Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Carrot Ginger Soup

A couple weeks ago my parents went to spend a week with my grandparents in Arizona.  They hadn't had a vacation by themselves like that for a long time and they had a nice time visiting and taking time off their regular lives.  When they got back I was saying at family dinner that I had about 4-5 bags of carrots in my fridge which we'd accumulated over a couple of weeks from our Bountiful Basket pick up each week. (The basket is different each week but for those two weeks I happened to get about 3 bags of carrots each.)  Dad said to me that Grandma had made a carrot ginger soup recipe while they were visiting and he said it was fantastic.  Grandma served it cold to them one night and Dad said he doesn't usually like cold soups but he really liked this one.   Of course that night, I sent an email to Grandma to get the recipe so I could try something new and use up all of the carrots I had waiting in the fridge.

She sent it to me a couple days later and a few days ago I got the rest of the ingredients I needed and here we are, I made it tonight.  I doubled it, as I thought it might be good for dinner tonight as well as cold tomorrow for lunch possibly. It used 2 bags of carrots, and it was pretty delicious. I hope you like it as much as my family did.  It's a very pretty color and the ginger gives it a nice punch.

Carrot Ginger Soup

3 c chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
8 carrots, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
cilantro for garnish, optional

In a large pot, heat olive oil, and add onion and ginger, and saute til onions are tender.  Add vegetable or chicken stock and carrots, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for about 20 minutes until the carrots are soft. Add salt and pepper. Blend in your blender, or with your immersion blender, or in a food processor.  Serve warm, or chill and serve later with sour cream and cilantro.

**This recipe comes from ChowLocally.com originally**

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Blueberry Pie

Okay so I've made pie and posted it on here before, but apparently not blueberry pie. It's very similar to other fruit pies I've done, with just a few tweaks to accentuate the blueberry flavor (as opposed to apple pie with cinnamon, or peach pie with almond flavoring, this one has lemon juice and some white sugar).

I like to use sweet fruit to start with so I don't have to add a lot of sugar, and that way I just add some cornstarch, flour, or tapioca to thicken the fruit juices.  This one is a favorite of my husband, and I enjoy it too.  It's a great fresh summery flavor, and perfect for when blueberries are cheap and in season.

Blueberry Pie

1 recipe 9" basic double crust pie crust (follow link for recipe and tutorial)
5 c blueberries, rinsed and picked over (get rid of the squished ones, make sure there aren't stray stems or flowers on your berries)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp quick tapioca or cornstarch (or flour, if you don't have the other two...the benefit of cornstarch or tapioca is that they are flavorless)
1/3 c sugar (or other sweetener equivalent)
1/8 tsp salt

Follow the tutorial in the link above to make your crust and then put it in the fridge (or freezer if you are short on time like I was tonight).  You'll want it cold when you roll it out, makes it easier to handle. If you put it in the fridge it will take about an hour or two to chill, if the freezer, about 20 minutes.

Combine blueberries, lemon juice, sugar or sweetener, cornstarch or tapioca, and salt in a medium bowl and stir well. Set aside for 15 minutes.  Set your oven to 425 degrees.

By the time your oven is set, your berries should be ready and it's time to roll out the dough.  The easiest way I've found to do this is to flour a pastry mat or board well, and then place the dough on top, and then dust the top of the disc of dough with a bit more flour, then cover with plastic wrap.  The plastic wrap just keeps your rolling pin from sticking to the dough, and makes it easier to peel your dough off the mat so you can place it in your pie pan.  Roll your dough out into a circle about 9" in diameter, and then place the first crust in the bottom of your pan.  Make sure you press it down a bit so it gets into the edges of the pan.  Fill the bottom crust with your berries, and then repeat the process with the top crust.  You'll want to take the top and bottom crusts and tuck them under around the edges of the pan and crimp the edges to seal everything in, and then cut some slits in the top crust for venting (if you want to be cute about it, you can use a cookie cutter or cut a design.  I'm never fussy about that.)

Bake for 30 minutes at 425, and then reduce temp to 350 and continue to bake for another 20-30 minutes. The first half is to bake the crust, and the second to cook the filling.   Let cool for about 20 minutes at least before serving.  

This one is good at room temp too, but I love it warm with some vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rainbow Chard Pasta

Lately my husband and I have been ordering Bountiful Baskets every week to make sure we always have a steady supply of produce and we aren't paying an arm and a leg for it.   If you haven't done it before, it's really a great option to save some money and make sure you are getting your fruits and veggies.  $15 for about 30 lbs of produce.  It's half veggies and half fruit, and always good stuff.  They try to get stuff as local as possible, so you know it's not been sitting in a truck forever.

One of the things about Bountiful Baskets is that it's always different.  Every week you go pick it up and you never know what is going to be inside. Sometimes you get stuff you've never seen before, and sometimes it's stuff you've used your whole life.  I like the adventure it brings because it forces me to try new recipes and eat new things. This time we got some Rainbow Swiss Chard, and it was one of those things I have rarely, if ever, used. I didn't really know what I was going to do with it, even though I know there are lots of options, and I was kind of pondering things before I decided to cook with it.

