulse until it resembles peas. Add cheddar cheese and pulse to combine. Add the milk and combine until the dough forms a ball. Remove from a food processor and knead on a floured surface 8-10 times until dough becomes more smooth and elastic (this will become apparent after kneading the 8-10 times.) Pat dough into a 6x6 inch square and then cut into 9 pieces. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet 10-12 minutes.

**Note-you can do these biscuits by hand but doing them in a food processor is infinitely easier and I highly recommend doing it this way.
**Note-these biscuits are so incredibly yummy and so easy, I always make a double batch. 9 is just not enough!

Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon course salt

**Note, this is probably equivalent to 1-2 packages of the premade taco seasoning. I use about 2 tablespoons to equal about one package. You probably will want to make extra of this seasoning since it will last a while in your pantry.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tex-Mex Bean and Potatoes

1 can beans (Red Kidney, Pinto, or black bean are preferred)
1 tablespoon oil
1 pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
4 cup cubed potatoes
1 (10oz) package of frozen corn (about 2 cups)
2 cup shredded cheese

Oven at 350. Bring chopped potatoes and enough water to cover them to a boil in a shallow saute pan. Boil potatoes for about 10 minutes, until fork tender. Drain and set aside. Cook onion and pepper in oil for about 5 minutes, until soft. Add taco seasoning and cook 1-2 minutes more. Add water, corn, potatoes, and beans and mix to combine. Put into a greased baking dish and bake, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes more.

Corn Souffle

4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 lb fresh corn or 10oz frozen corn, thawed and drained

Oven at 350. In a medium saucepan, heat butter with sugar. When melted, stir in flour until blended. Remove from heat. Stir in milk, eggs, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. Fold in corn. Put in a 1-quart baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 40 minutes. Let sit 15 minutes before serving.

**Note-this is a twist on a traditional holiday classic corn casserole dish. It is much less fatty and caloric, but you don't notice the difference.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup jam, desired flavor

Oven at 350. Cream the butter, peanut butter and both sugars until well mixed. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Add the dry ingredients and mix until completely mixed. Form dough into 1-inch balls and use your thumb to make a well in the center of each cookie. Drop about 1/2 teaspoon of jam in the center of each cookie. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cook 1 minute on sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Upside Down Sunshine Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 package orange Jell-O
1 can pineapple rings
10 maraschino cherries
Whipped Cream (optional)

Oven at 350. Prepare cake mix as directed on package. Spray a 13x9 inch baking pan generously with cooking spray. Sprinkle with dry Jell-O mix. Top with pineapple rings, putting a cherry in the center of each ring. Pour batter evenly over Jell-O and fruit. Bake 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and then invert on a serving platter. Serve with whipped cream if desired.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Pizza Soup

1 pound (Mild) Italian sausage
1 cup celery
1 pound chopped zucchini
1 large onion chopped
1 chopped green pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 quart canned tomatoes
2 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon basil
¼ teaspoon Italian seasonings

Brown sausage until gray. Add to it the veggies and cook about 5 minutes, until soft. Add in spices and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juice) and the stock and simmer about one hour. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan Cheese and either French or Italian bread.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Taco Pizza

1 package prepared pizza crust
3/4 lb ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup corn chips

Oven at temperature on pizza dough package. Brown ground beef, drain and set aside. Mix tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Spread over pizza crust. Dot with ground beef and sprinkle cheese on top. Bake 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Top with tomatoes, lettuce and corn chips.

**Note-This is another recipe of my mother's. We used to eat it often and I have very fond memories of us, sitting around the table eating this pizza. I can still remember the taste of the chopped tomatoes and the distinct tomato sauce.

Onion Sandwiches

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 loaf thinly sliced bread (like party rye)

Oven at 325. Mix together all ingredients. Spread a thin layer on slices of bread. Bake for 5-10 minutes, until top is golden brown and it is bubbly.

**Note-this is my mother's recipe and one of the ones she was "famous" for. At every get together that we hosted as a child, my mother would make these. Everyone would rave about how delicious they were and there were never any leftovers.

Potato Hash and Cheddar Omlet

1 cup shredded potatoes
4 eggs. scrambled
2 cups baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Mist a pan with cooking spray. Add potatoes and cook 5-10 minutes (until tender), turning once (do not stir so that the potatoes develop and "crust" like hash browns). Add eggs, spinach, salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes, or until egg is done and spinach wilted. Top with cheese. Serves 2.

