Archive for May, 2010

…really could not be any healthier (or tastier!).  This week, we made a complete meal from the Inflammation Syndrome book I’ve been reading (check it out–it is fantastic!).  Not only is this meal incredibly nutritious, but it is also seriously tasty!

For the baked salmon you need:

  • olive oil
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • basil
  • oregano
  • pepper
  • balsamic vinegar

This salmon could not be easier to cook!  First, preheat the oven to 350.  Then, pat the fillets dry and drizzle a baking dish with olive oil.  Put the fillets in the dish and drizzle them with oil as well (this helps the spices stick).  Sprinkle on the basil, oregano and pepper to your liking.  I used dried spices for this recipe for several reasons: they stick better than fresh leaves, are a bit cheaper, bake slightly better, and have just as much nutrition as fresh.  Then, drizzle the balsamic vinaigrette over the fish.  Bake them for about 10 minutes–this will cook the salmon to rare.  If you want it a little more done, watch it carefully and leave it in until the sides become more opaque.

We also made a green bean and mushroom stir-fry from the book.  Honestly, it is the best part of the meal!  You need:

  • 1 pat of butter (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small package frozen french-cut green beans
  • 1 small package of sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

Start by heating the butter and olive oil over medium.  Then, add in the green beans and cook until they begin to get soft.  Next, add the garlic and mushrooms.  The book actually calls for garlic powder, but really.  Why on earth would you use powder when you have real garlic?!  When the mushrooms have started browning, stir in the almonds.

Simply serve a fillet of fish with the green beans and mushrooms alongside. That’s it–it really is that easy!

This is a really tasty, nutritious dinner.  The veggie recipe is a knock-out!  It is super-simple and you can literally have dinner on the table in 15 minutes.  Give it a try and treat your body (and taste buds!) well.


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Bananas and rum…

…are a natural combination.  We had several mushy bananas that were begging to be baked into something delicious, so I headed into the kitchen to concoct something.  The result was banana-rum cupcakes with rum-butter frosting.  Delicious!

For these beach-worthy cupcakes you need:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tbsp. dark rum

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper cupcake cups.  This recipe probably makes 1.5 dozen cupcakes, but I just made 12 and baked the rest into a rum cake/banana bread deal.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, soda, powder, and salt.

In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and add in the melted butter, eggs, vanilla, and rum.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour the banana concoction into it.  Using a wooden spoon, fold the ingredients into one another, just until everything is well-incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake tin and bake for about 28 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, whip up some tasty frosting!  You need:

  • half a stick (4 tbsp.) unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 oz. (half a bar) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. dark rum
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon

Simply beat all the ingredients together until smooth.  The cupcakes will ice better if you refrigerate the icing for a bit, but it is quite runny and a bit messy.  Oh well!  It tastes delicious.

Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan, then get them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling completely.  Ice them with some of the yummy frosting and you’re ready to go!

I’m still working on how to make a thicker/prettier frosting, but these cupcakes are delicious nonetheless!  Send yourself on a mini-vacation and whip up a batch!


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…are definitely a favorite food of ours.  A big bowl of chicken, biscuits, and a delicious broth almost always hits the spot!  In her infinite wisdom, RR put a Spanish twist on this classic comfort food, and holy cow!  It is fantastic!

For a delicious bowl of dumplings you need:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 pound chorizo, casings remove and chopped 
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, diced
  • 3/4 pound medium to large white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 large cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 rounded tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1 small box biscuit mix or mix to prepare 8 drop biscuits, prepared to package directions
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp. paprika

Start by heating up the chicken broth.  We did not actually use saffron because it is OUTRAGEOUSLY priced!  We simply went without and just heated our plain stock.  Trust me–there are plenty of other amazing flavors in these dumplings, so you probably will not miss the saffron at all (and your bank account will thank you for it!).  However, if you already have some in the pantry, bring the stock to a boil.  Then, knock the heat down to low and add the saffron, letting it steep while you work on the meats.

