Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chile Verde

Years ago, a neighbor brought over a big container of chile verde because he made more than his family could eat. I love when neighbors bring food! It was full of flavor and I savored every bite. At that time, I wasn't doing much cooking so I didn't even bother asking for the recipe. The extent of my cooking consisted of three to four ingredients with a five-ingredient recipe being "extreme cooking" for me. LOL! My cooking has definitely improved! :)

While I was recovering from a tonsillectomy, I was pinning tons of recipes from pinterest. I was drooling over each recipe since I was unable to eat any of it. Now that my throat is fully recovered, I've been diving into some of those recipes. Chile Verde is a dish I love to order at Mexican restaurants. I love wet chile verde burritos or chile verde on its own with a tortilla on the side. YUM! 

I've never made chile verde so I don't know if this is an "authentic" recipe but what I do know is that I liked my version. I liked it a lot! I invited my Mom and sister over for dinner and they enjoyed it, too. The pork was fork tender and fell apart as I cut into my wet chile verde burrito. I ate the leftover chile verde on its own the next day with a tortilla. It's soupy texture was perfect for a light lunch. Oh, the flavors! Make this sooooooon!

Bright green!

After a couple of hours in the dutch oven....

Wet burrito with fresh guac. NOM NOM!!!


Chile Verde
Yield: Serves 8

Ingredients:


  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatillos
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed (I used 2 seeded serranos)
  • 2 Anaheim or Poblano chiles (optional)
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves, washed


  • 3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork shoulder (also called pork butt), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-2 inch cubes (I used 2 pork sirloins from costco)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 tbs of chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tbs of dried oregano)
  • 2 1/2 c chicken stock (I used 1 ½ c)
  • Pinch of ground cloves

Method:

  1. Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. If you have a Vitamix blender, put the chile verde sauce ingrediens into blender. You could use a food processor if that's what you have. Cut tomatillos into quarters and place into blender container. Add the garlic, serranos, and cilantro to the tomatillos and blend thoroughly. You can add a couple Anaheim or Poblano chiles. Either use canned green chiles or roast fresh chilies over a gas flame or under the broiler until blackened all around. Let cool in a bag, remove the skin, seeds, and stem.
  2. Season the pork cubes generously with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a dutch oven (or a large, heavy-bottomed skillet) over medium high heat and brown pork chunks well on all sides. Work in batches so that the pork is not crowded in the pan and has a better chance to brown well. Using a slotted spoon or tongs, lift pork out of pan and place in bowl to set aside.
  3. Pour out excess fat leaving about a tablespoon and place the onions and garlic in the same dutch oven and saute about 5 minutes or till onions are translucent. Hopefully, your dutch oven is large enough to cook the entire batch of chile verde with the sauce and meat. 
  4. Add the pork back to the dutch oven and add oregano. Then add the tomatillo chile verde sauce to the pork and onions. 
  5. Add the chicken stock (enough to cover the meat), add a pinch of ground cloves, and a little salt and pepper. Not too much as the chile verde will continue to cook down and concentrate a bit.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2-3 hours or until the pork is fork tender.
  7. Adjust the seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. 
  8. Serve with spanish rice and warmed flour or corn tortillas. Can also make wet chile verde burritos by adding some chile verde into a warmed tortilla, roll it up, pour more sauce on top, top with shredded cheese, and microwave to melt cheese or put in broiler to brown cheese (be careful plates are oven safe and keep an eye on the burritos to avoid burning them).
Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

Monday, October 1, 2012

Crockpot Lasagna

We really love pasta. lt's filling, delicious, and comforting. I serve it with a side of garlic bread and salad and my boys eat it up. They LOVE pasta! Because of Son #2's egg allergy, he has never eaten lasagna because restaurants add egg in the ricotta mixture. I found a recipe for crockpot lasagna and I was all over it. I knew I had to make lasagna for my allergy boy, and because it was a crockpot recipe, I knew I had to give it a try. It was tasty! 

In my opinion, the point of a crockpot meal is a one-pot, easy meal but this recipe requires you to cook the ground beef first. The extra step and dirty pan was well worth it. 

