Category Archives: Recipes

New Favorite, High-Protein Snack: Peanut Butter and Honey Parfait!

My friend Mike Campbell introduced me to this new favorite treat! It’s so simple. It’s healthy. And it’s delicious! (And, yes, I told him it was going on my blog.)

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  • 3/4 to 1 cup Plain Whole Milk Yogurt (you can use the low fat if you really want to, but I personally think we need a little fat in our diets to help absorb certain nutrients, and it makes it creamier)
  • 2 Tbsp. All Natural Peanut Butter (or organic, if you can find it)
  • 1-2 tsp. Local Honey (or organic, if you can find it)

Just stir or whip the three ingredients together, and it creates a rich, creamy, high-protein treat that tastes as good as a parfait or dessert mousse. If you want, you can substitute a spoonful of your favorite jam instead of the honey and call it “PB&J Parfait”–great way to get kids (of all ages) to eat yogurt! Bon Appetit!

 

Fresh, February Feast: Cooking in Season

Tonight’s dinner was primarily made from fresh produce that is currently in season! And Bryan brought home some fresh rye and caraway bread from class today to round it all out. Throw in a little citrus and local honey, and we’re golden!

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Counter-clockwise from the top right, we have Sautéed Asparagus and Mushrooms with Fried Eggs, Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup, Fresh Bread with Butter, and Broiled Grapefruit with Sliced Bananas and Honey.

Here’s a closer look at the individual dishes:

Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup (adapted from EatingWell.com) - my friend Ashley shared this recipe and told me to double the avocado and add tarragon. It was quite tasty! (Click on image for recipe.)

Creamy Cucumber and Avocado Soup (adapted from EatingWell.com) – my friend Ashley shared this recipe and told me to double the avocado and add tarragon. It was quite tasty! (Click on image for recipe.)

Sauteed Asparagus with Baby Bella Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Garlic, Mint, Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice; and some fried eggs for some extra protein

Sauteed Asparagus with Baby Bella Mushrooms, Red Peppers, Garlic, Mint, Dill, Cilantro, and Parsley, and a squeeze of lemon juice; and a side of Fried Eggs

And last but not least...Broiled Grapefruit with Bananas, Honey, and Ginger from She Wears Many Hats (click on picture for recipe)

And last but not least…Broiled Grapefruit with Bananas, Honey, and Ginger from SheWearsManyHats.com (click on picture for recipe)

It was a feast indeed!

 

Recipe: Corn Salad by Melissa McKinnon

photo-21Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. sour cream
  • handful of fresh basil and cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 ears of sweet corn, husked, scrubbed, and kerneled
  • 1/2 small Vidalia onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 3 radishes, finely chopped
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed

Instructions:

  • Chop herbs and whisk together with mayonnaise, sour cream, salt and pepper. (If vegan, dairy-free, or you just don’t like mayo: substitute mayo with vegannaise and corn milk for the sour cream–after cutting off kernels, run flat edge of knife down ears of corn to release the sweet milk.)
  • Clean vegetables.* Cut kernels off of corn (discarding the cores), and chop other vegetables to desired sizes (I like the radishes and onion to be fairly tiny and the cucumber and avocado to be a little bigger, personally).
  • Toss vegetables into dressing and mix. Serve with sprigs of herbs as garnish, if desired.

*Note: All vegetables are raw in this dish–no cooking required. So, it’s a fast dish with fantastic colors and flavors. Since everything is raw, make sure you use the freshest produce possible and clean everything well. This salad is a great alternative to potato salad or coleslaw at a picnic or as a “salsa” on top of curried chicken and rice. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe: Mel’s Stuffed Peppers with Avocado Sauce

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Stuffed Pepper Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken (or turkey)
  • 1 tsp. sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground sage
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. chopped red and green bell pepper
  • 2 c. stemmed and chopped kale leaves
  • 1 c. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 c. uncooked red quinoa
  • 6 whole bell peppers
  • parmesan rind and freshly grated cheese (optional)
  • fresh cilantro leaves (optional topping)

Stuffed Peppers Instructions:

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté onions and peppers with salt and pepper until almost translucent. Add garlic and cook for one more minute. Add ground chicken and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Don’t worry about getting it fully cooked yet–it will keep cooking through to the end. Stir in sriracha, Worcestershire, and spices.

Add water, quinoa, and kale, and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes (see quinoa package cooking instructions for time length; if you have parmesan rinds available, add them during this step).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425ºF and prep whole bell peppers by carefully cutting off (and reserving) pepper tops. Remove seeds and pith. You may need to remove a small portion of the bottom of the pepper so it stands upright, being careful not to cut through into the shell of the pepper.

Stir stuffing till mixed evenly. Oil a medium size casserole dish and line with about 1-2 cups of the stuffing. Stuff peppers and place in stuffing bed in the casserole dish.  Place pepper tops back in casserole dish as well. If there’s any remaining stuffing, add it to the casserole dish around the peppers to help them stand up. Drizzle with olive oil. Bake uncovered 15-20 minutes, until golden brown on top. Meanwhile, prepare Avocado Sauce (below).

