Monday, April 30, 2012

Meatless Mondays: Grilled Vege Hummus Pitas

It's been awhile since I've done a Meatless Monday.  I made this last week and really loved it!  I got it out of my Cooking Light magazine.  It's super easy, quick and super healthy.  If you haven't tried hummus or are a bit scared of it then you can always leave it out. I've listed substitutions at the bottom. 

1 red onion, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 red bell pepper, sedded and quartered
1 12 oz. eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
Flatbread or pitas
Feta or goat cheese 

Brush each side of all the veges with olive oil and grill on each side for 3 minutes.  I did mine on a grill pan on the stove.  You can grill on a regular grill or even broil it if you don't have either of those options.

Chop all of the vege's into bite-sized chunks.

Combine the chopped vege's, 1 tablespoon EVOO, parsley and salt.

Spread hummus in pita and stuff with vege mixture and sprinkle some feta cheese in as well.

With the leftovers I spread 1 T hummus over a multi-grain cracker and added some vege's.  Delish snack that wasn't very high in calories.

I have only really started cooking with eggplant in the past year and this is a great way to use this veggie.  We've found that most vege's that my hubby or me didn't really like as children are really delicious grilled or roasted.  Grilling just adds a depth of flavor that you can't beat!

There are so many variations you can make, here are some substitutions if you are apprehensive about any of the ingredients:
-Mozzarella cheese for the feta or goat cheese
-Zucchini or summer squash for the eggplant
-Instead of hummus a vege or herb cream cheese spread

Happy Cooking!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Salmon & Spinach Parchment Packets

I've been on the hunt for new low-cal recipes as I'm into week 7 of working out hard and really watching what I eat.  My sister-in-law had this great Everyday Food (by Martha Stewart) magazine when we were at their house that I had to buy it when I got home. I was trying to find a new way to eat fish/Salmon and found this recipe.  This is such an easy, good and healthy recipe.  I'll list out what the recipe is and all the different ways you can alter it at the bottom.

8 ounces baby spinach
1 tablespoon grated orange zest, plus 3 oranges, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds
4 skinless salmon fillets (1 1/2 pounds total)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips (1/4 cup)
1 shallot, thinly sliced

Take 4 pieces of parchment paper.  Divide the spinach and add the orange zest on top and then the orange slices.  I only used 2 oranges myself for 4 packets as I knew my kids wouldn't eat them.

Add the salmon on top of the oranges and salt and pepper liberally.  Add the ginger and shallots on top of the salmon and drizzle with the EVOO.

My husband went Salmon fishing last summer and this Salmon was from that trip.  I had to take the skin off the bottom and I did not have a proper fish knife.  It was tough work, but you definitely don't want fish skin on the bottom mingling with your spinach so skin it if it's not already skinned.

Fold down the parchment paper lengthwise and then tuck under creating little packets.  I labeled each of my packets because my kids got less spinach and seasonings due to their pickiness.

Cook for 15 min.  I really think it would be done in 10-12 as mine was a touch dry.

Ways to alter this recipe:
-I had leeks to use so I swapped those in place of the shallots.  You could also sub in green onions or leave out onions all together.  Chives or dill would be good here too in addition or instead of the onions.
-Use lemon in place of the orange zest and slices. I wouldn't do lime slices, but lime zest would be yummy too.
-I keep ginger in my freezer so I just grated that on top of my salmon instead of cutting into nice sticks.
-When drizzling with EVOO add some fresh lemon or orange juice on top too.
-If you don't like Salmon then swap with halibut or tilapia which are super mild fish.  Depending on the thickness you may need even less time in the oven-especially the tilapia.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Roasted Carrots

Wow, I can't believe it's been so long since I blogged...well I guess I can.  I had sinus surgery in November, plus a few sicknesses and then Christmas and then more sicknesses and then my birthday so wow it's been a few busy/crazy months.  My 2 year old always wants to be in the computer room bugging me so that has made it hard to blog lately too.  Hoping for a laptop sometime in the near future.

I'm really trying to amp up my vegetable eating and I do like some vege's in their raw state, but I really am loving them lately either roasted or grilled on our outdoor grill.  I saw this recipe awhile ago, but really started incorporating it lately into our dinner rotations.  It's so easy and simple and you don't even have to peel carrots.  What I really love about roasting carrots is that it brings out the natural sweetness in them. 