Open-Face Garden Sandwiches

1 small zucchini, sliced
1 small yellow squash, sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 red pepper, cut into strips
4 pitas
4 teaspoons Italian salad dressing
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Oven at 450. Place veggies on a greased baking sheet, coat with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, or until tender. Arrange vegetables evenly over pitas. Drizzle with dressing and top with cheese. Place pitas on the baking sheet and broil about 3 minutes, until cheese melts.

Double-Decker Confetti Brownies

3/4 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
1 cup M&M candies

Oven at 350. Grease a 13x9 baking dish. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine 2 1/4 cups of flour, baking powder and salt. Blend into creamed mixture. Divide dough in half. Blend together cocoa powder, melted butter, and coffee. Stir into one half of the dough. Spread cocoa dough evenly into prepared baking pan. Stir in remaining 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup candies into remaining dough. Spread evenly over cocoa dough in pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup M&Ms. Bake 25-30 minutes or until edges start to pull away from sides of pan. Cool completely. Cut into bars and store tightly in a covered container. Makes 24 brownies.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

White Chocolate and Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp orange zest
3 cups quick oats
1 cup white-chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

Oven at 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat butter and both sugars in a large bowl with electric mixer until creamy. Beat in eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. Beat in flour mixture. Stir in oatmeal one cup at a time. Add chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Drop batter by heaping teaspoonfuls, 1 inch apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and let cool.

**Note-These cookies are a great way to use up the odds and ends in your pantry (oatmeal, dried cranberries, and white chocolate chips) as well as getting something fairly healthy into your kids (or spouse!).

Sausage Breakfast Casserole

1 16oz. package ground breakfast sausage (or if you are feeling really time crunched precooked sausage links or patties, equal to 16oz)
12 eggs
1 can your favorite condensed cream soup
1 soup can of milk
1 green pepper chopped
1-32oz bag frozen tater tots
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Oven at 350. Brown the sausage and green peppers in a skillet and then drain the fat and set aside. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish. Beat together in a large bowl the eggs, cream of mushroom soup and milk. Stir in the sausage and peppers. Pour mixture into the baking dish.
Add tater tots and lightly mix in so tots are covered in egg mixture. They will naturally float to the top and brake apart during cooking. Bake in preheated oven for 45-50min. Sprinkle with cheese and bake an additional 10min to melt the cheese.

**Note-this is not a traditional "healthy" meal or vegetarian. I added it, however, because it's a very fast and tasty dish. Perfect for a holiday meal with the family or brining to a breakfast or brunch potluck.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Holiday Sweet Potato Casserole

3 cups mashed sweet potatoes **
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter

Cook and mash sweet potatoes. Mix together sweet potatoes, eggs, sugar, milk, butter and vanilla. Place in a 8 x 11 inch casserole. Mix topping ingredients in a separate bowl. Spread over sweet potatoes. Bake at 350 for 30 to 35 minutes.

**Note-This is a very traditional sweet potato casserole recipe that families have every year at the holidays. I, however, had never had it until my sister-in-law passed on the recipe. I love it! I tend to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day!
**Note-My preferred way to cook and mash the sweet potatoes are to boil them in water for about 30 minutes. Let them cool a bit then peel off the skin (very easily done by hand). Then mash the meat of the potato.
**Note-I cut the topping in half. The original recipe calls for double the amount of topping. When I made it the first time, I found it to be too sweet. Cutting it in half, I find, makes no difference in the taste and quality of the dish.
**Note-I also cut down the sugar and butter in the base in half as well. Again the taste is not affected.

Family Meatballs

1 lb Ground turkey
2 Eggs
1 Cup Seasoned Bread Crumbs
1/2 Cup Parmesan & Romano Grated Cheese Blend
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp Parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each

Wash your hands really well because you'll be doing all the mixing by hand. In a large mixing bowl, add all ingredients and mash them up in your hands, working all the ingredients into each other really well, like a meatloaf**.