Next, in a large pot with a lid, add a drizzle of olive oil and start browning the chorizo.  If you love sausage and Spanish flavors, you MUST try chorizo.  It is absolutely delicious!  Cook the meat for a couple of minutes until it starts to brown and fill your kitchen with a heavenly scent.  Then, add in the diced chicken and lightly brown it.

When the chicken is slightly browned, add the mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and a bit of fresh pepper.  Pop a lid on your pot to soften the vegetables for another 5 minutes.

While the vegetables are cooking, make the drop biscuits.  Just follow the package instructions with the addition of the parsley and paprika.

Then, stir the flour and sherry into the meat/veggie mixture.  Let the sherry reduce for a minute, then pour in the chicken stock.

Drop spoonfuls of your biscuit dough into the boiling pot of meats, broth, and vegetables.   Put the lid on again and finish cooking the dumplings for about 5 minutes.

Grab a big bowl and serve the tasty dumplings with some fruit alongside.

These dumplings are delicious!!!  And, they actually reheat incredibly well.  Pretty much anything you make with chorizo is going to be pure gold, but really.  Try this recipe out–it is truly fantastic!


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…was our own whole wheat pancakes.  Pancakes are probably one of our most favorite foods to cook together–I whip up the batter and Schatzi is a pro when it comes to cooking a perfect pancake!  We love whole wheat or whole grain anything, so of course we love a pancake that incorporates this healthier choice.

For a rather wholesome breakfast you need:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • a generous handful of almonds or pecans

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and start heating it over medium.

Whisk together the milk, egg, vanilla, and oil.

Then, whisk in the flour, oats, soda, powder, spices, and nuts.

Drop about 1/3 cup of batter onto the skillet and cook until the top starts to bubble.  Flip the pancake and cook it for a few more minutes, until the bottom sets and both sides are nice and golden brown.

Serve the pancakes with a smidgen of butter, a pinch more of almonds or pecans, and (of course) some good ol’ maple syrup.

Delicious!  These are nice fluffy pancakes complemented by a nutty crunch.  Try them out!


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Marinara sauce…

…has a plethora of uses.  Spaghetti and bread sticks are merely a few basic (and tasty!) options.  We had a bit of Rocco’s marinara sauce left to use, so we put it on a baked potato for lunch.  Delicious.

All you need to make a pizza potato is:

  • 1 baking potato per person
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • marinara sauce
  • pepperoni
  • mozzarella cheese
  • Parmigiano-reggiano
  • a few leaves of fresh basil, torn

Preheat the oven to 350.  Place your potato in a shallow dish.  Using a fork, stab some holes in the potato drizzle it with some olive oil.  Crack on a bit of salt and pepper, and bake the potato for an hour, until it is tender.

When the potato has finished baking, make a deep cut down the middle and separate it just a bit.  Pile in the marinara sauce, pepperoni, and cheeses, and place it back in the oven for just a few minutes to heat the sauce and melt the cheese.

Garnish the potato with some fresh basil and serve it up with a clearance salad.  This makes one tasty lunch!

Delicious.  You can put just about anything on a potato and it will be quite yummy, and this recipe is no exception!


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…is an absolutely heavenly dessert, is it not?  This week marked the end of my church choir season, so we decided to have a dessert party.  I made a peanut butter pie and it was to die for!

For a perfect peanut butter pie you need:

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust, slightly softened
  • 1 15.5 oz. box of brownie mix
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 8 oz. container of frozen whipped topping, thawed
  • 2 tbsp. mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 and roll the pie crust out.  Press it into a glass pie pan and fold the edges over, pressing them with a fork to seal.

Mix the brownie mix, egg, water, oil, and peanut butter chips until everything is moistened.  I like to use a wooden spoon for batters and doughs because the batter doesn’t stick to it as badly as a spatula or metal/plastic spoon.

Pour the brownie batter over the pie crust.  Bake it for 20 minutes, then cover the edges of the crust with foil and bake it for another 20 minutes.  t may not take a full 40 minutes, depending on your oven.  The crust is done when the middle of the brownie has set and a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool the crust on a wire rack for 20 minutes, then pop it into the fridge to finish cooling completely, about an hour.

