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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Simply Delicious Homemade Granola Recipe



I posted a recipe a couple months ago for an orange spiced granola that is super yummy. That was the first homemade granola that I had ever made. Since then, I have been experimenting with different variations of homemade granola. I have made a batch of granola almost every weekend since I made the orange-spiced granola, and Greg and I enjoy it for breakfast and snacking during the weekdays. Greg and I agree that the simply delicious granola is so delicious because of the cinnamon and coconut. I also decided that this granola recipe could use some coarse sea salt and coarse sugar because I like to incorporate those ingredients into everything ever since making the truffles with coarse sea salt and sugar! Granola is such a simple snack to make and you can enjoy it at any time of the day. Serve it over yogurt, with milk, over ice cream, in a smoothie (I tried it and it's awesome), on top of butternut squash or pumpkin soup (also tried this and it's amazing), or plain. Enjoy!

Recipe for Simply Delicious Homemade Granola 

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups of rolled oats (such as Quaker Oats)
1 cup of raw almonds
3/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
3 Tbsp. of canola oil or canola/olive oil blend
1/2 cup of honey
4 Tbsp. of pure maple syrup
3/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon
A pinch or two of coarse sea salt
1/4 tsp. of coarse sugar
3/4 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of white chocolate or chocolate chips (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together all of the ingredients except for the salt, sugar, raisins, and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Use a spoon to mix the ingredients until they are well incorporated and the honey, oil, and syrup have coated the entire mixture. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the coarse sugar and coarse sea salt evenly over the granola. Place baking sheet in oven and cook for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, take granola out and toss gently with a spoon. Adjust oven temperature to 310 degrees and place granola back in the oven for 10 - 15 minutes (leave in longer if you want granola to be more toasted). Remove from oven, stir gently, and let granola cool completely.
Once granola is cooled, stir in the raisins and white chocolate or chocolate chips. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Recipe makes approximately 24 (1/4 cup) servings.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chocolate Bird Nest Candies with Cadbury Eggs for Easter



So, how cute are these chocolate bird nests? They are pretty adorable. I had seen pictures of chocolate bird nest candies on the Internet for quite sometime, but I never looked twice at the recipe because I thought they looked too difficult to make. My artistic abilities are pretty questionable, so I figured I would never be able to create such beautiful looking bird nests!
Last week a friend and I got together after work so we could try out a sweet treat recipe that we had never made before. The day we got together, I had organized a "dessert day" at work, where several coworkers brought in their favorite dessert to share with everyone (I shared cookie dough truffles). I told my friend to pick the dessert that we would make, because I was pretty much in a sugar coma and couldn't come up with any ideas. I got to her house, and this fun treat is what she had decided on. When I looked at the recipe, I realized how easy they were to make! Not only were they easy to make, they were also fun to make (and just as fun to eat)! Such a neat treat for Easter. Enjoy!

Recipe for Chocolate Bird Nests with Cadbury Eggs for Easter

INGREDIENTS:
One 12-ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips
One 12-ounce bag of peanut butter chips
One 12-ounce bag of chow mein noodles
36 - 48 Cadbury mini eggs (amount depends on how many nests you are able to make)

DIRECTIONS:
Line a couple to a few baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Add the chocolate and peanut butter chips to a large microwave safe bowl. Place bowl in the microwave and heat for one minute on medium power, then take out bowl and stir. Continue this process of heating and stirring until the mixture is completely melted and smooth. Stir the chow mein noodles into the melted chocolate/peanut butter and stir until the chow mein noodles are completely coated. Use a large spoon to drop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the mixture onto the parchment paper. Use the spoon to flatten and shape into nests. Place 3 eggs on top. Continue until you have used all of the chocolate/peanut butter/chow mein mixture.  Place in the fridge to harden, or in the freezer to speed up the process. Recipe makes 12 - 15 bird nest candies.