If you don't really like carrots so much, try these and they'll change your mind.  3 out of 4 people in our house approve of these!  Can you only guess who doesn't.....yep, my picky son!

First up: Preheat your oven to 375.

Then scrub your carrots really well and cut off the tops and bottoms and halve them lengthwise.

Throw them on a rimmed sheet and pour a little olive oil and seasonings.  I have been using Italian seasoning, but you could use oregano or fresh oregano and fresh thyme - that's what the real recipe calls for, but I don't ususally have it in my house.  Even just salt and pepper would work great.  Anything really!

Mix everything together thoroughly to coat the carrots.  If you happen to get too much olive oil on the pan (which I've done before) just move your carrots to one side and wipe off the excess oil.  You want just enough to coat the carrots, but you don't want your carrots swimming in it.

Arrange them nicely on the sheet so they aren't overlapping each other.

Cook for 35 min.  Seriously easy and delish!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Apricot-Glazed Pork Roast

I love a good crock-pot meal on a Sunday.  After wrestling with the kiddos at church it's always nice to not have to worry about most of dinner.

We bought some pork roasts in a 4 pack at Costco last month and I've been itching to use one.  I found the perfect and EASY recipe to use it with.  It calls for a 3-3.5 pound roast, but mine was 2 pounds and with 2 adults and 2 little kiddos it was the perfect amount for us.  Also, I used peach jam that I canned myself (yes, pat on my back-my second time making jam!) a few months ago and used that instead of Apricot preserves.  Delish!

Apricot-Glazed Pork Roast
1 3-3.5 pound boneless pork shoulder roast
1 18-oz. jar apricot preserves
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

Serve with:
3-4 cups hot cooked rice

Trim fat from meat if necessary.  Place meat in slow cooker.

In a bowl, mix together preserves, onion, broth, and mustard; pour over meat.

Cover and cook on low-heat for 10-12 hours or on high-heat for 5-6 hours.  Since my roast was smaller I  cooked on low for about 5 hours and then on high for an additional 1 1/2 hours.  Transfer to a plate and let it rest.  If you are getting dry roasts this could be why.  You need to always let your meat rest before cutting into.  This way your meat can absorb the juices back into it.  If you cut into your meat right away you lose all that juice.

After slicing I spooned some of my juice over my meat and then poured the rest of the juice into a bowl to go over our brown rice.  The juice is a nice blend of sweet and somewhat sour.  We had rolls (blog soon) and grapes and dinner was complete.  Delish!  This is a keeper for sure.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

Let me just say that I am not a huge fan of pumpkin pie or really many pumpkin food items.  I would rather eat pecan pie, lemon meringue or a chocolate pie at Thanksgiving.  This though is SO DELICIOUS!!!  I love it and I think it's one of my husband's favorite desserts, especially in the fall.   Just a note, it's way better the next day after it sits in the fridge overnight.  It's hard to resist for breakfast!

This is SUPER easy...

Pumpkin Crunch Cake
1 15-oz. can pumpkin puree
1 15-oz. can evaporated milk
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 package yellow cake mix
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1-1 1/2 cubes butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish.  In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt.  Mix well. and spread into the prepared pan.

Spread into the prepared pan.

Sprinkle cake mix over the top of the pumpkin mixture and pat down. 

Sprinkle chopped pecans evenly over the cake mix. 

Cut the butter super thin and layer all of the butter pieces neatly in lines over the whole cake.

Most of the recipes call for melted butter drizzled all over.  The problem is that some of the yellow cake mix gets missed and that's no good.  This way nothing gets missed and it's pure deliciousness.
Bake for 55-60 minutes or until done.

I probably overbaked just a tich because of craziness that was happening during dinnertime. 

Doesn't this look so good?  If you can resist, let it cool down and put it in the fridge overnight.

Pumpkin Crunch Cake Printable Recipe

Monday, October 17, 2011

Crockpot: Pesto Meatball Stew

I love that this recipe is 5 ingredients in your crockpot, set it on low and by dinner it's so delicious and warming.

I adore my crockpot!  I'm pretty sure I got it for my wedding 14.5 years ago.  I love that the ceramic inside can be taken out and washed.  If you don't have one, that's ok I'll show you how to make this recipe on the stove because that's what I did.  My crockpot was being used for dessert (that didn't turn out as well as expected so I'm going to tweak it and then I'll share here).

