Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Healthy Rice Pudding

This recipe is sweet!  Seriously!  
Originally posted at Back to the Basics:

I was looking for a "healthy" version of rice pudding.  Initially all I found were recipes that substituted skim milk for whole milk or heavy cream.  Since my hubby and I completed our 21 day detox we have decided to severely limit our milk consumption. The recipe I finally settled on is vegan so no milk and no eggs (and LOW fat).

Vegan Rice Pudding Recipe
1 cup organic brown rice
1 1/2 cups water
1 Tbsp vegan butter
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup Vanilla Coconut Milk (or other non-dairy creamy beverage)
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unsweetened toasted coconut flakes, optional

First, add the rice, water, salt and butter to a pan. Bring it to a bowl over high heat. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low. Simmer rice for an additional 30 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

Next, turn heat to medium and stirring constantly, add all the coconut milk until it has been sufficiently absorbed. Be sure to uncover lid so that steam can cook off the rice. Fold in the vanilla extract, cinnamon and agave or maple syrup. Cover with lid and allow to sit for ten minutes.

Serve warm or store in fridge to serve cold. Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon and a drizzle of agave syrup on top before serving.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mary's Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies

Originally posted at Back to the Basics!

This is one of my favorite recipes.  The original recipe came from the Quaker Oats container.  My mom made the original recipe quite often when we were kids.  I put my own healthy spin on the original.  I have substituted apple sauce for butter and cut back on the sugar.  In addition, I use almond slivers and/or coconut flakes.

Mary's Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies

1 cup organic apple sauce (no sugar added)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 cups Quaker Oats (old-fashion, uncooked)
1 1/4 cup raisins
*omitted* 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Extras:  1/4 cup almond slivers and/or 1/4 cup coconut flakes

Heat oven to 350 F.  Beat together apples sauce and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla, beat well.

Add combined flour, baking soda and cinnamon.  Mix well.  Stir in oats and raisins (and almond slivers/coconut flakes).  Mix well.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased (I use Pam) cookie sheet.  Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet if you can wait that long.  Remove to wire rack if there are any left.

No-Churn Ice Cream Recipes (part 2)

Hazelnut Mocha Fudge Swirl Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
2 tablespoons Hazelnut or French Vanilla ground coffee
1/2 cup Smucker’s Milk Chocolate Ice Cream Topping
1 bottle Smucker’s Magic Shell Chocolate Fudge Flavor

Combine the cream and coffee in a medium, heavy saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat to dissolve the coffee. Remove from heat and strain the mixture into the bowl of your mixer. Cool in fridge. Meanwhile, whisk together sweetened condensed milk and chocolate ice cream topping in large bowl. Set aside.

When chilled, beat the cream to stiff peaks. Fold into sweetened condensed milk mixture.

Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Store in freezer. After 1 hour, remove from freezer and swirl on the Chocolate Fudge Magic Shell. Stir gently once or twice. Return to freezer for another hour, then remove and gently stir, breaking up the fudge shell. Add more if desired, and repeat 2-3 times as desired.

No-Churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

200g spreadable cream cheese (about 3/4 cup)
1 can (14oz) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream, cold

In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese until creamy and smooth. Slowly add condensed milk, creaming between each addition to avoid lumps. Stir in vanilla extract and heavy cream. Switch to the whisk attachment. Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form when beaters are lifted.

Spread half into an 8×8 inch, square baking dish. Dollop with half of blueberry syrup. Top with remaining cream mixture, spreading evenly. Dollop with remaining blueberry syrup. Using a knife, swirl the syrup into the cream mixture. Cover with foil and freeze for 6 hours or until firm.

Monday, May 28, 2012

No-Churn Ice Cream Recipes (part1)

Coffee Ice Cream with Cacao Nibs
adapted from everyday food

1 can [14 ounces] sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong cold coffee or cold press
2 cups cold heavy cream
1/3 cup cacao nibs

In a medium bowl, stir together condensed milk, vanilla, coffee and cacao nibs.