This recipe makes about 20 regular sized meatballs. To do this, I score the mixture into 4 equal pieces and then make 5 meatballs out of each quarter.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes.**

**Note-this is my mother's recipe modified to my cooking techniques and tastes. It was one of those that she was "famous" for. You could always count on my mother's meatballs to be delicious. Even though my family eats about 95% vegetarian, this is one recipe my husband is not willing to give up!
**I prefer to mix up all the ingredients, sans meat, with a whisk in a large bowl then add the meat and work it into the egg mixture. I find this cuts down on the amount of handling you are giving to your meat, working it less.
**I bake these uncovered for 30 minutes, then take them out and cover them with my favorite sauce for the last 15 minutes.
**Although I haven't tried, I think you could probably make a double batch of these and freeze half. Use half of the half in spaghetti and meatballs one night and the other half in meatball subs one night.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stuffed Shells

12 ounces (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 40 shells)
2 jars tomato sauce**

**If freezing half the recipe, only use one jar of tomato sauce.

For the stuffing
2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 teaspoons olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and shredded
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups (16 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch grated nutmeg

Oven at 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells, and partially cook 6 to 7 minutes — they should have started to become tender but will still be firm to the bite. Drain in a colander, Let cool. Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring every now and then, until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add scallions during the final 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl and add spinach. Mix in ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, parsley, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg, and stir to combine.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of two** 9-x-13-inch baking dishes. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 1-2 tablespoon per shell, and arrange the shells side by side in a single layer in the prepared dishes. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the filling is heated through 25 to 30 minutes. Last 5-10 minutes, take out and cover with 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese.

**Note, this recipe makes enough for 2. I recommend making one of the pans a disposable foil pan. Spray it with non-stick spray and fill with shells. Cover with plastic wrap then foil. Carefully (so as not to tip the shells) transfer to the freezer. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge. Uncover foil and plastic wrap. Pour a jar of sauce over shells and recover with foil only. Bake as above.

Lemony Green and White Beans

1 can white beans
2 c fresh green beans, halved
1 scallion, chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
zest of half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Make dressing and toss with beans. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

Black Bean and Zucchini Quesadillas

1 cup shredded zucchini
½ cup black beans
2 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 lime, juiced
4 6-inch tortillas
1/4 cup cheddar cheese

Saute zucchini, onion and spices until tender, about 3 minutes. Mix zucchini and beans together in a bowl. Spread mixture on 2 tortillas. Top with cheese and other tortilla. Microwave 60 seconds or use toaster oven until warmed through and melted. Serves 2.

Curried Quinoa Salsa

1 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 green onions, chopped
1 c garbanzo beans

Cook quinoa and curry in water as directed on package. Mix in remaining ingredients. Serves 2.

Huevos Rancheros

4 eggs
2/3 cup refried beans
2 tortillas
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1/4 cup salsa

Prepare eggs how you like (fried, scrambled, etc.) Heat beans in microwave for 30-45 seconds. Spread tortilla with beans, top with eggs, cheese and salsa. Serves 2.

Florentine-Scramble Breakfast Sandwich

1/2 tablespoon oil
2 cups baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced
2 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
2 whole grain English muffin
2 slice cheese (Swiss suggested)

Sautee spinach and garlic for 1 minute, or until wilted. Add egg and scramble with spinach, garlic season with salt and pepper. Divide in 2 and serve on English muffins. Top with cheese. Serves 2.

Italian Onion and Potato Omlet

1 tablespoon oil
1/2 onion diced
1 potato grated
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
4 eggs

Saute potato, onion and seasoning in oil for 5 minutes. Add eggs and cook 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook an additional 2 minutes. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese if desired or serve with ketchup. Serves 2.

Swiss Apple Muesli

½ cup rolled oats
½ cup milk (or 1/2 cup yogurt, flavor of your choice, or a combination of both to add up to 1/2 cup)
1 apple, chopped
1 tablespoon almonds
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Combine all ingredients-let sit overnight. Makes one serving

Pitas with Yogurt and Cucumbers

2 low carb/calorie pitas
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Feta cheese
2 cups cucumber, diced
1 tablespoon fresh herb of choice (or 1 teaspoon dried herbs)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients (except pitas) together. Fill pitas. Serves 4, each person getting 1/2 a pita.

**Note-About 100 calories per pita depending on what type of pita you bought.

Homemade Healthy Spaghetti-O's

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
8-ounce can tomato sauce
4 ounces alphabet pasta
1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
7-3/4-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Add broth, water, and tomato sauce to a medium saucepan and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Add pasta, vegetables, and chickpeas, and boil gently, uncovered, until pasta is done, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. When cooked, stir in cheese. Top with additional cheese if desired.

**This makes a lot of Spaghetti-O's. If you are only cooking for one or two children, I would cut the recipe in half unless you know for sure they love it and will gobble it up!