Crockpot Lasagna  

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef (I used packaged ground tofu from Costco)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • 29 oz can tomato sauce (add 1 tsp each:  Italian seasonings, basil, oregano, garlic salt)
  • 8 oz pkg. lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (I used 2 c)
  • 1 1/2 cups cottage cheese (I used 15 oz Ricotta) Cottage cheese

Directions

  1. Spray the inside of the crockpot with cooking spray.
  2. Spray pan with oil, and when heated, saute garlic and onions.
  3. When onions become translucent, add the ground beef (or ground tofu) and continue sauteeing until cooked through. Add seasonings to taste (I used garlic salt and pepper).
  4. Add the tomato sauce and 1 tsp each Italian seasonings, basil, oregano, and garlic salt.
  5. Spread ¼ of the meat sauce on the bottom of the crockpot.
  6. Arrange ⅓ of the uncooked noodles over the sauce (break them up so they fit better).
  7. Spread ⅓ of the ricotta over the noodles. Sprinkle handful of mozzarella over the ricotta.
  8. Repeat these layers twice and top with remaining sauce.
  9. Cover and cook on low for 4 hrs.
  10. Let the lasagna stand in the crockpot with the lid off for 5-8 minutes before serving.

Optional:
* Use Italian sausage in place of ground beef or in addition to the ground beef.
* Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to the cheese mixture.
* Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup additional shredded mozzarella cheese to the top of lasagna 5 minutes before serving.


Source: adapted from Creating Through LIFE

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Artichoke and Garlic Hummus

Hummus is really good stuff. It's great on crackers, a slice of bread, with veggies, in a sandwich, or simply on its own. It's loaded with protein and is the perfect snack. I love how I can whip up a batch in no time thanks to my awesome Vitamix. Homemade hummus is delicious and guests are always impressed when I serve it.

Artichoke and Garlic Hummus

Yield:  2 cups

Ingredients:
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, reserve liquids
  • 1/2 c artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/4 c raw sesame seeds
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt, to taste
Directions:
  1. Drain garbanzo beans into a measuring cup and reserve the liquid. 
  2. Place all ingredients and only HALF the reserved liquid into a Vitamix blender or use a food processor.
  3. Blend 2-3 minutes. If consistency is too thick, add a little more of the reserved liquid. Blend another 1-2 minutes or until ingredients come together with creamy hummus consistency. Do not add too much liquid or hummus will be watery.
Note:  The two garlic cloves gives the hummus a nice garlicky, spicy kick. We love garlic and the amount was perfect!

Source:  Adapted from Vitamix Whole Food Recipes book






Monday, September 24, 2012

Amish White Bread

I've baked sandwich bread several times and I've even tried several different recipes.  Walter's White Bread was our favorite but we definitely have a new favorite now. Move over, Walter, here comes Amish White Bread. Seriously, this bread is tasty! The bread has a nice, tall rise, it's light, fluffy and has a hint of sweet. It reminds me of Hokkaido Soft Bread from Japan. The bread was easy to make since I used my stand mixer. Try this bread. You won't regret it.

The smell of fresh bread is amazing...mmmmmm.........

Soft. Airy. Perfect.

Amish White Bread

Yield: 2 loaves

Ingredients:
  • 2 c warm water (Hot water will kill the yeast, and if it's not warm enough, yeast will not activate.)
  • 1/2 c sugar (I'll experiment with 1/4 c next time.)
  • 1 1/2 tbs active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 6 c bread flour

Directions:
  1. In stand mixer bowl with paddle attachment, pour in warm water then sugar. Stir till sugar dissolves.
  2. Add yeast and stir. Allow yeast to proof and look foamy.
  3. Add salt and oil and stir.
  4. Mix in one cup of flour at a time. When all six cups are added and dough comes together, stop mixer and change to dough hook attachment.
  5. Knead for 3-5 minutes or until dough forms a nice ball. If it's too wet, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time. Don't add too much flour or knead too long or the bread will be dense after baking.
  6. When dough is ready, remove bowl from stand mixer, set aside dough and spray the bowl with oil. 
  7. Place dough back into oiled bowl, spray top of dough with a little oil, cover with damp, clean cloth, and set bowl in warm, draft-free area. Let rise for one hour or until doubled in size.
  8.  Punch dough down and divide in half.
  9. Shape dough into loaves- On floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle the same width as the loaf pan. Start on the short end of the rectangle and start rolling tightly. Pinch the ends and bottom of roll to seal edges. Place in oiled 9x5" loaf pans seam-side down.
  10. Let prepared dough rise for 30 minutes or until dough has risen 1" above the pans.
  11. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes. Bread is done when golden brown on top. To check if they're baked through, put on oven mitts and slide loaf out of pan. Remove one mitt and tap on bottom of loaf with thumb. It should sound hollow. If it sounds hollow, place loaves on cooling rack and cool completely.
  12. DO NOT CUT BREAD UNTIL FULLY COOLED. It's tempting but you gotta wait. :)
  13. If loaves will not be eaten within three days, put bread in the fridge. You don't want moldy bread. Bread must be fully cooled before going into a ziploc bag. In the past, I sliced the entire loaf before putting it in the ziploc but I read that it's better to keep the loaf whole and slice bread as needed. It supposedly keeps the bread from drying out. We shall see...