With a standing mixer, whip cream on medium high until soft peaks form. Whisk one third of whipped cream into coffee mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into coffee mixture until incorporated. Pour into a regular sized loaf pan, and freeze until firm, 6 hours (or, covered, up to 1 week).

Cinnamon Bun Ice Cream

2 cups heavy cream
1 (14 oz.) Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip heavy cream to stiff peaks in large bowl. Whisk sweetened condensed milk, butter, cinnamon, and vanilla in large bowl. Mix well. Fold in whipped cream.

Pour into a 2-quart container and cover. Freeze 6 hours or until firm. Store in freezer.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

If you haven't realized yet from other posts, I operate another blog and have for several years.  Back to the Basics is mostly a gardening/urban homestead/health blog.  I decided to move most of my recipe posts to a new blog, one strictly for cooking baking and food.  It may not be necessary but I have indicated in each blog post if the recipe had been posted previously at Back to the Basics.  Here's another one!

My hubby and I are DONE with the 21-day purification program and we're looking forward to integrating a few items back into our diets.  Homemade bread is one of those delicious foods I have missed. 

When I'm in a hurry and I don't have time to really search for a recipe I typically use  I normally choose a very simple recipe for the ingredients I'd like to prepare and then amend to my (or my hubby's) liking.

Whole Wheat Bread 

3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/3 cup honey
5 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup honey
1 tablespoon salt
3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons butter, melted

In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.

Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel (or a large glass bowl). Let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake.

Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard (I don't always do this).  Cool completely.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Focaccia for the Family

Originally posted at Back to the Basics:
I feel a bit carb-obssessed lately.  I don't eat a whole lot of bread or pasta but when I do I really savor the flavors.  I stumbled across a delicious recipe for Focaccia the other day and I just have to share.

Easiest Focaccia
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, dissolve sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the yeast mixture with flour; stir well to combine. Stir in additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until all of the flour is absorbed. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly for about 1 minute.

Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).

Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface; knead briefly. Pat or roll the dough into a sheet and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush the dough with oil and sprinkle with salt.

Bake focaccia in preheated oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on desired crispness. If you like it moist and fluffy, then you'll have to wait just about 10 minutes. If you like it crunchier and darker in the outside, you may have to wait 20 minutes.

This might be the easiest focaccia recipe ever. Seriously!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Chive, Cheddar and Bacon Muffins

Looking for a breakfast or snack recipe?  How about a delicious addition to soup?  This muffin recipe is mouth-watering!
Chive, Cheddar and Bacon Muffins

6 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
4 teaspoons dried chives
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup condensed cream of mushroom soup 

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and lightly grease 12 muffin cups or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, garlic powder, chives, Parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese and crumbled bacon.

In a separate bowl, combine egg, milk, cream of mushroom soup and vegetable oil. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin pans. 
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Healthier version: Use Apple Sauce in place of vegetable oil

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Easy Scones

This is another simple recipe.  These scones are great fresh or frozen and are very versatile.  As a dessert, drizzle with a sweet glaze.  For breakfast, add cinnamon and sliced almonds before baking.

Easy Scones

Makes 8 Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1/2 cup raisins (blueberries or dried cranberries)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 large egg

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.

In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.

Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)

Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. 

*Want to jazz it up?  Substitute raisins for chives and add cheddar cheese! For a healthier alternative, substitute Zucchini for raisins*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Slow Cooker Apple Butter

This recipe can be frozen or canned.  Apple butter is a great substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes.

All Day Apple Butter

5 1/2 pounds apples - peeled, cored and finely chopped
4 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place the apples in a slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Pour the mixture over the apples in the slow cooker and mix well.
Cover and cook on high 1 hour.

Reduce heat to low and cook 9 to 11 hours, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened and dark brown.

Uncover and continue cooking on low 1 hour. Stir with a whisk, if desired, to increase smoothness.

Spoon the mixture into sterile containers, cover and refrigerate or freeze. 

