Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pecan-Crusted Trout

This was so good. I felt like I was eating at a gourmet restaurant. And it was easy to make, too. I used halibut instead of trout and it was great. The notes also mention you could use cod or catfish as well as halibut.

1/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) rainbow trout fillets, halved
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Place pecans in mini chopper or food processor; pulse until pecans are finely ground. Combine pecans and panko in a shallow dish. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper. Dredge tops of fish in nut mixture, pressing gently to adhere. Place half of fish, breading side down, in pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned. Turn fish over; cook 4 minutes of until fish flakes easily with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Remove fish from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil and remaining fish. Yield: 4 servings.
recipe from Cooking Light, October 2009, page 84 (subscribe here)

Chickpea Croquettes with Greek Salad Topping

These tasted alot like falafels, but were very tasty in their own right. I had some leftover dill yogurt sauce from making falafels earlier in the week, so I served them with that instead of the Greek Salad Topping and the flavors went really well together. I froze the leftovers to eat for lunches during the week. They're almost like chickpea pancakes, if you can imagine. I liked the soft texture of the cooked batter mixed with the firm, dense texture of the chickpeas.

1 cucumber, quartered and sliced (1 cup)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 green onions, chopped
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled low-fat vegan feta cheese, optional
1 cup chickpea flour
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 15-0unce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 green onions, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
To make topping: Toss together cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, lemon juice and oil in bowl. Gently stir in feta crumbles. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and set aside.
To make croquettes: Whisk together chickpea flour, cumin, chili powder, and salt in bowl. Whisk in 3/4 cup hot water. Stir in remaining ingredients, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Coat nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Scoop four 1/4-cup dollops of chickpea mixture into skillet, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Flip with spatula, and cook 3 to 4 minutes more. Repeat with remaining chickpea mixture. Serve each Croquette topped with 1/4 cup topping.
recipe from Vegetarian Times, October 2009, page 32 (yes, I'm a subscriber)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Greek Pasta with Spinach, Olives, Tomatoes and White Beans

Greek Pasta with Spinach, Olives, Tomatoes and White Beans

2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped coarsely
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 (14.5 ounce) cans plain diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can small white beans, rinsed well and drained
1 cup olives, pitted (canned okay)
black pepper to taste
About 4-5 ounces (about 4 cups) fresh spinach
1 lb penne or other similar pasta

1/2 to 3/4 cup (3-4 ounces) crumbled or cubed feta cheese

1) Saute onion and garlic in olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, until tender.
2) Add tomatoes, olives and beans, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes while the pasta cooks.
3) Add the spinach to the sauce, combine well, and continue simmering for 1-2 minutes. Let spinach wilt a bit, but not too much.
4) Place cooked pasta into shallow plates or bowls, add sauce on top of the pasta. Crumble feta cheese on top.

Serves 5-6.

We had this tonight, it was super easy and good. We ate it over quinoa macaroni which is actually pretty good. Paired with a greek salad it was perfect. Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, olives, red onion, marinated artichoke hearts, feta cheese, olive oil, basil, and lemon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Creamy Breakfast Oatmeal (Rice Cooker)

I usually have oatmeal for breakfast and I like steel cut oats best, but they take a long time to cook, plus they leave my stovetop super messy from all the bubbles spurting out. So I thought I would try some cooked in a rice cooker. They were so good. I just put them in my rice cooker and while I was feeding my kids, they cooked. It was so nice to have a hot breakfast with such little effort. I didn't add the dates or syrup and I used water instead of milk and they turned out great. It would be good served with chopped walnuts and any dried fruit (cranberries, dates, apricots).

2/3 cup steel cut oats
1 2/3 cups
1 teaspoon
pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 teaspoons
ground cinnamon
1 pinch
fine sea salt
2 tablespoons
pure maple syrup
1/2 cup chopped

Place all ingredients, except dates, in cooker; stir gently to combine; sprinkle dates on top.
Close the cover, set on Porridge cycle.
NOTE1: This recipe is designed for a rice cooker with fuzzy logic - use the porridge setting. If you have a regular rice cooker, you will need to watch it to determine when the oatmeal is done, probably 25 to 30 minutes, depending on your cooker.
NOTE2: Steel cut oats vary slightly. With some brands I find I need to reduce the milk to 1 1/2 cup to get the right consistency.
NOTE3: You can substitute vanilla flavored soy milk for the milk plus vanilla extract.

original recipe

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Easy Vegetable Coconut Milk Curry

