Monday, February 22, 2010

Magical Healing Soup...

My new book came in the mail!!! And I am SO excited about it. It's called The Kind Diet  by Alicia Silverstone and it's fabulous. She has gone entirely Vegan (for about 12 years now) and has some really fabulous recipes in her book - I will be trying all of them at some point and giving my honest review.

When we all woke up feeling kind of sick this weekend I knew this soup was on the top of my list. So today I went grocery shopping to buy all sorts of fabulous veggies (some the first time ever) and came home to make this delicious soup.

You can check out alicia's website HERE if you want more information or additional recipes - there's an awesome giveaway linked on her site right now so check it out.

I am not going to post her exact recipe as I made some adjustments - I'll just post how I made it and you can vary it any way you want.

6 cups of water in a large pot
3 carrots, chopped
1/4 daikon, in large chunks (they had this at wal-mart....I'd never even heard of or noticed it before)
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
a handful of broccoli florets
3 mushrooms chopped
1 leek sliced (I LOVE leeks)
1 baby bok choy, chopped
a handful of bean sprouts, chopped in half by my adorable daughter!
Ginger juice to taste - I have store bought minced ginger but was able to press the spoon into the jar and squeeze out some of the juice. I also put some of the actual ginger into the soup.
Shoyu to taste - I am making the switch gradually to healthier versions of certain ingredients so for now I just used soy sauce
AND I did add one chicken bouillon cube which I know defeats the purpose of it being a veggie soup but it was perfect. LOL

I boiled the first 6 ingredients for about 15 minutes, then added everything else for about 5-7 minutes more....

In Alicia's version of this soup she recommends topping the soup with watercress, mochi, and nori. I have never used any of these and was unable to find them today...but the hunt is on!

More fabulous recipes to come!!! Seriously - I am so excited about this book and the recipes sound awesome!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Fruit Punch

I don't know about you, but I've often wondered if there were good ways to make homemade juice. I can modify recipes but I'm not so good at coming up with them myself, so I was really excited to try this Fruit Punch Recipe when I saw it in Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook!

2 Cups Raspberry Puree
1 Cup Pineapple Puree
1/2 Cup Carrot Puree
2 Cups Cold Water
1/4 Cup Sugar (or comparable substitute)
Ice, For Serving

Blend all ingredients (except ice) until smooth.

Okay so the raspberries could make this quite a pricey drink to have on hand regularly. But I also think juice is one of those things that we shouldn't be having or giving our kids on a regular basis - though I am sooo guilty of this. We have frozen raspberries (picked fresh last summer) in our freezer so I was able to do that portion with literally no cost involved - probably the best part. LOL

The taste...good....the raspberries make it a little tart (hence the sugar) but it was yummy. My daughter and her friend (who is typically leary about trying new things...particularly considering this one had all the raspberry seeds) LOVED it and asked for seconds immediately. So it was definitely a success. My husband, friend, and I also liked it....though I would tend to save it for the kids simply because I am really trying to drink mainly water (not too successfully though) and this recipes doesn't make a ton. I do think you could probably add a bit more water....and change the fruit up a bit. I wonder if adding strawberry puree might eliminate the need for the sugar?? I also wonder if you could actually switch the raspberry puree out for other fruits - blueberries, peaches, or any other kind or mixture of fruit your kids like. Change it up, try something new :)

I say this is a great alternative for kids.....I actually think it would taste awesome with ginger ale, fresca, or 7up/Sprite...but that would also completely defeat the purpose. LOL


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still to come....

I am so excited to be back at this! I'm re-motivated and re-committed to this blog and to making new recipes and sharing what I find. My current  list includes the following cookbooks:

Deceptively Delicious
The World of Wisdom (oo I do have a couple to share from there....another night!)
Our Best Recipes (filled with TONS of recipes), and
A Taste of Success (filled with recipes from my extended family...compiled for our reunion last summer by my fabulous cousin, Tasha!!!)

I hope to try every recipe in these cookbooks. There are some I know I won't like but plan to try anyways and get the opinion of friends and family.

