Steel-cut oats with granola crunch

On Sunday’s I typically make a large put of steel-cut oats and homemade granola so that our family can eat it for breakfast throughout the week. I originally followed Alton Brown’s recipe, but decided to make some changes. The oats turn out unbelievably creamy and re-heat wonderfully.photo-126

Steel Cut Oatmeal

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 6 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2- 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • agave to taste

Melt butter in pot over medium heat. Add oats and toast for a couple minutes. Pour in the hot water and bring to a  slow boil. Then reduce heat until you have a nice low simmer. Simmer, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Check periodically to make sure your heat is not too hot or oats will stick to the bottom of your pan.

After 25 minutes stir in the milk, cinnamon, and agave. Cook for 10 more minutes. Remove from heat.

At this point taste and decide if its to your liking. You may want more sweetness or cinnamon. Of course you could also use brown sugar or honey instead of agave to sweeten yours. I love to eat mine with granola…love that crunch on top!

I received this granola recipe from a friend I work with and fell in love. Beware…it’s addicting.

Sue’s Homemade Granola

  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix nuts, oats, and coconut in a large bowl. In a small saucepan combine butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt over low heat, stirring until the butter and sugar melt. Pour the butter mixture over the oat/nut mixture and fold in with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Pour granola onto the baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Pat down gently so you will have chunks when finished baking. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until golden brown.

* You can change many things about this recipe to your liking- different nuts, add dried fruit, unsweetened coconut, etc.

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Posted in Eat

Kale and Apple Salad with Pancetta and Candied Pecans

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 11.09.28 AM

image via foodandwine.com

As I was searching for healthier side dishes to make this Thanksgiving I came across this amazing salad. It does take a little bit of time to prepare but is completely worth it (and you can do alot of it ahead of time). The flavor from the sauteed pancetta really makes the dressing unbelievable. And my grocery store had prepackaged diced pancetta at the deli…huge help! See the **notes below on some changes I made.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 ounces thickly sliced pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons caper brine (from a jar of capers)
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 large head radicchio, shredded
  • One 8-ounce bunch kale—stems discarded, leaves finely shredded
  • 3 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
  • 2 ounces shaved pecorino

** Changes- I used one small head of radicchio and it was plenty, and used Parmesan cheese instead of pecorino.

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a bowl, cover the pecans with water. Transfer to a sieve and shake out the water. In another bowl, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, cayenne and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Add the pecans and toss. Transfer to a sieve and shake off the excess coating. Arrange the pecans on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the sugar is lightly caramelized and the pecans are golden.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil with the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the pancetta is browned, 6 minutes. Strain the pan drippings into a large bowl; whisk in the vinegar, caper brine and maple syrup and season the dressing with salt and black pepper. Add the apples, radicchio, kale, chives, tarragon and pecorino and toss. Mound the salad on plates, garnish with the pecans and pancetta and serve.

** I made the candied pecans well in advance. Also- I just chopped my kale and radicchio (no shredding). I prepared my apples ahead of time by chopping them and putting them in a container filled with cold water and a squeeze of lemon juice, then stick in in the fridge until you are ready.

So good, I’m making it again for dinner tomorrow night! Enjoy.

Posted in Eat

Guilt-free treat

I have been making these simple little deserts for a couple weeks now and we have been devouring them. They are kind of like a take on a healthier ice cream sandwich. A friend of Alan’s passed the recipe/idea on to me. Lola also adores them, not sure she’s met a “treat” she doesn’t like yet though. She is a wonderful little helper in the kitchen and literally squeals with excitement if I ask her if she wants to help me cook something.

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You will need about 1 1/2 cups of your favorite fruit combination.

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Toss fruit into your food processor or blender and pulse a couple times just until diced up really small, but not pureed.

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Mix together the fruit, 1 cup of yogurt, and 1 cup of whipped cream.

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Place foil in a 9″ x 9″ dish and layer the bottom with graham crackers.

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Pour yogurt and fruit mixture over grahams then top with another layer of grahams. Remember to place them in the same direction as the ones on the bottom.

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Freeze for approximately 3-4 hours then pull foil out of the dish. Slice into little sandwiches. I keep them in a freezer container or bag until ready to eat. I think they taste better after having set out for about 10 minutes to soften up a bit.

Frozen Yogurt Sandwiches

  • 1 1/2 cups fruit
  • 1 cup of yogurt (I use either Stony Field Low fat or a low fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup of whipped cream (homemade or Cool Whip- again if I use Cool Whip I use Lite or fat free)
  • Honey Graham Crackers (low fat tastes just as good to us)

Wash and roughly dice up your fruit. Toss fruit into blender or food processor to chop it up really small. Mix together yogurt, whipped cream, and fruit in bowl. Place a piece of aluminum foil into a 9″x 9″ dish. Arrange graham cracker rectangles in bottom of dish. Pour yogurt mixture on top of grahams. Arrange another layer of graham cracker on top, making sure they are in the same direction as the ones on the bottom. Freeze for 3-4 hours. Pull foil out of dish and slice into “sandwiches.” Enjoy!

