Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another Healthy Treat!

While I realize that I've been kind of obsessed focused on recipes lately, I have another great one for you!

I haven't really filled you in on my coupon/money saving techniques on my grocery shopping trips but it truly deserves a post of it's own.  Meanwhile, I will tell you that I've been saving a TON of money and able to buy some fun and healthy new things to try.  The first of which is quinoa.

There's SO many fascinating recipes with quinoa and I've been so eager to try it.  So I picked up some quinoa on my last shopping trip.  It's an organic variety and seems pretty simple to cook.  So in my quest to decide what to make first, I really wanted to find something that would be healthy and filling.  I did a foodgawker search for energy bars....none with quinoa.  Then I searched quinoa bars and nothing really stood out.  Then I found THIS RECIPE for apple quinoa cake - perfect.  I'm a sucker for dessert! As always, with my cheater / improv style, I had to make a couple of substitutions.

First mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 ts[ ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, mix the wet remaining ingredients.  I used:

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 olive oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans (any nuts wold work)
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp ground flax
Add 1 large apple, cored & grated and 1 cup cooked quinoa,
 mix well and put in a greased bread pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until done.
 I chose to omit the topping referenced in the recipe linked above.  Allow to cool completely before slicing or it will fall apart ) not that I know ANYTHING about that!)
 It doesn't rise up as much as a regular bread but more like a cake would.  But much more dense.  Plus it's super moist and has great texture from the grated apple.
I've individually wrapped each slice so it's ready for anyone to grab and go.  A healthy alternative to the high calorie & sugary cereal or granola bars.  Plenty sweet and full of nutrition!  If you give it  a try I'd love to hear how YOU liked it!  Leave a comment below. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Only {5} ingredients

In my quest to eat healthier, I'm trying to incorporate more wholesome alternatives into my meal plan.  Especially for lunch.  Lunch is the perfect time for me to try new things since I eat at work, it won't matter if no one else likes it or not.

This week, I've prepared lots of precut veggies like carrots, celery, orange bell peppers...easy for grab and go.  Way better than dipping these in ranch is hummus.  So, today I decided to try my hand at making it.

Here's my ingredients:

The actual recipe for basic hummus calls for Tahini, not peanut butter.  Tahini is a sesame paste and should be readily available in any grocery store. BUT....being that I'm lazy creative, I replaced the Tahini with peanut butter.  It should probably be a natural kind, like from the health food store but we like to keep it simple around here :)

The directions I found gave a specific order to which ingredients to add and when...again, in keeping things simple, I tossed everything in the food processor and whizzed away!

It was delish!  Not fussy or complicated, just right.  Serve with fresh veggies and some pita or naan!  If you want to try my version, I (sortof) kept track of what I did:

1 can garbanzo beans - reserve liquid
3 tbsp reserved liquid
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1tsp minced garlic

Five ingredients and pretty much five minutes to a great snack.  I've packaged it up for lunches this week and am super excited to have found something healthy and tasty that's super easy to make.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

{English muffins}

Since my recent obsession discovery of the website, foodgawker, I've been motivated to try some new recipes.  One that has been showing up quite a bit is for english muffins.  There are many different recipes but SURPRISINGLY most do not require baking!  I know!!  I was super surprised when I first started reading the recipes but they were all the same!  Can you say "easy?"

To start with I used the recipe from King Arthur Flour, found here.  It's very straight forward and while I used the same ingredients, I mixed everything in my Kitchen Aid mixer with the dough hook, where their recipe calls to use your bread machine.  Didn't seem to make one bit of difference.

1 3/4 cups (14 ounces) milk, warm
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 to 4 1/4 cups (17 to 18 ounces) Flour (I used 2 cups of white and 2 cups of whole wheat flour)

Mix the milk, yeast and sugar until yeast is dissolved.  Add remaining ingredients and scrape into an oiled bowl.  Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
 Punch down the dough and roll out to roughly 1/4" thinner than you want the finished muffin.  Cut with a 3" cutter (I used the mouth of a glass jar) and place on a cookie sheet to rest for 20 min.
 Place cut out muffins onto a griddle on semi-low heat - do not grease the griddle just dust with cornmeal - for 6-8 minutes per side or until they reach desired color and doneness (is that a word?).
 These can be refrigerated or frozen and hold up very well.
This is a pretty generous recipe, as the final photo above is about 8 shy of what it actually made.  We ate them as fast as they came off the griddle :)  Yes, they are that good!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feature Friday

There's so many wonderful creations out there and I mucho enjoy when others share awesome things they've found in blogland.  In that vein, I've decided to begin a "Feature Friday" post, where I highlight some of the best things I find each week.

This week I can't stop dreaming of stealing re-creating this idea from Make It and Love It!