Fiesta Chicken with Tomato-Avacado Salsa

Tomato-Avocado Salsa
2 medium tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 medium avocado, pitted, peeled and chopped
4 medium green onions diced
1-2 tablespoons lime juice (May substitute lemon juice)
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chili (optional)
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/4 tsp. salt

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup lime juice (may substitute lemon juice)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt

Mix chicken marinade. Reserve half to pour over chicken while it bakes. Pour other half over chicken. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. In medium glass or plastic bowl, gently mix all salsa ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Heat oven to 375. Spray 9 inch pan with cooking spray. Place chicken skin sides up, in pan. Pour reserved marinade over chicken. (Discard marinade that was in the fridge with the chicken.) Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 20-30 minutes longer, basting with marinade. Serve chicken topped with salsa.

**I have also added 1-2 cups of mango to the salsa and it was delicious!

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about two dozen

1 egg, beaten
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 cup finely shredded zucchini
12 oz chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, cream together wet ingredients. When creamed, add dry ingredients to wet and combine. When combined, stir in zucchini and chocolate chips. Mix well. Drop by spoonful onto greased baking sheet, and flatten with the back of a spoon. Bake at 350°, 10 to 15 minutes.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quick Black Bean Enchilladas

1 ½ c cottage cheese
2 cans black beans
2-4oz cans diced chilis
2 c cheddar cheese
8 -10" flour tortillas
1 jar salsa

Oven at 350. Coat a 13x9” pan with spray. Combine chottage cheese, beans, chilies and 1 cup shredded cheese. Spoon mixture evenly into tortillas. Roll and place seam side down. Pour salsa over enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover w/ foil and back 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.

**Note-this recipe is not the most flavorful enchillada recipe. However, it is very quick and very easy in addition to being healthy and low-cal so I continue to make it.

Quinoa Primavera

1 1/2 cups uncooked Quinoa
3 cups chicken broth
4oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon. chopped fresh basil
2 tsp. butter or margarine
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
5 cups thinly sliced or bite sized pieces assorted uncooked vegetables (such as asparagus, broccoli, carrot, or zucchini)
2 tablespoon Romano cheese

In sauce pan heat quinoa and broth to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes or until all broth is absorbed. Stir in cream cheese and basil.

In 10 inch non-skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Cook garlic in butter about 30 seconds, stirring frequently, until golden. Stir in vegetables. Cook 2-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until vegetables are crisp-tender.

In skillet, toss vegetables and quinoa mixture. Sprinkle with Romano cheese.

Sloppy Lentils

1 medium-size yellow onion, chopped
1 small red or green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
One 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
2 tablespoons tamari or other soy sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or a natural sweetener
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heata medium-sized non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover, and cook until softened, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add the chili powder, stirring to coat.
Transfer the onion mixture to a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add the lentils, tomatoes, water, tamari, mustard, brown sugar, salt, and pepper to taste and stir to combine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours. Serve as you do sloppy joes, on a hamburger bun.

**Note-this is especially good with mayo and cheese.

Four Seasons of Potato Salad

4 cups large storage potatoes, coarsely diced and boiled until firmly tender
3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
¾ cup last summer’s dill pickles, finely chopped
2 tbsp dill
salt to taste
Mayonnaise to consistency

Combine potatoes, eggs, and pickles, being careful not to mash anything. Add dill and salt to mixture and combine thoroughly. Add just enough mayonnaise to hold the salad together.

4 cups storage potatoes, coarsely diced
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1-2 cups new peas
1 cup crumbled feta
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Boil diced potatoes as above. Combine ingredients.

2 lbs red or golden new potatoes, cut in 1 inch chunks
3 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt
2 yellow or red bell peppers, cut in chunks
2 cups green beans (stringed and broken in 1-inch lengths)
1-2 ears sweet corn on cob

Toss potatoes with salt and oil and spread on baking sheet. Place ears of corn, lightly oiled, with potatoes to roast as well. Roast in 450° oven until tender (20-30 minutes). Add peppers and green beans to roast for last 10 minutes. When done, loosen the vegetables with a spatula, cut corn kernels off cob, and combine in a large, shallow bowl.

2 cups tomatoes cut in wedges
½ cup fresh basil
¼ cup olive oil whipped together with 1 tbsp balsamic or other mellow vinegar
Toss tomatoes, basil and dressing with roasted vegetables, salt to taste.