To preserve, I found canning instructions for 
Homemade Applesauce at Foodin Jars:

To process, bring your applesauce to a boil and pack into clean, hot jars, leaving a half inch of headspace.

Remove the air bubbles, wipe the rims and apply lids. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 (pints) or 20 (quarts) minutes. Store in a cool, dark place and enjoy homemade applesauce all year long.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Thai Curry

Carnivore?  Vegetarian?  Vegan?  Whichever way you choose to live and eat, this Red Thai Curry dish will rock your world!  This recipe may need a bit of explanation.  "Mock Duck" is a vegan meat substitute so the original recipe is vegan/vegetarian.  If you prefer meat, substitute with chicken or pork (or whichever meat you choose).  I like Mock Duck but I have made this recipe many different ways and I always add more veggies.

Slow Cooker Red Thai Curry with Mock Duck

2 cups mushrooms
1 pepper
2 cans mock duck
1 can coconut milk
3T red curry paste
Add sliced onions, julienned carrots and/or broccoli florets

Remove stems from mushrooms and chop the caps. Remove the seeds from the pepper and chop. Drain the mock duck and cut into bite-size pieces.

Place chopped mushrooms, pepper, and mock duck in the slow cooker. Add coconut milk and curry paste; stir well to mix in curry paste to coat veggies & mock duck.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours, until veggies are cooked. Be mindful not to overcook the peppers.  If you’d like it a little spicy, try adding some Sriracha or Thai chili sauce.

Serve by itself or over white or brown rice.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

YUM!  This is an "everything but the kitchen sink" recipe.

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

3 cups Chicken Broth
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large stalks celery, diced
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound kielbasa, diced
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into cubes
1 cup uncooked regular long-grain white rice
1/2 pound fresh medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

Stir the broth,Creole seasoning, green pepper, onion, garlic, black pepper, celery, tomatoes, kielbasa, chicken and rice in a 6-quart slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7 to 8 hours or until the chicken is cooked through.

Add the shrimp to the cooker. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.Serve by itself or over rice.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Slow Cooker: Texas Chili

This recipe was originally posted at Back to the BasicsI normally use my slow cooker when I make chilli.  Chili is easy to make and can be eaten by itself, topped with cheese or scallions or used as a taco filling or topping.

Texas Chili (my version)

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
6 stalks of celery, thinly chopped
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
4 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
3 jalapeno peppers, minced (optional)
1/2 cup chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
16 ounce dry chili (or pinto) beans, cooked  
OR  3 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans

Turn on your slow cooker to high and add tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, jalapenos (if using), chili powder, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder
Cook and stir the beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large pan over medium heat until the beef is brown and onion, celery and pepper are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain grease from beef and add to your slow cooker.

Simmer chili at least 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

This chili can be simmered for several hours; the longer you simmer, the more flavor you will get.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Slow Cooker Asian Style Ribs

Use this recipe for delicious, fall-off-the-bone ribs.

Slow Cooker Asian Style Country Ribs

1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Sriracha hot pepper sauce
12 pork ribs (boneless or bone-in)

Stir together the brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, rice vinegar, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and Sriracha in the crock of a slow cooker. Add the ribs; cover and refrigerate. Allow ribs to marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

Before cooking, drain half of the marinade and discard. Cook on Low for 9 hours. Drain cooked meat and shred, using 2 forks.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork

Some of my favorite recipes use a slow cooker.  I've made sauce from scratch and even dessert. I like to serve Teriyaki Pork with a light Healthy Mushroom Stroganoff or Grilled Eggplant.

Slow Cooker Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin
Servings: 8

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds pork tenderloin
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 fresh red chile pepper, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown tenderloins on all sides, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together teriyaki sauce, chicken broth, and brown sugar in a bowl. Stir in garlic, red chile pepper, onion, and black pepper.

Put browned tenderloins into slow cooker, cover with the teriyaki sauce mixture. Cook on High for about 4 hours, turning 2 to 3 times during the cooking time to ensure even doneness.