Recipe Source: Six Sisters' Stuff 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Crustless Quiche with Quinoa, Kale, and Peppers


My mom sent me an email last week which included a recipe for this dish with quinoa and kale. When I looked over the recipe, I thought that the crust was made with quinoa,  but then I realized that it was stirred into the mixture and there was no crust. I made it for dinner one night, and I thought it was pretty good. I used mushrooms, spinach, and sharp white cheese (actually it was "Seriously Sharp" cheese). Greg, however, was not crazy about the meal. He said it needed something crunchy, like peppers. He also said it needed meat. I agreed with him on the peppers part, but I did NOT agree with him on the meat. I decided to remake the recipe a couple days later, using baby kale leaves, tri-colored baby bell peppers, and pepper jack cheese. I also upped the seasoning and spice in the recipe. It was pretty delicious, and it won Greg over too (without the meat)! This meal is great for dinner, but it also can be served for breakfast. It's versatile - you can use different vegetables and cheeses in the recipe to make it to your liking. The crustless quiche with quinoa, kale, and peppers is also nutritious, as eggs have lots of protein (eggs are healthy now, eat them before they become unhealthy again) and quinoa and kale are both super foods. The flavor of this crustless quiche is delicious, with just the right amount of spiciness. Greg wanted me to add that if you need to fulfill your cravings for meat, that a spicy sausage  would work well in the recipe. Enjoy!


Recipe for Crustless Quiche with Quinoa, Kale, and Peppers

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup of red quinoa, rinsed
1 cup of water (for cooking the quinoa)
Crustless Quiche with quinoa, kale, and peppers
2 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup of baby kale leaves
1 cup of chopped baby bell peppers (yellow, red, orange)
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 Tbsp. of dried onion flakes
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. of kosher salt
1 cup of grated jalapeno jack cheese
3 ounces of cream cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 eggs, beaten
Extra salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:
Butter a 9-inch pie pan. 
Cook quinoa. Place the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all of the water is cooked off. Set aside to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking, heat the 2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the kale leaves and cook, stirring frequently, until leaves are bright green (about 2 - 3 minutes). Remove kale leaves and set on a plate. Set aside. Return the pan to the heat and stir in the peppers. Add more oil, if needed. Cook the peppers for about 4 minutes, or until they have slightly softened. Remove peppers and put them on the plate with the kale.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Add the dried onion flakes, pressed garlic, red pepper flakes, black pepper, salt, pepper jack cheese, and cream cheese to a large bowl. Drain the cooked kale and peppers of any excess moisture, and then add them into the bowl. Add in the slightly cooled quinoa, and then mix all of the ingredients together. Stir until they are well incorporated. Pour the eggs on top, then stir until the eggs are combined into the mixture. 
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and spread about so it is evenly distributed. Put the pan in the oven and cook for about 40 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for a few minutes before serving, or allow to cool completely. Sprinkle each piece with extra salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe makes 8 servings. Each serving has approximately 250 calories. 

Recipe Adapted from: Food52, by Hilarybee of Thistle Confections

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Tofu & Vegetable Curry


Whenever I go out for Thai food, I order curry. I like all curries - whether they be yellow, red, or green. I've always been a bit intimidated by trying homemade curry recipes for some reason. A few years ago I helped a friend make a chicken curry, and it was super yummy. But since I hate working with chicken and I like tofu, I decided to try a tofu curry. I came across this recipe in a healthy eating cookbook, and I've made it several times over the last couple of months. I love it because it has a nice kick and because it is loaded with colorful vegetables. It is also really easy to make. Serve it over white rice, brown rice, or Asian noodles. Enjoy!

Recipe for Tofu and Vegetable Curry 

INGREDIENTS:
For the broth
2 cans of coconut milk
1 can of light coconut milk
1 lemongrass stalk, mashed (optional)
1 Tbsp. of fresh ginger, minced or finely grated
3 - 4 Tbsp. of red curry paste
2 - 3 Tbsp. of honey
1 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp. of lime zest
4 sprigs of cilantro
3 fresh basil leaves (or 1/2 tsp. of dried basil leaves)
3/4 tsp. of curry powder
1/8 tsp. of salt

