Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hearty Minestrone Soup

Wow, I can't belive it's been over a month since my last recipe posting! I haven't stopped cooking, I have just been very busy with the holidays and too tired at night to post anything. And honestly, a little too hungry to wait to take a picture before my dish doesn't look pretty anymore! : )

Adam and I took a four day cruise to Mexico 2 weeks ago and as expected, ate way too much on the ship as well (you have to eat your money's worth they say!). So after a month of eating too much which is usually inevitable with me during the holidays, I was in the mood for something healthy and full of vegetables. I miss them! Veggies are my favorite things to eat surprisingly, and I just haven't had enough of them lately...or at least not without some sort of rich sauce they have been drowned in.

One of Owen's favorite things to eat is soup, and I love to make it, so tonight I made a minestrone that used zero (additional) salt and was full of flavor! This was probably the best minestrone I have ever had, and will be making it again and again. Here is the recipe:

Hearty Minestrone Soup
Recipe by, Whole Foods Market

2 Tb Olive Oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
8 cups organic chicken broth, or Vegetable broth
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1 Tb. basil, chopped (I used dried)
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 can (28 oz) of chopped tomatoes
1 can, 15 oz chickpeas
1 can white canelli beans
1 cup fusilli pasta, dried
Grated Parmesean for serving (optional)
Heat oil in a large stock pot on medium high heat. Add onions and garlic and sautee until onions are translucent. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the tomatoes and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Then add chickpeas, canelli beans and pasta. Simmer for another 20 minutes until vegetables are soft. Serve with freshly grated parmesean cheese on top. Enjoy!

I took lots of cute pictures of Owen scarfing this down, only to find out that I forgot to put a memory card in the camera...duh! He was looking so cute too! Oh well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baked blintzes with fresh blueberry sauce

One of my favorite things to have for breakfast that I RARELY get to eat, are cheese blintzes. Preparing them the same way you would get at a restaurant is way too time consuming, but my beloved Barefoot Contessa has found a way to bake them all in one dish. It's so easy and is a hit every time I make them. I made them yesterday for Christmas brunch at my mom's house, and everyone loved them! Everyone is asking for the recipe, so here it is:

Baked blintzes with fresh blueberry sauce
Recipe by Ina Garten

For the Batter
1 1/4 cups milk
2 Tb. sour cream
4 Tb (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tb. sugar
1 Tb. baking powder

For the Filling
3 Cups (24 oz) ricotta cheese
8 oz. mascarpone cheese
2 extra large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tb. grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
2 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt
Fresh blueberry sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a 9x13 inch cake pan or baking dish.
For the batter, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor or a blender and blend until smooth. Pour half the batter (about 1 3/4 cups) into the prepared dish and bake for 10 minutes until set.
Meanwhile, for the filling, whisk together the ricotta, mascarpone, eggs, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla, and salt and mix until thoroughly combined. Spread remaining pancake batter to cover the cheese.
Return the pan to the oven and continue baking for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is lightly golden and the filling is almost set. Remove from the oven and allow to stand 10-15 minutes. Cut the blintzes in squares and serve warm with the fresh blueberry sauce.

Fresh blueberry sauce
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tb. cornstarch
4 half pints fresh blueberries (I used frozen)
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1 Tb. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine the orange juice, sugar and the cornstarch in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When the mixture is translucent and thickened, stir in the blueberries and simmer for 4-5 minutes, just until a few berries have burst but most are still whole. Stir in the lemon zest and lemon juice and cool.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

How can anyone even resist the name of this cookie? There is not one word in the title that I would think twice about making these. Now that I have made them, they are definitely blog worthy! I made several types of cookies this holiday season; Lime Melt Aways from Martha Stewart (simple and delicious), molasses drops (not too excited about), ginger bread (ended up getting dried out when I warmed in the oven before serving) and double peanut butter chocolate chewies (the perfect cookie). They are pretty rich and sweet, so don't eat too many!

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies
Recipe from, Eating Well Magazine

1 cup organic chunky natural peanut butter
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
3 Tb. plain yogurt
1 Tb. vanilla extract
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Sunspire peanut butter chips
1/4 cup turbinado sugar (see note)
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Beat peanut butter, canola oil and sugars together on medium with an electric mixer until blended. Beat in eggs, yogurt and vanilla until combined.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, oats, baking soda and salt until well combined.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually mix the dry ingredients into the peanut butter mixture until combined. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.
5. With a rounded tablespoon, place dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Dip the bottom of a glass in water and then in the turbinado sugar. Slightly flatten each cookie with the bottom of the glass, re wetting the glass as needed.
7. Bake until the tops appear cracked and they are just set (about 8-10 minutes). Don't over cook or they will become dry. Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Martha's Mac n' Cheese

Having a toddler who's favorite dish is macaroni and cheese, I am always looking for great ways to prepare it as healthy as possible. I think I found the ultimate perfect dish this time! This is the recipe I am sticking with! I don't know what I am going to do when butter nut squash isn't in season next spring and summer! This is a recipe I could eat all three meals a day every day of the week and not get sick of it, I am serious. It's THAT good. Please do yourselves a favor and make this soon, you have no idea what you are missing out on! It makes a lot too, so you can have left overs for days, unless you are serving it to company, then no promises that there will be any left!

Healthy Macaroni and Cheese
Recipe by Martha Stewart

1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into one inch cubes.
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. coarse salt plus more for the water
1 lb. elbow macaroni (I used whole wheat)
4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated (about 1 cup). We got low fat cheddar on accident and it was still really good, you couldn't even tell the difference.
1/2 cup part skim ricotta (we used whole milk ricotta...made up for the fat in the cheddar! : )
4 Tb. Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tb. panko bread crumbs
1 Tb. olive oil
olive oil cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375
Combine squash, stock and milk in a medium sauce pan; bring to boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes until squash is tender enough to be pierced with a fork. Turn off the heat and mash the contents in the pot. Stir in the nutmeg, cayenne and salt and season with pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in squash mixture, cheddar, ricotta and 2 Tb. Parmesan.
Lightly coat a 9 inch square baking dish (4 inches deep) with cooking spray. Transfer noodle mixture to dish. In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, remaining Parmesan and olive oil and sprinkle evenly over noodles.
Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking another 30-40 minutes until it's brown and crispy on top. Serve immediately. YUM.

Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili Recipe

I overlooked my other chili recipe on here the other day and tried a new one. I am so glad I did, because this is the BEST chili I have ever made!!

Vegetarian Chili
Recipe by Robin Miller

1 can 28 oz. chopped tomatoes
4 Cups vegetable broth
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped onion
1 diced red pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
2 Tb. chili powder (I used 1/2 chipotle chili powder and half regular)
2 Tb. Mexican oregano or regular dried
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. hot sauce
1/3 cup cous cous
1/2 cup Monterrey jack, cheddar, or Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
sour cream or plain yogurt (optional)

In a crock pot, combine all ingredients except everything listed below the hot sauce. Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or High for 3-4 hours.