Remove tenderloins from the slow cooker and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. If desired, spoon liquid over slices when serving.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mac & Cheese Muffins

Picky eater at home?  Need a quick "comfort food" appetizer?  This is quick and easy!

Mac & Cheese Muffins

4 cups cooked whole wheat or high fiber macaroni
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup skim milk
1 garlic clove, minced
3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 egg
1 egg white
1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained and patted dry (or you could use 1 cup cooked fresh spinach)
Salt & pepper to taste

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 400. Lightly mist a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
2.    In a small sauce pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour, mixing it into the butter until thick. Stir in the milk and garlic and raise the temp to bring the mixture to just under a boil. Add the cheese and whisk mixture together until thoroughly combined into a cheese sauce.
3.    Remove the cheese sauce from heat and then mix in the egg and egg white (binding agents) until combined.
4.    In a large bowl, combine the pasta, spinach, cheese sauce, salt and pepper and mix together. Spoon the mixture evenly into the cups of your prepared muffin tin.
5.    Bake for 10-15 minutes until the tops slightly brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Yields 12 muffins.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Friendship Soup, A Great Gift!

I've made this soup for gifts quite a few times, always with rave reviews.  The original recipe is from  I usually omit the pasta and simply add more goodies but today I'll post the original recipe.  

The entire contents can be layered in a jar, add a pretty fabric with a ribbon and given as an amazingly thoughtful gift.   
Hint: A great addition to a Mother's Day gift basket

   Friendship Soup Mix in a Jar

1/2 cup dry split peas
1/3 cup beef bouillon granules
1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 cup dry lentils
1/4 cup dried onion flakes
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked alphabet pasta

In a 1 1/2 pint jar, layer the split peas, bouillon, barley, lentils, onion flakes, Italian seasoning, rice, and bay leaves. Wrap the pasta in plastic wrap, and place in the jar. Seal tightly.

Attach a label to the jar with the following instructions: 

Friendship Soup
ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS: 1 pound ground beef, black pepper to taste, garlic powder to taste, 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes - undrained, 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste, and 3 quarts water. 

TO PREPARE SOUP: Remove pasta from top of jar, and set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, brown beef with pepper and garlic; drain excess fat. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water, and soup mix. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir in the pasta, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pasta, peas, lentils and barley are tender.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Zucchini Appetizers and Snacks

What do you do with all those Zukes?   
More fantastic Harvest Recipes and perfect appetizers for a Saturday night get-together or Mother's Day Brunch! 

Parmesan Zucchini Rounds

1 oz Parmesan, freshly grated (I used the smallest holed side of a box grater)
¼ cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 egg whites
2 ½ cups zucchini rounds, sliced about 1/4” thick (this was about 2 small zucchini)

1.    Preheat oven to 425. Line two baking sheets with aluminum foil and place a wire baking rack on top (I used two metal cooling racks).Lightly mist the racks with cooking spray.
2.    Combine the Parmesan, bread crumbs, pepper and garlic powder in a shallow dish and mix together.
3.    In a small bowl, beat the two egg whites. Dip each zucchini round in the egg whites to coat both sides and then press each side of the round into the bread crumb/Parmesan mixture. Place the coated round on the wire rack on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining zucchini rounds.
4.    Bake for 30-35 minutes until the Parmesan and bread crumb coating is browned and crisp. Serve immediately.

Zucchini Squares

3 cups shredded zucchini
1 cups Bisquick Heart Smart Baking Mix
½ cup finely chopped onion
¼ teaspoon oregano
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon salt
dash of garlic powder
2 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten

1.    Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly mist a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray.
2.    In a large bowl, stir together all listed ingredients until combined. Pour ingredients into the prepared baking dish and spread.
3.    Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into 12 squares.