At lunchtime today, I began preparing an old standby, stir fry with tofu, when I thought to myself, hey, why don't you switch it up a bit today, get adventurous, like add chicken broth to the vegetables instead of water? So I did just that. I sauteed my usual onion and celery, then added some carrots, asparagus, red pepper, broccoli and spinach. When all of the pan juices had cooked off, I added 1 1/2 cups of water mixed with a large chicken bouillion cube and let that simmer. Then I added 2 good spoonfuls of minced garlic and about a teaspoon of ginger paste I had sitting in my fridge. I added a few generous shakes of seasoning salt and pepper, and a few dashes of red pepper flakes (for some heat). Then I got the idea to make it into a curry, so I added half a can of coconut milk. Voila! It was really tasty, if I do say so myself, and it actually tasted like something one would find in a Thai restaurant. The nice thing is you can adapt it to whatever vegetables you have on hand, and it makes ordinary vegetables seem exotic and almost sweet. I will definitely be scarfing up the leftovers during tomorrow's lunch.
1 yellow Vidalia onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
seasoning salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 small head broccoli, florets only
1 bunch asparagus, hard ends snapped off
1 cup baby carrots
1 red pepper, diced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups water
1 large chicken bouillion cube, or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
dash red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2- 15 ounce can coconut milk
In a large frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add to that onions and celery. Saute until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add a few dashes of seasoning salt and pepper, then add the broccoli, asparagus, carrots and red pepper. Saute until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes, adding the water and bouillion cube when the vegetables start to brown and the juices have evaporated. When the vegetables are tender, add the spinach and saute. Add the red pepper flakes and coconut milk and simmer for about 5 minutes. Can serve alone or with brown rice.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Quinoa Vegetable Stew

Anyone who knows me well knows that I sometimes can take the term "pour it in the pot" a little too literally. I've had some good and not-so-good experiences cleaning out my fridge and combining everything into a meal. (Travis won't let my infamous barley crockpot dish rest). But, this, I can assure you, is not one of those disasters. I have made several different versions of this stew and it is delicious, if I do say so myself. You can't go wrong. Feel free to adapt the recipe according to what you have in your fridge. Just be sure to serve it with some good bread. Pictured here is Fire Bread from Whole Foods bakery.
1 yellow onion, diced small
3 ribs celery, diced small
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 large carrots, diced
1 can corn, drained
1 can kidney beans (or any bean of your choice), drained
1 red pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup dry quinoa
6 cups water
4 chicken or vegetable bouillion cubes
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large stockpot, saute onion and celery in olive oil until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and saute 1 minute. Add the carrots, corn, beans, pepper, zucchini, quinoa, water and bouillion cubes and stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn down to medium-low and cover to simmer for 30 minutes. Watch to make sure there is enough water and add water if it needs. Once the quinoa is cooked, add the spaghetti sauce and the salt and pepper. Serve with your favorite bread.

Roasted Eggplant Ratatouille

I have seen Disney's "Ratatouille," but have never actually had the stuff. I've always wanted to try it though, and when I came across Molly Wizenberg's version (of Orangette fame), I decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. And, as I type this, I'm polishing off my second bowl of the succulent stuff. It is amazing. I made the recipe and then sauteed some firm tofu in breadcrumbs, flour and seasoning salt in an oiled pan, to serve with it. And, then I crushed some Melba Toast in place of the baguette. Heavenly. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
(from A Homemade Life)
Yield: 4 servings
1 pound eggplant, sliced crosswise into 1-inch-thick rounds
Olive Oil
1 pound zucchini, trimmed, halves lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch-thick half-moons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
5 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt + more for seasoning
3 springs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
Position rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 400 degrees.
Arrange the eggplant rounds in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour 2 tablespoons olive oil in s small bowl and brush onto eggplant. Flip the slices and brush the second sides as well, taking care that each has a thin coating of oil. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through, until lightly browned on each side. Remove from the oven and cool. Cut into rough 1-inch pieces and set aside. (This can be down a day or two ahead, refrigerating the eggplant until you are ready to use it.)
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large, deep skillet. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove it from the pan, taking care to leave behind any excess oil, and set it aside.
If there is no oil left, add about 1 tablespoon of oil. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt, thyme, and bay leaf and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini, stir to incorporate, cover and cook until everything is just tender, 15 to 20 minutes more.
Meanwhile, butter the bottom of a 2 quart heavy saucepan. Add 11/4 inches water and 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar. (The acid makes the whites set faster.) Bring water to a simmer. Break one egg into a small bowl and slide into water. Poach at a bare simmer until egg whites are firm but yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes.
After it is cooked, transfer egg with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Repeat with as many eggs as desired.
Return to the Ratatouille, taste, and adjust the seasonings as necessary. Discard the bay leaf, and stir in the basil.
Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with addition salt for seasoning, and the poached egg atop. Also, crusty bread is necessary for sopping up all the wonderful juices at the bottom of the bowl!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pasta Italia