2 lbs fingerling potatoes (Russian Banana, Rose-Finn, La Ratte)
seasonal vegetables
4 tbsp dried basil
¼ cup olive oil whipped with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Prepare roasted potatoes as in “Summer” recipe, combining with late-season peppers and green beans, shelly beans, or limas, roasted along with the potatoes. Toss with fresh tomato wedges, basil and the dressing. As the season progresses and different things become available, you can mix and match other vegetables with the potatoes to your heart’s content, keeping proportions roughly the same. Cubed winter squash and sweet potatoes are wonderful in this roasted dish, requiring about the same amount of time in the oven. Don’t hesitate to combine sweet and regular potatoes – they are unrelated, and marry well!

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo

12 oz orzo pasta
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large zucchini, grated
Olive oil for saute
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1/2 teaspoon Oregano
¼ cup grated Parmesan or any hard yellow cheese

Bring a pot of water to boil. Boil orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, saute onion, garlic, and zucchini with spices until lightly golden. Remove mixture from heat. Combine with cheese and cooked orzo, salt to taste, serve cool or at room temperature.

Healthy Potato Skins

Serves 2

2 medium potatoes (baking or sweet-your choice)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bag baby spinach (or about one cup frozen, thawed and squeezed out)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Oven at 350 degrees. Place potatoes on a baking sheet and onto an oven rack. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until fork-tender. (You can also microwave them until they are tender. Whichever way you choose, make sure the potato is tender otherwise it will be very difficult to make the rest of the recipe.) Meanwhile, in a deep saute pan heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 2 to 3 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the entire bag of spinach and scallions, cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. When the potatoes are cooked, let them cool for 5 minutes. Carefully slice each one in half and scoop out inside of potato into a bowl. Add cream cheese, buttermilk, salt and pepper, and mash together until smooth. Mix the potato mash with the reserved, cooked veggies. Using a pastry brush, coat the outside of each potato skin with the vegetable oil. Fill each of the shells with the filling and top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. Transfer each skin back to the baking sheet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the skins are crispy.

**Note-this was one of the most amazing meals I have ever had. I couldn't believe how tasty it was! It is a bit of work, but the end result is so worth it. I recommend doubling the recipe so that you can have extras for later in the week.

Mexican Hotdish Casserole

4-oz can diced green chilies (w/ juice)
2 cups shredded cheese
2 cans (14 oz each) diced tomatoes w/ juice
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
2 cups uncooked rice
2 packages taco seasoning
3 cups chicken (or equivalent in beans, which would be about one can)
2 cups chicken broth

Fritos and 2 cups additional cheese for topping

Oven at 350. Spray a 6 quart pan w/ spray. Combine all ingredients in pan and mix together. Cover w/ foil double thick foil and back for 90 minutes. When done, take it out, sprinkle w/ fritos and additional cheese and return uncovered for 10 minutes. Let sit for 10 more minutes to firm up.

**Note-this is a pretty easy and mindless recipe/meal. This is something you could make on a busy day, stick it in the oven and forget about it til dinner.
**This makes a large amount of food. I would recommend taking half of it and freezing it for use at a later time.

Zoo Day Snack Mix

3 cups animal crackers
1 ½ cups banana chips
¾ c chopped, dried mangoes
¾ cups peanuts
¾ cups dried berries or raisins

Mix together and divide evenly among snack bags (makes 6-12 bags).

**Note-This is a perfect snack for the zoo because the bananas are for monkeys, peanuts for elephants, mango for bats and berries for birds. Feel free to add other things to the mix that fit the zoo theme.

Italian Meatball and Escarole Soup

½ lb. ground Turkey (or Chicken)
½ tsp. Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Egg White (I use the whole egg)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 Tb. Parsley, chopped
1 Tb. Parmesan cheese
5 C Chicken broth
½ C Orzo pasta
1 bu. Escarole, washed and shredded
2 Tb. Lemon juice

In a bowl, mix together turkey, egg white, garlic, parsley, cheese, salt and pepper. In a large pot, bring broth to a boil. Add meatballs and orzo, reduce heat to med. low, cover and simmer 15 min., or until meatballs are cooked through. Add escarole and lemon juice. Cover and simmer 5 min, or until escarole is tender. Serve sprinkled with cheese.

**Note-This is one of my favorite soups. Do not omit the lemon juice-it makes this dish!
**Note-You may substitute the orzo for any type of small pasta-I have used extra alphabet pasta I couldn't find another use for. You could even use broken up pieces of pasta you've saved from the bottom of your other pasta boxes.