Tomato-Gazpacho Sauce

Homemade Tomato-Gazpacho Sauce
From Tomato Casual

Makes about 1cup of sauce
4 tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
4 garlic cloves
1 onion, quartered
1 bell pepper, rough chopped
vinegar and sugar to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Place the vegetables in a blender and puree until smooth. (If needed, puree in batches.) Place the puree into a saucepan and heat to a simmer. The sauce should separate into a foam and liquid, then settle into a coarse liquid. Cook until reduced by half. Push the sauce through a fine mesh sieve, then heat again. Cook to desired thickness, then season to taste with salt, pepper, vinegar and sugar. Serve with grilled chicken, pork, beef, or fish.

This recipe does not have to be cooked.  For those who prefer raw, this is a delicious sauce or marinade!

Summer Pasta with Gazpacho Sauce

1 pound Whole Grain Pasta
1 Cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 large firm-ripe Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
6 ounces Cotija or ricotta salata cheese, crumbled

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until al dente; drain.

In a small bowl, combine cucumbers, bell pepper, avocado, cilantro, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

While pasta is hot, add to tomato mixture and toss to combine.

Divide pasta into shallow serving bowls. Top each with cucumber mixture, dividing evenly; sprinkle with cheese.

Friday, May 11, 2012

No-Fuss Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

1 onion, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dried basil
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups dry lentils
8 cups water
½ cup spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced
2 Tbs. vinegar
Celtic Sea Salt® and ground black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes. Stir in lentils, and add water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, and season to taste with Celtic Sea Salt® and pepper, and more vinegar if desired.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Raw Vegetable Soups

Some people prefer to eat a mostly raw diet.  I'm talking about veggies, not meat.  Raw soups are simple and nutritious.  Enjoy!

Creamy Red Pepper Soup

1 red pepper
1 cup warm water
½ large avocado
5 baby carrots
¼ cup hemp seeds
1 tsp. onion, chopped
½ tsp. garlic, chopped
1 tsp. raw honey
½ tsp. jalapeño pepper
½ tsp. Celtic Sea Salt®

Blend all ingredients for about 5-10 minutes until thick, smooth, and slightly warm.

Vegetable Soup

1 cucumber
1 young coconut water
½ bell pepper
½ avocado
2 celery ribs
3 green onions
2 large chard leaves (or 4 small)
1 tomato (for garnish)
Juice from 1 lime
Small combination of herbs  (suggestions include cilantro, mint, and rosemary)
Small portion of Dulse seaweed (optional)

In a blender combine the coconut water, 1/2 cucumber, avocado, celery, chard leaves, one green onion, lime juice, cayenne pepper, and seaweed. Blend on high. Next add the bell pepper, the rest of the cucumber, two remaining green onions, and the herbs. Pulse until herbs are chopped up. Garnish the soup with avocado, tomato, green onion, fresh herbs, and bell pepper.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Spicy Balsamic Glaze for Chicken or Fish

Sweet and spicy deliciousness!  
This is a great recipe for chicken or fish.

Spicy Balsamic Glazed Chicken

1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon pepper
4 bone-in skin-on chicken breasts (8 oz each)

For the grill:
Heat gas or charcoal grill. In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients; set aside.

Place chicken on grill, skin side down, over medium heat. Cook 10 minutes. Turn chicken; brush half the glaze evenly over chicken. Continue cooking and brushing with remaining glaze 10 to 12 minutes longer or until juice of chicken is clear when thickest part is cut to bone (170°F).

For the oven:
In small bowl, mix glaze ingredients.  Marinate chicken in glaze mixture for an hour.

Heat oven to 375ºF. Place chicken in a glass pan and pour glaze mixture over chicken.  Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Healthy Meatloaf

When I was a kid, my Gran made the best meatloaf.  On occasion I still make her version of meatloaf.  My healthy version substitutes ground turkey for beef and brown rice for cornflakes.

Healthy Meatloaf

2 pounds organic Ground Turkey
2 eggs
1/2 cup skim milk
1 cup brown rice, cooked
1 packet Lipton's Onion Soup
1 teaspoon pepper
1 quick squirt of organic ketsup


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Add all ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

In 13" by 9" metal baking pan, shape meat mixture into 9" by 5" loaf. Spread additional ketchup over top of loaf.