Tom and his companions often made this on their mission. It has become a staple in our family; especially in the summer when we can use our fresh grown basil. I've purposely not included measurements, because it is best accommodated to each family's tastes.

balsamic vinegar
olive oil
chopped tomatoes
chopped mozzarella (fresh is best)
fresh or canned corn
chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper

Cool your cooked pasta and splash the vinegar over top, so that it absorbs into the noodles, then splash a tiny bit of high quality olive oil over top, add lots of chopped tomatoes, cubed mozzarella, corn and basil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir it up and serve it cold. It's best eaten outside!

Banana-y Banana Bread/muffins

I adore this recipe, and after making it tonight I just had to post it. While Banana bread can't exactly be called a health food, but hey! (I've inserted my changes in parenthesis.)

2 c flour (1 c. White Flour, 1 c Whole wheat)
1 tea. baking soda
1/4 tea. salt
1/2 c butter (I only use use 1/3 or less- you could probably use applesauce)
3/4 c brown sugar (1/2 c works fine, especially if you're going to add chocolate chips)
2 eggs (just use whites)
2 1/3 mashed bananas (be warned this is A LOT of bananas)
(opt. chocolate chips, dash of cinnamon, splash of vanilla)

Sift together the tried, beat together the wet, and combine! Cook at 350 for 60-65 min. Or put them in muffin tins for around 25min.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Apple Date Walnut Salad

Okay, okay, so you've probably had this a million times, but for those who don't have a recipe for this salad, here is my version of it (I always add a little of this and a little of that), but you'll get the jist of it here. I can't get enough of this salad. I added grated unsweetened coconut when I made it last week and it was the perfect addition. Feel free to add your favorite things, like dried cranberries, toasted pecans or even chopped dried mangos. That's the beauty of this recipe: versatility. And it doesn't hurt that it takes less than five minutes to make. P.S. My kids like it too (another plus).

3 apples, diced small
1 cup vanilla yogurt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 stalks celery, diced small
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup grated, unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup chopped dates

Combine all ingredients in medium bowl and put in refridgerator until thoroughly chilled.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Fontina-Mushroom Sandwiches

Travis found this recipe and made me this soup one year for Valentine's Day (right after the birth of Lucy). It was awesome. I was totally blown away. I love fontina cheese and mushrooms, so this hit the spot. If you're in a pinch, you can just use canned tomato soup too.

Tomato Soup

10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly
ground pepper
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Grilled Fontina-Mushroom Sandwich

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
8 slices country-style bread
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 pound fontina, grated

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place tomatoes in a large baking dish and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with the garlic, season with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft.
Heat the remaining olive oil in a medium stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted tomatoes, garlic, and the juices that have accumulated. Add the stock and fresh thyme and cook for 20 minutes. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium high heat and cook until reduced by half. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, strain into a clean saucepan over low heat, add the reduced cream, and cook for 5 minutes.
For the Grilled Fontina-Mushroom Sandwich: Heat olive oil in a large saute pan, add the mushrooms, and cook until golden brown. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the sage. Brush the bread on 1 side with the butter. Turn 4 of the slices over on a work surface. Divide the cheese among the slices then divide the mushrooms on top of the cheese. Cover with the remaining 4 slices of bread, butter-side up.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sandwiches and cook, turning once, until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

Black-Bean and Tomato Quinoa

yield: Makes 4 (side dish) servings

active time: 20 minutes

total time: 45 minutes

Quinoa is a fast-cooking, protein-packed whole grain. Steamed, it makes a perfect partner for lime-spiked black beans and fresh tomato.
subscribe to Gourmet


  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 (14- to 15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Whisk together lime zest and juice, butter, oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.

Wash quinoa in 3 changes of cold water in a bowl, draining in a sieve each time.

Cook quinoa in a medium pot of boiling salted water (1 tablespoon salt for 2 quarts water), uncovered, until almost tender, about 10 minutes. Drain in sieve, then set sieve in same pot with 1 inch of simmering water (water should not touch bottom of sieve). Cover quinoa with a folded kitchen towel, then cover sieve with a lid (don't worry if lid doesn't fit tightly) and steam over medium heat until tender, fluffy, and dry, about 10 minutes. Remove pot from heat and remove lid. Let stand, still covered with towel, 5 minutes.