On the list for the rest of the week are the following recipes:

From Deceptively Delicious:
Banana Bread (Tomorrow)
Pancakes (Thursday)
Hot Cocoa (Not sure)
Fruit Punch (Tomorrow)
Blueberry Cheesecake Cupcakes (Tomorrow)
Lemon Raspberry Cupcakes (Tomorrow), and
Blueberry Oatmeal Bars (Tomorrow)

From Spatulatta:
Go Bananas (Friday maybe)
A Spring Basket (just the basket - in a few weeks)
Papa's Pesto (Friday)
Root Vegetable Bake (Thursday), and
Blue Ribbon Bean Salad (Thursday)

I'll also be making a Roast this week as I've been craving HorseRadish. LOL

I'll be back regulary - look forward to *seeing* you!

Sloppy Joes - Jessica Seinfeld Style

I love her book, Deceptively Delicious....while my kids are both really great about eating fruits and vegetables I LOVE the idea of being able to put even more wholesome goodness into the food they eat (us too). And to put items in their food that perhaps I don't know how to prepare otherwise OR that they wouldn't normally enjoy (beets for example - not this recipe but a few others I plan to try) but that are so good for us.

I have decided to try and use ground turkey or chicken in place of beef in some (most) recipes. While it is still meat, I know there are other benefits and the fat content is quite a bit less....and because it's more expensive I'm also hoping it will help me eliminate meat a little more. LOL Sometimes I think we get a little carried away and it seems EVERY meal we make is meat based. And I like the idea of changing it up a little....trying something new.

I was planning on being out tonight so hadn't anticipated making I had to do some quick thinking. Thankfully as a result of my grocery trip yesterday, I had a lot of ingredients to choose from. In the end it was the Sloppy Joes that won out!

Nonstick Cooking spray (I just used olive oil to avoid the *propane* in the cooking spray)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground turkey or beef (I used chicken)
1/2 cup sweet potato puree
1/2 cup butternut squash or red pepper puree (I used a mixture of red and yellow pepper puree)
raw, finely chopped carrots (optional - I put them in)
1/2 cup reduced fat, low sodium bef broth (I didn't have any so used french onion soup mix instead - great substitute)
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chili powder, or to taste
1/2 tsp salt (didn't add)
1/8 tsp pepper
8 whole-grain hamburger or hot dog buns

Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set it over medium-high heat. When the skiller is hot, add the oil. Add the onion, celery, and garlic (I also chopped mushrooms and added them here). Cook until the onion starts to soften (about 3-4 minutes). Add the meat and cook until no longer pink (4-5 minutes). Add the vegetable purees, raw chopped carrot (if using), beef broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer until liquid is reduced by about half - 15 to 20 minutes.

Spoon onto buns and serve. I added a bit of grated marble cheese as well...

I think this recipe has potential. It wasn't flavourful enough for me....I need a lot more chili powder...but for kids (and adults alike I suppose) who like a blander taste, it would probably be perfect. I also think I added too much tomato paste (one whole small can....) which may have contributed. It was definitely a bit too tomatoe-y for me. But I will be making this again and doctoring it to our families liking. I really liked that the veggies weren't super obvious - I personally love veggies....but for a child's meal this can be very important.


My Big Fat Greek Salad

With the Crunchy Chicken Yakitori I wanted a salad as well as the risotto I made (recipe HERE). I had eyed this one a couple of times so I decided to try it. I absolutely LOVE cucumbers and feta and generally greek dressing is so delicious. So I wanted to try this. It also comes from the Spatulatta Cookbook - check out the website HERE.

2 ripe red plum tomatoes (I know it's silly but I really don't like tomatoes so I left these out)
2 cucumbers, peeled (we didn't peel them)
4oz feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup Kalamata olives (I don't love these so didn't use any)
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar, optional (I say it's a must but that's just me)
1 Tbsp dried oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (I did not add salt, as usual)

I mixed the dressing together before pouring over the *salad* - but this recipes says to drizzle separately.