Bake meatloaf covered for 45 minutes.  Remover cover and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in center reaches 160 degrees F. (Temperature will rise to 165 degrees F upon standing.)

Let meatloaf stand 10 minutes before removing from pan to set juices for easier slicing.  Transfer meatloaf to platter and cut into slices to serve.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Baked Falafel and Lemon-Tahini Dressing

A friend sent me this recipe from SparkRecipes, a collection of healthy recipes.  So happy I bookmarked it!  If you like Falafel but think it's too much trouble, think again!  Not only is it simple and healthy, the dressing is worthy of it's own post.  Don't worry, I won't make you wait...the recipe for Lemon-Tahini Dressing is also listed below!

Baked Falafel

Use all chickpeas if you don't have fava beans. If you use canned beans, the sodium levels will be higher so omit the salt.

Makes 12
1 cup cooked fava beans
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
handful fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 t baking powder
2 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 t black pepper
1/4 t salt
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2 T olive oil
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Place the beans in a food processor and pulse until they are crumbled but not mushy. Add the garlic, onions, lemon juice and zest, spices, parsley, baking powder, salt and pepper.  Pulse until just combined. Transfer to a bowl and add flour as needed. The mixture should stick together but not be dry. Depending on the texture of your beans, you might need to add more or less flour.

Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Form mixture into balls or patties, each slightly larger than a golf ball (just less than 1/4 cup each).

Bake 20 minutes, flip and bake another 15 minutes, until falafel are browned on both sides and crispy on the outside.

Serve with lemon-tahini dressing. Serving size is one ball, but feel free to eat more than one!

Lemon-Tahini Dressing

1/2 cup tahini
3 lemons, juiced and zested
1 T toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 scallions, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 t sriracha (hot sauce--optional)
up to 1/2 cup water
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth, adding water one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency. Each serving is one tablespoon.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole, Stovetop-Style

No introduction needed.  Simple and less mess using only 1 pan!

Chicken & Broccoli Casserole
Makes: 6 servings

8 ounces whole-wheat egg noodles
14-ounces chicken broth or veggie broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, 

cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 ½ cups  broccoli florets
1 1/2 cups skim milk
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded Colby-Jack or Cheddar cheese

Place noodles in a large skillet. Pour broth over the noodles. Layer chicken, then broccoli over the noodles.

Whisk milk, mayonnaise, flour, dry mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Pour over the broccoli.

Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the noodles and chicken are cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

When the casserole is done, sprinkle cheese on top and broil until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cince de Mayo MARGARITAS!

Blueberry and Basil Margarita
Makes 1 Cocktail

2 oz. fresh lime juice
1½ oz. fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp. sugar
3 oz. fresh blueberries
4 basil leaves, plus 1 sprig
3 oz. reposado tequila
1½ oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. agave syrup

Boil juices and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar dissolves; cool. Pour syrup into a shaker with all but 4 blueberries and the basil leaves; crush with a spoon. Add tequila, Grand Marnier, and agave. Fill with ice, and shake. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice; garnish with remaining blueberries and basil.

Garden Fresh Margarita
Makes one drink

1 cup ginger juice (see note)
½ cup kale juice (see note)

2 oz. blanco tequila
1 oz. lime juice
¾ oz. agave nectar
Salt, for rimming the glass
Rim a rocks glass with salt, set aside. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in ½ oz. ginger-kale juice, tequila, lime juice and agave nectar. Shake well, and pour over ice into your salt-rimmed glass.

Note: Fresh ginger and kale juices are available for takeaway at some juice bars. To make kale juice at home, wash, stem, and roughly chop kale, and liquefy in a blender at high speed, straining out solids if desired. To make ginger juice at home, finely grate knobs of peeled ginger over cheesecloth; squeeze cheesecloth to strain out ginger juice.