Add quinoa to dressing and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Strawberry Power Smoothie

This is my pitiful attempt to catch up with S.Schuller who seems to eat perfectly healthy every day.

1/2 blender full of milk (soy, rice, almond, cow)
pour in frozen strawberries until it reaches the top.
a couple scoops of powdered superfood. ( I put in the supreme meal by peaceful planet) Main ingredients: spriulina, rice, sprouts, quinoa, millet, amaranth, broccoli.
A couple scoops of juice concentrate (whichever kind you like)
tsp vanilla.

You can obviously add different fruits.

We had this for dinner tonight since Jeff was coming home late and I didn't want to cook. The kids love it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spanish Rice

Back in my office-working days, I got an authentic Mexican rice recipe (okay, it was more of "add a little of this, and a little of that" kind of thing) from one of the girls at work. It never turned out quite like the standard rice you get at most Mexican restaurants. So, I found this one online last weekend and tried it and it is really good. The best Spanish rice I've ever made. (You know it's a keeper when your 3-year-old asks to eat it for lunch 2 days in a row afterwards). Normally I make brown rice, but since it was my first time making it, I used the white rice it specified. Next time, I'm going to use brown rice and cook it longer.

Note: I tried it with brown rice and just cooked it longer (until the rice was done) and it was really good.

(recipe via menuplanning101)

2 cups white rice
vegetable oil
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cubes chicken bouillon
1 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 c. water

Pour rice in a large pot. Add enough oil to cover every grain. Toast rice over med. heat, stirring constantly, being careful not to burn rice. (Takes about 15 minutes) Once rice is browned, add in peppers, onion, garlic, and bouillon. Cook until onions are tender and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add spices, tomato paste, and water. Stir until just blended. Cover pan and heat to boiling. Once boiling, turn heat to low and let rice simmer until all liquid has evaporated (about 30 minutes). DO NOT REMOVE LID. Once all liquid has been absorbed, remove from heat, and fluff with fork.

Pumpkin Bread with Flaxseed

I love pumpkin bread and this one, from The New American Plate Cookbook, did not disappoint. It is surprisingly moist and I added chocolate chips instead of cranberries, so it was even more of a treat.

Canola oil spray
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup apple juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup dried cranberries (I used chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat an 8x4-inch loaf pan with canola oil spray and set it aside.

In a large bowl, combine the whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, flaxseed, sugar, baking soda, and salt, and set aside. In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Whisk in the pumpkin, canola oil, applesauce, apple juice, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. Stir in the dried cranberries. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until all the dry ingredients are fully incorporated into the batter. Do not beat or overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and continue cooling on the rack.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No High-Fructose Corn Syrup Granola Bars

We go through lots of granola bars around here, and some of them have lots of corn syrup (okay, I would say all of them), so I decided to try some homemade versions. This was the first one I tried and I liked how they turned out. Being a chocolate lover, I might try putting melted chocolate on top of these (now how's that for adding some health benefits?)

Recipe via

2 cups oats
3/4 cup wheat germ
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup peanuts, crushed
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
approximately 8 oz. dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To crush your peanuts, put them in a plastic bag and smash them with a heavy mallet, measuring cup, or sauce pan.Then, mix the peanuts, oats, wheat germ, and sunflower seeds in a baking dish with sides. Toast them in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring every few minutes so that they don’t get burned.Meanwhile, prepare a glass baking dish (about 11 x 13 inches) for your granola by lining it with waxed paper lightly sprayed with a nonstick spray.
Put the brown sugar, honey, butter, vanilla, and salt into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. (I forgot to take a picture of this step, but it looks so pretty!)
By now, your grains and nuts should be toasted, so mix everything together in a large bowl. The grains, the liquid “glue,” and the dried fruit. Oh, and turn off your oven, because you’re finished with it now.Mix everything REALLY WELL because you want to make sure the “glue” gets all over everything. Now, dump your granola mixture into your prepared baking dish.Spread out the mixture with a wooden spoon or spatula.
Now fold over the sides of the waxed paper or add a sheet on top, and PRESS HARD all over the granola. You want to compact it together so that your bars won’t fall apart when you cut them.Wait 2-3 hours or until the granola has totally cooled.
Then, open the waxed paper …And carefully turn the granola onto a large cutting board, peeling away the rest of the paper.Now, firmly pressing down with a big knife (not sawing), cut your granola into whatever size bars you’d like.I wrapped ours individually in plastic wrap, so that we could just throw one into our bag or lunch box in the morning. If you’d like to save on packaging though, you can store yours in an airtight container, between sheets of waxed paper (so they don’t stick together).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eggplant and Spinach Lasagna or Pasta

I adapted this from Gourmet 2002's September issue. I love eggplant and spinach and lasagna, so this was a great dish in my opinion. The recipe has you make your own marinara sauce by roasting plum tomatoes, but I skipped this step and used a nice jar of marinara sauce.