When the crust has cooled, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and peanut butter until smooth.

Then, fold in the whipped cream.

Spread this luscious mixture over the crust and top it with the chocolate chips.

Put the pie in a sealed container and refrigerate it for at least 3o minutes before you cut it–it helps the peanut butter topping set and makes it much easier to slice!

Words do not express how perfect this pie is!  Not only is the peanut butter topping incredibly smooth and creamy, but the crust is a gooey brownie!  If you have an upcoming event in need of a dessert, MAKE THIS.  It is absolutely heavenly!!


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…is an excellent fish to cook with: 1, it’s healthy and packed with vitamins and minerals (especially if you get it packed in water), 2, it’s incredibly tasty, and 3, it is really affordable.  We love a good tuna salad for lunch, but RR’s tuna bow ties make a downright delicious and nutritious dinner!

For this budget and figure-friendly dinner you need:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated
  • 2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound whole-grain bow tie pasta
  • 2 15-ounce cans white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 5 to 6-ounce cans each Italian tuna, drained
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest

Start boiling some pasta water, then salt it and cook the bow ties to al dente. Keep about a cup of the cooking water before you drain the pasta.

Heat some oil over medium in a skillet that has a lid.  Add in the onions and garlic and saute them for about 4 minutes until they are fragrant and soft.  Bump the heat up to medium-high.  Add in the tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and put the lid on.  Cook the tomatoes for about 6 minutes (shake the pan every few minutes) until they are soft and starting to burst.

When the tomatoes have softened, use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to finish bursting them to make a delicious fresh tomato sauce.

Add in the beans, tuna, and parsley.  I actually used plain tuna because Italian tuna can be hard to find.  No worries–it is still delicious!  Get everything well-incorporated and let the new ingredients heat through for a few minutes.

Add your pasta to the skillet along with the reserved cooking water, lemon zest, and juice.  The starchy cooking water adds a lot of flavor depth and also helps loosen up the pasta so it’s easy to incorporate with the other ingredients.

When you plate the pasta, garnish it with a tiny drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

YUM!!!  We love this pasta–it tastes so incredibly fresh and bright.  And, of course, it is incredibly good for you.  As usual, I highly recommend not skimping and using fresh parsley, tomatoes, and lemon–they truly make this dish!  I really hope you’ll try this one!


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…are currently very much in season, so a carton of them can almost always be found in my fridge!  This week, we decided to make a spinach and strawberry salad for our lunch.  Just the combination of spinach and strawberries is delicious, but this salad also uses a homemade strawberry vinaigrette that is literally perfect.

For a wonderfully refreshing salad you need:

  • 1 lb. strawberries
  • 3 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey or blue agave syrup
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • freshly ground salt and pepper
  • 12 oz. baby spinach
  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Begin by dicing up your chicken and strawberries.

Then, puree 3/4 cup strawberries, the lime juice, honey, oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  You can use a food processor or blender.  Blend the mixture until it is smooth and set it aside.

Combine the spinach (I also threw in a bit of romaine), chicken, remaining strawberries, and walnuts in a bowl.

Mix the salad ingredients well, then pour the strawberry vinaigrette over and toss everything until the dressing is evenly distributed.

I toasted up some whole-wheat buns to serve alongside the salad.  absolutely delicious!

This is a fantastic lunch, and it would definitely be a great option for dinner in the summer.  The strawberry and lime flavors marry beautifully and are so refreshing.  Also, feta cheese makes a wonderful addition to this flavor palette. Bonus: this salad only has 220 calories!  Definite score!


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…is super fun, tasty, and healthy.  We’ve been wanting to try to make our own for awhile now, and with the arrival of our new sushi mat and paddle and some help from the April issue of Food Network Magazine, we jumped into our first sushi endeavor together last night.