Yesterday Bountiful Baskets had a post on Facebook asking people to share what they made for dinner last night. I happened to find a comment from someone saying that they sauteed it and pureed it and made a pasta sauce with it.  I thought..."hmm...that sounds like an interesting idea I could try out that I could probably get my husband to try out...." and here we are! I promise it turned out really delicious and you will be surprised at how much you'll like it.  Even my 12 month old ate it up.  It was tasty.

Rainbow Chard Pasta (with Chicken and Grape Tomatoes)

2 bunches rainbow or red swiss chard, stems removed and chopped
1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp granulated garlic, or 2 cloves chopped garlic
salt and pepper
1/4 c water

1 can evaporated milk
1 can chicken broth
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 c parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

2 chicken breasts
1 clam shell grape tomatoes
1 lb pasta (I used whole wheat penne, but you can use any short cut pasta you like.  I don't recommend spaghetti though)

In a large skillet, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add onions and garlic.  Saute til they become tender, and then add chopped chard. Continue to saute until it becomes soft and tender and the chard reduces by half its size.  Add salt and pepper, and stir again.  Dump entire contents into your blender. Add the water, and blend until mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

Turn the broiler on in your oven.  Season chicken with granulated garlic and salt and pepper, and broil for 35-40 minutes.   While this is going, bring a pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta.

In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and the butter until butter melts, and then add flour.  Whisk until combined and cook for about a minute.  Whisk in chicken broth and then evaporated milk and simmer for 5 minutes, and then add garlic, and poultry seasoning.  Let this simmer for a few minutes and then add the cheese and stir in until completely incorporated into the sauce.  Add the chard puree to the sauce, and stir until completely incorporated.

**this sauce makes a lot, so you may want to use the other half for a different recipe.  I plan to use the second half for something for dinner tomorrow.**

Cook pasta according to pkg directions in the boiling water, and then drain.  Place in a large serving bowl and add grape tomatoes and sauce while still hot.   Cut broiled chicken into bite sized strips and toss with pasta and sauce and tomatoes.  Serve hot with more parmesan cheese on top.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Buttermilk Pancakes

The last few days have been tough around our house because our little guy has been cutting 3 teeth at once.  Today the husband came home to a cranky baby, an unshowered wife, and a messy house.   He immediately took over by putting the baby in the chair to eat, letting me shower, and doing dishes.  He also decided tonight was a good night for pancakes... being that a) we needed to use up some buttermilk we had in the fridge, and b) we needed something simple and fast.

So I went on a hunt for a recipe (being that I usually cheat and use Bisquick (though I sometimes doctor it) for pancakes/waffles/biscuits/shortcake/etc). I found one on AllRecipes, which is a great resource for loads of different ingredients and ideas.  I love that you can do an ingredient search there and find all kinds of different recipes.

This recipe turned out very well, but made a BOATLOAD of pancakes.  So unless you have a family of 6 or 8 people, I would half it.  I think this single batch made about 16 pancakes.  They were, however, very delicious and I think they will be good leftover by reheating them in the toaster oven.

Buttermilk Pancakes

3 c all purpose flour
3 tbsp sugar (I left this out, they turned out fine without it)
3 tsp baking powder (very important...makes them fluffy)
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 c buttermilk
1/2 c milk
3 eggs
1/3 c melted butter (I bet vegetable oil would work fine, I didn't mess with it this time but after eating them I don't think it would make a big difference and will probably swap it next time)
Optional: blueberries or strawberries or other fruits you like in your pancakes

In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda, salt).  Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together milk, buttermilk, melted butter, and eggs.

Heat a large electric griddle (or cast iron one/or skillet on the stove), to roughly 300 degrees.  Should be hot enough that a drop of water will skip on the top of the pan.

When griddle is good and hot, combine wet ingredients with the dry, and mix until blended (will be slightly lumpy, that's okay).  Grease the skillet or griddle and using a ladle or measuring cup pour batter onto griddle in 1/2 c amount.  (If you decided to add fruit, put it in each pancake after pouring onto griddle)

When bubbles around the edges stop filling up and bubbling again (creating little holes or craters around the edges), flip over and cook the other side.

Serve hot with your favorite pancake toppings. My husband likes peanut butter and sugar free syrup, I enjoy syrup and sometimes butter, or fruit, or sometimes thinned down jam. Whatever you like.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Asian Style Cabbage & Chicken Slaw

So lately in our Bountiful Baskets we've been getting a lot of cabbage. I am usually not a big fan of cabbage (I'll eat it but usually only certain ways, and not all that often).  In order to not waste what we had (we'd accumulated 2 heads over a couple of weeks and hadn't used any of it), I decided to make an Asian style slaw with cabbage, carrots, onions, peppers, chicken, and a sesame ginger dressing. It turned out pretty well, and we ate it along side some grilled pineapple and some watermelon spears.

The great thing about this salad is that it keeps pretty well, and actually makes good leftovers. You can kind of mix and match ingredients as you please, so it's versatile, and it's a great option for those hot summer nights when you don't want to use the stove because it's just too dang hot... which was my issue tonight. You can make it ahead of time and stick it in the fridge to eat later.

Anyway, I hope you like it like I did, and maybe find some variations that you might like better. Enjoy!

Asian Style Cabbage & Chicken Slaw

1 small head of cabbage cored, and either shredded or sliced thin with a knife)
3-4 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 white or yellow onion, sliced very thin (I used my salad shooter)
cold water, and 1 tbsp sugar
1 green or red bell pepper, sliced thin
2 chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few shakes of ground ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
Sesame Ginger salad dressing (we used the Newman's Own Lite version)

Optional add-ons I didn't have in the kitchen tonight: sliced almonds, crunched dry ramen noodles, those crispy "chow mein" noodle things, peanuts, edamame, snow peas, green onions, celery, radishes...the list goes on.

In a small bowl, put onions in cold water and sprinkle in sugar, let stand for 5-10 minutes.  This takes the bitterness and strong flavor out of the onion and makes it milder and a bit sweeter...learned this trick from my mom.  Also works for radishes and green onions.

In a large bowl (the one you plan to serve in), combine cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, and onions (drain them first of course).  Set aside.

Cut chicken into bite sized pieces, and then stir fry in a skillet or wok.  When the chicken is about halfway cooked, add minced garlic, ground ginger, and soy sauce.  Continue to cook until completely cooked through.  

This part is up to you....Because we used a wok, we just tossed the salad ingredients in with the chicken (in the still hot wok) and tossed it around a bit to combine everything and make sure the slaw got all of the good flavor of the chicken and its juices.  If you don't have a wok, you can just put the hot chicken and its juices into your bowl and quickly stir it so everything coats well and mixes together.  Then add your dressing to taste, toss and serve (or chill in fridge to eat later).

Copy Cat Recipe for Subway Honey Oat Bread

Alright, folks....this is one my husband found online because he wanted me to make him bread to make his sandwiches on for lunches....This was in order to reduce the amount of times he made Subway runs in the middle of his workday, and therefore reduce his lunch spending budget to less than $30 instead of $60 per month.   I of course asked if he would be okay with me buying sub rolls or hoagie rolls from the grocery store, and apparently they aren't good enough and don't work very well.   So we went on a hunt to find a recipe to make this bread which hopefully will solve our problem. (Remember, this is mostly to save money, and I personally happen to have the time, and don't mind baking bread once a week for our family. If you don't have the time or desire, feel free to just buy the hoagie rolls at the store.)

I found the original recipe here, but it was missing some very important details in the directions that you would only notice and know how to do if you were a bread baker to begin with.  I want to tweak it enough that even the most novice bread makers can make this, so it is more fool proof.  Whoever wrote the recipe is possibly great at making bread, but not good at writing recipes.  So I am going to re-write the recipe with a couple of changes in directions (ingredients remain the same) so anyone can make this bread. That is, if you have a desire to make your own subway sandwich rolls. :)

Copy Cat Subway Honey Oat Bread

1 1/2 c bread flour
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 1/4 c buttermilk
1 egg
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1 tbsp sugar (not enough to sweeten, it's just there to feed the yeast)
1 tsp salt

Topping (if desired)

2 tbsp warmed honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp rolled oats
(Directions: mix together honey and oil. Brush on loaves, sprinkle oats on top when ready to bake)

In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt; set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat buttermilk just until warm. You may need to whisk it as it heats up because it may separate (mine did).  Remember, you don't want it to boil or even bubble, just until it's warm.  Remove from heat and whisk in egg, and then add sugar and yeast.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

In your stand mixer (I have a Kitchen Aid, but a Bosch would work fine.  You can do this by hand but it gets to be a pretty stiff dough so when you add the last half of the flour, you'll need to get rid of your spatula or spoon and knead by hand), slowly add flour mix to the buttermilk mix.  Knead in mixer for 5 minutes, then remove from mixer and hand knead for another 5 minutes.

Spray the inside of your mixer bowl with cooking spray, and then replace dough and cover with plastic wrap.  Let rise for about an hour to an hour and a half.  It should be double in size when done.

Shape dough into 10 inch loaves/logs (like french bread...don't use a loaf pan), and let rise again. Brush with honey mixture and sprinkle oats. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

**I'm in the process of figuring out if bread flour is really necessary or if all purpose would do just fine.  The difference between the two flours is the percentage of gluten, which makes the dough more elastic and helps it to rise and be softer.  Bread flour has more gluten.  I plan to make a batch with all purpose flour after making the one with bread flour and seeing if there is a marked difference.  Bread flour does cost more and it's harder to get in large quantities.**

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lion House Rolls

These rolls are a big hit in my husband's family for just about any occasion. They have them every Thanksgiving and Christmas without fail and sometimes they manage to prevail on my husband's mom to make them just randomly throughout the year.  I made them last year for Thanksgiving for my husband since it was our turn to spend it with my family (my family does not have a tradition of rolls, we figure stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, pie, etc. is enough carbs for the day...why add one more?) and ever since making them the first time I have realized how quick and easy they are to make. They are really delicious, and very versatile for pretty much any occasion.

The recipe actually comes from a restaurant in downtown Salt Lake City called The Lion House, and is very famous through all of Utah, and the LDS/Mormon community. You'd think that means it's a special secret recipe, but it's actually a pretty standard white roll recipe. It turns out very soft, and it's just a very good go-to roll recipe.

Tonight it served as the pulled pork sandwich roll. I made them slightly over sized this time (Partly on purpose, partly accidentally. They turned out bigger than I had planned.) and they worked very well for our dinner.

So however you decide to serve them, I hope you love them as much as our family does.

Lion House Rolls

2 c warm water
2/3 c nonfat dry milk
1 egg
2 tsp salt
1/3 c melted butter
1/4 sugar
5 1/2 c all purpose flour

In your stand mixer, combine water and dry milk.  Add yeast and sugar and let stand 3-5 minutes. Blend together using dough hook. Add egg, melted butter, and 2 c of the flour.  Mix the flour in til every thing is wet and then raise the setting to medium and continue to mix for 2 minutes.  Add 2 more cups and repeat process. Keep going until all flour is added.

Spray the top of the dough with some cooking spray and then cover with plastic wrap and let raise to double size (takes about 45 minutes).  When risen, spray hands with cooking spray and then make small balls from the dough and place on a baking sheet about 1/2 inch apart. Should make about 20 rolls, or 12 over sized ones. Let raise again, 20-30 minutes, and then bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.

When done baking, brush with butter to keep them from getting hard.  These are delicious warm but also great the next day. Enjoy!

Watermelon Lemonade

This one was something my husband wanted to try since the last few times we've ordered our Bountiful Basket we have gotten those small (dulcinea brand) watermelons, and we had some lemons lying around, so why not try one of the billions of recipes available on Pinterest? It was kind of a "fly by the seat of our pants" recipe, but it turned out fairly well. Accompanied our pulled pork sandwiches and corn very well.

Watermelon Lemonade

1 small watermelon, cut into chunks (Dulcinea sweet I think they're called, they are only a pound or 2 each)
3-4 lemons, juiced
1/2 c sugar or Splenda
1-2 cups water

Blend watermelon chunks in your blender til liquid, and then strain through a sieve to catch the seeds and pulp.  Pour this into a half gallon pitcher.  Add juice from lemons, sugar/Splenda, and water and stir well.  (we added a bit more lemon than the recipe we found suggested, the watermelon we had was pretty sweet and we wanted a bit more tartness to balance it.) Serve chilled or over ice.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

I have to admit here, this recipe is not fully homemade because I did use a bottled BBQ sauce.  It wasn't a fancy brand or anything specific, just a honey BBQ flavored sauce.  It's super simple, and the end result was really pretty tasty. It's not the most healthy thing on the planet, but it is actually healthier than some other things out there.   It was a fun little Southern style dinner at our house tonight. (I really should have taken a picture, but there are leftovers, so I might get one up tomorrow.)

My husband came home in the middle of the day today for lunch, and looked inside my crock pot with the thought of "what the heck is my wife thinking? This pork looks weird!" and by the time he came home for dinner about 5 hours later he was pleasantly surprised with the end result. So even though this may sound strange in the beginning, hold out and see what it turns into, you won't be disappointed.

Without further ado, here's the recipe, and I hope you like it as much as we did.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches

1 1/2 lb pork loin roast (you could use shoulder, but those tend to be huge)
1/2 bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
1/2 c water
3 tbsp light brown sugar
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp cajun seasoning (if your sauce is already a bit spicy I would cut this in half, mine was very mild)

In the morning of the day you want to make this, place fully thawed pork roast in your crock pot along with the BBQ sauce and water. Set your crock pot to the low setting for 7.5-8 hours.

About 6 hours into the cooking, add your brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and cajun seasoning.  The pork should fall apart when you poke it with a fork.  Use the fork to break "pull" it into smaller pieces and stir everything around so the sauce coats all of the pork shreds. Continue to let it cook (covered) so it absorbs all of the flavor of the sauce, until your timer ends (total cooking time should be roughly 8 hours).

If not fully shredded  by the time it's done, make sure the bigger pieces are pulled to smaller pieces.  Serve hot on a hamburger bun or a roll of some kind, or just bread. I made some homemade rolls for it and it turned out fabulous.

Some people like to also serve with pickles, mayo, even cheese. Up to you if you do that, we liked it just fine on it's own. I've also heard of some people putting coleslaw on top of the pork in the sandwich. At this point it's kind of whatever you prefer.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ground Turkey Chili

So there is a recipe for chili already here, made with ground beef.  It's very simple and quick, and tastes great.  But now that I am trying to choose low cholesterol options for me and my family, I decided to change that recipe just a tiny bit to make it with ground turkey instead.  There's not a ton of changes made, but enough to bump up the flavor just enough so my husband doesn't miss the beef too much. It's lower in fat, and because it is poultry it's lower in cholesterol, and overall it's a pretty healthy option. It's also mild and pleases everyone, so it's kid friendly and great for the whole family.

You can serve it with cornbread if you like, but tonight I decided to just make it by itself.  I thought about it and realized that the chili really has plenty of carbohydrates in it already without the cornbread, and although I LOVE my cornbread recipe, and chili night doesn't seem to be the same without it, I decided to go without tonight and just eat a normal portion of chili. Maybe some other time I will make cornbread too!

Ground Turkey Chili

1.25 lbs ground turkey (this just seems to be the default size of ground turkey pkgs) you can use ground breast or regular ground turkey, doesn't matter. Turkey breast has less fat, but I used regular tonight.
2 cans rinsed and drained black beans
2 cans diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans or 4 cups (frozen) corn (frozen is lower in salt) (if canned, undrained, if frozen, add 1 c water)
2 4-oz cans diced green chiles
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp coriander
1 tbsp taco seasoning

Brown turkey in a large pot. Add onion powder, garlic powder and about half the chili powder.  Once meat is browned, add in your rinsed beans, tomatoes, corn, and chiles.  Stir everything to combine, and let simmer. Add coriander and taco seasoning and the rest of the chili powder (this part is sort of to taste).

Simmer about 15-20 minutes until everything is combined well and the flavors come together.  You can usually tell it is done by the smell of your kitchen.  Serve hot with your favorite toppings.  You can do grated cheese, sour cream, avocado, tortilla strips, or nothing at all.



You can make your own black beans and use frozen corn and fresh tomatoes or low sodium tomatoes to reduce the salt in this recipe.  Canned veggies are convenient but they do add salt that we are often unaware of. The beans have usually less salt after rinsing them, but doing them yourself would still make a difference. Make sure though if you are using frozen corn that you add the extra water I was talking about, to make sure you have enough liquid in the pot to create the desired consistency. By adding spices and onion powder, garlic powder, and chili powder, you get flavor without adding a lot of salt. You do need a little salt, but not nearly as much as you'd think.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Foil Packet {Oven Steamed} Fish

Hey friends! I'm realizing this is the second fish recipe I am posting within a week, but we are trying to incorporate healthy, low fat, low cholesterol protein into our diet and fish is a great way to do it. This one is so easy and so versatile you will laugh.  It takes maybe 20 minutes til it's done, and you can make some rice, potatoes, or quinoa in the meantime....which means less than 30 minutes til dinner! Great, right? I think so!

Rather than giving you a recipe for family style like normal, this is more of an individual serving type thing.  So the recipe is for each individual packet.  Easily converted from a single serving to 6 servings or more, and it takes just about the same amount of time for 1 or 6 people. You can also put it on the grill and let it steam on there. Just make sure the bbq gets hot enough to get the contents of each packet steaming for long enough. This is also great because it makes it easy for portion control. Everyone gets their own packet and there's no excess to over eat.

Foil Packet Fish

1 filet/steak of fish for each person in your family (I used tilapia again because it's what we have, but salmon is great this way, as would halibut or cod or lots of other kinds. Just use what you like. However, do NOT use tuna steaks. Tuna is best seared.)
3 slices of lemon per person
fresh or frozen vegetable of your choice, about 1/2 c to 1 cup per person (we used green beans, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower...you name it, it would work well for this.)
1/8 c water for each packet
1 tsp olive oil for each packet
salt and pepper
garlic powder
1 sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil for each packet

I recommend using frozen fish all of the time unless you live in a coastal state and you know the fish you got fresh at the store is really fresh.  This is because frozen fish is always frozen where it is caught, and always within a few hours of being caught. So it is usually the freshest option out there.  Living in Utah, it is always the best choice for my husband and I. I was raised in California, and usually had decent fish available fresh there, but since moving to Utah, I have had to change the way I think about fish.

Okay, now that's out of the way and we can move onto the recipe.  Set your oven to 400 degrees. Place your foil on the counter, and place the fish (skin side down if there is skin) on top of the foil.  Top with salt and pepper and garlic powder, and then lemon slices.  Lastly add your veggies, olive oil, and water. Fold the sides of the foil in first, then pull the top and bottom up and fold it over to make a tight seal, but leaving room for the steam to cook every thing.

Put your packets on a baking sheet and place in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Fish should be tender and flake apart, and veggies should be tender but not mushy.  Serve hot with your favorite starch.  We had it with quinoa that I dressed with lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil and a dash of dill.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Pan Sauteed/Fried Tilapia

You can cook tilapia in so many ways, and this is just one I do often because it doesn't involve a grill and it uses very little oil and it takes about 5 minutes or less, depending on the thickness of the filet. Sorry I didn't get a picture, we gobbled it up before I even thought about the camera. I need to be better about the photo taking.

I use the word fried loosely here because technically since it's in a pan and I am using oil, that is the technique....but it's about 1 tbsp of olive oil that I used, so it's not like it is deep fried or greasy in any way...that's just how you keep it from sticking to the pan.

So simple, I am not really sure why I am posting a recipe for it because it's not really a recipe, just seasoning haha. But, in my mind I am thinking that some of you readers out there are afraid to try fish because you simply don't know how to cook it. Or every time you have tried to cook it, it turned out terrible.  Or you know how to cook one kind of fish but not another kind.  So here we go, I'm trying to help someone who might be in that boat.

Don't be afraid of fish.  It's delicious, and good for you, and if you know how to buy it and how to cook it the right way it can be a fantastic meal for very little work. Tilapia is a great fish to try if you are nervous because it is very mild tasting and doesn't have that "fishy" smell or flavor, and it has a nice light texture.

Pan Sauteed or Fried Tilapia

1 tbsp olive oil
2 tilapia filets
1/2 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a medium skillet. Place fish in hot oil.  On exposed top side, sprinkle the garlic powder and salt and pepper. After a minute or two (depending on thickness, longer if it's a thicker filet), flip it over.  Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with your favorite veggies and grain. Yum!

Vegetable Cous Cous

I've done something similar to this in the past for stuffed bell peppers, but this time I just made the cous cous and we had it with some tilapia.  I also left out the sausage that is in the other recipe(s). Continuing with my healthy eating quest and cutting out fat and excess carbs, and adding more veggies, fruits and whole grains, I decided to have tilapia (a kind of white fish that is not too expensive and has those good omega 3s in it) then was looking for a way to add a healthy carb and some vegetables to the meal. I've been making quinoa fairly often lately so I decided to give my husband a break from it and make cous cous. It's more like pasta and not really a whole grain, but I actually seem to get more full from eating less cous cous than I do eating regular pasta (even if it is whole wheat pasta).

I had a leek, some heirloom carrots, and some celery in my fridge, most of which came from my Bountiful Basket a couple weeks ago that I needed to use and would be good to help flavor my cous cous. Rather than purchasing a boxed cous cous with seasoning packets and ingredients I couldn't control, I decided at the store it was a better idea to buy the plain kind and then use spices and veggies to flavor it.  This way I know how much salt, fat, and calories I was dealing with, and I could control it a lot more.  The nice thing about cous cous is that it takes about 5 minutes to cook it. And with the plain kind, I just cook it on its own, with either water or chicken broth, and then fluff it with a fork, and then I add it to my sauteed veggies. I was able to make this whole dish with only 2 tbsp of oil, and it only took me one more to cook the tilapia in my non-stick skillet. Use olive oil and it's really not terrible for you, because olive oil is a heart healthy fat.

Also, I should say here, you can really use whatever veggies you have on hand. This is just what I had in the fridge, and what worked for me tonight. You do need to make sure though that one of those vegetables is an onion, just to get the flavor from it.  Cous Cous is like a sponge and just sucks up whatever you cook it with, so choose wisely.

Anyway, onto the recipe..... I hope you all like it as much as the husband and I did.

Vegetable Cous Cous

3 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 leek, sliced and cleaned
1 regular sweet red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, or about 5 of the sweet baby bells, seeded and sliced.
1 c cous cous
1 c water
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp sea salt

Cook your cous cous by boiling the water with 1 tbsp olive oil, and the salt.  When it comes to a boil, add your cous cous, stirring it in as you pour it.  Turn off the heat and let stand 5 minutes. When it's done, fluff it with a fork and set aside.

In a medium skillet, add 1 tbsp olive oil, and then the leeks when the pan is hot. Let those reduce and become tender and then add carrots and celery. Cook those until they are tender and the carrots still have texture but do not have their full "raw" crunch.  Add cous cous and peppers last, and stir every thing together and continue to cook for 1-3 minutes. You can season with salt and pepper if you like, or add some garlic powder.   Then you're done! Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with your favorite protein.  You could serve it with chicken or whatever you like. You can also cook the cous cous in chicken broth for a bit more flavor. (if you do this, I recommend low sodium chicken broth so you can control the salt a bit better, and then omit the added salt in the recipe)

Serving size is about 1 cup, and it's roughly 45 carbs per cup, and about 100 calories.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vegetable Ragout

Okay so this is one I tried the other night because I was looking to make a healthy choice, and use up some veggies in our fridge. I put it on ravioli, so that probably wasn't the most healthy option one could use, but it's a lot better than a white sauce or some such (I used to just toss the ravioli in butter, parmesan, and some garlic powder...definitely not a good choice!) You could easily put it on whole wheat spaghetti, or any other pasta out there.  I do recommend you serve it with some kind of protein.  Because I was having it with a mixture of beef and cheese raviolis (half a bag of each kind) we had plenty in the dish, but if you were serving it with spaghetti, I would maybe add a chicken breast or something.

Anyway, here goes.

Vegetable Ragout

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced and separated (I'll include some handy tips below)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Japanese eggplants (the long skinny ones) or 1 regular eggplant, peeled and diced
1 jar or can of plain traditional marinara sauce (not the four cheese or the meat flavored, though the mushroom would work well)
salt and pepper

Slice the little rooty end off the leek, and take off the tough green top (you just want the tender white part which will be about 4 inches long).  Slice the white part thinly and place the slices in a bowl of cold water.  Once all of the slices are in the cold water, then use your fingers to separate the layers. This hopefully will loosen the dirt and grit that gets between the layers of the leek and the dirt should sink to the bottom of the bowl while the leek should float to the top.  Skim off the top and dry well with a paper towel or clean dish towel.