For the tofu & vegetables
1 small sweet potato, peeled and chopped small
16 ounces of extra-firm tofu, cut into medium squares
1 cup of thinly sliced carrots
4 ounces of sliced mushrooms
4 ounces of sugar snap peas
4 ounces of green beans
Raw cashews, for garnish
Rice or Asian noodles, for serving
*Keep in mind, the amount of veggies you use is totally up to you*

DIRECTIONS:
First, make the broth. Combine all of the broth ingredients in a large pot and set over medium heat. Once the broth begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook for 30 minutes. Try not to let the broth boil. Remove the basil leaves, cilantro, and lemongrass from the broth. Set aside to cool or return to medium heat.*

Add the chopped sweet potato to the hot broth and cook until the pieces begin to become tender (about 7 - 10 minutes). Add in the tofu, mushrooms, and carrots. Cook for another 5 - 8 minutes. Add in the snap peas and green beans, and cook for another 2 - 3 minutes. Remove pot from heat. Serve curry immediately. Serve it over rice or noodles. Top with raw cashews, if desired.

Recipe Adapted from: True Food: Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple, Pure

*The curry broth can be made ahead of time and be refrigerated for 3 days before using. Just put the broth into a pot when ready to use and set it over medium heat. Then begin to add the veggies once broth is completely warmed through.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Roasted tomato & Tri-colored pepper Pasta with Feta & Walnuts


I love this recipe. It is delicious, fairly nutritious, and great for leftovers. It is pretty easy to make too, even though it does require some time because of the roasting of the tomatoes and peppers. If you are pressed for time, you can substitute a jar of sun dried tomatoes in place of the cherry tomatoes.
I came across this recipe on A Couple Cooks. There are many healthy and delicious recipes on the site, and I can't wait to try more of them. I have made this pasta recipe at least 6 times since I discovered it in early February. The flavor of this dish is a little salty, a little sweet, a little nutty, and a tad spicy. Yum! It is a comfort food too, but you can feel good about the fact that it is loaded with healthy ingredients (tomatoes, peppers, spinach, walnuts, olive oil). Enjoy.

Recipe for Roasted Tomato & Tri-colored Pepper Pasta with Feta & Walnuts

INGREDIENTS:
For the sauce
1 pint of cherry or grape tomatoes
10 - 14 mini bell peppers (orange, yellow, and red)
5 Tbsp. of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese
3/4 cup of toasted walnuts
1 1/2 Tbsp. of toasted pumpkin seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
A pinch of salt
Several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
For the pasta/assembling
16-ounce package of spaghetti or angel hair pasta
Baby spinach leaves
Cherry or grape tomatoes (optional)
Toasted Walnuts
Crumbled feta cheese 
Freshly ground black pepper

DIRECTIONS:
First, prepare the tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Cut the tomatoes in half. Put them on the baking sheet, and toss with 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and black pepper. Put tomatoes in the oven for 40 minutes, tossing halfway through. Take out of oven and set aside to cool. Increase the oven temperature to 470 degrees (make sure an oven rack is in the top or second to top position in the oven). Transfer the tomatoes to a plate, discard of the foil. Line the baking sheet with a new piece of foil. Cut the ends off of the peppers and discard of the seeds. Slice peppers in half lengthwise, then flatten the peppers so they are skin side up on the foil. Place in oven on top rack for 7 - 10 minutes, or until they begin to blacken on the tops. Remove from oven. Turn oven off. Fold the edges of the foil up to seal the peppers in and set aside.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Once water begins to boil, add in the noodles and cook according to package directions.
While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Put the tomatoes, peppers, feta cheese, toasted walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds,  red pepper flakes, salt, and black pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple times until combined. With the processor running, add the remaining 3 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil through the feed tube and run until it is fully combined. The sauce should be smooth and thick.
Once noodles are finished cooking, drain in a colander. Return the pasta to the pan and add in the sauce, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition, until it is fully combined.
Arrange baby spinach leaves on plates, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Top spinach with pasta. Top pasta with a few chopped tomatoes, toasted walnuts, crumbled feta, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with toasted bread, if desired.

Recipe makes 6 - 8 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: A Couple Cooks 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffles with Sea Salt and OR Sugar


If you know me or if you have been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know that I love truffles. Not only do I love to eat truffles, I also really enjoy making them. If this is the first time you have read any postings on this blog, and you love truffles, be sure to check out the recipes for cookie dough truffles, coconut truffles, easy chocolate truffles, and pumpkin chocolate chip truffles. Am I forgetting any?

February was kind of a rough month for many people. I work in education, and many of my coworkers are women. Women crave chocolate. Many women I know enjoy red wine. Some women love salty things. For some reason men don't have cravings like we do - if I were to make a truffle for men, it would probably have to involve grilling...! As a woman, I need to take care of my friends, so I made a truffle to satisfy several cravings. The first time I shared them at work, I only used the coarse decorative sugar on the top. However, some of my coworkers thought it was sea salt and when they found out it wasn't, they asked me if they could pretend it was sea salt. But why pretend when you can have the real deal? Adding sea salt to them was a great idea. I tried the recipe again and I made some with sea salt, some with sugar, and some with both the sea salt and the sugar. Each one is delicious. The flavor of the red wine is very subtle, and the chocolate is perfectly rich and creamy. The crunch from the salt and/or sugar is a fun touch. So, if you are craving sweet, salty, sinful, rich, and indulgent, try these truffles! And here is to a continued magnificent month of March - enjoy.

Recipe for Dark Chocolate Red Wine Truffles with Coarse Sea Salt and OR Sugar 

INGREDIENTS:
For the filling
6 ounces of heavy whipping cream
You know you want me.
8 ounces of finely chopped semisweet chocolate
2 - 3 Tbsp. of red wine (cabernet sauvignon)
For dipping and topping
8 ounces of semisweet chocolate
Coarse sea salt or decorative sugar

DIRECTIONS:
For the filling
To finely chop the chocolate, break it up and put it in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it is very finely chopped.

Put the cream in a saucepan and set over medium low heat. Bring it to a simmer, watching constantly. Once it simmers, immediately remove from heat. Pour in the 8 ounces of finely chopped chocolate, cover the pan, and let rest for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and use a spoon to slowly and gently stir until cream and chocolate are fully combined. Stir in the wine and again gently stir until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover, and put in fridge for several hours (preferably overnight).

After filling has chilled, you are ready to roll into balls. Line a freezer safe container with parchment paper or foil. Use a 1-inch cookie dough scoop to scoop up the filling and use your hands to roll into balls (I usually dust my hands with cocoa powder several times and have paper towels close by during this step - it gets messy). Once you have used all the filling, cover the balls with foil or a lid and put into the freezer. Allow to rest in the freezer for at least 4 hours, preferably longer.

For dipping
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the decorative sugar on a small plate and the sea salt on another small plate, and have a small spoon to use for each.

Coarsely chop or break the remaining 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate and place it into a medium sized saucepan. Prepare a double boiler and place the double boiler over medium heat. Place the saucepan with chocolate on top of the double boiler. Stir frequently, until chocolate is smooth and completely melted. Take the balls out of the freezer and turn the heat off.

Drop 1 or 2 balls into the melted chocolate and use a spoon to fully coat each one with the chocolate. Use the spoon to drop the coated truffles onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle the salt and/or sugar onto the tops of the truffles while the chocolate is still wet. Repeat with the remaining truffles. Put the baking sheet with the truffles in the fridge and allow them to harden before eating.

Recipe makes approximately 20 - 25 truffles.

NOTE: One thing I have noticed about dipping these truffles is that the dipping chocolate can get messy quickly. If you have the time, it helps to dip the truffles in two parts. Leave half of the truffles in the freezer, melt only 4 ounces of the chocolate and dip only half the truffles. Then melt the remaining 4 ounces and dip the last half of the truffles.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Lasagna-Like Filling


Okay, so mushrooms are not very photogenic. They will never win a beauty contest award. After taking the pictures of the stuffed portobellos, I loaded them on the computer and asked Greg for his opinion on the best shots. He kept commenting that they were scary looking and that they looked like fungus. Right. Well that is because mushrooms ARE fungi! So yes, they aren't too pretty. But they are dang good!