I really enjoyed this salad, as did our company. It was light and delicious, but definitely had flavor. And the red onions with the feta - divine!!! I love it, of course I LOVE red onions. My only complaint and therefore recommendation is that today for lunch it was really bland. I wouldn't say this is a great *leftover* dish....but you could keep the salad *undressed* and just put dressing on it as needed. I'm sure I'll be doing that. What a great side dish for lunch and supper.


Crunchy Chicken Yakitori

Well the goal to try new recipes regularly has begun! I have been cooking and have tried new ones here and there, but now I'm really committed to making use of all these fabulous cookbooks I have. I rearranged part of my kitchen today and it feels (and looks) awesome....I've narrowed my cookbook shelf down to a few that I want to get through - at which point I will bring some other ones back into the kitchen to get through.

Brooklyn has been *cooking* a lot lately - which basically means she's mixing a bunch of food and wasting it. LOL I don't want to get upset because I'm so excited she's showing an interest in cooking and creating and is taking the initiative to try things herself. However I also want to help her understand the importance of not wasting food and in lots of cases, of following a recipe. So I've promised to involve her way more in the cooking aspect.....I'm really excited - I hope she loves cooking as much as I love it.

On the menu last night was a recipe I had all the ingredients for. I did buy groceries - after making a meal plan for the week - but loved that I didn't have to buy anything for this particular dish. It also means it will be an easy one to do in a pinch as the ingredients are pretty much staples in our house *yay*

This recipe comes from the Spatulatta Cookbook I picked up at Brooklyn's school book fair. Check out the website HERE for more fabulous recipes and ideas. It's a great site and cookbook with recipes made and tested by kids.

Crunch Chicken Yakitori

1/4 cup soy sauce (preferably low sodium)
3 minced garlic cloves
1  inch piece fresh gingerroot, grated or minced (I finally bought the jar of minced ginger because every time I buy a piece it goes bad in the fridge)
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (I did about 4 breasts), cut into 1" strips
2 cups cornflakes

The recipes suggests skewering the chicken, but I opted not to and baked on a parchment lined cookie sheet instead. BUT if you are going to skewer these, soak them in cold water for about an hour (so they don't burn).

Combine soy sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, and sesame oil in a bowl and stir until honey disappears. (This is the marinade) Pour into a plastic bag and add the chicken, closing bag tightly. I didn't use a bag, instead I used THIS fabulous container I recently purchased from Tupperware!!! I highly recommend it!

Marinate for about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350

Place corn flakes in a plastic bag and smash (use a rolling pin if you'd like). Pour onto a plate and roll marinated chicken in to coat. Then skewer (again, I didn't do this) and bake until chicken is cooked through and golden brown - about 10-15 minutes.

I really enjoyed this was yummy, moist, and easy. And my kids really liked it too, which is always a plus. I will definitely make this again, though I may also try a ranch/sour cream type *marinade* next time - with the corn delish!


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Julie and Julia

I know, I'm kind of spoiling you with two posts in a day. My word for the year is SIMPLIFY - which for me involves organizing - or rather, reorganizing. I'm trying to work it so I have more time to do the *other* things I want. In addition to being involved with my kids and wanting to be here for them, I have my  website as well as it's corresponding blog,  my giveaways and reviews blog. And of course this fun cooking blog (though in the near future I may try to work it out so they can all be one in the same.....). I love doing it all - so I don't want anything to really fall by the wayside...but it's taking some creative arranging of my time. Plus, next week I think life could get even busier (I'll have more details then - not cooking related mind you, but I am SO excited about it) and in the middle of april/beginning of may it's likely to get even busier. So I'm going to have to be organized and really on top of things...

okay none of that was the point of this post. Have you seen the movie, Julie and Julia? I personally really enjoyed it. It wasn't a fast paced movie...or one that had some life changing storyline behind it - though I personally was inspired. I think it gave me a sense of really where I want to take this cooking blog. What I want it to really be and represent. I won't commit to making quite so many recipes in one year - at least not so frequently. But I LOVE the idea of taking a cookbook and trying EVERY recipe and documenting the experience and the result. It will also give me a better plan when I'm grocery shopping and the ability to do a meal plan successfully. Meal plans are one of those things that I LOVE having but don't always manage to stick with long term. so this will help.