Posted in Eat

A lighter version of Cheesecake

photo-65I have never been a huge fan of cheesecake, but when I saw this being made on marthastewart.com I decided I had to try it. It seemed so simple, not nearly as heavy as most cheesecakes, and beautiful.

I made this for our family Fourth of July picnic and within minutes I walked back to the table and there was nothing but crumbs. We all loved it so I am urging you to definitely try this one when you are craving something sweet this summer!

No-Bake Red White and Blue Cheesecake

  • 15 graham crackers, approx. (8 ounces)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, separated
  • Salt
  • 2 bars (8 ounces each) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped (*see tip below)
  • 2 cups fresh berries
  1. Pulse graham crackers in a food processor until finely ground (should have about 2 cups). Add butter, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Pulse until combined. Press crumbs evenly onto the bottom  and 1 inch of the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. In a large bowl and using an electric mixer on high, beat cream cheese until fluffy, 3 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, yogurt, vanilla, and a pinch of salt; beat until smooth. With a rubber spatula, fold in whipped cream. Pour cream cheese mixture into crust and smooth top. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 8 hours (or overnight).
  3. Before serving combine your berries and the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar and let stand for about 10 minutes. Run a knife around crust then release from springform. Top with berries. Enjoy!

* Note- a simple way to whip up some real whipping cream without dirtying too many more dishes, and takes no time, is to pour your desired amount of heavy whipping cream into a container that seals well. Make sure to choose one in which your necessary cream only takes up about a 1/4-1/2 of the container because it will expand. Start shaking vigorously and within 1-3 minutes you will have perfectly whipped cream! I always get Alan to do this for me and literally within 1 or 2 minutes the cream has turned into perfect whipped cream! Love it!

Posted in Eat

Fit Salad Re-do

We went to Mosaic for dinner last weekend, one of our favorite places. We both ordered salads…im not sure if it was because they sounded delicious or if it was really because we wanted to splurge on the unbelievable cookies they serve for dessert afterwards. Either way, Alan’s salad was specifically wonderful so I decided to try and recreate it for dinner tonight. photo-57

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

The restaurant serves Tuscan Kale for their green, which my local grocery store does not carry. Our regular organic kale was just fine to me though. Toast walnuts. Hard boil some eggs. Mix up a lemon vinaigrette (see below). Then get chopping and tossing-

To your chopped kale add:

  • chopped cucumbers
  • tomatoes (I used Cherry)
  • carrots, shredded
  • feta
  • dried cranberries
  • edamame
  • your toasted walnuts
  • hard boiled egg

For the vinaigrette I mixed the following ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped shallot
  • 1 tbsp honey (you could use sugar to sweeten if you prefer)- I used a local made almond honey and it made all the difference!
  • juice of 2 lemons and a bit of the zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

Not sure if he was just trying to please his pregnant wife who slaved in the kitchen after getting home from work, while holding our 1 year old…but he said my version of the salad was better than the restaurants. Ill take it!

Now if I could only re-create the cookies.

 

 

Posted in Eat

Cucumbers, a power food.

I recently learned the amazing effects cucumbers can have on your health (read here). The health issues that this green vegetable aid unfortunately directly affect myself and loved ones in many ways. Needless to say we will be incorporating more cukes into our daily diet.

So, the first thing I decided to make was Cucumber Juice. I must say this turned out to be quite a beautiful spring beverage. The taste is a bit too strong for me, but after diluting it with water it became very refreshing. Lola on the other hand thought it was the best juice in the world, as is, and downed it (she also likes to sit and eat a cucumber like its a banana, weird but fine with me).

I peeled and chopped 2 cucumbers, then tossed them in the food processor. Place a cheesecloth over a mesh strainer, then place over a bowl. Allow cucumber juices to drain. After about 10-15 minutes squeeze cucumbers in the cheesecloth to get out as much juice as possible.

I peeled and chopped 2 cucumbers, then tossed them in the food processor. Place a cheesecloth over a mesh strainer, then place over a bowl. Allow cucumber juices to drain. After about 10-15 minutes squeeze cucumbers in the cheesecloth to get out as much juice as possible.

I was able to get about one mason jar full of juice from my 2 cucumbers. Feel free to sweeten with sugar, agave, honey, or anything else you enjoy!

I was able to get about one mason jar full of juice from my 2 cucumbers. Feel free to sweeten with sugar, agave, honey, or anything else you enjoy!

