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!