10 minutes before serving, add cous cous and let cook until cous cous is tender. Season to taste (I didn't think it needed any salt or pepper). Just before serving, top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream or yogurt and sprinkle with cilantro.

So easy, healthy and DELICIOUS!

*Note, it was the perfect amount of spice for Adam and I, however I think I will reduce the hot sauce and chili powder for Owen's taste buds next time. I think with enough yogurt mixed in, he would be fine. I'll test the left overs on him tomorrow : )

Monday, November 23, 2009

Chicken Cacciatore

To my meat eating readers, here is my solo chicken recipe! I had made a friend's Cacciatore slow cooker recipe a while back ( and really enjoyed it, but tonight I didn't have time for a crock pot. So I looked up the regular recipe and thought I couldn't go wrong with Giada! I rarely cook chicken, and when I do, I always seem to overcook it (partly why you don't see more chicken recipes on my blog, I can ruin even the best of recipes by overcooking it). Tonight, however, it was perfect. Adam took one bite and said, "you have to put this on the blog!" I wasn't planning on blogging tonight, so I forgot to take a picture until it was too late. Sorry, next time I make it, I will add one : )

The best part is that we only used 2 chicken breasts an had a TON of sauce left over, so I am debating on putting it on a homemade pizza for tomorrow's dinner, using it as a simple pasta sauce, or adding to vegetarian chili. Either way, the sauce was really good and I am sure will be even better tomorrow in a new creation.

Chicken Cacciatore
Recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

4 Skinless Chicken Breasts
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup flour
3 Tb. olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (I used frozen red and yellow chopped peppers from T.J's)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup Chicken broth
3 Tb. capers, drained
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle each chicken breast with salt and pepper. Dredge lightly in flour.

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Brown chicken for about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. In the same pan, add the bell pepper, onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes until the onions are soft. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add wine and simmer for about 3 minutes until it has been reduced by about half. Add the tomatoes with juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken to the pan and coat them with the sauce. Simmer on medium low heat for about 20 minutes until chicken has been cooked all the way through.

Transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon sauce on top of chicken and garnish with chopped fresh basil. I served this tonight with a simple salad and garlic bread.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mamma's Spiced Oatmeal

We just had the best bowl of oatmeal EVER this morning! I wasn't planning on blogging about it, but it was that good! Owen asked for oatmeal for breakfast, so I thought I would do it a little different today. I have made it 100's of times with bannana's and peanutbutter, or yogurt and blueberries, or applesauce and almond butter, which are all very good, but today had a fall flair to it. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Owen said "MMMMMMM" after every bite, I am not kidding!

Mamma's Spiced Oatmeal
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup water
3/4 cup spiced apple cider
dried cranberries
sliced almonds
1 apple, cored and diced
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 Tb. wheat germ

Place all ingredients except the apple sauce and wheat germ in a small pot over medium heat. Stirring occassionally. When cooked to the consistancy you like, take off the heat and mix in the apple sauce. Sprinkle with wheat germ and enjoy!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

When I was a freshman in college, I lived about 7 hours away from "home." So, my Mom would often send me care packages of my hometown newspaper clippings, sweet letters, and almost always, homemade cookies! My friends would "happen" to drop by when they saw me bringing a box back to my dorm room, knowing that Mom's cookies would be looming! Although they were all good, I think the favorite was Oatmeal, peanut butter and chocolate chip. You can't go wrong with three of America's favorite cookies all rolled into one, right?
I have been thinking about these cookies lately, so, I found a wonderful recipe with more whole grains and a bit less sugar, but you would never guess. They are just as good as Mom used to make!

Whenever I pull out my large white mixing bowl, Owen either says "pancakes!", or "waffles!" or "cookies!" and he likes to mix, mix, mix. He is my little "helper" in the kitchen. He often creates more of a mess than helps, but he sure does have fun doing it!

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies;
Recipe by, Stephanie Gallagher
1/2 Cup all purpose flour
3/4 Cup whole wheat flour
1 Cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup butter (room temperature)
1/3 Cup Peanut Butter
1/4 Cup Buttermilk
1/3 cup chocolate Chips
1/3 cup raisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first five ingredients. In a larger bowl, beat the remaining ingredients (except for the chocolate chips and raisins) with an electric mixer. Stir in flour mixture until a dough forms. Add chocolate chips and raisins.
Roll dough into walnut sized balls and place 2 inches apart. Press down using the back of a fork in a criss cross pattern. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a cooling rack and enjoy!

Stuffed Pattypans with ricotta-corn filling

You can easily make this with large zucchini's as well (Suzanne, that's a hint for ya!). I had never even heard of pattypan squash until last year when my Mom decided to grow them in her garden. I got some in last weeks CSA from Fairview Gardens and found the perfect recipe for them in my gianormous cookbook, Passionate Vegetarian, by Crescent Dragonwagon. It was super easy to make and really really good! Really.

Stuffed Summer Suns: Pattypans Baked with Ricotta-Corn Filling
Recipe by Crescent Dragonwagon.

1 tsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 to 6 4-inch pattypan squashes
1 1/2 cups part skim ricotta
1 large egg
1 tsp. sugar or honey
1 fresh tomato (out of season now, so I used 1/2 a can of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 cup corn kernels
2 Tb. pesto (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 400
Slice the pattypans horizontally through the middle. Using a spoon or a melon baller, scoop out flesh leaving 3/4 inch thick sturdy shell. Or if using zucchini, slice the long way and scoop out the flesh making a "boat." Reserve the flesh and finely chop.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until has softened slightly and is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the chopped squash flesh, and stir fry until it begins to lose it's raw look, 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place the ricotta in a medium bowl. Add the egg and sugar, beating well. Stir in the tomato and corn, along with the onion-squash mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste, stirring well. Divide this mixture equally among the squash shells. (there may be extra filling, just bake by itself in a ramekin or small oven safe dish). Sprinkle each shell with Parmesean cheese

Spray a large baking dish with cooking spray. Place the stuffed squash in the prepared dish. Cover and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake until the filling is slightly browned and firm, 15-20 minutes.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lately I have been moderately feeding my sweet tooth, but have not quite been satisfied with my options. Tonight it was time to answer the little voice in my head begging for some good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. I have a fantastic recipe that I have made many times from my Canyon Ranch, Nourish cookbook. They are slightly crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. I wish I could tell you that they keep well for days, but they don't last that long in my house when I make them. They are THAT good!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe from Canyon Ranch, Nourish

4 Tb. unsalted butter, cold
1/3 cup low-fat cream cheese, cold
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
One (6 oz.) packge semisweet chocolate chips ( I accidentally used the whole bag, 12 oz. Not a bad mistake : )

Preheat oven to 350

With an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter, cream cheese, and brown sugar. Turn the mixer to low and add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix until combined.

Combine the flours, baking soda, salt and chocolate chips in a medium bowl. Add to the butter mixture and mix by hand until combined.