Source:  allrecipes

Thursday, September 20, 2012

"Guacamole" Chicken Salad Sandwich

Son #2 with food allergies has never eaten a chicken salad sandwich because of the mayonnaise that's in it. While surfing Pinterest, I found a recipe for chicken salad sandwiches that uses mashed avocado instead of mayo. GENIUS! It's like a chicken and guacamole sandwich. What's not to love about that?! My boys love guac but I wasn't sure how they'd take to chicken and guac in a sandwich. They actually really liked it and ate it up! This was Son #2's first time eating "chicken salad." I love when I can make "firsts" happen for him. It makes me so happy when he can enjoy foods that many of us eat without thinking twice about the ingredients. 

A hot dog bun was the perfect size for our sandwiches.


"Guacamole" Chicken Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:
  • bread/buns
  • lettuce
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded or diced
  • 1-2 avocados, mashed
  • 1 tbs lime juice
  • 2 tbs celery, sliced
  • 2 tbs red onion, diced
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • seasoned salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Prep chicken and set aside in large bowl.
  2. Place avocados and remaining ingredients in medium bowl and mix thoroughly to make "guacamole."
  3. Mix avocado mixture into chicken bowl and mix till you have a good "chicken salad" consistency. 
  4. Put mixture on bread and ENJOY!

Source: Adapted from Becoming Betty

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fried Rice

I love a great fried rice and I have yet to taste a delicious fried rice like my grandma used to make. Fried rice always makes me think of my grams and the numerous times I watched her make it. She would use an old wok that had years and years of seasoning cooked into it. The first thing she'd do is fry up chopped bacon. When the bacon was done, she'd scoop it out and place it on paper towels. She'd pour the bacon fat into a glass bowl and reserve it for frying up the rice. With the grease that was left in the wok, she'd scramble up some eggs and set it aside when done. Then came a generous amount of that bacon fat and close to half a stick of butter. She'd heat it up and then throw in the cooked rice and sprinkle some soy sauce over the rice. When the rice was crisp and ready, she'd add the bacon, eggs, and some corn or other veggies and mix it all in. Her rice was flavorful and had the perfect fried rice texture which is so hard to achieve. It was THE BEST! I don't make fried rice with all that bacon fat and butter but it was sooooooo good....... 

Because I had leftover filling from making won tons, I used that in my fried rice. My version of fried rice is definitely not like my grams' but it turned out pretty good. Son #2 with food allergies tried fried rice for the first time! He can never order it when we go out because of the egg that's in it and the shared equipment it's prepared on even if the restaurant made it egg-free. Both boys LOVED it!

Not like grams' but tasty nonetheless.

Fried Rice

Ingredients:
  • cooked short-grain rice (Calrose or Nishiki brands are good.)
  • 2 tbs sesame oil (might need more if making a big batch of fried rice)
  • 1-2 tbs butter, optional
  • 1/3 c green onions, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 can corn, drained (or peas and carrots or veggie of choice)
  • won ton filling (see prior post) or bacon, optional
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
  1. Cook rice according to directions.
  2. Heat sesame oil and butter in large pan or wok and add rice. Let rice fry for 3-4 minutes or until bottom starts to look brown.
  3. Using a wide spatula, carefully turn rice over and fry other side another 3-4 minutes.
  4. At this time, stir rice around so the rest of the rice can get fried. If more oil is needed, push rice to edges and add a little oil in center of pan. After oil heats up, stir rice into the oil and mix around until rice is coated. Continue frying rice until rice has a good, crisp texture. ENJOY!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Won Ton Soup

Because I had leftover won ton wrappers from the "egg rolls" I made the other day, I decided to make won tons for won ton soup. I've never made won tons but figured I should be able to put them together since I've helped my mom make gyoza (Japanese potstickers) a while back. Their filling seems to be the same but they're just shaped differently. I used a filling recipe from my mom and then found a site on Pinterest so I could learn how to do the won ton wrap. 