This is so darling and included is a complete tutorial on how to recover your baby carseat.  It's so cute that it makes me want to have another baby, just so I can do it too! :)  ha ha OW!!  Just bit my tongue -

Do you love Naan (like flat bread)?  Love this version from The (ONE AND ONLY) Pioneer Woman
Find 10 different tutorials to make crocheted flowers from Skip to my Lou

More to come next Friday!  Will try to include more links, perhaps a little something for everyone. {wink}

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

{I'm a stalker}

It's true...I certainly AM a stalker.  But NOT the creepy kind.  Well, I guess that's left to someone besides me to decide.  I stalk blogs.  A LOT of blogs!  Google Reader has been the best and worst thing I've ever found.  It's absolutely spectacular!  It enables me to be a stalker!

If you haven't tried it, YOU MUST!  Instead of visiting all of my favorite sites each day, I subscribe to them via Google Reader and it automatically populates new posts into my reader.  Lovely.  Here's what it looks like:

I currently stalk love 162 blogs / websites. There's NO WAY I could visit these individually every day, without missing lots of good stuff :)

Those of you who don't know, I'm a full time working mom outside of the home.  An 8a-6p working mama of 3, thanks to the support of my husband, who knows the preschool moms, makes it to the school parties, drops by forgotten school lunches and gets dinner started MANY days of the work week for me.

So, on days like this, when I actually have time to be crafty, I instead try to spend time with my family. Prior to one year ago, I got to stay home with my babies everyday, until the troubled economy put the squeeze on us financially.  It's really easy to hold my own little pity party when I miss special times with the kids, but truth is, I'm fortunate to have a great job.

Now, having said that...it's also days like this that I go along reading all the uber-crafty posts from blogland and BOY...do I feel inadequate in the creativity department.  One of these days soon I WILL FIND BALANCE between the two important parts of my life; family and my pursuit of inner fulfillment.

Until then, I will admire and stalk the rest of you who continue to amaze me with your super talented selves!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bountiful Baskets v.3

Another exciting trip to pick up our goods from the co-op.  This has been such a great endeavor for us - not only because we get fresh veggies and fruit from local sources, but it really encourages us to eat better.  We love to try to come up with new ways to use our loot, especially the veggies.  The fruit is pretty basic but some of the vegetables we have rarely or never tried!

This week:

One bunch fresh spinach
one bunch of broccoli
head of green leaf lettuce (have you seen the price of lettuce at the store lately?!)
a carton of mushrooms
4 orange bell peppers
2 bags of carrots

2 lemons
7 minneolas
5 fugi apples
a container of strawberries
one cantelope
one bunch of bananas

I can tell you that as I write this, those strawberries have long been polished off!

All of this was $15 plus $1.50 handling fee = $16.50!  And it's unbelievably fresh.  Last time I used the broccoli I was a bit short for my recipe so I added some that I had bought at the grocery store.  The co-op broccoli, upon cutting the florets off was a nice dark green color.  However, the grocery store version was almost white inside.  Funny how I'd never noticed the inner light green color until there was something to compare to.  Not only is this a great deal, but the quality can't be matched!

If you want to see if Bountiful Baskets has a pick up site in your area, go HERE.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Foodgawker and corn salsa

Recently, my journey through blogland has led me to a new website - foodgawker!

The recipes are crazy awesome and the photography is even BETTER!  What I like most is that you scroll through these lovely photos with just titles or brief descriptions...no write ups.  It's total eye candy!  If you like it or want to get the recipe or read more about it, you simply clock the photo and - wa lah - it takes you to the original article!

Here's a screen shot to demonstrate:
Nice, huh?  A small warning:  if you add this to your Google Reader, it will give you LOTS of posts to read!  It updates VERY often.

After coming across this post for corn salsa...
I had to give it a try.   But, being the lazy improvisational type I had to alter the recipe to fit what was already in my fridge.  Here's what I came up with:
First I took the corn (frozen of course) and put it in a pan with some hot olive oil in it (maybe 1 -2 tbsp or a quick turn of the pan) and roasted it up, until it started to smell nutty and sweet.  Then I added in some diced onion for just another minute.  Then I put the mixture into a glass bowl to which I had added a couple of small Roma tomatoes, garbanzo beans and some finely diced and orange & yellow bell peppers.  Salt and pepper to taste.  The heat from the corn speeds up the coming together of all the flavors.

You know how regular tomato salsa taste even better when it sits for a while....same is true here.  In fact, the next day I had this as a dip with some tortilla chips for lunch and it was delish!

Simple, easy and tasty! The best part is that you can use any ingredients that you have and it will taste great.  Don't have garbanzo beans?  Use black, pinto or white beans.  It wold also be fab with some diced avocado added!  A simple "go to" salad, dip or condiment :)