2 jars marinara sauce
2 lb. Asian or baby Italian eggplants, halved crosswise, then cut lengthwise into slices slightly less than 1/4" thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
10 ounces baby spinach
1 pound ricotta (preferably fresh)
1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1 oz)
8 dried lasagna noodles (not no-boil; 8 ounces), or 8 ounces of any kind of pasta

Toss eggplant slices with oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and arrange in 1 layer on 2 oiled baking sheets. Bake in upper and lower thirds of oven, switching position of sheets halfway through baking and turning slices over once, until tender, 12 to 14 minutes.

Cook spinach in 3-4 quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, 1 minute, then drain in a colander. When cool enough to handle, squeeze any excess water from spinach and coarsely chop. Stir together ricotta, yolk, spinach, parmesan, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper until combined well.

Cook lasagne noodles (or other type of pasta noodles) in a 6-8 quart pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain noodles in a colander and rinse under cold running water.

Spoon 2 cups tomato sauce into a 13- by 9- inch glass baking dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread 1/3 cup filling evenly over each noodle and cover with eggplant slices in one layer. Roll up each and arrange spirals, seam side down and without touching, over sauce in dish, then make 4 more rolls and arrange in dish. (If you're using another kind of noodle, just layer the noodles, then the filling, then the eggplant on top of that). Brush noodles with water, then spoon some sauce down middle of rolls and cover dish tightly with foil.

Bake in middle of oven until heated through, about 20 minutes. Heat remaining tomato sauce and serve on side.

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

I've heard of substituting lentils for ground beef in recipes, but had only tried it in spaghetti sauce. I thought this worked really well and my family liked it too.

1 onion, diced small
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups lentils
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup carrots, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
dash of thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
1 can corn
1 can stewed diced tomatoes
mashed potatoes

(I am constantly making up my own concoctions, and this is no exception, so if you feel the amounts need to be tinkered with for your liking, go ahead and change this recipe).

In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium high heat and saute onion and celery for 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and saute. Add chicken broth, lentils, carrots, all the spices, corn and tomatoes. Bring to boil and simmer for about 30-40 minutes, or until the lentils have softened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the lentils are cooking, make traditional mashed potatoes in another pot. (Or, if you want to make it easier, just make instant mashed potatoes).

When the lentils are done cooking and the mashed potatoes are ready, put the lentils in a greased 9x13 pan. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the lentils. Sprinkle with paprika (and cheese, if desired) and bake at 350 F for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nikki's Healthy Cookie Recipe

I stumbled upon 101 Cookbooks this weekend and found these cookies. I doubted they could even taste good. Well, after making them, I can attest to their goodness. I used applesauce instead of the bananas and they tasted good. They maintain that just-out-of-the-oven-melted-chocolate sensation of traditional chocolate chip cookies while keeping the fat and sugar to a minimum. I think I'll go eat another one right now.

(recipe via 101 Cookbooks)

Nikki's Healthy Cookies

You can use unsweetened carob, or grain sweetened chocolate chips, or do what I did and chop up 2/3 of a bar of Scharffen berger 70%. I sort-of shaved half the bar with a knife and then cut the rest into bigger chip-sized chunks. You can make your own almond meal by pulsing almonds in a food processor until it is the texture of sand - don't go too far or you'll end up with almond butter. And lastly, the coconut oil works beautifully here, just be sure to warm it a bit - enough that it is no longer solid, which makes it easier to incorporate into the bananas. If you have gluten allergies, seek out GF oats.

3 large, ripe bananas, well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, barely warm - so it isn't solid (or alternately, olive oil)
2 cups rolled oats
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & unsweetened
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 - 7 ounces chocolate chips or dark chocolate bar chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, racks in the top third.

In a large bowl combine the bananas, vanilla extract, and coconut oil. Set aside. In another bowl whisk together the oats, almond meal, shredded coconut, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks/chips.The dough is a bit looser than a standard cookie dough, don't worry about it. Drop dollops of the dough, each about 2 teaspoons in size, an inch apart, onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet. Bake for 12 - 14 minutes. I baked these as long as possible without burning the bottoms and they were perfect - just shy of 15 minutes seems to be about right in my oven.

Makes about 3 dozen bite-sized cookies.