Drop rounded heaping teaspoonfuls onto the baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake for 7 minutes. Lightly flatten cookies with a fork. Rotate the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 3 minutes more, or until golden. Cool on on a baking sheet until the cookies are set.

Transfer to a cooling rack until completely cooled. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apple Pancakes

This morning I wondered what sort of breakfast we were going to start our morning with. I am tired of eggs, pancakes, waffles and oatmeal. I know there are a million ways to make each of these things, but none of it sounded good to me until I saw a recipe for apple pancakes and had two apples that needed using. This recipe turned out to be a winner! These pancakes were so dreamy, and naturally sweet, they didn't even need syrup.
Apple Pancakes
2 eggs, well beaten
1 1/2 cups of milk or yogurt (I used 1 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup rice milk)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat or spelt flour (I actually used some of each)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (I used turbinado, raw sugar)
3 medium apples, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
zest of 1 orange
1 Tb. orange juice
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Mix the eggs with the milk or yogurt in a large bowl.
2. In a smaller bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and sugar together.
3. Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir in the apples and orange zest.
4. Lightly spray cooking spray on a griddle or large skillet. Drop a large spoonful of batter into the pan and flatten it out a little (otherwise, you might have trouble getting them to cook in the center) and cook until golden brown underneath. Flip the pancakes and cook them for an additional two or three minutes.
5. Either dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately, or keep on a tray in a warmed oven until you are ready to serve them.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Gingerbread with Almond Spiced Whipped Cream

For our "pre-thanksgiving" dinner, I decided to skip the pumpkin pie (partly because I had just made one last week) and made a festive gingerbread instead. The whipped cream came from Rachel Ray. I used it for the pumpkin pie last week and fell in love! It's so simple and so delicious! Once again, a MUST for Thanksgiving this year!

The gingerbread had great flavor but seemed a little dry to me, so I reduced the time in the oven by 5-10 minutes depending on your oven. I cooked it for 45 mins and I think 40 or less would have been sufficient. I suggest you test it after 35 minutes and go from there.

Pumpkin Gingerbread
Recipe by

1 Tbsp cider vinegar
3/4 cup milk
2 1/3 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup canned pumpkin purée
1/2 cup dark molasses

1. In a small bowl, blend the cider vinegar and the milk and set aside. It will curdle. That’s the point.

2. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Spray an 8″x8″x2″ pan with cooking spray.

3. In a medium bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients and spices. Use a whisk to blend them thoroughly and to break up any lumps. Sifting would achieve the same result, but using a whisk is easier.

4. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter. Continue mixing while gradually adding the sugar until the two are creamed together and fluffy. Add the egg and beat well. Add the pumpkin and mix thoroughly. Add the molasses and blend.

5. Alternating between dry ingredients and curdled milk, in three batches, mix each into the wet ingredients. Mix the ingredients as little as possible.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes. Serve Warm and top with almond spiced whipped cream (recipe below)

Almond Spiced Whipped Cream
Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
1 shot almond liqueur or 1 teaspoon almond extract
Grated nutmeg, to taste
2 pinches ground cinnamon
3 Tb. powdered sugar

Whisk cream until soft peaks form, a couple of minutes. Whisk in almond liqueur or extract, powdered sugar and season with nutmeg and cinnamon, to taste.

Golden Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Sour Cream

We really love Thanksgiving in this family. I am partial to any holiday that revolves around food really. Last night, my family decided to have a "practice Thanksgiving". We just wanted an excuse to have turkey and all the fixings actually. All the usual suspects were there; David's Barbecued turkey as the main guest, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted veggies, rolls, and a special appearance for the first time, home made ginger bread with spiced whipped cream...YUMMM! (recipes to follow).

I think these mashed potatoes were the best mashed potatoes I have ever had. Sooooo creamy, loaded with fat, and delicious! (I guess there is a reason we only do this once a year!) I have had mashers with roasted garlic, I have had them with gorgonzola, I have had them plain, etc. etc...THESE were the best (in my oh so humble opinion) Anyway, you must make these this year, they will not disappoint!

Golden Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Sour Cream
Recipe by Williams Sonoma (Thanksgiving Edition)

4 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled and preferably organic, scrubbed
8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 leeks, white and light green portions, finely chopped and rinsed well
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 cup milk, heated to a simmer
1⁄2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste

Cut the potatoes into large, uniform chunks. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add water to cover and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, cover partially and cook the potatoes, stirring once or twice, until they are very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leeks, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until tender and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Return the potatoes to the saucepan and place the pan over low heat. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes thoroughly. Stir in the leeks and their buttery juices. Add the sour cream and stir well. Add the hot milk, the 1/2 tsp. salt and the 1 tsp. pepper and stir vigorously until light and fluffy. Remove the pan from the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Serve hot.
Serves 8 to 10.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder

Out of my 35 cook books I have been collecting over the years, I decided to pull out one of my favorites; Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. I wrote down every dish that I wanted to make in the next few months. I came up with 20 recipes! I LOVE this cookbook. Tonight I made a delicious corn and sweet potato chowder. Though I thought this was tasty, I think tomorrow it will be even better. I think it needed a bit of salt and possibly a little more spice, maybe thyme, or even a touch of ginger actually. Please let me know if you come up with a new addition for this hearty chowder.

Corn and Sweet Potato Chowder
Recipe by Vegetarian Planet, by Didi Emmons
2 Tb. butter
1 Tb. olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
2 1/2 Tb. unbleached white flour
6 cups whole or low fat milk
3 corn tortillas, cut into small pieces
2 cups corn (shaved from 3 ears preferably) and the shaved cobs
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes
1 tsp. salt
fresh pepper to taste
squeeze of lime
2 Tb. chopped cilantro (optional)

In a stockpot or large saucepan, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, and paprika. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the flour and stirring constantly with a whisk, cook for 30 seconds. Slowly add the milk, 1/2 cup at a time, while continuing to stir with a whisk so the flour doesn't lump. Add the tortillas, the shaved cobs, and the sweet potatoes, and simmer the mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Add the corn kernels, and let the soup simmer 2 minutes more. Add the salt, pepper, and lime. Remove the shaved cobs, then ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle it with cilantro, if you like.

Serves 4 large bowls

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Homemade Calzones

I used to live in Brooklyn, NY for four years and had some pretty yummy calzones during my time there. Though there are many amazing pizza places in NYC, Smiling Pizza was my favorite local pizza joint. It was on the corner of the 7th Avenue subway stop on the F train in Park Slope. The smell wafting out the doors roped me in more often than not when I was coming home from the train. Tonight I attempted my hand at a calzone for the first time. Super easy and you can't really go wrong with any recipe that includes cheese! Please feel free to stuff them with whatever else you wish, the possibilities are endless!

