Friday, September 23, 2011

Been too long

Ok, I have still been cooking, of course. The hardest part for me is taking pictures and uploading them. I don't like posting without pictures because like most people, I want to see the final product. The fruits of my labor. But, alas, I shall post with no pictures because I want to share with you a couple awesome recipes I have made lately that I am really excited about.

Yesterday I made the most amazing salad. I mean, I want to make this weekly and have it be a regular park of my eating schedule. It's that good. I don't remember how I found this but it's from Vegetarian Times. Yummy. I know you will enjoy it and it's super healthy. It's called Sweet Potato and Apple Salad with Avocado. Lucy actually really liked it and I accidentally put a red onion in instead of a white onion. I must say it was really good.

Jason has been really busy with homecoming at his school and also made a trip back to Iowa for some high school visits so it gave me a chance to make some things he usually wouldn't eat. The kids enjoyed it a little I think but really I made them for me :). This one I found sounded really like fall to me so I had to give it a try. Plus, gnocchi, hello, is so good. The kids are a fan of that, especially Lucy. So give this one a try. It's a little more unique. Gnocchi with squash and kale. I must say one of my favorite things about fall is butternut squash. The sage in this one was a little strong for me so I would omit some of that, otherwise it was heaven.

Soon I am going to be making a soup I love. It's a midwinter minestrone from Rachael Ray Look and Cook. I remember making this one soon after Miles was born for me and my friend Susie. The porcini mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes in it lend an earthiness to the soup that is so beautiful. I use bacon instead of pancetta because I can never find that at my market. It works just fine and costs a lot less. I like to buy a package of bacon, portion it out in about three strips per bag and freeze them. I always have it on hand when I need it and I never need more than that amount.

I am also really loving kale. A yummy snack I like to make is to tear up pieces of kale (minus the firm stem running down the center which I remove) drizzle with evoo and a sprinkling of salt and bake at 350 for 12 minutes or so. Kale chips; so yummy and healthy. I am still trying to convince Lucy they are good. Oh well, it is green after all.

I just made another amazing soup last weekend from Rachael Rays Look and Cook. That is one of my favorite books I own. I bought it after making five things from it while checked out from the library. It's amazing. I have made at least a dozen recipes from it and all have been tasty. This is the soup I made which is really yummy. Ancho Chicken Tortilla Soup!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Loving Avocados

I could just sit and eat avocados all day long. Here is another recipe using avocados. It was so delicious. So so so good. I have to say though, not good the second day so be ready to eat a lot of it or share. It is so so good. My husband even liked it after commenting on how off putting the appearance of it was. I didn't think it looked bad at all. Yummmmm. Enjoy.

Holy Guacamole Cream Pasta

1 16oz pack of brown rice spaghetti or whole wheat pasta
  • 1-2 avocados
  • 2 garlic clove
  • 4-6 tbsp milk or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp almonds
  • 4 tsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp jalapenos
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 plum tomato, chopped
  • 4 green onions + more for garnish


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine avocado, garlic, milk, cashews, lime juice, cilantro, oil, and chili pwd. Pulse until smooth.
  3. Add tomato and 2 green onions and pulse for 2-5 seconds until just combined.
  4. Mix guacamole sauce in with pasta and serve with green onions sprinkled over top

New Recipe I am loving and hating

I recently made this recipe for my friends on craft night. It was a big time hit. I had to make another batch already again. It's very inexpensive, simple ingredients, super healthy and most importantly very very yummy. I am excited to try variations on this recipe. I have thought about adding a jalapeno or using lime juice instead of lemon. I have thought about adding some tomatillo salsa or maybe even bacon. Yeah, bacon. The reason I am hating it, too damn good. The raw garlic is something I am not quite sure if I enjoy. I may try roasting some garlic next time. You definitely need it though or you can taste the chick peas. Please make this and enjoy the heck out of it.

Guacamole Hummus-Everyday Food

In a food processor, combine 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained. 3 cups fresh cilantro leaves, 1 garlic clove, chopped, and 1 ripe avocado, roughly chopped. Process until finely chopped. With machine running add 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, then add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until mixture is smooth. Season to taste with coarse salt and pepper.

I used two avocados. Not sure how it would be otherwise, all I know is the way I make it turns out divine.

Monday, April 25, 2011

If it makes you healthy

A few weeks ago I caught Sheryl Crow on the Rachael Ray show. She has a new cookbook out that she wrote with her personal chef. All healthy recipes and ways to eat for maximum health. This week I am giving some more of the recipes a try. Last week it was the cashew sticky rice. This week I am trying Veggie Caponata Soup, a bulgur wheat salad, a potato salad and a quinoa pasta salad. So far I have tried the quinoa pasta salad. Very very good. I am not a huge fan of the quinoa pasta. Turned out really tough. If you want to try this salad and aren't feeling daring regular pasta would be good too and to be honest with you, no pasta would be really good too still. I love this salad so much. I will post it soon. The Veggie Caponata Soup is what we are having for dinner. I have made it a goal to serve my family at least two meatless meals per week. I myself will be eating more meatless meals for lunch as well. This soup is very tasty and unique. Here it is.

Veggie Caponata Soup
adapted from If It Makes You Healthy by Sheryl Crow and Chuck White

3 T canola oil
1 cup diced celery
1 medium red onion diced
1 T minced garlic
3 T tomato paste
4 c vegetable broth
2 c cremini mushrooms
1 1/2 c diced zucchini
1 1/2 c diced eggplant
2 c tomato juice
2 c diced tomatoes (I didn't read carefully enough so I dumped in to cans of diced tomatoes; after realizing this I only put in half the amount of tomato juice called for to make up for the extra liquid I had added. bone head!)
1/2 c chopped green olives
3 T drained capers
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 t sugar
salt and pepper
2 c packed arugula
1/2 c chopped basil

In a large pot add your oil and heat a minute or two. Then add the diced onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until softened. Add the 3 T of tomato paste for a minute adding a bit of stock so you don't burn the paste. Cook 2 minutes until stock has evaporated. Add the eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms and cook 3-4 minutes. Add the remaining broth, tomatoes, tomato juice, olives, capers, lemon juice, and sugar. Season to taste. Cook until veggies are softened, about 20-25 minutes. Serve topped with arugula and basil. Yummm. Enjoy.

I promise to get the others posted soon when I have some more free time to type them out. They are so new I can't find links to paste in here. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Still cooking

I made something amazing today that I am so excited to dine upon again. Sheryl Crow has a new cookbook out called If It Makes You Healthy which is really a great book. I found this recipe in there and had to try it. Yummmmm.
Sticky Cashew Rice
1 1/4 c brown rice (I used short grain)
2 c water
1 T soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T sugar
1 T salt
1 c cashews
green onions

Cook the rice accordingly. I always use my trusty rice cooker. Works much easier. I actually did 1c rice and 2 c water so I have no idea how it would turn out otherwise.
Whisk all the ingredients after the water together. When the rice in finished cooking spread out on a foil lined pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle the sauce mixture over the top. Add the cashews and green onions as well. Because I used less rice it was a little more liquidy than I desired so I actually cooked up some tofu and mushrooms in a wok for a bit then added the rice. I love this dish so much. I will dream about it.

My good buddy Laura and I decided that from now on every time we have a play date someone will make chocolate chip cookies. We are going to try all different recipes just for fun because we love chocolate chip cookies so much. This is the best one in the world so I am going to find it hard to make many others, alas I will though. Yum. You have to make these.

I promise you that you can not find a better chocolate chip cookie recipe out there. I got 15 out of the batch and cooked them for about 11 minutes and let them cool on the pan for a few. They turned out perfect. I had to eat two in a row they are that good. I can't wait until thursday when I make them again. Yummm. Plus going to New York this summer and will dine upon the real thing then. The ones I dream of.

My sweet husband came home from the library with a Nigella cookbook. This is a really yummy Korean recipe I found and loved it. Super simple and super super yummy. It had just the right amount of spice. It was so funny because serving it to my three year old she cried at first saying it was too spicy but then kept on going back to eating it. It's delicious.