I used an open package of won ton wrappers so I ended up with leftover filling mixture. That wasn't such a bad thing because I cooked up the filling and then made fried rice with it. I'll post that recipe next. :) It was the perfect complement to the won ton soup! I boiled four won tons per person and froze the rest. I'm stoked that I have frozen won tons that I can cook up at a later time. The prep time took a little longer than expected but at least I get two meals out of it. :)

I was a little worried that the won tons would fall apart when I boiled them but they held up. Only two won tons fell apart during boiling. :)


This picture makes me smile. 
:)

Won Tons

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb ground chicken or pork (I used ground turkey because that's what I had in the fridge.)
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 2 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1 tbs ginger, grated
  • 1/4 c green onions, chopped (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tbs corn starch
  • won ton wrappers
  • small bowl of water
  • soup ingredients and recipe below....If you're making won ton soup, get the broth started first.

Directions:
  1. Prep baking sheet with flour so won tons don't stick.
  2. Put first six ingredients in food processor and blend well. If you don't have a food processor, mix well in large bowl.
  3. Place individual won ton wrappers on dry cutting board. Try not to get the board or won ton wrappers wet or they'll get gooey and fall apart when you handle them.
  4. Use a tablespoon to measure out filling mixture. Place in center of won ton wrapper.
  5. Dip finger in bowl of water and wet two sides of wrapper. Fold up dry side to form a triangle.
  6. Press thumb in middle of won ton and join the two corners together. Wet one of the corners so they stay together. See picture above if this doesn't make sense. Place won tons on prepared baking sheet.
  7. Continue wrapping the won tons till you run out of filling or the wrappers.
  8. Boil pot of water and boil won tons a few at a time. Do not overcrowd or they won't cook well.
  9. Place in soup bowls and ladle chicken broth over won tons. Add additional green onions to taste. 

Notes:  If you have leftover filling, you can make little patties or cook it up like ground beef. I cooked it like ground beef and made fried rice with it. YUM! 
You can also fry the won tons if you prefer a crispy appetizer.

Source: Adapted from Simple Indian Recipes.


Soup

Ingredients:
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 1/8 c soy sauce
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • 1" piece of peeled ginger
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients in large pot/dutch oven and bring to a boil.
  2. When broth boils, turn heat down and simmer.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Baked "Egg Rolls"

Son #2 has severe allergies to eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and shellfish. Because of his egg allergy, he has never been able to order egg rolls at Chinese restaurants. Well, that changed when I made him "egg rolls" using won ton wrappers. It was definitely harder to make little egg rolls since the won ton wrapper is so much smaller than the egg roll wrapper. I also had to put less filling in the rolls which made wrapping a little challenging. Son #2 was really stoked to try egg rolls. It was definitely worth the trouble to make egg rolls because Son #2's face lit up as he enjoyed every bite.

Served the mini "egg rolls" with sweet chili sauce, coconut rice, and veggies.


Baked "Egg Rolls" 

Yield: 20 rolls

Ingredients:
  • 1 package Broccoli Slaw
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • chicken, cooked and sliced
  • won ton wrappers 
  • small bowl of water
  • spray oil

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and line baking sheet with foil and spray with oil.
  2. Heat sesame oil in large pan.
  3. I had leftover chicken from the night before so I sliced it lengthwise and added that to the broccoli slaw.
  4. Stir fry broccoli slaw till slightly tender about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Lay out a few won ton wrappers on cutting board.
  6. Place a little broccoli/chicken mixture on end closest to you. Don't put in too much filling.
  7. Roll carefully and when you get to the other end, dip finger in the bowl of water and moisten the end so it sticks when you close the roll. Place on baking sheet.
  8. Repeat rolling "egg rolls" until you run out of broccoli slaw mixture.
  9. When all rolls are placed on the baking sheet, spray lightly with oil.
  10. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

After a shredded carrot baking marathon, the boys asked if I could bake something without carrots. Because I was still on an oatmeal kick, I wanted to try the Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins. They were thinking more along the lines of sweet, frosted cake, cupcakes, or cookies. Instead, I baked them oatmeal muffins. Son #1 wasn't thrilled at first but he was happy to see the addition of chocolate chips. The muffins were perfect little oatmeal bites and the boys thought they were yummy.

Oatmeal + Chocolate Chips = Smiles!