Owen liked these so much, he was trying to eat the crumbs off of his shirt!
Recipe adapted by

1 pre-made whole wheat pizza dough package, or make it fresh.
1 Tb. olive oil
8 cups fresh spinach (or 1 bag, frozen)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 cup cottage cheese/ or ricotta
*1/3 cup grated Parmesan
*1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
*1/4 cup grated jack cheese
3 Tb. sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped small
10 black olives thinly sliced
1 handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 cup marinara sauce (optional)
*Note, the cheeses are just what I happened to have in the fridge, feel free to use 1 cup from a pre-packaged blend of Italian cheeses.

Preheat oven to 425.
Let pizza dough rest for 20 minutes at room temperature on a floured surface. While waiting for the dough to relax, place oil in a large pot and saute the garlic for 2-3 minutes on medium high heat. Add washed spinach and herbs and cook until completely wilted. Drain the mixture well and place in a large bowl.
Add the cheese, sun dried tomatoes, olives, and basil to the warm spinach mixture and combine thoroughly.
When ready, cut the dough into 4 even pieces. Stretch each piece large enough to hold a quarter of the mixture. Place mixture on one side of dough, leaving room at the sides to pinch closed. Fold dough over the filling and crimp the sides shut with your fingers. Be sure to leave no holes so the filling doesn't leak out. Repeat for each piece of dough until the filling is gone and place on a lightly floured cookie tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until lightly brown. Top each hot calzone with 1/4 cup of marina sauce if you like and enjoy!
Serves 4

Yummy in my tummy!

Apple Pie Cookies

Last week, I made pumpkin cookies and Apple pie. This week I made apple cookies and pumpkin pie. I love fall! I think it is my favorite season, correction, I KNOW it's my favorite season! I have been bit by the "pre-thanksgiving" baking bug lately and can't seem to stop, even if I start at 10 or 11 PM! Am I crazy? Don't answer that.
I am always looking for new recipes to use up all the produce we continue to have in our house. Right now I have a ton of pears and figs, so keep your eyes peeled for a pear/fig recipe soon! These cookies are slightly cake like (just like the pumpkin cookies, which stayed fresh and soft all week). The apples keep them super moist. They are like little autumn cookies, just my style.

Apple Pie Cookies
Recipe adapted by

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 1/2 cups diced fresh apples (2 medium)
3/4 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and maple syrup. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the flour mixture. Once all flour has been incorporated, stir in apples, cranberries and pecans. Drop by large tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until cookies are browned around the edges. Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 28 cookies.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soothing Red Lentil and Tomato Soup

It's raining! I put on my bright pink rain boots, we got Owen dressed in his yellow rain gear and went puddle hunting this afternoon. I played for about 20 minutes or so before it was time to come in and get a warm dinner started for my boys.
I was just waiting for the first storm of the season to try this soup out. I tried it, loved it and will be making this again and again in the future. Forget that plain Campbell's sodium loaded tomato soup, this is a hearty easy meal that leaves you pondering all the flavors that marry in your mouth instantly! The lentils give this soup a nice texture, while adding a good source of protein. The coconut milk and cilantro add a refreshing twist to the regular tomato soup you are probably used to.

Soothing Red Lentil and Tomato Soup
Recipe adapted from
1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 large onion
1/8 tsp ground chipotle pepper (optional)
2 tsp garam masala (found in most super markets, Cost Plus has a great one)
1 cup red lentils,rinsed and drained
2 cans (400g) whole tomatoes, pureed
3 cups chicken or vegetables stock
unrefined sea salt, to taste
1/2 cup coconut milk
cilantro leaves

Process tomatoes in the blender or a food processor until roughly pureed. Then, quickly rinse the lentils and drain well.

To start the soup, first peel and finely dice the onion. Then heat a heavy-bottom soup pot over medium high heat. Add the oil, followed by the onions. Season the onions with sea salt and cook until the onions are soft and tender. Add the chipotle pepper and garam masala and cook for another one minute. Then add the red lentils, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover, lid slightly open and simmer the soup for about 20 to 30 minutes until the lentils are tender.

When the lentils are already tender, chop some cilantro leaves. If the soup is too thick, add more stock. Season the soup with sea salt to taste. To serve, ladle the soup onto soup bowls, then garnish with coconut milk and chopped cilantro.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Lasagna Rolls

Once again, I found this awesome recipe through Each roll serves one, it's super easy and very tasty! This is great for toddlers, and for guests as well. It serves up nicely.
Lasagna Rolls Adapted from
9 Lasagna Noodles (I cooked 1 extra in case they tear while boiling)
1 Egg
16 Oz. Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup soaked sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped (or 1/2 cup oil packed, drained and chopped)
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Cup Spinach or Broccoli, cooked and finely chopped (I used frozen, thawed and drained well)
1 1/2 Cups Marinara Sauce
1 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided

1. Cook lasagna noodles in salted water 2 minutes less than package directions call for and rinse with cold water.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
3. In a bowl whisk the egg, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and broccoli or spinach to combine.
4. Place 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of a 9×11 inch baking dish.
5. Spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture on each lasagna noodle, covering the sheet and roll up jelly roll style.6. Place the lasagna rolls seam side down in the baking dish and top with remaining marinara sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
7. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
8. Uncover and continue to cook an additional 15 minutes.
9. Serve.

* You can also prepare the dish through step 6, cover and freeze. When ready to eat, bake for 45 minutes covered and 15 minutes uncovered.

Mamma's Veggie "Meat"loaf

OK, though I don't eat red meat now, I did as a kid. Like most Americans, I still have fond memories of my Mom's meatloaf. I wanted to find a way to get a similar texture and flavor, but with out the meat. Through the use of lentils and oats and lots of seasoning, I think I got this one down. I have made this countless times for Owen (it's his favorite meal), and make it slightly different each time. I think tonight, I got the right amount of all the ingredients and the texture turned out perfect! Now I hope my memory doesn't fail me and I can write this down exactly how I made it.

I used to make this in one regular sized loaf pan, but tonight, I got the idea of making individual servings in muffin tins instead. It cut down on the cooking time and turned out great! This made 14 mini loaves, so there is plenty of left overs and some for freezing when you need a break in the kitchen one night!

Mamma's "Meat"loaf
1 1/4 cups lentils
2 1/2 cups water, veggie and or chicken broth
1 small onion, finely chopped in the food processor
1 carrot, finely chopped in the food processor
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup quick steel cut oats
1/3 cup cooked cous cous (millet, rice or quinoa would probably work fine as well)
3/4 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, pepper jack, Swiss, cheddar)
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup jarred chunky spaghetti sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. seasoning salt (I use Emeril's Essence)
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce

Heat oven to 350

Rinse lentils and take out any stones you might find. In a medium sauce pan, heat the water or broth and lentils to a boil. Place a lid on the pot and turn down heat to a simmer for 25-30 minutes until the lentils are soft. Drain any excess water and partially mash lentils with a potato masher and set aside.

While lentils are cooking make cous cous according to the box. Alternatively, if you have any left over grains in your fridge, just use a 1/3 cup of that instead.