If you don't have one, but want one then wait until Black Friday.  There are ALWAYS steals and deals on crockpots on that Friday.  I love Black Friday because I always feel like I'm getting such great deals and yes I'm crazy and wake up super early.  Good thing we have guests again this year!  I can't do Black Friday alone.  I need my hubby to split up the list with me and hold our spot in line, especially at Kohl's.  Last year we were in and out of Kohl's in 15 min.

Let me just say that the hubs, my daughter - 2.5, my son - 5, and myself loved this and ate almost all of it in one sitting.  We have one little serving left.  My daughter ate it all right up and wanted more. My son doesn't always love what I cook because he has texture issues.  He hates beans, mashed potatoes, really anything that is squishy.  After picking out the beans and convincing him that he had eaten the different parts before just not together he finally ate it and really liked it (not that he ever wants to admit he likes something new).  I think the meatballs will sell any kid on this recipe.

Ok, onto this fabulously EASY stew.

Pesto Meatball Stew
2 14.5-oz. cans Italian-style stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 16-oz. package frozen cooked Italian-style meatballs (32), thawed OR make your own using my recipe
1 15-19-oz. can canellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup basil pesto

For finishing after:
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz.)

Add the tomatoes, beans, water and pesto to your crockpot.  Mix thoroughly together.

Add in your thawed meatballs.  Mix together.  Set your crockpot on low-heat setting for 5-7 hours or on high-heat for 2 1/2-3 1/2 hours.

Sprinkle each serving with cheese and serve.

Alternatively if you don't have a crockpot: Add all your ingredients together in a stockpot.  Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and simmer for 2 1/2-3 hours.  We did it this way and it was so delicious!

Pesto Meatball Stew Printable Recipe

What to do with your pesto if you bought it especially for this recipe and have some leftover after this recipe?
Use it here or here

Monday, October 10, 2011

Taco Soup

It is getting cold and rainy here in Oregon.  What I do love about the weather getting chillier is it's the perfect weather for soups, stews and crock pot cooking.  I also love that crock pot cooking takes easy ingredients and turns them into something scrumptious.

This recipe is one I've had forever.  I'm pretty sure I got it from my mom.  I've been making it since college.  It's perfect for long, busy days, makes the house smell so yummy and the hardest part it browning the meat.

Just a quick side story.  My son who is so picky took one look at this soup and didn't want any part of it.  He does love meat and corn, but the tomatoes were psyching him out.  We explained that the tomatoes taste different when they are cooked then when they are fresh, but he didn't believe us.  After 2 fits of crying and us telling him it's the soup or nothing for dinner, he finally tried it AND LOVED IT!!!!  He doesn't like squishy textures and hated the kidney bean, but everything else was yummy!  Afterwards I asked him if throwing a big fit was worth it since he liked the soup and he admitted it wasn't.  Silly kid!

1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped or 2 T. dried onion
1 16-oz. can kidney beans
1 16-oz. can whole kernel corn
1 15-oz. can tomatoes
2-3 teaspoons chili powder
1 envelope taco seasoning or 4 T. of taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
3 cups water

First up, brown the meat with the onions.  I didn't have an onion on hand so I added in some dried later on.  Do not add your dried onion here if using.  Either way works.  I usually make it with ground beef, but had turkey instead so made it that way.  Add it to the crock pot.

Now to add all the other ingredients.

Add the kidney beans, corn, tomatoes, chili powder, taco seasoning, and garlic salt.  If you only have dried onions on hand, then add it here.  I mixed it up afterwards just to distribute the flavors and to get a pretty pictures, but really you don't need to do that.

I didn't want this too spicy for the kids, so I only did 2 tsp. of chili powder and 3/4 pkg (or 3 T) of the taco seasoning mix.  It added enough flavor and wasn't spicy at all.

Add the tomato sauce and water.  Turn on low and cook for 2-6 hours.

Top with sour cream and cheese.  You don't have to, but yummy melted cheese is so delish in this.

Alternatively, if you don’t have a crock pot, cook in a stockpot over the stove.  Brown the meat and onions and then mix the rest of the ingredients together and bring to a boil.  Lower to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours.