Sunday, May 15, 2011

Holy Sweetness!

So, I'm EXHAUSTED after today's family dinner. It was fun and I was surprisingly calm while preparing for the festivities. Even my husband was surprised at my temperament. I'm the 'cook who should NEVER have a cooking show'. Invariably, I spill something or burn myself, or have some other kitchen mishap. Today however, mostly everything worked! I think I've learned the most important cooking lesson: only prepare dishes that you have made before. Sure, I've read this rule over and over again, but never do I follow it. Today, I did. Well, I did experiment one dish, but the rest were old tried-and-true recipes that I didn't need a recipe book for and that I knew tasted good (according to my husband that is). On today's menu:
Vesuvio Potatoes (the experiment dish-a bit undercooked-but I will try it again sometime)
Spinach and Ricotta Cheese Stuffed Shells (Vernon's favorite)
Broccoli and Peppers
Greens with Tomatoes (Another of Vernon's preferred meals)
Cheesy Garlic Bread
My sisters-in-law brought Baked Chicken and Crisp Green Salad to round out the meal.
To top off the meal was a delicious dessert that I created a few weeks ago that I thought I would share with the family. After a couple requests for the recipe, I am including it here on the blog for you to try. Try it out because it is pretty simple to make and rather tasty.

Coconut Banana-Berry Pudding

2 cups frozen mixed berries

½ cup blueberries

14 oz Light Coconut Milk

1 TBSP Vanilla Extract

2/3 Cup Sugar

6 TBSP Cornstarch

Pinch of salt

2 bananas sliced

Vanilla Wafers

In a blender mix berries and coconut milk until smooth

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add 1/3 of the berry mixture and whisk into a paste while heating on medium heat. Add the remaining berry mixture and heat to a low boil while continuously stirring. Turn off heat and allow to thicken (2-3 minutes). Place pot in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Slice 2 bananas and set aside. Spread an even layer (about 1/3) of berry mixture in the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Layer Vanilla Wafers followed by a layer of bananas and blueberries. Continue with another 1/3 of the pudding followed by wafers then bananas and berries. Layer once again with pudding and top with remaining wafers and berries.

Place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes depending on temperature desired. Add additional sliced banana to the top layer right before serving.

It is vegan (except for the Vanilla Wafers that I used, but you can find vegan wafers at the health-food store) and by using light coconut milk you save fat and calories without compromising flavor. Everyone seemed to like this dessert so I will definitely be adding this to my permanent repertoire. Next blog...coming soon. Until then, happy eating!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Toasty, Tasty Almond Bark

I have a gigantic sweet tooth. I could eat dessert all day, every day. Especially white chocolate and fruit and nuts. So, when I came across a recipe that used white chocolate and peanuts and raisins, I got very excited. My husband however, is allergic to peanuts and I am not a huge fan of raisins, so, I changed a few of the main ingredients to make the recipe safe for my husband and tasty for me. This recipe is super quick and easy and a little goes a long way. This White Chocolate Cranberry Toasted Almond Bark is something great to have for parties or even wrap and give as holiday gifts.

White Chocolate Cranberry Toasted Almond Bark

Creation Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour

2 cups white chocolate chips* (or dark/milk chocolate works as well)

½ cup of slivered almonds, toasted** and roughly chopped

½ cup of sweetened dried cranberries, roughly chopped

On a medium sized baking sheet place parchment or wax paper and set aside. In a small double boiler on medium-low heat, stir and melt the chocolate chips until smooth and creamy. Pour melted chocolate into small mixing bowl and combine with almonds and cranberries until evenly mixed. Pour onto parchment paper and smooth until even and flat (about ¼ inch thickness). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before breaking into even pieces.

Yield: about 3 cups

*use ‘vegan’ chocolate chips (available in white and dark varieties) to make this recipe vegtastic!

**Pan-toasted almonds: place nuts in a dry skillet and cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Shake or shake frequently to avoid burning. Once nuts begin to brown, remove from heat and allow to cool.

If you place the pieces in parchment paper in a air tight tin and keep it in a cool place, this bark will last a long time. Enjoy!
Happy Eatings,

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Almost Too Filling

My husband is an eater. And by that I mean, he really can put a meal away. Which is great, but also a lot of work. So I'm constantly trying to find recipes that are simple yet very filling. I have found that the most filling meals tend to have a good healthy carb to protein ratio. I rarely use white rice, white flour or white pastas. I also use a lot of legumes and vegetables to balance out the brown rice, whole wheat pastas and whole wheat flours of the meal. The good thing about these ingredients is that not only are they healthy, but they also withstand the 'leftover' period. They transport well to work and are tasty reheated or eaten cold.

The following recipe will feed about 4 people. I doubled the recipe and it made TONS of leftovers, some of which I bagged into individual serving sizes in zipper bags and froze (these also reheated well). It is an Egyptian dish that blends rice, lentils tomatoes and savory seasonings into a beautifully layered, filling, nutritious meal. I will take this to the next potluck because it was so easy to make!

Egyptian Koshari

¾ cup lentils

4 cup water

¾ cup long grain brown rice

1 cup macaroni

Olive Oil

1 small red Onion, coarsely chopped

1 small Green, Yellow or Red Pepper, sliced

3-4 cloves Garlic, minced

15 oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes

Season with: Red pepper/cilantro/cumin/garlic powder/basil


To Do:

In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic. Add 4c water/broth and brown rice. 5min later, add lentils. Simmer.

Boil macaroni separate according to package directions.

In a skillet, sauté onion, garlic and peppers. Add tomato, and seasoning. Simmer for 10-20min until flavorful and hot.

In a casserole or serving dish, layer macaroni followed by rice and lentils and topped with tomato mix. Sprinkle with cilantro.


Happy Eatings,


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Delish and Nutrish: Making small changes for a better meal!

So, I've learned recently that the only way to get people to actually read your blog is to WRITE a blog. So, here I am. I really want to make a cookbook one of these days. I actually want to do a lot of things 'one of these days', it's just really a matter of BEGINNING these things. I'm a starter but not a finisher. I get so bogged down with perfecting things that I run out of time to just get things out and down on paper. With baby now, things are even harder to complete. I am DETERMINED however, to really be about the business of getting this blog going and get my book underway. I have sooooo many delicious and nutritious recipes sitting on my computer waiting to be sent out to the masses.

One of my favorite things to do is find recipes that sound delicious (and fattening, and high in cholesterol and calories, etc.) and make them more healthy for myself and my family. Oftentimes people associate healthy with bland and boring. This is not the case. Let me offer you some suggestions to make your not so nutritious meal options healthier and equally (if not more) delicious with some small changes.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Bangin' Brown Rice
First off, NO MORE WHITE RICE. I repeat, NO MORE WHITE RICE. White rice is not as nutritionally sound as brown rice and the substitution of brown rice is easy and tasty! Spray a saucepan with olive oil and sautee chopped onions and minced garlic. Add 2 parts low-sodium vegetable stock (I love Imagine Organic No-Chicken Broth) to 1 part long-grain brown rice. Add your favorite herbs and spices (garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, etc.) while rice is simmering. Once cooked, fluff with a fork and serve.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Better for you Vegetables
Do NOT slather your freshly cooked steamed vegetables with butter. YUCK! Instead, use a high quality EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to lightly coat your vegetables. Or, avoid these additions altogether by tossing veggies in fresh lemon juice and herbs.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Mashed Potatoes
Forget the butter and milk in these babies. Use a low-sodium vegetable broth and a bit of EVOO to substitute. Not only do they leave your potatoes more flavorful, but also healthier and lighter.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Greek Yogurt
Use plain Greek Yogurt (2% or fat-free) instead of sour cream in many recipes. Greek Yogurt has more protein, less calories and lower fat than traditional sour cream. Plus, it tastes good! I have used Greek Yogurt in coffee cake, and cheesy potato casserole and nobody could tell the difference. Also buy Greek Yogurt instead of regular yogurt. It has less calories and more protein which will keep you fuller longer.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Use your Broiler
Broiled food tastes just as good as pan-seared food and uses little (if any) added fats or oils. Plus, the broiler is super quick! My husband likes to broil his fish and we also use the broiler to make tasty 'grilled' cheese sandwiches, mini pizzas and heat up our leftovers.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Salad Dressing
Mix fresh lemon juice, a smidgen of EVOO and herbs and spices like basil, black pepper, sea salt and garlic powder to make a light, healthy and delicious drizzle for your salad. You can even add your favorite balsamic vinegar to give your salad extra tang. Even low-fat dressings can have hidden calories and chemicals. Keep it natural with this easy idea.