I got the idea to make these from one of my friends. Both of us had seen the recipe on Annie's Eats recently, and one of her friends had already made them and said they were awesome. On Tuesday we decided that if we were off of work on Wednesday for snow, we would make them for dinner and compare notes later. Well, we were off of work, but it wasn't for snow. It was for rain! East Coast Beast - yeah right! But hey, I'll take a day off from work any day. Since we were off, and since the weather wasn't bad, I ran out to the store to get the ingredients. I made them, and they were amazing! They were fairly easy to make (the hardest part was getting the gills out of the mushroom), and they didn't take too much time. I thought I would need to eat more than one mushroom, but they were bigger and more filing than I thought they would be. I ate one with a side of pasta, and Greg had two. Last night we ate the leftover mushrooms with steak. The lasagna stuffed mushrooms can be an entree serve with salad, a side to meat, or a supplement to pasta. If you like mushrooms and cheese, I think you will love this meal. Enjoy!

Recipe for Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Lasagna-Like Filling

INGREDIENTS:
5 large portobello mushroom caps
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
2 Tbsp. of olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup of part-skim Ricotta cheese
1/3 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese
8 ounces of grated fresh mozzarella cheese, divided
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 tsp. of Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp. of Panko bread crumbs
1 cup of tomato sauce*

DIRECTIONS:
*If you are making the homemade tomato sauce, start it first since it has to simmer for 45 minutes.

Rinse mushrooms and pat them dry. Carefully cut off stems and then use your fingers or a light spoon to VERY carefully remove the gills from the mushroom. If you use too much pressure, the mushrooms can break.

Place an oven rack on the second highest position in the oven. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together the pressed garlic and olive oil. Line a baking sheet with  foil. Place the mushrooms on the baking sheet. Spoon some of the olive oil garlic mixture into each mushroom and spread to coat the insides. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the mushrooms in the oven and cook for 10 minutes.

While mushrooms are cooking, combine the ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, 2/3 of the mozzarella cheese, egg, spinach, Italian seasoning, and Panko bread crumbs in a medium bowl. Use a fork to beat ingredients together until very well combined.

Fill mushrooms with the cheese mixture. Add desired amount of sauce on top of the cheese, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella cheese on top of each. Sprinkle each one with a little freshly ground black pepper, if desired.

Place mushrooms back into the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Recipe source: Annie's Eats


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette


I remember years ago I had a yummy cilantro lime chicken salad at the Nordstrom Cafe. One of the things that really made the salad stand out was the cilantro lime dressing. I'm pretty sure I asked the waiter what was in the dressing, he said he would find out, and he came back with a printout of the recipe! Score! However,  I never ended up making the dressing. And when I decided I wanted to try it out the other day, the recipe was nowhere to be found. Bummer! But, thanks to the world wide web, I was able to find several versions of the recipe online. I found one I liked and I made some changes to it, and I loved it. I used it on a salad with lettuce, corn, queso fresco cheese, and lots of other tasty things. I'll share that recipe soon! But for now, here is the recipe for the cilantro-lime vinaigrette. Oh, this dressing also makes a great marinade for chicken. I had extra dressing, so I put it in the slow cooker with chicken, extra lime juice, a tad of orange juice, and some spices. Yum! 

Recipe for Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup of rice vinegar
2.5 Tbsp. of honey
1/2 tsp. of chili powder
1/4 of a small jalapeno, sliced thin
1/8 tsp. of kosher salt
1/3 cup of canola olive oil blend (or just canola oil)
1 cup of fresh cilantro
DIRECTIONS:
Put all of the ingredients except for the oil and cilantro into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the ingredients are well combined. With the food processor running, slowly pour the oil through the feed tube, a little at a time. Add the cilantro to the bowl of the food processor. Pulse until the cilantro is completely chopped up and the dressing is smooth. Taste, and adjust flavors if needed. Pour the dressing into an airtight container and put in the fridge for about an hour before using. Use on a salad or as a marinade for chicken. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Food.com