Dinosaur Meat

If you're not already subscribed to Gwyneth Paltrow's weekly Goop, then you better get on her mailing list! A couple weeks ago, she gave the recipe for this Dinosaur Meat, her friend's version of chicken nuggets, sans the meat. I made them last night and I really liked them. (My kids didn't, but they will if I keep making them and hopefully they'll come around). Anyways, they are alot like chicken nuggets and are a cinch to make.

(recipe via GOOP)

Serves: 2 adults and 2 kids
Time: 30 minutes

4 ounches seitan (I got the traditionally seasoned seitan next to the tofu at Whole Foods)
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 pinches salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Slice the seitan into 1/2" wide medallions. Fill a covered dish or a baggie with flour, breadcrumbs and two pinches of salt and shake the seitan around. Heat a pan with two tablespoons of oil, add the garlic and sprinkle off the excess flour mixture as you put the seitan in the pan. Fry till golden on all sides. Serve with a vegetable and a grain. I sometimes make a silly design with the ketchup.

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

I quit buying bread at the store a couple of weeks ago in favor of a more nutritious, homemade approach to satisfying our family's need for bread. I've played around with several different recipes, specifically "sandwich"-type recipes and found this one exceptionally good. It's soft and the orange juice makes it sweet but not orange-y. Let me know how you like it if you try it out.

(recipe via King Arthur Flour)

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water*
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup instant mashed potato flakes
  • 3 3/4 cups King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
  • *Use 2 tablespoons less water in summer (or in a humid environment), 2 tablespoons more in winter (or in a dry climate).


1) Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes, till it becomes puffy. If you're using instant yeast, you can skip this step.

2) Combine the yeast/water with the remaining ingredients, and mix and knead—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—until you've made a cohesive dough. If you're using a stand mixer, knead at low speed for about 7 minutes. Note that 100% whole wheat dough will never become smooth and supple like dough made with all-purpose flour; it'll feel more like clay under your hands, and may appear a bit rough.

3) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow it to rise till it's expanded and looks somewhat puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Note that dough kneaded in a bread machine will rise faster and higher than bread kneaded in a mixer, which in turn will rise faster and higher than one kneaded by hand. So if you're kneading by hand, you may want to let the dough rise longer than 90 minutes.

4) Lightly grease a 9" x 5" loaf pan. Gently shape the dough into a smooth log, and settle it into the pan, smooth side up.

5) Tent the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow the loaf to rise till it's crowned over the rim of the pan by about 3/4", about 75 minutes. Don't let it rise too high; it'll continue to rise as it bakes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

6) Bake the bread for 10 minutes. Lightly tent it with aluminum foil, and bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center registers 190°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove it from the oven, and turn it out of the pan onto a rack.

7) Run a stick of butter over the top of the hot loaf, if desired, for a softer crust. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Angel Hair Pasta with Sesame-Peanut Sauce

I made this last night, a little skeptical as to its acceptance by my family. And it was a hit! A vegetarian meal that actually went over well. I will definitely be making this again. I got excited this morning thinking about lunchtime leftovers.
(recipe from The New American Plate Cookbook)
8 ounces whole wheat angel hair pasta
4 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
2 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tablespoon minched peeled fresh ginger (I used ginger paste)
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon evaporated fat-free milk, plus more as needed to thin sauce
Dash of cayenne or pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup shredded or grate carrots, for garnish
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, trimmed, for garnish
2 tablespoons chopped peanuts, for garnish
Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor, blend the peanut butter, broth, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, vinegar, sesame oil, milk and cayenne until completely emulsified. When the pasta is done, drain it in a colander and return it to the hot pan. Add the peanut sauce and toss to coat. Garnish with carrots, scallions, and peanuts. Serve immediately.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Variation on Chicken Noodle

This recipe orignally came from Cooking Light Magazine October 1996, here it is with slight variations.

1 1/2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced celery
1 clove garlic minced
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 t. salt
6 c. chicken broth
2 diced and peeled baking potatoes
2 c. diced leftover roasted chicken (Costco's is great)
1 c. skim milk
2 c. uncooked noodles (fettucini, angel hair, egg noodles all work)
Fresh Thyme

Heat olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour oregano, and thyme over vegtables and cook 1 more minute. In large pot pour in broth, potatoes, salt. Bring to boil. Add vegtable mixture. Reduce heat, simmer partially covered 15 minutes. Add chicken, milk and noodles, cook 10 minutes or until noodles are tender. Check soup, and if it is now too thick add more milk. Add salt to taste. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Falafels by Nasser

I love falafels (I also love chickpeas). While I was studying in Jerusalem in college, we had some great falafels while touring Israel.