In a food processor, pulse onion, garlic and carrot until finely chopped. Put 1 Tb. oil in a skillet and saute the mixture until soft (about 5-7 minutes). In a large bowl, mix the onion mixture, oats, cous cous and the lentils until slightly cool. Add the eggs, cheese, spaghetti sauce, garlic powder, basil, parsley, worcestershire and seasoning salt. Mix until combined.

Lightly spray a muffin tin with cooking spray and fill each cup to the top with the mixture. Cook for 20 minutes and take out of the oven, making sure the top is firm and slightly brown. Evenly spread a dollop of ketchup on top of each mini loaf and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes. When done, let cool for a few minutes, take out and serve with a side of steamed veggies or better yet, homemade mashed potatoes!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Black Forest Biscotti

I was never much of a biscotti fan until I had it homemade from my friend Eriko's house (who is an excellent cook, especially when it comes to sweets!). It's slightly more soft then what you would buy at the store or a coffee house. As I was thumbing through my Moosewood cookbook one day I found two biscotti recipes that looked great! I have made almond biscotti a few times, which was delicious, but last night I thought it was time to try the black forest! It is super easy and looks exactly the way it should!

Black Forest Biscotti
Recipe from Moosewood Restaurant, New Classics

1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup water
1/4 cup butter, at room temp.
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure almond extract
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
2 cups plus 2 TB unbleached white four
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly oil a baking sheet.

In a small saucepan, heat the cherries and water just to boiling, and then remove from the heat and set aside. In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and well combined. Blend in the eggs and almond and vanilla extracts. Fold in the chocolate chips. Drain the cherries, place them on a paper towel to absorb any extra moisture, and then stir them into the egg mixture.

In a separate bowl, sift together the four, cocoa, salt, and baking powder. With a rubber spatula, fold in the wet ingredients until the dough is uniform and holds together when pressed with lightly floured hands.

Use the spatula and your floured hands to scoop the dough onto the oiled baking sheet. Form the dough into a 12 inch x 3 inch diameter log shape; then press down on the log, flattening it to a thickness of about an inch. The length and width of the flattened log should be about 14 x 4 inches.

Bake on the top rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the dough is firm and just lightly brown. Remove from the oven and transfer the log to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, slice crosswise into 3/4 inch pieces. Lay each biscotti cut side up on the baking sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes on each side, using tongs to flip them. Cool completely on a rack and then store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Monday, October 5, 2009

La Ribollita

When I was in my mid 20's I back packed solo through Europe for 6 weeks. Italy was one of my absolute favorite places I visited. I spent some of my time in Tuscany and spent a wonderful day in the quaint little town, San Gimignano. It was pouring rain when I got there, so I found a local restaurant to wait out the storm. I sat down and wrote in my journal while I had one of the most incredible soups I have ever had! I made a note of it and came back to New York looking for the exact recipe of what I had. "La Ribollita" is Italian for reboiled and "refers to the fact that in the old days the soup was reheated and served day after day."

Though I call this a soup, it is very hearty and more like a thick stew just to warn you. I make this several times a year, and this recipe is as close as I have gotten to what I had on that rainy day in Tuscany. Tonight is a little chilly, so we have a fire going, sweaters on and I thought this would be the perfect soup for dinner tonight.

La Ribollita Adapted from Complete Italian, by Hamlyn

1 can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
4 Tb. pureed Italian tomatoes
6 Tb. olive oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 large leek, chopped
2 carrots, thickly sliced into rings
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 potatoes roughly chopped
1/2 cup fresh corn (optional)
1 medium Savoy cabbage, finely shredded (I used Napa Cabbage, couldn't find Savoy)
4 cups water
1 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/2 Tb. fresh, chopped)
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, (or 1 tsp. fresh, chopped)
4 slices stale white bread (I used 12 grain from La Brea bread company)
salt and pepper

Drain and rinse cannellini beans. Blend half of the beans and the tomatoes in a food processor.

Heat 4 Tb. olive oil in a large soup pot, add the vegetables and cook gently, stirring frequently for 10 minutes until soft.
Add the pureed tomatoes and beans and stir well to mix, then add the cabbage, water, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. ring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Tear the bread into the soup and add the whole beans. Stir well to mix, then simmer for 10 more minutes. Check the seasoning, serve hot, drizzled with the remaining oil.
Note: this is a pretty versatile recipe, feel free to add any other veggies you have lying around. Green beans would be a nice addition, or substitution as well.
PS, Owen absolutely LOVED this dish and it's full of good stuff which makes us both happy : )

Banana "Ice Cream"

I had some fairly ripe banana's that I wasn't ready to use up, so I peeled them and stuck them in the freezer for a later use. I remembered seeing on a raw food/ vegan blog recently about blending a frozen banana and eating it as ice cream. So I tried this and added a little, yogurt, peanut butter and one pitted date for more protein, fiber and minerals. DEEELISH!!! I have given this to Owen twice this week and he loves it! This is so easy and healthy, I highly recommend this for your little ones....or yourself : )
Banana "Ice Cream"
1 frozen banana
1 Tb. peanut butter
1 pitted date (optional)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

Nanna, Pappy, Owen and I had a great day at the avocado festival today in Carpinteria. For dinner I decided to make a meal that included these creamy nutrient packed local fruits. I found a recipe on for sweet potaotes with savory spices and black beans. It called for a sour cream and cilantro garnish, which to me, screams, "Add Avocado!" Depending on the size of your sweet potatoes, this meal could be very filling on it's own. I, however always make too much food and we had some small potatoes, so I made a side of quinoa with broccoli and tofu in a home made almond vinegrette dressing, which was a very protein loaded nutty flavored dish. Which was good, but not necessary as I am pretty full typing this right now!

Sweet Potatoes with Warm Black Bean Salad

4 potato(es), sweet
15 ounce(s) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 medium tomato(es), diced (I used 1 large heirloom tomato)
1 tablespoon oil, olive, extra virgin
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup(s) sour cream, reduced-fat
1/4 cup(s) cilantro, fresh, chopped
1 avocado, diced


1. Prick potatoes with a fork in several places. Place in a baking dish and bake at 425 degrees F until tender all the way to the center, about 1 hour. If you are in a hurry you can use a pressure cooker for 10 minutes, like I did.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine beans, tomatoes, oil, cumin, coriander and salt. until hot.

3. When just cool enough to handle, slash each sweet potato lengthwise, press open to make a well in the center and spoon the bean mixture into the well. Top each with a dollop of sour cream (or plain yogurt), a sprinkle of cilantro and top with diced avocados.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Rasberry Breakfast Bars

I saw this recipe months ago and it has been rattling in the back of my head, begging to be made before summer ended. Raspberries were finally on sale, so it was time to cook 'em up! I was going to give some of these to a kind neighbor, and some more to yet another neighbor who just had a baby. I was also planning on leaving some out for guests I have coming over tomorrow, however I don't think I have enough for all of those people! Sorry neighbors, I am in the process of making oatmeal cookies for you instead! : )

Recipe from

Raspberry Breakfast Bars
For the crust and crumb:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/4 cups rolled oats
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

For the raspberry filling:
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound raspberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Make the crust and crumb: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-13-inch glass or light-colored metal baking pan. Put a long piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan, letting the parchment extend up the two short sides of the pan and overhang slightly on both ends. (This will make it easy to remove the bars from the pan after they have baked.) Butter the parchment.
Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a food processor. Pulse in short bursts until combined. Add the butter and pulse until loose crumbs form.
Reserve 1 1/2 cup of the mixture and set aside. Pour the rest of the mixture into the prepared pan and use your hands or the back of a large wooden spoon to push the crust into an even layer at the bottom of the pan. The crust should touch the sides of the pan. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let the crust cool. Keep the oven on while you make the raspberry filling.
Make the raspberry filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon and flour together. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and butter and use your hands to toss gently until the raspberries are evenly coated.
Spread the raspberry filling evenly on top of the cooled crust. Sprinkle the reserved crust mixture evenly on top of the filling.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan every 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling starts to bubble around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cut into squares and serve. The bars can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to two days.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Easy Veggie Casserole

I had a ton of left overs from the millet and veggie dinner I made the other night. I must have been made to have a big family, because I have a hard time making a normal amount of food for my family! Since my husband is one of three boys, he never felt like he got enough, so he is happy to fill his belly to his hearts content in my kitchen. As Owen starts to grow up, I am sure my large amount of food will get smaller and smaller as he eats more and more!

To finish the left overs without reheating the same thing over and over again, I decided to get a little creative and found a great dish that even Adam (who does not like to cook) could make in no time! I used 2 cups of my left over grains and veggies, but feel free to use brown rice, quinoa, or whatever you have that needs using up! This meal tastes a lot like, but even better than quiche in my opinion.

Recipe Adapted from

Veggie Casserole

1 Cup Milk
2 Eggs, whisked
1 Cup Broccoli, chopped and cooked (can use frozen)
1 Cup cooked chopped veggies (can be frozen mixed, or left overs, I used, Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, and zucchini)
2 Cups Brown Rice or millet, cooked (or any left over cooked grain you have)
1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded (I used pepper jack, use any cheese you like)

1. Preheat oven the 350 degrees.
2. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and milk until combined.
3. Add the veggies, rice and cheese and stir to combine.
4. Grease in a casserole dish and pour in the mixture.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes, depending on the size of your casserole dish.
6. Serve.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Millet and Veggies w/ a sage cream sauce

The sound of the word "millet" sounds more like something you would feed your chickens or pigs, but it really is a tasty grain that is packed with nutrients and protein. It's a similar texture and taste to quinoa or cous cous. I found an easy recipe on the Whole Foods website that allowed me to use up a lot of veggies in my fridge and sage in my yard. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of mushrooms, however I didn't have them on hand, so I threw in broccoli, carrots, summer squash, and asparagus instead. The only adjustment I would make if you were making this for your toddler would be to parboil or steam the veggies first. Though he loved this meal, the veggies were still a little too crispy for Owen.

Warm Millet Salad
Adapted from Whole Foods website

1 cup millet
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and roughly chopped
1/2 yellow onion, sliced
3 cups sliced mushrooms (or throw in 3 cups of whatever vegetables you wish, roughly chopped)
1/3 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Toast millet in a medium pot over medium high heat until fragrant and just golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully add 2 cups salted water, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes; uncover and fluff with a fork. Meanwhile, heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add Brussels sprouts, onions, salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet, add mushrooms, and or veggies, salt and pepper and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add half-and-half and sage and simmer until thickened. Transfer to bowl with Brussels sprouts, add cooked millet, lemon juice, salt and pepper and toss.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

It's starting to feel like fall already, which means hearty warming foods have started coming out of my kitchen. We live close to the beach so we have had a lot of colder overcast mornings. The kind of mornings you want to pull up the covers and stay in bed, especially when your two year old is calling your name at 6:30 in the morning.

I LOVE fall and winter cuisine. Just in the past three days I have made pumpkin cranberry bread, spaghetti squash marinara, chicken soup, chicken and vegetable pot pie, dark chocolate cupcakes, rigatoni with butternut squash sauce ( that my friend Marina insisted everyone make) and roasted butternut squash soup. I wasn't kidding when I said I like to cook when it's cold out! This is an incredibly boring picture I know. I was too tired to get very creative. Next time.

Here is my recipe for:
Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
(serves 4)

1/2 butternut squash, seeded, roasted and peeled
3 Tb. butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
1 box vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tb. cream or half and half (optional)

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Saute onions 5-7 minutes. Add garlic carrots and herbs and saute 3 minutes more. Add broth and butternut squash and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-20 minutes until carrots are tender. Add pumpkin pie spice, and blend with an immersion blender or put in a food processor or blender. Add salt and pepper, and cream to taste.

Mamma's Chicken Soup

Since Owen and I are fighting our first (and hopefully last) colds of the year, I decided to make chicken noodle soup. I wasn't too sure how this was going to work out since he had never really had broth type of food before. Turns out it was a hit! I pointed out all of the goods in the bowl and he was pretty excited to try it. He was REALLY happy when he learned that he could drink from the bowl. He had three bowls and was asking for more, I was shocked! Be aware, this can get messy! : )I didn't have enough time to make it all from scratch because, one, I was hungry and two, didn't have a whole chicken in the house. So, I used two boxes of organic chicken broth instead. I sent Adam to Costco to pick up a $5 whole roasted chicken to cut up and add to my soup. It wasn't organic, but it was cooked, cheap and close to home. I wasn't feeling good enough to care at this point. Here is the recipe:

Mamma's Chicken Soup

8 Cups organic Chicken stock
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 bulb of fennel, chopped
1 small zucchini, cut in half rounds
1-2 cups cut up pieces of roasted chicken breast.
3 sprigs of fresh thyme chopped (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 handful of parsley leaves chopped
1 Tb. fresh oregano chopped (use less if using dried)
1 tsp. fresh rosemary chopped
1/2 cup Israeli cous cous (or egg noodles) I used the Harvest Grains package from Trader Joes

On medium heat, cook onions in 1/4 cup of chicken stock for 5 minutes. Add a little more stock if you need to to keep from burning the onions and your pan. Add garlic and saute for 2 more minutes. Add carrots, celery, fennel, zucchini, herbs and the rest of the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile cook the Israeli cous cous or egg noodles till done. Add the chicken and pasta to the soup base and enjoy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lemon Poppyseed Blueberry Muffins

I still had some lemons to use from Suzanne's awesome lemon tree. I was on the hunt for a good recipe using these yellow jems. Most of the ones I was drawn to were heavy lemon cakes loaded with white sugar, not something that I want going to Owen, OR on my hips I might add.