For serving, remove parmesan rinds, drizzle with Avocado Sauce, and top with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Avocado Sauce Ingredients:

  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. water (or more to desired consistency)

Avocado Sauce Instructions:

Add all ingredients except olive oil and water into food processor (or high power blender) and blend till smooth. Slowly drizzle olive oil in till emulsified, then slowly pour water in until sauce reaches desired viscocity.

Note: This dish is great to make the night before and reheats very well. On the second day (if there is any leftover stuffing), use as taco filling and top with chopped fresh tomatoes, sour cream, avocado sauce and fresh chopped cilantro.

Recipe: Kale Salad with Bacon, Cranberries, and Goat Cheese by Melissa McKinnon

Ingredients:

  • 3 slices thick-sliced bacon, crumbled
  • 3 Tbsp. bacon grease, reserved from frying
  • 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dry mustard
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6 c. chopped fresh kale leaves (discard stems)
  • 1/4 c. dried cranberries
  • 1/4 c. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 c. crumbled (honeyed or plain) goat cheese (about 2 oz.)
Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil; Kale Salad with Crackers

Kale Salad with Crackers, served as a side with

Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce and Fresh Basil

Instructions:

1. Cook thick-sliced bacon over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and pat dry with paper towels. Crumble bacon. Let bacon grease cool slightly (pour 3 Tbsp. grease into a glass bowl to help it cool faster, if desired–just don’t let it burn).

2. Prepare kale. I buy the pre-washed, pre-chopped bag of kale, but if you buy fresh, whole kale from your grocery store or farmers’ market, wash thoroughly (I recommend triple washing to remove all the grit), pat (or spin) dry, remove stems and chop as finely as desired. Set aside.

3. Whisk together vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Carefully pour warm grease into vinegar mixture; whisk to combine. (I do this step in the serving bowl to cut down on clean-up.)

4. Toss kale in dressing. Make sure leaves are evenly coated with dressing (use your hands–just don’t burn yourself). Then add crumbled bacon, goat cheese, cranberries and almonds and toss.

5. Serve as an appetizer, a side salad, or as dip with crackers. The combination of crunchy and creamy, tangy and sweet is fantastic! This is definitely a new family favorite! Bon Appetit!

Note: You could also add 2 Tbsp. of finely chopped red onions or scallions for a nice touch.

As an alternative, I made some this week and switched out the cranberries for some finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes, added juice from half a lemon to the dressing, and used plain goat cheese, along with the almonds and crumbled bacon, and it was a big hit! So whether you go savory or sweet, bon appetit!

Journey Journal: Days 84-87

Day 84: Monday, March 25, 2013

Happy 3rd Birthday to “My Journey To Lean” blog! It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since I started this blog–and even longer since I first started blogging.(July 28, 2005 was my first ever blogpost!…almost 8 years ago now!) Lots has changed since it started, but I’m still enjoying the journey, and I hope you are too!

Bryan made up some scrambled eggs and warmed up some leftover ham with a little maple syrup for breakfast before work. It was really good.

For lunch, I had the ham and bean soup we made yesterday with a side salad. The soup was started by making ham broth out of the bone from Sunday dinner’s baked ham. After simmering for several hours, I discarded the bone and strained the broth (yielded about 12 cups), reserving as much ham as I could. Then I sautéed onion, carrots, and garlic in some olive oil with salt, pepper, a couple of bay leaves, crushed red pepper, and worcestershire sauce in the stockpot. I added about half of the broth back in, along with the ham meat (about 2 c.), a bag of frozen kale, and 1 cup each of dry red beans and dry Northern beans, and let it simmer for about 4 more hours, till the beans were perfect.

Had an adventure this afternoon when Bryan’s keys fell out of his pocket onto the carseat (after he had locked the car door). Oops. Then we realized we hadn’t made a copy for this car’s keys yet. Oops again. Fortunately, we were able to use a couple coat hangers and screwdrivers to get the keys. I’m actually surprised this was the first time we’ve had to do this–too bad it was one of the colder days of the year, and his jacket got locked inside the car with the keys (of course).

Day 85: Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Long, busy day. We’re hitting crunch time with various deadlines at the office, and I’m working diligently on my multi-tasking skills. For lunch, the whole office headed to Brick Street Cafe for a special celebration lunch for Katie, our bookkeeper who is retiring after this week. She is an incredible asset and will be greatly missed! After work, I ran home for a quick supper of scrambled eggs and grilled ham (this time using cane syrup–actually turned out even better than the maple). Then I was off to meet a bride, her MOH, and her mom for a flower consult for her wedding this August! Finished the day with a cup of TAZO Zen green tea.

Day 86: Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Another busy day. Another ham soup lunch. And actually had ham soup with salad and a hearty bread for dinner too. And finally made it to Goga today–especially enjoyed the lymphatic massage and infrared sauna portions!

Day 87: Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lunch was a chunk of hearty bread, a freshly sliced tomato, and some warm ham with spicy mustard. It hit the spot! Mom arrived for a brief visit tonight! Had the last of the ham and bean soup with a side salad and the last of the hearty bread for dinner. It really hit the spot. And it’s always good to have mother-daughter time! Finished the day with a French Press of Columbian coffee, a handful of almonds, a square of dark chocolate, and good conversation with mom.

Dairy-Free Chocolate Bars (and a Guilt-Free Chocolate Treat!)

The most important ingredient in chocolate is not milk, but cocoa! And the more cocoa the better, if you ask me. Dark chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes, but I prefer somewhere between 70% and 85%. That percentage is the percentage of cocoa to total ingredients. Since I’m trying to be dairy-free right now, I didn’t want to have to stop eating chocolate in general, so I’ve been doing a little research and here are a few bars that fit into this new-to-me lifestyle:

My Favorite Dairy-Free Dark Chocolate Bar!

My Husband’s Favorite! (I like it too!)

My Favorite Organic Brand! (I also love the Espresso Dark Chocolate Bar from Green & Black’s.)

And if you’re wanting a high-protein snack with a little chocolate kick, consider chopping up about 3 or 4 squares into these “Raw Cookie Dough Bites” from A Dash of Compassion‘s blog. The recipe in the link makes about 12 one-inch cookie dough balls. I used honey instead of agave nectar, and they were deliciously guilt-free! Plus, they make a great on-the-go breakfast, if you’re in a hurry, since they’re just nuts, oats, a little honey, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some dark chocolate. Feel free to substitute raisins for the chocolate if you want them to be even more nutritious!

Homemade Bread and Apricot Butter!

With this new job change, I’m closer to home and able to come home at lunch. During my week off between jobs, I let my domestic side come out a bit and started baking bread again. I got this recipe from my friend Gina and have started experimenting a bit. The first time I made it, I used 100% whole wheat flour. It was hearty and tasted very European. The next time I used 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups of bread flour. This yielded a softer, yet still hearty bread with a nice crust. I’m trying this one again today. On Sunday, I also made some apricot butter (my favorite part is flambéing the apricots). Check out the recipes below.

 

Book Review – A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table by Molly Wizenberg

Molly Wizenberg has as definite a way with words as she does a way with food! As author and creator of the popular Orangette food blog. This book is captivating, free, and written with an excellent style (though a few of her stories contain a little adult content that may be TMI for younger audiences). Regardless, the recipes are fabulous and the auto-biographical content leading up to each recipe is entertaining and heartfelt.

Molly shares the recipes that stood like snapshots in her memories of key events throughout her life, from trips to Paris to her first apartment, from her first boyfriend to meeting her husband, from cooking with her dad to cooking for her dad on his deathbed. She shares recipes that range from sweet cakes to tangy salads, from soups to custard-filled cornbread, and everything in between.

Probably my favorite part was her chapter called “The Change Thing,” in which she shares her fear of change and her intense struggle with it, from each semester at college to bigger life changes. She writes, “I love the concept of routines. For some people, like skydivers and storm chasers, it may sound like torture, but for me, it’s reassuring” (p. 253). I can totally relate to this. And then I laughed as I read her follow up comment on the next page, “I am happy to report, though, that in recent years, I’ve been working on getting friendlier with change, and with its cousin flexibility. Growing up has helped a lot” (p. 254). So true.

This was another one of my “Summer Reading List” books. Personally, I can’t wait to try her “Vanilla Bean Buttermilk Cake with Glazed Oranges and Crème Fraîche” on pages 88-89 and her “Red Cabbage Salad with Lemon and Black Pepper” on page 222. And the one I’m really looking forward to trying is the “Little Corn Cakes with Bacon, Tomato and Avocado” on page 304.

Published by Simon & Shuster, 2009. 320 pages (plus a “Reading Group Guide” at the end).

Recipe: Italian Beef Stew

Combine 1/4-1/3 c. cornstarch, salt, pepper and garlic powder (to taste). Take 1 lb. of stew meat (or a beef roast cubed into 1-2″ cubes) and roll in cornstarch mixture.

In a large stockpot, melt 1 Tbsp. butter with 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Sear meat in hot oil 2 minutes per side or until browned.

 Meanwhile, roughly chop 1 small red onion, 2 carrots, 4 cloves fresh garlic and 2 unpeeled gold potatoes. Once meat is browned, add chopped vegetables to pot. Cook for 2-5 minutes, then add 1 cup red wine and deglaze pot (I used shiraz).

Add 12-15 oz. of beef broth, a 6 oz. can tomato paste, 1 tsp. crushed rosemary, and 1/2 tsp. dried thyme. Stir to combine. Turn heat to low and simmer for about an hour. When ready to serve, chop about 8 leaves of fresh basil and a large handful of fresh spinach leaves and stir into pot. Serve hot by itself, over rice, or with a nice, crusty loaf of bread.

Serves 4.