This recipe comes straight from the head chef at the Jerusalem Center, Nasser. It is the best one I've tried, so I hope it works for you too. I tried to go a little healthier and baked, instead of fried, the falafels, and they still turned out great.

And the great thing about this meal is you can eat make peanut butter sandwiches out of the leftover pitas, or my kids ate them with butter and jam on them. At any rate, this gives you some versatile leftovers.

(recipe via Stephmodo)
1 lb. garbanzo beans/ chick peas
1 oz. parsley
3 medium onions
5 cloves garlic
1 tB. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tB. cumin
Soak garbanzo beans/chick peas for 24 hours. Drain. Grind them on the fine setting of a food processor. Grind them again, this time gradually adding parsley, onions and garlic. (I sauteed the onions in a little olive oil until they were clear before adding them to the food processor). Grind one more time. Add salt, papper, cumin and baking soda. Mix all together and shape into balls. Deep fry.Serve with pita bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, pickles, hot sauce mixed with chutney, french fries and/or eggplant.
Pita Bread
(recipe via

1 package of yeast, or quick rising yeast
1/2 cup warm water
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 cup lukewarm water

Preparation:Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup of warm water. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Let sit for 10-15 minutes until water is frothy.Combine flour and salt in large bowl. Make a small depression in the middle of lour and pur yeast water in depression.Slowly add 1 cup of warm water, and stir with wooden spoon or rubber spatula until elastic.PLace dough on floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. When the dough is no longer stick and is smooth and elastic, it has been successfully kneaded. Coat large bowl with vegetable oil and place dough in bowl. Turn dough upside down so all of the dough is coated. Allow to sit in a warm place for about 3 hours, or until it has doubled in size. Once doubled, roll out in a rope, and pinch off 10-12 small pieces. Place balls on floured surface. Let sit covered for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 500 deg F. and make sure rack is at the very bottom of oven. Be sure to preheat your baking sheet also.Roll out each ball of dough with a rolling pin into circles. Each should be about 5-6 inches across and 1/4 inch thick. Bake each circle for 4 minutes until the bread puffs up. Turn over and bake for 2 minutes. Remove each pita with a spatula from the baking sheet and add additional pitas for baking.Take spatula and gently push down puff. Immediately place in storage bags. Storing Pita BreadPita bread can be stored for up to a week in a pantry or bread box, and up to a month in the freezer. Be sure to use freezer bags when storing in the freezer.
Yogurt Dill Dipping Sauce
(recipe via

1 cup yogurt, low-fat strained (Greek-style)
1 clove garlic (small, minced)
1 tablespoon fresh dill (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon lemon peel (finely grated)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small bowl, mix yogurt with garlic, fresh dill, lemon peel, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. (I used Dannon plain yogurt and dried dill. I also didn't add the lemon peel.)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Giveaway Winner

And the winner of the Donaldson's Honey Cashew Granola is.....(drumroll please)....the author of comment number ten, Amy S, who said:

I'm excited for your blog. I'm glad to know I'm not alone in my dinner ruts. I would love to win granola!

Congratulations, Amy! Please e-mail me your address (to and I will make this for you very soon. Just let me know if there's anything from the recipe you'd like me to leave out or substitute.

Thanks for all your comments. I hope you'll come back often for more dinner ideas and healthy recipes. And if you have a recipe you'd like to share, please feel free to e-mail me that too. I always love new recipes!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Light Chicken Chili

My friend Stacey gave this recipe to me and it is great because it is light enough that you can add sour cream, cheese or salsa, if you choose, or just serve it plain. It is versatile and easy.

4 cups chicken broth
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 cup white onion
3 cups chicken breasts, cooked (sometimes I used canned chicken)
3 cans beans

Saute the onion in a little olive oil until tender. Then add remaining ingredients. Simmer for 10 minutes or so and serve warm.

Perfect Broccoli

This recipe came from Ashley and it has forever changed the way I cook broccoli. It cooks it perfectly: crisp, not soggy, yet cooked perfectly.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small head of broccoli cut into bite-size chunks
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (I use regular kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1/4 cup water

Heat oil in pan on medium high. Add brocolli, salt, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until brocolli is crisp-tender.

Blackbean Soup

This has become a staple recipe at our house. Even the kids like it, so we eat it quite a bit. I have to thank my sister Erin for passing this on to me. And blackbeans are high in antioxidants, along with the fiber!