Other recipes with cucumbers I will try in the near future:

Posted in Eat

Eggplant Rollatini

Weight Watchers said it best- “Here is a light twist on an Italian classic.” No, I am not doing weight watchers, but I am always looking for healthy dinners for my family. This one is a home-run!  I tested this recipe on my dad, whom does not welcome change or like different foods, and he enjoyed it! I did change it a little to make things easier.rollatini

Eggplant Rollatini (adapted from Weight Watchers)

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants, tops and bottoms removed, sliced lengthwise into 1/4″ thick slices
  • jar of your favorite pasta sauce (I use a tomato-basil based one)
  • 1/4 cup  minced onion
  • 1 small zucchini, diced small
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 fresh parsley (I use about a tbsp of dried)
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
  • grated Parmesan
  • 1 egg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat your baking pans with cooking spray. Lay your eggplant slices in a single layer on the baking pan and lightly coat the tops with cooking spray. Bake, flipping once, about 10 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

While these are baking I prepare the filling. Spray a small skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Add chopped onion and zucchini. Saute until veggies start to brown, about 5 minutes. Then stir in chopped garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Spoon mixture into a separate bowl to cool. In another bowl mix ricotta cheese, parsley, basil, and 2 tbsp of Parmesan. Add cooled onion mixture, stir to combine. Add egg, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.

Now lets make the rollatini’s! Reduce oven to 400 degrees. Pour about 1/4 cup of pasta sauce in the bottom of an 8″x8″ glass casserole dish. Swirl to coat bottom. Place 2 tbsp of ricotta mixture in the narrow end of an eggplant slice and roll up. Place seam side down in casserole dish. Repeat with remaining eggplant slices. Spoon 1/2 cup pasta sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake until sauce bubbles, about 15 minutes.

I like to serve this with a salad and artisan bread. YUM.

Posted in Eat

Mexican Dinner

By Raleigh-Elizabeth

By Raleigh-Elizabeth

Last week Design Mom featured a photograph of this delicious looking Mexican inspired dinner. At first glance I thought, what working mom has time to make a dish that looks like that. After reading the recipe, I felt less intimidated and more hungry. So I added it to my dinner menu for the week.

RICE
2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 bunch fresh cilantro

MEAT
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
4 cups salsa (I used Kirkland organic salsa from Costco)

TOPPINGS
1-2 avocados, chopped
1-2 red peppers, chopped
1-2 ripe mangoes, chopped
fresh cilantro for garnish

Start your brown rice in a pot on the stove, or in a rice maker and cook according to package directions. Next, add ground turkey and chopped onion to a large saute pan. Add garlic powder and salt and pepper. When the turkey is browned, add 4 cups of salsa. Bring the salsa to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, chop the cilantro, pepper, avocado, and mango. When the rice is done, simply stir in almost all of the fresh cilantro, leaving just enough to garnish each dish.

* I served mine with black beans also. Let me just say my dish looked NOTHING like the picture. I simply scooped a helping of rice on our plates then scooped the meat sauce on top of that. And let everyone do their own toppings. You could also make things easier by chopping your onion, red pepper, mango, and cilantro ahead of time and put them in containers for when your ready.

This was delicious! I will absolutely be making this again and highly recommend you try it also.

 

 

 

A better brownie.

One desert I do not make homemade is brownies. In my opinion the folks at Duncan Hines, Ghirardelli, and Betty Crocker have gotten it just right. However, I do tweak the recipe a little bit to make it a whole lot less fattening and more decadent. Yes, I know, that sounds impossible but try it. You will never make boxed brownies the old way again.IMG_4159

Ingredients

  • your favorite box brownie mix
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 1/2 cup applesauce or one of those single serving cups

Pour brownie mix into mixing bowl. Grind black beans and applesauce in your food processor until fairly smooth. Add bean mixture to brownie mix. Do NOT add any oil or eggs as the brownie box instructs you to (this is how you get rid of all the fat!). DO ADD whatever amount of water the box tells you to. Stir ingredients until well blended. Follow the cooking temperature and time on your brownie box. When finished I like to melt some chocolate to drizzle on top. Now enjoy your brownie without the guilt!

Posted in Eat

Roasted Zucchini Flatbread

When planning out my weekly dinners my goal is to make something delicious and healthy just about every night. I also try and create meals that are somewhat simple because I usually have a child attached to one leg while cooking. Here is one recipe that is easy, light, and yummy.

photo courtesy foodnetwork.com

Roasted Zucchini Flatbread (adapted from www.foodnetwork.com)

  • 4 small zucchini (or 1 per person you are feeding)
  • round, pocketless whole wheat pita (1 per person)
  • hummus
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • baby arugula
  • almonds, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice zucchini (1/2″ thick) and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper- toss to coat. Bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until tender, tossing half way through.

Meanwhile, warm pita on grill or in a sauté pan until warm. Spread a heaping spoonful of hummus on each pita. Sprinkle with goat cheese, zucchini slices, about 1/2 cup arugula, and 1 tbsp of almonds.

Enjoy!

Posted in Eat