An amazing grain, quinoa packs a protein punch you would not believe! Plus, it cooks super fast (about 15 minutes) which means you will be ready to chow down in no time. Simmer 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water or low-sodium broth. I have also added chopped spinach and drained/rinsed black beans to make a healthy side dish that my family loves.

DELISH and NUTRISH: Roasted Red Potatoes
Cube red potatoes, scatter on a pre-sprayed (with olive or canola oil) baking sheet, cover with your favorite herbs and spices and a smidgen of EVOO. Toss. Roast your potatoes at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes. Dip in your favorite no sugar added ketchup (I love Annie's Organic Ketchup). They taste better than the french fries at the drive-thru!

DELISH and NUTRISH: Egg Subsititutes for Baking
I love to use applesauce and banana as substitutes in recipes that call for eggs. Use 3 TBS of natural smooth applesauce for 1 egg. Use 1/2 of a banana to substitute for 1 egg. You can also use tofu and Ener-G Egg Replacer (found at most health food stores) to replace eggs. Also, in many recipes you can reduce the egg count by using egg whites only. Or for example, in a recipe that calls for 2 eggs, use 2 whites and 1 yolk. Most of the fat and cholesterol is found in the yolk so whenever you can reduce the amount of yolk being used, you will reduce the cholesterol, calories and fat content in your recipe.

Eating healthy is best done when the changes you make are small. If you feel like you're 'missing out' on something, the chances that you will return to poor eating habits is higher than if you make small adjustments here and there. In my next post I will include a new recipe for an old favorite. Stay tuned!
Happy Eatings,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

OMG! where does the time go?

I cannot BELIEVE that the last 'post' I made was in APRIL!!!! April 18th to be exact. Wow! How time really flies. Well, it is obvious that some of my original plans have been a bit derailed, but hopefully I can get them back on track now that I am feeling better and I have a bit more time on my hands...well, at least for the next couple of weeks that is. Anyhoo, anyone who has 'followed' the blog (which by now I'm sure some of you have forgotten all about) know why I haven't been writing...I'm expecting a baby! That being said, morning sickness came in the form of 'sitting in front of the computer makes me nauseous'. That coupled with way too much traveling this summer and simply being LAZY has kept me away from here but I think (hopefully) I'm back in business and ready to go.

So, after coming back from Los Angeles visiting my husband's parents, I arrived home to find a surprise on my front steps...THE JOY OF COOKING! Yay! So, I've been perusing it this morning and cannot WAIT to try some of the recipes! Avgolemono soup, Sour Creme Doughnuts, Baked Whole Salmon, Danishes! Plus all the tips in the book seem very helpful...where to begin?!?!