Making sushi really isn’t that difficult; it is just a bit tedious and time-consuming!  For vegetable sushi rolls, you need:

  • 3 cups Japanese rice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 10 nori sheets
  • sesame seeds
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 plum tomato
  • 1 small red onion
  • 20 asparagus spears
  • Wasabi paste
  • romaine lettuce

Start off by making the rice.  Simply follow the directions on the rice bag!

Slice up all of your vegetables: peel the cucumber and cut it into matchsticks, then, thinly slice the avocado, tomato, and red onion.  Also, boil a bit of water and drop the trimmed asparagus in until it is nice and bright green, about 5 minutes.  Then, plunge it into ice water to blanch it.

While the rice is fluffing, combine the vinegar, sugar, and 1 tsp. salt in a saucepan over medium.  Stir the liquid just until the sugar and salt dissolve and it’s ready to go.

Pour 1/4 of the vinegar mixture over the fluffed rice.  Using a wooden spoon or paddle, mix the vinegar into the rice.  Then, add the rest of the vinegar slowly to get it well-incorporated throughout all the rice.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  You now have some super tasty sticky rice!

Next, cover your sushi mat with some saran wrap.  Lay a piece of nori on the mat, then moisten your hands and scoop out a handful of rice onto the nori.  Press it with your damp hands to spread the rice evenly over the nori sheet, then sprinkle on some sesame seeds.  Keep moistening your hands as you work–the rice is super sticky and damp hands will make the process much easier!

You’re ready to stuff the sushi!  Carefully flip the nori rice-side down on your sushi mat and turn it long-ways.  Spread a tiny bit of Wasabi paste about 1/3 of the way up the nori.  If you love Wasabi, put a good dollop.  If you’ve never had Wasabi or aren’t crazy about spicy foods, use only a tiny, tiny drop.  As we found out last night, Wasabi will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF.  It was quite hilarious to see both of our reactions, including Schatzi yelling about how his facial bones were melting and pouring out his nose and me waving my arms all over the place as if we were at a revival…

Add a piece of lettuce, some cucumber, avocado, tomato, and onion on top of the Wasabi.  Don’t worry if some of the veggies hang off of the nori.

Roll your sushi away from you with your hands tucking in the vegetables as you roll.

Then, take the mat and wrap it around the outside of the sushi roll.  Press the roll into a tight rectangular log using the mat as a guide/press.

The last step is to slice the sushi into 4-5 pieces.  Ta-da!

Despite the Wasabi completely throwing us for a loop, this sushi was absolutely delicious!  We can’t wait to make another batch and experiment with some fresh salmon.  Hint: it’s even better served with some Tamari sauce.


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Healthy cupcakes…

…actually exist.  And, they taste good to boot!  While browsing in Barnes and Noble a couple weeks ago, I came across a book that I couldn’t leave without–Cupcake Heaven.  This wonderful find has about 200 recipes solely devoted to the wonder that is the cupcake.  Healthy banana cupcakes were my first on my list of recipes to try from the book, and they are quite excellent!

For a cupcake you can feel good about eating you need:

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped banana (about 2 bananas)
  • 1 1/4 cups granola
  • 2 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour, sifted twice
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup honey (I used half honey, half blue agave nectar)
  • 1 lightly beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Heat the oven to 350 and line a muffin pan with 12 baking cups.

Start by mixing the banana, granola, flour, and baking powder together with a spoon.  The original recipe calls for regular flour, but I wanted to use the whole-wheat to bump up the nutrition even more.  If you use the wheat, make sure you sift it well.

Beat together the orange juice, honey/agave, oil, and egg with a mixer.

Add the dry ingredients to the liquid mixture and stir just til the two mixtures are combined.  Then, fold in the golden raisins.  Make sure you actually fold in the raisins; stirring them in will make your muffins tough from over-mixing!

Pour the batter into your muffin pan and bake for about 20 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then remove them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.  Then, enjoy!

These cupcakes are a yummy treat that you really can eat anytime–they are great for breakfast or a mid-day snack.  The original recipe is already quite healthy, but the additions of the whole-wheat and agave really make these cupcakes guiltless!


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