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1 c milk + 1 tbs apple cider vinegar = "buttermilk"- measure milk, add vinegar, and set aside for 5 minutes.
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 c oatmeal
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c packed brown sugar (amount of sweetness is up to you)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 c chocolate chips (1/2 c seems too chocolatey)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray muffin tin with oil.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas, add "buttermilk," and vanilla.
  3. In another large bowl, combine oatmeal, brown sugar, and salt and mix well.
  4. Slowly add oatmeal mixture to banana mixture and mix well. Do not overmix.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. I used a Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to drop muffin mixture into tin.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  8. When muffins are ready, remove from oven and cool IN the tin on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.  After cooling period, remove muffins from tin and place on cooling rack to cool completely. Use the toothpick to loosen edges of muffins away from the tin. ENJOY!
Source: Adapted from Fitness Magazine.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Carrot Coconut Pineapple Bread

In addition to all the shredded carrots we needed to consume, I had bananas from Costco that were ripe and ready to eat. I'm pretty sure my boys deliberately let the bananas sit and get really ripe in hopes I'll make them into baked goods. :) When I'm not up for baking, I peel, slice, and freeze bananas and throw in a handful when I make drinks with my Vitamix. I love my Vitamix!!!!! Anyways, I was up for baking since I was on a shredded carrot baking extravaganza. 

The carrot coconut bread was the perfect combination of carrot, coconut, and pineapple. They were moist and the boys really enjoyed it. When I pulled it out of the oven, it had a nice rise but five minutes later, it was pretty flat making the bread pretty dense. No complaints though as it was really yummy anyways.


Carrot Coconut Pineapple Bread
yield: 1 loaf

Ingredients:
  • 2 bananas, mashed (or you can use 2 eggs)
  • 1 1/4 c shredded carrots
  • 1 c sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 stick butter, softened
  • 1/2 c reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and spray 9x5" loaf pan with oil.
  2. Mash bananas in a large bowl.
  3. Add carrots, coconut, butter, sour cream, and vanilla. If using eggs, add them during this step. Mix well.
  4. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. 
  5. Slowly mix the carrot mixture into the flour mixture. Combine well but do not overmix.
  6. Pour mixture into loaf pan and bake for 55-60 minutes or till top is brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Cool 20-30 minutes IN the pan on a rack. After bread has had a chance to cool, pull out of pan and cool on rack.
  8. Put in airtight container after bread is completely cool. Do NOT slice until bread is cool.
Source: Adapted from "Easy. Everyday. Eats."

Friday, August 31, 2012

Carrot Pineapple Breakfast Cookies

So this is another version of an oatmeal breakfast cookie. Gotta get through them shredded carrots! It may seem like I've been baking a lot of "cookies" but that's ok because I froze most of them. Since school is starting soon, the boys need a healthy option for breakfast or snacks. They really liked these because of the bites of pineapple they'd get. They were like little carrot cake bites. :)


Carrot Pineapple Breakfast Cookies

yield: 12 cookies 

Ingredients:
  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 2/3 c crushed pineapple
  • 1 1/4 c shredded carrots
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs dark molasses
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 c craisins
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 1/2 c oatmeal
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpats.
  2. In a large bowl, mash bananas. 
  3. Then add pineapple, carrots, molasses, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, and craisins. Mix well.
  4. Add flour and oatmeal and mix thoroughly.
  5. I used a Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to drop dough onto cookie sheets.
  6. Flatten cookies with your palm so they're shaped like cookies.
  7. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden.
  8. When baked through, remove from oven, cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. When cooked, store in an airtight container.
Source: Adapted from "Watching What I Eat"

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies

What's awesome about the Banana Oat Breakfast Cookie is that there's no egg, dairy, flour, or added sugar. The only sugar is from the craisins. These are great for breakfast on-the-go!

I'm still going through my four pounds of shredded carrots and have been baking away in the evening when it's a little cooler. The boys asked for something without shredded carrots so I made these Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies. They were hoping for chocolate chip cookies but I wanted to try this recipe so I threw in a few chocolate chips for them. The addition of chocolate made them seem like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie. They really liked them! :) In addition to baking Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies, I also got out the ingredients for Carrot Pineapple Breakfast Cookies, Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins, and Carrot Coconut Bread. I'll post those recipes over the next few days. Since all of the recipes used similar ingredients, I was able to easily bake one batch to the next using the same bowl and mixing spoons without washing in between batches. It made baking so much easier to bake smarter, not harder! :)

So yummy fresh out of the oven...

Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies
yield: 12 cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 c oatmeal
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/3 c craisins
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and prep two cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat.
  2. Mash bananas in large bowl.
  3. Add apple sauce, craisins, vanilla, and cinnamon.
  4. Stir in oatmeal.
  5. I used a Pampered Chef Medium Scoop to drop dough onto cookie sheets.
  6. Flatten cookies with your palm so they're shaped like cookies.
  7. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden.
  8. When baked through, remove from oven, cool a few minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
  9. When cooked, store in an airtight container.
Note:
The boys wanted chocolate chip cookies so I made this batch with 1/4 c craisins and a 1/4 c chocolate chips. The boys really liked the bites of chocolate and seemed like more of a "real" cookie. :)
If you don't think you'll eat these right away, you can freeze them. I froze two cookies side-by-side in wax paper, then wrapped in plastic wrap, put them in a ziploc, and then put them in the freezer. Take out the night before you eat them and they'll be ready the next morning. When ready to eat, warm for 20-30 seconds in the microwave. YUM!

Source: Adapted from "Watching What I Eat"

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Carrot Craisin Oatmeal Cookies



I probably shredded 4 pounds of baby carrots the other day. Luckily, the food processor got the job done quickly and effortlessly. Since I had all the baking materials out for the Carrot Pineapple Muffins, I made a batch of cookies, too. Because I didn't add a lot of sugar, these "cookies" would be perfect for breakfast. They're perfect little oatmeal bites on the go!

Carrot Craisin Oatmeal Cookies

  • Ingredients

    • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, room temp.
    • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
    • 1 large egg yolk  (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
    • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup rolled oats
    • 1 cup packed, finely grated/shredded carrots
    • 1/4 cup craisins  


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter. Slowly add sugar and egg yolk (or Egg Replacer- follow directions for 1 egg). Mix in oats, carrots, and craisins.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, and salt. 
  4. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture. Stir until combined but do not overmix.
  5. Drop dough by level tablespoons, 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Flatten with the palm of your hand. 
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes until edges are crisp. Rotate baking sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. ENJOY!

Source: adapted from marthastewart.com
http://www.marthastewart.com/341124/carrot-cake-cookies?czone=food/cake-center/favorite-cake-recipes&center=276954&gallery=274994&slide=282584

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Carrot Pineapple Muffins



I went overboard and bought the five pound bag of baby carrots at Costco. It sounded like a great idea at the time; however, I wasn't sure how we could possibly eat all those carrots once I got home. I can only put so many carrots in the Vitamix for smoothies and juices and there are only so many raw baby carrots we can eat per day so I decided to shred them in the food processor. I figured we could eat a lot more carrots if they were shredded and made into a carrot salad. I was also thinking along the lines of carrot cake but we're trying to cut back on the amount of sweets we're eating so I decided muffins would be a better choice. I cut the amount of butter and sugar by half and made changes to make them egg-free for my allergy boy. They're tasty treats and I'm not worried about the boys eating them up since they're not that sugary. :)


Carrot Pineapple Muffins

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup finely shredded carrots
  • coarse sugar crystals (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a muffin tin with paper liners.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger together.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with a hand-held electric mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter on medium speed. With the speed on low, slowly add the sugar. Increase speed to medium high and beat until light and fluffy.
  5. Add apple sauce and crushed pineapple. Scrape down the bowl as necessary with rubber spatula.
  6. Add shredded carrots and beat until well combined. With the mixer set on low, slowly add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overbeat.
  7. Evenly divide the batter among the lined muffin cups and sprinkle a little sugar over the top of each if desired.
  8. Bake approximately 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Remove muffins from the pan and transfer to a rack to cool completely. Serve warm or at room temperature. ENJOY!

Source: adapted from foodnetwork.comhttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cranberry-carrot-muffins-recipe/index.html

Monday, April 16, 2012

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

I've been so busy lately with school and work that I've been making a lot of crock pot meals. I made Hawaiian Chicken for tonight's dinner. Crock pot meals are quick and easy to put together considering the little prep work that needs to be done. Throw in the ingredients, turn on the crock pot, and let it do its thing. I had two very ripe pineapples that needed to get eaten up so I put together Hawaiian Chicken. It was delish!

This meal is easy peasy! There's no need to brown the chicken or sauté veggies. In my opinion, the point of making a crockpot meal is for its simplicity, and browning and sautéing beforehand is not my idea of an easy crockpot meal if I have to cook it first. My boys like the texture of shredded chicken but if you don't, then I recommend browning the chicken in a separate pan before you add to the crockpot.