Another recipe from the book was called Chinatown Chicken Salad. Super duper yummy. Very simple and fresh flavors.

1 red or green chile seeded and diced
2 t chopped fresh gingeroot
4 t lime juice or rice vinegar
3 T soy sauce
splash of sesame oil
1/2 t sugar
I actually doubled this because it didn't seem like enough. I used 4 t of lime and 4 t of rice vinegar. Turned out great.
1/2 c salted peanuts chopped
1 iceberg lettuce chopped
1 1/2 c bean sprouts
4 scallions chopped
1 red bell pepper sliced thin
4 c shredded cooled chicken (used rotisserie chicken)
handful of fresh chopped cilantro
Assemble and serve with dressing. Enjoy.

Margarita Soft Fish Tacos
from none other than Rachael Ray. Still rockin the Look and Cook book of hers. Love it so much. This was a good recipe for one reason, the sauce. The fish was super dry to me. Not a fan. I would make these again with shrimp or shredded rotisserie chicken. I ended up eating the sauce for days. You could use it as a salsa with chips or serve it over some rice. I loved this sauce that much. I wasn't going to waste a drop of it and it did make a lot. Way more than you would ever need for this recipe but like I said, I was not sad about that. Super yummy.

I am really excited to get cooking more from the Sheryl Crow book. Very healthy recipes and very interesting flavors going on. It will be fun. Things I will probably have to make for me and Lucy but that's ok. I enjoy having a healthy lunch.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Look and Cook Marathon

I checked out a Rachael Ray book from my library weeks ago, oops, it's overdue. Well worth it because we had some really good meals. My last two weeks of meal planning have come from this book. It is amazing. In fact, I ordered it for my cook book collection. I must have it for I would probably cry dropping it into the return slot at the library. The meals were that good. I unfortunately didn't take pictures of all of the meals but promise to include the ones I did take.

Tonight we had the Chicken Ragu. Phenominal. I am telling you delicious. It was the perfect meal for my little one who detests tomato sauce because it was a light sauce. The combination of Marsala wine and a can of plum tomatoes crushed in the pot were simple enough that she didn't really mind at all. Maybe I can convert her. I could not stop eating this meal. I am really looking forward to the leftovers. Yummy!

One of our favorites was the Shish Kabobs with Spanakopita Orzo. This was a restaurant quality meal. One of those meals where you are in disbelief that you actually made this in your own home. Tasty! I am telling you make this. I actually used beef stew meat from my grocer instead of lamb. The orzo was so awesome tasting. And the beef turned out super tender and flavorful. I was leery using dried herbs like this calls for but it was really tasty. I marinated the beef all day instead of doing it right before I cooked the meal. I wanted those flavors to really develop.

This was our Valentine's meal and I have to say was freaking amazing. How could it not be with arugula. This was another restaurant quality meal. I felt spoiled by the meals we were eating from this book. That is why I have to continue making more. This one is wild mushroom broken spaghetti "risotto" with arugula and hazelnuts.

Chinese orange-barbecue cashew chicken. This was a delicious one too. I have to say my least favorite of the bunch but really tasty. Does taste just like take out.

The rest of the meals I failed to take pictures of unfortunately. Rest assured, they too, were amazing. Midwinter Minestrone. I really loved this one. The chick peas are a nice change from the usual kidney beans you find in typical minestrone. This was very earthy with the porcini mushrooms and the bacon. I can never find pancetta in my market so I always use bacon. Same idea, less money I am sure. I actually just froze the rest of my bacon in portions in zip lock bags so I can pull it out when I need it. I would never go through a whole package of bacon otherwise.

Ancho Chicken Tortilla Soup. Freaking amazing. Once again. I loved this meal so so much. I could live on this soup alone. It was delicious and unique. The beer gives it a really great taste. Don't be intimidated by the dried peppers used in this recipe. It's super simple. Just another step is all. Really worth it. Those deep chili flavors can't be substituted. Amazing!