2 tablespoons butter (I use olive oil)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons jalapeno, finely chopped (I've left this out before and it was fine)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cubes vegetable bouillon
1 and 1/2 cups boiling water
2-15 ounce cans black beans, undrained
15 ounce can white beans
1/4 teaspoon salt (I omit this)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
juice of 1 and 1/2 limes
1 and 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

In large stock pot melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the onion, celery, peppers and garlic. Cook until the onion begins to turn translucent. Mix the boullion and boiling water and add to the pot. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, salt, cumin, brown sugar and black pepper. Stir well and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. In a small glass combine the cornstarch and 1 1/2 tablespoons of water. Stir well. Add this mixture and the lime juice to the soup. Stir well.

Allow to simmer and thicken for about 10 minutes. You may now serve soup or turn the heat to low and allow the flavors to muddle until you are ready to eat. This soup keeps well for a few days in the refridgerator. The flavors will become deeper overnight.

(Sometimes I serve this over brown rice, or with tortilla chips and salsa, sour cream and cheese. It's delicious plain too).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paprika Poppyseed dressing

I adore this dressing. It's light and flavorful and every time I make it, I crave salads! It is especially a great compliment to spinach salads with fruit. I love a spinach, feta, cranberries and walnut salad; or a spinach, feta, pear, walnut salad. (Just lay low on the feta!) It's also nice over a more traditional spinach, tomato and yellow pepper salad.

Just combine and mix. (It gets better with age as the flavors infuse the olive oil, so make ahead if you can.)

  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (I've never toasted mine)
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Tofu Meatballs

I was skeptical before I had these, but these are delicious. I've made them several times now and I really like the crunch that the walnuts add. They're versatile too; you can add or take out certain spices. I've adapted this recipe a little each time I've made it and they've turned out fine every time.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 large carrot, grated
1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
3/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1 large egg (I use egg substitute)
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3/8 cup walnuts, ground
1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped (I used dried)
3/4 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 pounds firm tofu, pressed
(I have also added a little worchestershire sauce and hamburger seasoning)

Saute the onion, carrot, pepper, garlic and dried herbs in oil until tender, for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then add bread crumbs, walnuts, parsley, olive oil and chicken broth. Crumble the pressed tofu with your hands and add it to the bowl, along with the sauteed vegetables. Mix well. Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on an oiled baking sheet. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes or until crisp brown on the outside. Add cooked "meat"balls to your favorite tomato sauce and serve over your favorite pasta.


Who doesn't love happy mail? And in this case, homemade happy mail in the form of homemade granola? Your morning breakfast will never be the same, or your afternoon snack or your evening snack, for that matter. Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a batch of Donaldson's Honey Cashew Granola, made just for you (don't like sunflower seeds, no problem, I will leave them out or substitute with almonds), and shipped straight to your door.

One comment per person. Giveaway open until Sunday evening at 9 PM EST, April 19th. Winner will be announced Monday, April 20th. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crock Pot Coconut Chicken Curry

Place items in crock pot in this order:

1 large chicken breast (can be frozen)
1/2 T. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 t. fresh minced ginger
1 T. curry powder
1/2 t. ground tumeric
1 c. water
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 t. chicken bouillon powder
1-2 sliced chili pepper (the smallest kind) with seeds (hotter) slice down into small circles
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 uncooked russet potatoes peeled and chopped into 1 " cubes
2 medium sized carrots sliced diagonally
1/2 medium sized onion chopped corsely
1 15 oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
1 t. salt
3 t. sugar

Do not mix together, the ingredients will cook together in the crock pot. Cook on low 6 hours or high 2-3 hours. Before serving get chicken out with a fork and cut it with kitchen shears into long thin slices. Place back into curry mix. If consistency is thin, cook without lid for the last 20 minutes. Add more salt to taste.


Shredded Baking coconut
Sliced Almonds-Toast almonds and coconut in 1/2 T. butter melted in a frying pan
Fresh pineapple chunks

Serve over your favorite rice.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Donaldson's Honey Cashew Granola

I love the sweet, but not too sweet, flavor of this granola. Since I made it, I haven't been able to stop eating it. It's great for a snack by itself, with milk or with yogurt. I made these little cups for a playdate last week and the kids seemed to like them. It's also very easy to throw together.

(recipe via Whitney Fredin)

6 cups rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1 cup wheat germ

1/2 cup shelled sunflower seeds

3/4 cups cashew halves

1 t. cinnamon or nutmeg

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/2 cup honey

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup raisins

Combine oats, coconut, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, cashews and cinnamon in large bowl. Mix oil, honey, water, salt and vanilla. Pour over dry mixture; stir well to coat. Spread mixture evenly on 2 greased baking sheets. Bake at 325 for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool, add raisins. Store in airtight container. Makes 10 cups.