For the freezer: Lately, I've been freezing a lot of crockpot meals and I'm adding this to my "freezer meal" list. To make it a "freezer meal," throw all the ingredients into a gallon-size ziploc bag. I double-bag my ziplocs just in case as I don't want sauce leaking all over my fridge or freezer. Anyways, throw ALL of the ingredients into a gallon-size ziploc, squeeze air out, zip shut, and carefully squish and shake the bag to incorporate sauce throughout the ingredients. Store flat in the freezer. Place "freezer meal" in the fridge the day before you want to cook your crockpot meal. I put my "freezer meal" in a rectangular tupperware in the fridge just in case the sauce thaws and there's a hole in the bag or the bag comes "unzipped." The next morning, carefully dump all ziploc ingredients into the crockpot. It'll still be frozen but you should be able to loosen the ingredients so it all fits inside the crockpot. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours. The time depends on your crockpot and the amount of food you're cooking. I keep 4-6 different "freezer meals" in my freezer for busy week nights so I can still serve a homemade dinner that doesn't take a lot of effort. Good stuff!

Crockpot Cookin'...my idea of "fast food."

Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken
Yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs chicken (I used thighs.)
  • 1 onion- sliced
  • 4-5 baby gold potatoes (or 1-2 russet potatoes)- cubed
  • 4-5 garlic cloves- sliced
  • 1/2 c soy sauce
  • 1/2 c water
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar (add 1/4 c if you prefer sweet)
  • 2 c pineapple (canned or fresh)
Directions:
  1. Slice onion and garlic- spread around bottom of crockpot.
  2. Cube potatoes- place on top of onions.
  3. Spread out chicken over veggies.
  4. Layer pineapple over everything. 
  5. Combine soy sauce, water, and brown sugar- mix well. Pour over chicken and veggies.
  6. Place lid on crockpot, plug it in, and cook on high for 4 hours. Do NOT open lid while cooking.
  7. Stir AFTER the 4 hour cook time. Make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly. If using breasts, it may take longer to cook. 
  8. Serve over rice. ENJOY! 
Note: This recipe makes a great "freezer meal." Place all ingredients in a gallon-size ziploc and freeze flat. Store in fridge the day before cooking, dump all ingredients in crockpot the next morning, and cook on high 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Egg-Free Brownies

While my boys were vacationing in Lake Tahoe with my parents, my ten year-old's first pet, a cute Crested Gecko, died on my watch. :( I'm not sure what happened, but my best guess is that it got too warm upstairs and with the additional heat from the warming lamp, the poor little guy overheated. So. Sad. My boys were devastated and a lot of tears were shed when I told them last night.

Luckily, I had already arranged a play-day/sleep-over for my ten year-old so he's been in good company and his buddy has kept his mind off his gecko. Unfortunately, my eight year-old is missing his brother's pet so I needed to cheer him up. Chocolate always works for me so I figured it would work for him, too. It worked! A big piece of brownie brightened my son's day.  :)

I've baked egg-free brownies a few times and haven't had much luck. They were too "cakey," too flat, hard and asphalt-like, didn't have the right flavor, or lacked the right brownie-like consistency. I finally found a decent recipe and modified it quite a bit to have less sugar and butter. Mine was a pretty good version if I say so myself and my allergy-boy definitely approves. This recipe's a keeper!

All this needed was a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Egg-Free Brownies


Yield:  8"x8" 


Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c butter (1/2 stick)- softened
  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 c cocoa powder
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 Tbs corn starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 c "buttermilk" (1 c milk + 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar: mix together and let sit for 3-5 mins.)
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • optional: powdered sugar
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Grease 8"x8" brownie dish.
  3. Place softened butter in mixing bowl and add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, and corn starch. Mix well.
  4. Add vanilla and "buttermilk." Mix until combined well but do not over-mix.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips last.
  6. Spread mixture evenly into baking dish.
  7. Bake for 30-35 mins.
  8. Optional: dust with powdered sugar 
Source: Adapted from allrecipes.com.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Homemade Croutons

It's so easy to make homemade croutons and they're delicious, too.  Make your own because they seriously taste better than the store-bought ones!  I ate lunch at Lee's Sandwiches and saw a big ol' bag of "one day old" french bread pieces for a dollar.  One dollar!  The bag was bigger than a gallon-size ziploc.  What a deal!  They were the ends of the baguettes and they were of various sizes but they were still soft to the touch and seemed pretty fresh.  I bought the bag with intentions of making croutons but I'm saving a few of the bigger pieces and making mini sandwiches for my boys.  They'll love that!  FYI, Lee's serves Vietnamese sandwiches called Banh Mi and they're delicious.  If you haven't tried one, you should!

Ok, back to the croutons.  Rather than making my own combination of seasonings, I use Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning that I bought at Costco.  I love that seasoning for my garlic bread and on fish, too.  It's the perfect combination of garlic, parmesan cheese, salt, and whatever else they put in there.  It's good!  Day old french bread, italian bread, and even the heels of regular loaves are perfect for croutons.  I've tried all three types of bread but my favorite is the french bread croutons.  They're airy and crunchy and can be eaten alone as a tasty little snack.  Yum!  The croutons will last 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.