Place the eggplant in a microwave safe dish and liberally sprinkle with sea salt. Microwave for 6 minutes, then drain off the excess liquid and set aside. (this helps get rid of excess water from the eggplant so the sauce doesn't end up really wet.)

In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil. Add leeks and saute for awhile til they reduce in size and become tender. Add carrots and continue to stir, keep going til the carrots become tender but do not lose their texture or become mushy. Add the eggplant and stir and cook for a bit, and then add your marinara.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and if you like, feel free to add some granulated garlic or oregano.

Serve over your favorite pasta, or on chicken or whatever you like. Enjoy!

**A serving of this recipe by itself without pasta or chicken, etc., is roughly 70 calories, depending on the marinara sauce you use. Much less than if you used a meat sauce made from ground beef or even ground turkey.**

Monday, February 25, 2013

Turkey Tacos

As my first recipe for my "get healthy lifestyle," we tried ground turkey tacos tonight. One of my closest friends suggested substituting ground turkey where I would normally use ground beef and see if I could tell the difference.  I decided to give it a try.  So tonight we had ground turkey tacos in whole wheat tortillas.  They turned out fantastic!  Definitely a repeat recipe.  I hope you'll try them and like them as much we did.

Ground Turkey Tacos

1.25 lbs of ground turkey or ground turkey breast
1 tbsp olive oil (to keep things from sticking)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp taco seasoning
1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, coriander, chili powder
1 c water
pkg of whole wheat tortillas

optional toppings: grated cheese (can use low fat, I chose to use regular and just use less. extra sharp cheddar allows me to use lots less and still get good flavor), fresh guacamole (I made it with 1 avocado, a bit of salt and cayenne pepper, and some lemon juice.  It's a heart healthy fat, so don't use too much of it, but don't skip it because of the fat, either), diced tomatoes, shredded green leaf lettuce, salsa, light sour cream, jalapenos....the possibilities are endless.

In a hot skillet, add olive oil and turkey and brown as if it's ground beef.  Add taco seasoning and other spices, and stir.  Add water and simmer for about 5 minutes to allow to thicken. Add beans and peppers and stir and saute a bit.  Serve hot with tortillas and toppings. I had 2 and with the toppings I used, including the tortillas and turkey and beans, they were each about 250 calories.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Getting Healthy

Okay, dear readers.  I am going to try and change things up just a little bit.  I have realized that my life could use a bit of a face lift, if you will, in the way of more activity and less calories.

Two weeks ago, I began watching The Biggest Loser (starting with season 1) on our Hulu Plus account.  I realized that I was heavier than several of the contestants, and shorter too.  I realize that not everyone is the same, and that I have certain limitations of course, but I need to do something to get back on track and get healthier. Watching the transformations of the contestants, and also watching their journeys, and hearing the trainers tips has given me some motivation to really get myself going again.

I need to do this for a 2-fold reason: the first is because I need to be here for my husband and son for many more years. Not only has my weight gotten out of control, but my cholesterol has, too. I can't keep going on the way I have if I want to keep going for another 60 or so years.

The second reason is because I would REALLY like to get back to the size I was when I met my husband 6 years ago. I'd be happier if I could get smaller, but being realistic here and knowing I have had a baby since then and my hips are not what they once were....pre-wedding size would be great!

In order to achieve my goals I have decided to change my diet and be more active. I am not going crazy about the diet, just less carbs, more protein, more veggies and fruit, and lots less fat (especially of the red meat, butter, cheese and egg variety).  I am trying to incorporate more fish into my diet, and chicken, and I will be trying some egg white recipes as well. I've been using olive oil a lot more than butter.  And while I love cheese, it's just not great for my cholesterol.  I have some health limitations that do not allow me to take cholesterol medication, so I need to be very careful about my diet as a result.

I'm working on being more active by playing some games on the Xbox Kinect my husband and I own, and in the spring I plan to walk outside more and take my son to the park, and overall just get moving. I plan to also eventually add in some yoga, some weight lifting, and other stuff. But for now I am just trying to get off my rear and do something better than sit on the couch.  Right now that is in the form of dance games on the Kinect because I enjoy it and I can keep at it because it is fun.

This relates to this blog because of the recipe aspect of things.  Because I will not be eating a lot of butter, red meat, cheese, and egg yolks, you may see some marked changes to my blog with recipes involving quinoa, ground turkey, ground chicken, egg whites, other grains, etc. Some things will just be substituting ground turkey for hamburger, and some will be just different because I am changing my lifestyle.

I hope you will join me in my new quest, and I hope you enjoy the recipes as well.  I'd love your feedback if you have any, so please feel free to comment when you feel like it. I'd love to hear some substitutions you've used that would help my life style changes. Of course if anyone wants to join me in trying to lose weight and cooking in a more healthy way, please feel free. I may start posting progress as I go, as far as weight lost and such.