Easy (Freezable) Red Sauce

(No need to cook it ahead of time! Just assemble!)

12oz tomato paste
2 cups hot water
2 T dried parsley
2 t dried, minced onion
1 T minced garlic
1 T sugar
2 t salt
1 t basil
1 t oregano
1 t thyme
28 oz tomato sauce
28 oz diced tomatoes

Freezer bags-amount varies by how much you want to put in each bag.

1. Mix tomato paste and hot water together til smooth in a large bowl. Stir in seasonings.
2. Add tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Do not cook
3. Divide sauce among freezer bags as desired.**
4. Freeze

To use

1. Thaw in fridge.
2. In a recipe calling for sauce, simmer 20 minutes and pour over pasta.
3. In a recipe that is being baked, no need to simmer first, just use and enjoy!

**This makes 10 cups of sauce. I like to divide it into 3 cup increments, similar to what you'd get in a spaghetti sauce jar.
**This is a tasty, super inexpensive, and easy sauce to make.

Simplest Loaf Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup cooking oil (such as vegetable or canola)

Oven at 350. Generously butter a loaf pan. In a bowl combine dry ingredients (not sugar). In another bowl beat eggs, sugar, sour cream and vanilla together until well blended. Add the dry ingredients an stir until smooth. Finally pour in the oil and stir in smoothly until thoroughly folded into batter. Pour into loaf pan and bake 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 5 minutes then remove from pan, cooling completely.

**This is the best cake I have ever had to serve with coffee. If you have a guest over and want to serve something simple and tasty, this is it.
**You may want to use parchment paper on the bottom of your loaf pan to assure it comes out.

Orzo with Feta, Green Beans and Tomatoes

1 lb of green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups orzo
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large tomatoes
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 cups crumbled Feta (about 10 oz)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a boil for orzo and green beans. Cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil and saute until softened-about 5 minutes. Quarter and seed the tomatoes. Cut quarters into lengthwise slices, about 1/4 inch thick. When onion is cooked, add tomatoes and cook, stirring, until softened about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Cook orzo according to packaged directions, adding green beans last 1-2 minutes. When cooked, drain and add to tomato and onion mixture. Add in vinegar, parsley, feta and salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

**Note-This dish is more like a warm and/or hearty pasta salad than it is a traditional pasta dish.

Ravioli Casserole

1 25oz bag frozen ravioli (your choice), thawed
1 medium zucchini, cut in half length wise then sliced (about one cup)**
1 jar tomato sauce
1 cup shredded cheese
1/8 teaspoon Italian seasoning (if desired)

Oven at 350. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients, except cheese and seasoning. Spoon into a baking dish. Bake 40-50 minutes or until heated through a bubbly. Sprinkle with cheese and seasoning and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and/or browned.

**Note-you may want to add an extra cup of a vegetable of your choice

Chex Muddy Buddies

9 cups Corn Chex, Rice Chex, Wheat Chex Cereal (or any combination)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

In a large bowl, pour cereal(s). Set aside. In a 1-quart microwaveable container, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter, and butter on high for one minute. Stir. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour chocolate mixture over cereal(s), stirring until evenly coated. Pour into a 2-quart plastic bag. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag and shake until well coated. Spread mixture on wax paper to cool. Store in airtight container.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Original Chex Party Mix

3 cups corn Chex cereal
3 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups wheat Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite sized pretzels
1 cup bite sized bagel chips (or regular sized bagel chips broken into bite sized pieces), garlic flavor if desired
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt (or just one teaspoon regular salt)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Oven at 250. Mix cereals together in a large bowl. Microwave butter until melted. Stir in remaining seasonings. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture and stir to coat. Transfer to a large baking dish/pan and bake for about one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Allow to cool then store in an air tight container.

Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs (I used plain and added 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning plus 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese)
1 jar of spaghetti sauce, 26-28 oz-use your favorite
1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

Oven at 400 degrees. Dip chicken in egg,then breadcrumbs, coating well. In a greased/sprayed 13x9 inch glass* baking dish, arrange chicken. Bake 20 minutes uncovered. Pour spaghetti sauce over chicken then top with cheese. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
Serve over cooked pasta if desired.
*If using a metal baking dish, increase oven temperature by 25 degrees.

**Note-This is such a great and easy dish! Big hit with the family!