Bag o' Bread

Toss oil mixture and bread cubes in a large bowl then spread evenly onto baking sheet.

Golden.

Crunchy goodness.


Homemade Croutons


Yield:  4 to 8 cups: depends on the amount of bread you use.

Ingredients:
  • 1 loaf bread
  • 1/2 c  extra virgin olive oil- amount of oil and seasoning depends on the amount of bread you use.
  • 2 tbs Johnny's Garlic Spread & Seasoning- or seasonings of choice (salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, seasoning salt, etc.)

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Measure out oil and seasonings.  Stir and set aside.
  3. Cut bread into bite size cubes.  Try to keep cubes uniform in size so they bake evenly.
  4. Cut all the bread and put cubes into large bowl.
  5. Stir the oil/seasoning mixture and slowly pour over bread cubes.  Toss well to coat.
  6. Spread cubes evenly onto lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until bread is golden brown.  Toss cubes several times during baking.
  8. ENJOY on salad or by the handfuls!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Must Go Soup

I was on a soup kick last week when it was finally feeling like winter in So Cal, but now that it's in the 80s again, it's weird to post about soup.  I'll post it anyways because it's an easy meal and tastes good, too.  I've made several different soups with my vitamix blender and they always taste a little different because I use whatever ingredients I have in my fridge that "must go."  I use a chicken bouillon cube as my base along with carrots and celery and the rest of the veggies depends on what "must go."  

What's awesome about making soup in the vitamix is that I can liquify fresh veggies to make soup and can have a hot, yes HOT, soup on the table in 10 minutes.  Easy peasy!  Sometimes I'll make my soup and let it simmer in the dutch oven for an hour or more as that really heightens the flavor of the soup.  But...if I'm pressed for time, it goes straight from blender to bowl.  What's great about the Must Go Soup is that you use it as your base and then throw additional veggies and/or meat to make it a heartier soup.  My boys love Chicken Tortilla Soup so I add a few extra ingredients and they scarf it down.  Tasty for sure!
Chicken Tortilla Soup using a tomato as part of the soup base and topped with fresh cilantro and salsa, grilled chicken, shredded cheese, and chips.

Another version of Chicken Tortilla Soup but without the tomato as part of the base.
Instead, I threw in a handful of "must go" cilantro and blended it for 10 seconds before putting the soup in the dutch oven to simmer for an hour.  

Must Go Soup

Yield:  4-6 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 c hot water
  • 2 carrots- cut into 2" pieces (it's easier on the blender)
  • 4 celery stalks- cut into 2" pieces (it's easier on the blender)
  • 1 slice onion- don't add too much unless you're cooking down the soup.
  • 1/2 red bell pepper- I buy the red, orange, yellow pepper pack from Costco and use whatever I have.
  • 1 clove garlic- If I'm cooking down the soup, I'll add 2-3 garlic cloves.
  • 1 chicken (or veggie) bouillon cube- if you don't have bouillon, you can use 2 c chicken stock (or veggie) instead of water and bouillon.
Optional ingredients:
  • 1 small jalapeno if you like heat - seeded and ribs removed
  • Have another veggie that "must go?"  Throw it in!
  • black beans- drained and rinsed
  • corn- drained
  • cilantro- washed
  • chicken- cooked and cubed
Toppings:
  • avocado
  • sour cream
  • shredded cheese
  • tortilla chips
  • olives
  • cilantro
  • red onions
  • salsa/hot sauce

Directions:
  1. Put ingredients into Vitamix in the order listed.  If you don't have a Vitamix, you might be able to use your food processor.  Since I've only liquified fresh veggies in my Vitamix, I don't know how the food processor would work out but you can try with caution.
  2. Always start with dial on "Variable 1."  Turn on vitamix and slowly increase speed to Variable 10 and within 1-2 minutes, flick switch to "High."  Blend on high speed approx. 6 minutes or until steaming hot.
  3. If making Tortilla Soup, reduce speed to Variable 2, remove the lid plug, carefully drop in additional ingredients (black beans, corn, cilantro, tortilla chips, chicken, etc.), and blend for 10 seconds.  Don't over-do it or you'll end up liquifying the add-ins.  The add-ins are great because it creates a nice texture to the soup.  
  4. Pour into soup bowls, add toppings of choice, and ENJOY!
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