Once again, I found another great recipe from Weelicious! A nutrient packed muffin with NO white sugar! They have just the right amount of sweetness and the poppy seeds are chock full of calcium. (They also contain, protein, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous). The lemons add their share of vitamin C and the blueberries are an excellent antioxidant. This is one muffin I am happy to share with my growing boy.

Lemon-Poppy Seed Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/2 Cup buckwheat flour

1 Cup All Purpose Flour

2 Tsp Baking Powder

1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Butter, melted

2 Eggs, beaten

1/2 Cup Agave Nectar

3/4 Cup Rice, Almond, Low fat or Whole Milk

1/4 Cup Lemon Juice, with pulp

3 Tbsp Poppy Seeds

1/2 cup blueberries

2 Tsp Lemon Zest

*I only had 1/4 cup agave nectar left, so I used 1/4 cup honey to make up for it. It turned out great. Maple syrup would probably work well also.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Grease a muffin tin or line tins with cupcake papers.

3. Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, agave nectar, milk, and lemon juice, poppy seeds, and lemon zest.

5. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix until the batter is smooth making sure not to over mix.

6. Gently fold in the blueberries.

7. Pour the batter into 12 muffin cups, dividing evenly. Bake on a center rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

Mini Frittatas Your Way

I found the best food blog yet! It's called Weelicous, and it's filled with yummy and nutritious baby and toddler recipes. These are all recipes that I have made before, or will definitely be making in the near future. For those Mom's out there who want to check it out, here is the website: I am just too excited to not share that bit of info!

On this site I saw vegetable frittatas made in mini muffin tins for toddlers. What a GREAT idea! I don't have a mini muffin tin, but my son eats way more than just a mini muffin or two anyway, so regular muffin tins it is! This recipe was SO easy and fast, I am planning on serving many brunches in the future with this new idea.
Eggs are a great way for me to get lots of veggies in Owen in the morning. With this recipe, you can put in whatever you like, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, olives, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, etc... you get the idea. Since I had lots of ratatouille left over from last nights dinner, I just threw that in with the eggs and added some feta cheese and thyme. 20 minutes later, voila, breakfast is served!
Mini Frittatas Your Way
6 Large Eggs
3 Tbsp Milk
3 Tbsp Parmesan, grated
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme or basil (or any herb of your choice), use less if it's dried
1 cup chopped vegetables, cooked or raw. (I used left over ratatouille)
1/4- 1/3 cup grated cheese of choice, (I used feta)
1. Preheat the oven 375 degrees.
2. Spray or grease mini muffin tins with oil or butter.
3. Whisk the eggs and milk together. Add the cheese, tomatoes and vegetables.
4. Spoon egg/vegetable mixture into each muffin cup, filling 2/3 full.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
6. Cool and serve


I told my friends Suzanne and Andrew that I would be posting recipes from all the veggies they sent me home with earlier last week. Here we go! I have been thinking about making ratatouille since the last time I had lunch at Renauds in Santa Barbara. I ordered an open faced sandwich of garlic bread topped with ratatouille (vegetable stew), grilled onions and melted Swiss cheese. It was one of the best things my mouth has ever tasted! I had all the vegetables and herbs I needed at home, there was no reason to not make this. I made things even easier and used my crock pot. What's even better about this recipe is that I can get so many different meals out of this. The first night, I had it by itself on top of cous cous, this morning I made frittatas with it, and tomorrow I am planning on recreating the Renauds sandwich with sourdough and provolone cheese. Mmmmmm, I can't wait till tomorrow's lunch! I don't think I will ever get sick of this stuff!

OK enough talking about it already, here is the recipe:

Slow Cooker Ratatouille
1 large eggplant (or 3 small Japanese eggplants), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium-to-large red, orange or yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into big squares
1 14.5-ounce can of diced plum tomatoes, drained (I used the fire-roasted with basil kind)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
3-5 zucchini and or summer squash, ends trimmed, cut into thick rounds
1 can of garbanzo beans, or any white bean. (I actually used a .5 lb of a small green french bean I happened to have from my farmers market that needed using)
A large handful of fresh herbs (I used basil, thyme, and parsley, though I am sure a little rosemary would be nice as well.)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese (optional)
Combine the eggplant, onion, bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic in the slow cooker (mine is 5-quart oval).
Pour the olive oil over and toss to coat. Cover and cook on high 1 hour. Add summer squash and zucchini, cover, and cook another hour on high. Add beans, herbs, salt & pepper, and cook on high another half-hour to an hour. Place in a bowl and top with shaved Parmesan cheese and serve with some warm crusty french bread. You can also put this on top of cous cous, quiona, noodles, brown rice or roasted potatoes, etc........Enjoy!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles

Waffles are pretty popular in my house. I try to limit the amount of white flour and processed foods that Owen gets (the best I can anyway), so I took a prefect recipe for buttermilk waffles from and replaced some of the flour with more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals through different flours. They turned out great, you would never guess that they were good for you! I also never top his waffles with syrup. Today they were topped with almond butter, bananas and whole plain organic yogurt. It's yummy and I feel good knowing that he's getting a complete breakfast.

Whole Grain Buttermilk Waffles
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour (substitute this with whole wheat flour if you don't have this)
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 3/4 cups buttermilk* or 1 1/2 cups sour cream or plain yogurt thinned with 1/4 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick butter, melted and cooled)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blueberries fresh or frozen
Canola or other neutral oil for brushing on waffle pan

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix together the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt and the egg yolks. Stir in the butter and vanilla.

Brush the waffle iron lightly with oil and preheat it. Stir the wet into the dry ingredients. Beat the egg whites with the whisk or electric mixer (spotlessly clean ones work best) until they hold soft peaks. Stir the egg whites and blueberries gently into the batter.

Spread a ladle full or so of batter onto the waffle iron and bake until the waffle is done, usually 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your iron. Serve immediately or keep warm for a few minutes in a low oven.

* The buttermilk can be substituted with 1 1/4 cups of milk at room temperature, mixed with two tablespoons white vinegar, left to clabber for 10 minutes.

The NUTRITION BENEFITS of the whole grains I added are as follows:
The protein found in buckwheat contains the eight essential amino acids. It is rich in B Vitamins
as well as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. It's also a good oil source of Alpha-Linolenic Acid, which is one of the two essential fatty acids we must have to be healthy.
Garbanzo bean flour:
Are a very good source of folic acid, fiber, and manganese. They are also a good source of protein, as well as minerals such as iron, copper, zinc, and magnesium.