Watermelon Margarita
Serves 2
Watermelon gives the Silver Coin Margarita, from Austin's Fonda San Miguel, its refreshing kick. We recommend using Herradura Silver Tequila.
1 medium-size seedless watermelon
1  750-ml bottle of silver tequila

4 oz. of the watermelon-infused tequila
2 oz. frozen limeade
2 cubes of the infused watermelon
1 1⁄2 oz. Cointreau
Watermelon wedges

1. For the infused tequila, cut a watermelon into 1" cubes (rind removed) until you have roughly 2 lbs. of fruit. Transfer to a glass jar, pour in tequila, seal jar, and let steep for 2 days.
2. To make drinks, combine the watermelon-infused tequila, 2 cups crushed ice, frozen limeade, infused watermelon, and Cointreau in a blender. Purée until slushy. Garnish with watermelon wedges.

The Guavarita
Serves 1
The mixologist at Bar Americain who gave us this recipe had one thing in mind when creating this cocktail: to come up with something tropical, refreshing, and—most importantly—loaded with tequila.

5 pieces fresh basil, torn into small pieces
1 1⁄2 oz. guava nectar
3 oz. Don Julio Reposada tequila
1⁄4 oz. fresh lime juice
1. In a shaker, mix basil, guava nectar, tequila, and lime juice—taking care not to muddle the basil—then shake and serve, over ice, in a rocks glass.

Healthy Mexican-Style Favorites for Cinco de Mayo

Do you know Emily?  Please allow me to introduce you!  A fellow blogger at Emily Bites has quite a few amazing and mostly healthy recipes.  Since today is Cinco de Mayo I'll share a few mexican-style recipes.

Taco "cupcakes"
by Emily
1 ½ t chili oil (found near the Asian ingredients)
½ lb 95% lean ground beef
1 T taco seasoning
¾ c canned black beans, drained and rinsed
16 wonton wrappers (found in the produce section)
5 T + 1 t of queso dip or salsa con queso
1 c chunky salsa 
 1 c reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese

1.    Pre-heat the oven to 375. Lightly mist 8 cups in a muffin tin with cooking spray and set aside.
2.    Heat chili oil in a sauté pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, add the ground beef and taco seasoning and brown beef, breaking it up with a spoon. Add black beans and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes until warm.
3.    Push a wonton wrapper into the bottom of each of the eight sprayed cups in the muffin tin. Spoon a teaspoon of queso dip into each wonton wrapper and spread across the bottom. Follow by spooning some of the meat/beans mixture into each cup (using about half the total mixture) and then splitting ½ cup of the salsa evenly into each cup. Sprinkle about half the shredded Mexican cheese evenly over the top of each cup. Press another wonton wrapper on top and repeat the layering steps with the remaining
4.    Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from muffin tin.

Yields 8 taco cupcakes.

Spicy Black Bean Veggie Burgers
by Emily

1 jalapeno pepper
2 garlic cloves
2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed, separated
OR use Homemade Beans
2 t cumin
1 ¼ t salt
½ c panko bread crumbs 
2 T tomato sauce
½ c corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1-2 eggs
4 t extra virgin olive oil
¾ of an avocado
3 t sriracha (Thai hot sauce)
6 whole wheat sandwich rolls

1.    Cut open the jalapeno and remove the seeds. Chop and place in a food processor with the garlic cloves. Pulse until finely chopped. Add one can of drained & rinsed black beans to the food processor and pulse to mix. Add the cumin and salt and continue to run food processor until a chunky paste forms.
2.    Pour the black bean mixture from the food processor into a large mixing bowl. Add the bread crumbs, tomato sauce, corn and eggs. Stir together to combine. Add the remaining can of drained & rinsed black beans. Stir to combine. Form mixture into 6 patties.
3.    Bring 2 teaspoons of oil to medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add three of the patties to the skillet and cook on each side 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Use a large spatula to flip; patties are fragile. Repeat with remaining patties.
4.    Place each patty on a bun and top with 1/8 of an avocado (sliced) and ½ teaspoon of sriracha. Enjoy!

Yields 6 burgers.