This week, I learned how to make my mother-in-law's famous peach cobbler! It was not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. I even got to experiment with a new ingredient: shortening. Now I know this isn't a 'novel' ingredient and any seasoned baker has used it time and time again, but it's new to me. It's an interesting ingredient...kind of similar to butter or margarine, but more white and it definitely DOESN'T taste like butter (yea, got some on my finger and I regret sampling it-yuk!). However, it does serve a very good purpose in holding together pie crust. The best part about learning this recipe this week was learning how to make crust. I've been wanting to try baking a pie or a cobbler but many crust recipes seem somewhat daunting. This recipe was pretty simple and straightforward...and I suppose, it was even VEGAN! I can't wait to try this crust recipe with cherries (for cherry cobbler) or even pumpkin (for pumpkin pie).

While I am not including a recipe with this entry, I will include one with my next entry...which will be coming soon...I promise! Thanks to all of you who have continued to support this crazy endeavor despite my 3.5 month hiatus. Love you all!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Beginnings

This has been a week of new beginnings. New beginnings which have kept me away from my computer and this blog. However, I am happy to say that I am back and I am able to once again share with you. The only problem, is that apparently, you cannot 'upload' your MSWord Documents into the blog, which is frustrating because I have quite a few recipes already typed into Word that I would like to quickly 'cut n paste' rather than re write. But, since I am here to write recipes, I will rewrite them. No big deal, just an extra step that I would've thought the blog business would've had figured out by now...
This recipe was a success with my husband and my family. It's adapted from my favorite vegan cookbook.

Apple-Walnut Bread Pudding
1 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp each ground cloves, ground nutmeg
1/2 cup milk (dairy, rice, or soy)
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 medium fuji or red delicious apples, cubed
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
2/3 cup purified water
1/4 brown sugar
1/4 white sugar
4 tbsp pure maple syrup
4 tbsp butter or vegan margarine

Preheat Oven to 375
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Stir in milk, vanilla, walnuts and apples until well mixed. Spread into a medium baking dish. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, bring water, butter, sugar and maple syrup to a boil. Reduce heat once butter has melted. Pour over the batter in the baking dish. DO NOT STIR! Bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to set for 5-7 minutes.
Tastes great with Vanilla Ice Cream! Makes approx 6 servings.

I don't guarantee that this is suuper healthy, but it is pretty tasty. Until next time, happy eating!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

More Difficult Than I Expected

Yes, so this blogging process is more complicated than I thought. Or, my computing skills are more lacking than I thought. It just took me 10 minutes to figure out how to log-in. I forgot my password and they e-mailed me 3 emails to confirm who I was and so on and so forth. Well, anyhoo, you're not here to read about my log-in trials and tribulations, you're here to hear (or read) about food. And that's what I'm here to write about.
I had a request from a 'follower' to include a recipe that I made one evening. It is a recipe I adapted from a great Vegan Cookbook which I am hopelessly addicted to. I kind of feel like that Juile woman who worked her way through Julia Child's book...only this Vegan Cookbook is much shorter and in many ways, much easier. I will post the recipe with my adaptations so that you too may enjoy it at home. I have to admit, it's pretty tasty!

Indian-inspired Tofu and Peppers

1lb extra firm tofu, cubed
1 med. onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 med. red, yellow or green bell pepper, chopped (two different colors looks nice!)
1 large tomato, chopped
salt to taste
2 tsp hot chili powder
2 tsp. garam masala spice

In a medium skillet or wok, saute oil, onion and tofu until tofu is slightly browned. Add the peppers, spices and tomatoes. Keep moving the ingredients to keep from sticking. Reduce heat and cook for 6-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Serve over brown rice or with oven-roasted potatoes. Makes 4 servings.

I think this recipe would also be really tasty with broccoli mixed in...haven't tried it, but I think it would be yum!
So, quick success story...I made some nearly-vegan cookies to send to my husband's family in LosAngeles and got good reviews! They were surprised at how moist they were. I think it's because of the egg substitutes I used. It's amazing how well they lend themselves to baking. So many people think that traditional ingredients are best and maybe for some things, they are, but it really is so much more fun just to experiment and see what happend! Well, take care and until next time, good eating!