Flax seeds:
High in Omega 3's and fiber

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Summery Zucchini-Lemon Soup

On Tuesday I received garden fresh summer squash and lemons from our friends, Suzanne and Andrew. So many things to do with both of these ingredients, it took me a bit to decide what to make. I tried making lemon chicken yesterday...not so good. I am better with vegetables. I remembered making this zucchini-lemon soup as a first course for some friends a few months ago, and it was good enough to make again. It's so easy and light with great flavors. Perfect for a hot summer night when chilled as well.
This recipe came from an awesome cookbook I got for my birthday this year from my mother-in-law, Anna. The Santa Monica Farmers' Market Cookbook. I have made quite a few yummy meals from this book.
Summery Zucchini-Lemon Soup

2 lbs. summer squash cut into 1/2 inch thick pieces
1 onion chopped
1 Tb. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
kosher or sea salt to taste
1 Tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 TB canola or other mild cooking oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 lemon
snipped fresh chives for garnish
*See note

In a deep wide pot, saute the squash, onion, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, curry powder and turmeric in the oil over medium heat until the vegetables are golden, tender and fragrant, 7-10 mins. Add 2 cups of the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add the remaining 2 cups of stock and continue to cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 5 more minutes.

Puree the soup with an immersion or stand blender. Add the juice of one lemon. Taste and add more lemon or salt as needed until the soup has a refreshing tang. Serve hot, or chill well and serve cold. Garnish each serving with chives and or cilantro.

*I actually omitted the curry powder and used less turmeric. Instead, I used garlic, lemon thyme and parsley. It seemed more summery to me having those lighter cooler flavors than a warm curry spice. It was a good call I think.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mushroom Bourguignon

I saw this recipe one of my favorite cooking blogs, Once in a while I find a recipe that I absolutely HAVE to make and put it in my "favorites" and or, copy and paste it into a word document. This recipe made it to both. Tonight it was time to try Mushroom Bourguignon. My Mom used to make beef stroganoff as a child and that is what this dish reminds me of, minus the beef of course. It had a lot of flavor, was easy to make and filled us up. Not sure if this one is toddler friendly yet, as I got started late and Owen was in bed before it was done. I will keep you posted on if he liked it tomorrow when he eats it for lunch : )
Mushroom Bourguignon
Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well)
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional)

*The only thing I did differntly from this recipe was skip the pearl onions. Only because I didn't have any, and it turned out great!
Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid — about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.

Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

Add the wine to the pot, scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.
Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.
To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.

I know, it's on a T.V. tray. We felt like having dinner and a movie home : )

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Pancakes

This is a great way to start the day with one vegetable in the tummy! Sweet potatoes are full of antioxidants, beta-carotene and vitamins B, C and E. Owen gobbled them up, and I smiled. When I am wanting to make a new recipe for breakfast, I usually go to my Moosewood cookbook, as it has a lot of different healthy ideas for breakfast. This recipe came from the New Classics Cookbook.

Sweet Potato Pancakes
1 cup peeled and grated raw sweet potato
1/2 tsp. freshly grated lemon peel
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 TB. oil or melted butter
1 cup unbleached white flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 TB. sugar
In a bowl, combine the grated sweet potatoes, lemon peel, egg, milk and oil or butter. In a separate bowl, stir together the rest of the dry ingredients. Gently stir the dry into the wet ingredients just enough to combine. Do not over stir. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes.

Warm a lightly oiled skillet or griddle on medium heat. When batter is ready, pour 1/4 cupfuls onto the griddle and flip when you see bubbles popping on the top (about 2 mins). Flip the pancake and cook about 1 more minute until both sides are brown. Serve hot. You can top them with lemon juice (2 TB) and maple syrup (1/2 cup). Or if you want to make a dinner/ lunch out of it, top it with some sour cream and add a side of chunky salsa.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Terri's Baked Ziti

As usual, I needed a quick recipe for dinner tonight. I looked in my fridge for the veggies that needed using and pulled out the broccoli and zucchini. I had the idea of making baked ziti with lentils and veggies to add extra protein and nutrients. This was a super easy recipe and Owen loved it. I will definitely be making this again.

Terri's Baked Ziti
1/2 cup lentils
1 cup water or vegetable broth
1/2 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
3 cups whole wheat ziti, spirals or bowtie pasta
1 cup chopped broccoli
1 medium zucchini, grated
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 jar of chunky marinara sauce
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 log of thinly sliced fresh mozzarella, or 3/4 cup grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 400.
In a medium sized pot, saute the onions in the oil on medium heat for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic to the onions and stir for another 2 minutes. Add the lentils to the same pot and stir. Add 1 cup of water or vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer and cover the pot for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, boil pasta until al dente. While the pasta is boiling, throw the broccoli into the pasta water for the last 4-5 minutes. When the pasta is done, drain, and put back in the pot. Mix the marinara, pesto, cottage cheese and zucchini with the lentils and add to the drained pasta. Mix well and put in a glass baking dish. Top with mozzarella cheese until it is covered and put in the oven for 15 minutes. Take out when brown and bubbly on top. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baked Falafels

I had falafels on the mind today. I used to eat them somewhat regularly when I lived in Brooklyn, NY in my early twenties. New York really opened my mind to the world of food. You could find a restaurant that had cuisines from anywhere on this planet. I had my first tastes of Indian, Greek, Moroccan, Thai, Spanish and Ethiopian amongst many others in that great city.

I grew up with the American basics; hot dogs, hamburgers, casseroles, pot roast and potatoes. We would go so far as to include some Italian, Mexican (which the East Coast will never be able to match) and occasionally Chinese, but Indian was unheard of and strange! Once I finally broadened my taste buds to the flavors of the world, there was no going back! Hold the hot dogs, and bring on more baba ganoush please : ) I want Owen to grow up trying as many different things as possible. Don't get me wrong, I still like my tuna casserole and mac and cheese, but a nice curry here and there keeps me happy.A place called The Falafel King on 7th Avenue and 4th Street was just around the corner from my brownstone. On those nights when I was too tired to cook and didn't have a ton of money, this is where you could find me. I am actually not a huge fan of fried foods (unless it's french fries of course : ) so I decided to try and make a healthier version and I think I did pretty good at matching the taste and texture. I searched online for some baked falafel recipes and took bits and pieces from different places and added my own adjustments to create this recipe. With the help of a food processor, this entire meal didn't take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.

Baked Falafels
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans rinsed and drained
1/3 cup red onion, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cooked quinoa and or couscous

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup plain whole milk yogurt
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tb. of tahini
1 small garlic clove
1 Tb of parsley

Pita Bread
1 small cucumber
2 medium tomatoes
crisp lettuce leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Unless you have left over quinoa or couscous in your refrigerator (like I did), then cook 1/4 of a cup of the grain according to the directions. While that is cooking, Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. Put the beans, onion, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, baking powder and spices in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Form into balls and slightly flatten. Place onto a cast iron skillet that has 1 tsp cooking oil or is sprayed with cooking spray. Brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Then place skillet in the oven for 10 more minutes.
Meanwhile, puree the yogurt, lemon, tahini, garlic and parsley and set aside. When the falafels are ready, slice a pita in half and stuff each one with 2-3 falafel patties, diced or sliced cucumber, tomatoes and lettuce and as much sauce as you prefer. Enjoy!

Serves 3

*This was a last minute meal for me tonight, so I skipped the pita, and cucumber because I didn't have them on hand. Next time!