Until then, here's to happy, healthy cooking!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bruschetta and Stuffed Mushrooms

Okay, so this last week I was wracking my brain trying to think of a good recipe for appetizers I could take to a party we were invited to go to (which was last night) and in the end we couldn't even go!  The little guy was sick and had gotten me sick, and now the husband is sick too.  Ick.  Anyway, in our depression in not being able to go, I decided to make the appetizers anyway so we could sort of have a mini party at home. They turned out really good, so here I am to post the recipes for what I made. Luckily, I did actually remember to take photos this time before it got all consumed.   My sister in law had come to babysit our son for us, and ended up babysitting anyway so the husband and I could get out for a bit.  Since she was here, she got to try stuff with us, and gave her stamp of approval. :)

1 baguette, plain or roasted garlic, sliced
about 2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
4-5 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced fine
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp prepared pesto (homemade or store bought. Costco has a really good one)
parmesan cheese for topping
balsamic vinegar syrup for drizzling (recipe follows)

balsamic syrup

1/4 to 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
1-2 tsp sugar

Put balsamic vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan, and stir to combine well.  Over low heat reduce down til moderately thick and syrupy (like when honey is warmed and slightly liquefied). Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

On a baking sheet place slices of bread.  In a small bowl combine olive oil with minced garlic and zap in microwave for 30 seconds. Helps the garlic to seep into the oil and flavor it.  Brush the garlic oil on to the bread slices, and then put into a 350 degree oven for 7 minutes.

While the bread is toasting, mix together tomatoes, pesto, and salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

When bread is done toasting, top with tomato mixture (bruschetta), and parmesan cheese.  Return to oven for another 5-7 minutes.  Just to warm the tomatoes and melt the cheese a bit.   

Drizzle each piece with balsamic syrup (just a little, makes it pretty and adds a sweet and tart flavor to the bruschetta.

Stuffed Mushrooms (posting again)

1 lb medium to large white mushrooms (Costco has big ones, they are great for this)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/3 to 1/2 c panko breadcrumbs
1/4 c parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

Remove stems from mushrooms and scoop out a bit of the inside to create a small bowl shape.  Place caps in a 9x13 pan, and the stems and other bits aside. Once you fill the pan (I had a few extra whole mushrooms that didn't fit), chop the remaining mushrooms and the stems and other bits finely, almost mincing them.  

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil, and then add chopped mushrooms and garlic and saute for a few minutes til they reduce to about half their volume.  Place them in a medium bowl and add panko, salt and pepper, and 1/4 of the parmesan cheese.  Stir all of this to combine well, so the breadcrumbs absorb any liquid from the sauteed mushroom mixture.

Fill caps with the chopped mushroom mixture, sprinkle with the extra parmesan, and bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese has browned a bit and the mushroom caps are tender.  Serve hot.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Balsamic Sauteed Carrots and Onions

I wish I had thought to take a picture of these before they got eaten up, but they disappeared fast and I was more concerned about feeding my 7 month old than fussing about photos.  They were, however, delicious.  A fantastic compliment to the pork I roasted tonight for dinner. Super delicious, and super fast to make!  Perfect combination for a vegetable side dish for dinner, right? I hope you like them as much as I did.

Balsamic Sauteed Carrots and Onions

5 or 6 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (I cut them into shorter sticks)
1 small onion, halved and sliced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

In a skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add carrots and onions and saute til onions become almost tender, but not completely.  Add the splash of balsamic and continue to cook and stir it around so it coats everything.  Add salt and pepper to taste, about 1/4 tsp each usually.  Keep cooking til the onions become tender and brown a bit and the vinegar burns off (you want the balsamic flavor but not the acidity).   Carrots should be tender but not soft. Serve hot with your favorite protein.

Pork Loin Roast

A few months back our local grocery store had a sale on their pork loin roasts.  It was a really good price and I am always looking for a decent deal on meat that I can buy bunches of and freeze for another time.  Only trouble was that the whole roasts were about 8 to 10 pounds a piece, which is WAY more than the hubby and I can eat, and the baby isn't eating meat yet. So I brought 2 of them home, opened them up and cut them into 5 smaller roasts, roughly 1.5 to 2 lbs each so they were more manageable portions for us to eat  for dinner.  (I didn't think about the fact that you can usually ask the butcher at your grocery store to do this for you--less mess at home, and they have the right tools to get it done and weigh it for you, too!)  I froze them in ziplock freezer bags, and tonight I decided to use one of them for dinner.

Well, I was visiting downtown Salt Lake City this morning for our little guy's doctor appointment, and didnt have time to put the roast in the crock pot before we left.  So I ended up pulling out the cookbook to figure out how to roast it in the oven instead.  I have to admit here, my spice and seasoning methods were not the same as in the book, but I did use the roasting information to make sure I cooked it long enough and it got to the right temp before we ate it.

Here's my method.  I wish I had taken a picture of it before I sliced it all up...maybe I'll take a pic of the slices so you can see it all finished.  It turned out really tasty. :)

Pork Roast

1 2-3 lb pork loin roast
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp course ground pepper (I like to use a grinder)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp each rosemary and sage

Rub entire roast with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sage, and rosemary.  Place in a medium casserole pan.

Heat oven to 500 degrees. Place roast on middle rack of oven and roast for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 250 and continue to roast for another hour to hour and a half.  Slice thin and serve with your favorite veggie and starch (we did baked potatoes and sauteed onions and carrots).