I recently ordered Alicia Silverstone's book The Kind Diet and I am SO excited for it to arrive. I will be trying EVERY recipe in her book as I have heard incredible things about them. And how fun to have such a healthy alternative that is equally as fabulous! I also plan to try every recipe from my World of Wisdom cookbook....but I'll try and do one thing at a time. I have a few other cookbooks I'm curious to do the same with, so this could end up becoming quite the project.

I'm not sure of a name...In the movie it was The Julie/Julia Project - but as I'm not just documenting my journey with one specific cook, and because I don't want to copy it flatout, I'll be trying to think of something else. Suggestions are welcome. Perhaps there will be a main project title and each *chapter* will be named as well to specify which cookbook?? No idea...

I'm really excited. I love trying new recipes and it's fun to pass along the word. Please let me know if you have any MUST HAVE cookbooks or recipes....I am actually pretty excited to try out some recipes in my husband's dessert book (yes it's his - he had it before we even met) - THAT should be a fabulous chapter, so definitely stay tuned for that one! I may have to do the dessert ones simultaneously with the dinner ones - not that I think my kids would mind having dessert for dinner. lol

AND, I also promise to have photos - and hopefully good photos too. This will also give me a chance to improve my photography skills - Radelle (my fabulous cousin/fabulous photographer HERE) I will sooo need your help! LOL

Take care everyone....I'll be planning ahead and posting more! LOADS of recipes to come....Have a fabulous week - and try something new!!!

My lunch of choice...

Actually it's not just my *lunch* of choice - right now, it's my breakfast, lunch, and dinner of choice. I LOVE it. all the time....Nothing fancy, nothing crazy - just a delicious veggie wrap! I know I know, it doesn't sound too exciting, but trust me....

It began a couple of weeks ago when I picked up subway on the way home from the gym. I hadn't eaten supper beforehand but wanted to make sure I ate something at least sort of healthy that wouldn't put all my work to waste. Having recently discovered the delicious factor in their HONEY OAT BREAD (seriously try it!!) I got my veggie sub on that, instead of the usual Italian Herb and Cheese. Baby steps - I'm a cheese ADDICT, so this kind of a big deal for me. Brent always gets those banana peppers on his (the yellow, orange, and red ones) and I decided to finally try them.


I'm hooked. absolutely hooked. So I made a special trip to walmart just a couple of days later to pick some up. I took the opportunity to stock up on veggies and such (I LOVE when my cart is filled with veggies and fruit and little to no processed *stuff*) and got some small, whole wheat tortilla shells. I was set. And seriously I've had it every day since.

I put on one smear of herb and garlic cream cheese, cucumbers, sprouts, orange or red pepper (anything but green as I don't like them), purple onion (I LOVE), sometimes a few sweet pickles, and a few rings of the hot peppers. They have a nice little kick, but really aren't *hot* so I say try them even if you don't love hot stuff (I don't generally). And I bought a Beano's brand sub sauce a while back so I put a little drizzle of that on.

I love it....and yes you may have noticed I haven't been putting cheese on them....I've decided to try and avoid it where I can. I eat way too much cheese and I'm certain it's not healthy, though certainly delicious. And on something like this where there are so many other flavors, I can leave the cheese out and not really notice. My personal favorite though is Jalapeno Havarti. It just makes everything taste better.

Last night and today we cooked up some (yes, processed) chicken strips and added them to the wraps. So if you aren't into the whole veggie thing, go that route! 

So try something new. I bought the wal mart brand instead of the *real* brand because the first ingredient was actually peppers and the *real* brand had an additional ingredient in it that I can't pronounce. Okay I can pronounce it, but certainly don't know what it additive I'd rather avoid :)

I would add a photo but I can't find one online that I'm happy with. Maybe I'll take one of my own - but honestly it won't be fabulous!