Sausage and Fish one pot. This was so so good and something I wouldn't typically cook. Have only cooked white fish one other time in my life. This was a really tasty and hearty dish. Looking back on it I used a whole pound of sausage. Lucy loved the fish. It was a really well rounded and healthy meal.

There was one more meal I didn't get to yet that I have the ingredients for. Teryaki Noodles. I am looking forward to them. I do have the beef in my freezer. I sometimes get a little carried away with my meal planning. Especially if I find a lot of recipes I am excited about. I can't wait to get my book in the mail and continue on with this journey. I love the things I have been creating in the kitchen and so does my family.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New idea

Since my life is so crazy now with two kids, I have decided to post all of my dishes for the week during the weekend. It's much easier for me since I will only have to download pictures one time. This was a good week. I have to say the first dish was phenomenal. Sausage and Zucchini Rice. This was just super delicious and simple yet full of flavor. I did a couple different things with the recipe. I cooked my 1 1/2 cups of rice in my rice cooker with three cups of the broth. Then after all the rest of my ingredients were cooked I added the rice in at the end. I never added the extra broth. I felt like it would have been really soupy. This was super moist and flavorful. I also used olive oil as a healthy substitute when sauteing the vegetables. I later decided to give it a richer flavor to add a tablespoon of Smart Balance Omega 3 butter. I must say it again, this dish was so yummy. I never wanted the leftovers to go away, alas they did, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The second dish was from a new cookbook I got for Christmas. America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook. I have only looked through a few sections of the book and have already found a bunch of things I want to make. Thanks Mom! This recipe was Vegetable Lo Mein. I did really enjoy this recipe. Jason liked it a lot too. You don't miss the meat in it at all. Would be good with the addition of tofu. You can't go wrong with shiitake.
That's all I got around to this week. Jason was off for winter break and we were eating out a lot. Went to Chicago over his break and ate at two new places. One was Graham Elliot's new restaurant Grahamwich. When we first got to the city during the lunch hour we passed by and the line was winding all throughout the place and all they had was a communal table for maybe 16 at the most. Very tight in there and not stroller friendly at all. So we decided to do XOCO. Can't go wrong there. What a gong show that was though. Me and the kids went across the street to Starbucks to wait while Jason waited in line. One feeding and one poopy diaper later we finally had lunch. It was delightful. Jason had a special of beef mole torta and I had a carnitas torta. Lucy during a bad parenting moment had only chips and a churro dipped in melted chocolate. Oh yummmm! So we ended up getting lucky that night and headed to Grahamwich around 7:30. There were only a few people in there and no line. Awesome. We could dine in. Our original plan was to take it up to the room. Jason got the grilled cheese which was insane. I swear when I saw them making it that they plopped a couple tablespoons of butter on the melted cheese inside the sammy just for funsies. I had a bahn mi. It was good. That's all I have to say really. I have made bahn mi at home that taste just as good. Not to sound full of myself. There was just nothing unique about it. Me ordering the wrong thing really. The pork belly wasn't that great on it either. We also ordered the special popcorn which made me wanna puke. Just had a pungent taste to it. Had some powdered cheese on it and truffle oil. Jason and Lucy loved it. We ordered the pickled vegetables. Those were good. I would have ate them but wanted to be nice to my breastfed child. It was a fun dining experience and I would go back for sure to order something else.
The second place we went that was just over the top good, great, excellent, amazing, I have dreams about it. Yolk. I had sent my parents there on their stay in Chicago having heard it was good and they couldn't say enough great things about it. Jason tried the same thing my dad had which was called the Tour de France. Banana bread french toast with bananas, orange french toast with strawberry sauce and a poppy seed french toast with an orange sauce. It was also served with peanut butter for the banana bread. It was so so good. My favorite was the orange bread. I had some whole grain pancakes with granola in the actual batter with blueberries then topped with bananas. Everything was quality and so so fresh and tasty. The environment was fun and bright and all the waiters were very friendly. We are thinking of driving down tomorrow just to eat there again. On the kids menu they had smores pancakes and oreo pancakes. The menu is just super unique with lots of healthy choices too.