Archive for February, 2013

02.28.2013

DIY Yogurt in 10 Simple Steps

I have been excited about making my yogurt since going to a fermentation demonstration for date night a few months back. Before some of you roll your eyes while imagining me dragging my boyfriend to a “boring” class on how to something else kind of “crunchy”, I should say that the activity was HIS idea (and a great one at that) and we both found the class to be not only informative, but also really interesting… and the resulting foods rather tasty which was a nice bonus!

The class was led at Denver Botanic Gardens by the owners of Five Points Fermentation. The couple is really knowledgeable about the fermentation process and they both had a way of explaining it that made it seem very accessible to any home cook.  I got so excited that I made my first batch of fermented food, sauerkraut, the very next evening.  But, it has taken me a few months to start making my own yogurt and I must say, I’m sorry I waited so long!

Yogurt making is a simple, straightforward process that only involves two ingredients, a few tools, and a little patience.

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02.25.2013

Chickenless Tortilla Soup

On a recent trip to California to visit my sister and her family, she and I had the chance to cook together, which is always fun. But, with an energetic two-year-old and a newborn in the house, we did not have the time to linger over a pot for hours. As is true in many households, it is as difficult as it is important to get a healthy, fresh dinner on the table every night.

So, when my sister ran across this recipe for tortilla soup in the December issue of Sunset magazine, its simple ingredients and straightforward, quick preparation and cook time, along with its ease in accommodating different eating styles:

– chicken + more veggies = vegetarian version – cheese = vegan version

These easy alterations made the dish perfect for a family dinner.

The soup turned out delicious and filling and the short prep/cooking time left plenty of time for baths and bedtime stories.

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02.22.2013

Banana-Oatmeal Cookies

Okay, so it’s been somewhat of a “bananapalooza” in my house recently. We’ve made banana pancakes, banana-almond butter sandwiches, banana gelato, you get the picture–I’m on a banana kick. And for good reason. Bananas are sweet and tasty, filling and have a large amount of potassium which you need to prevent shin splints while running (oh does that take me back to my one season of “soccer”–quotes necessary– in high school) and to help you recover quickly after a strenuous workout so you can get back out there relatively pain free. Potassium is also great for your cardiovascular system.

Now that I’ve justified my banana craze, let’s get down to the real reason I am making these cookies– they are delectable! They are a delicious version of a cakey chocolate chip cookie, but full of whole grain, low in added sugar and at only 62 calories a cookie, you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to whip up a batch. Speaking of, these cookies only take a few minutes to prepare and after I’ve baked them and let them cool, I freeze them on a sheet and store them in my baked goods freezer bin in a ziploc. They make the perfect after dinner treat for kids…and they even make you feel okay about letting them have seconds on dessert once in a while. This recipe would be easy to double as well.

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02.20.2013

Kale & Mushroom Polenta Pie

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I got this pie plate as a birthday gift from a cousin with exceptional taste. And, although I love it, I am pretty sure my two-and-a-half year old nephew could count high enough to reach the total number of sweet pies I have made in my life. But, I have refused to let that one little detail reduce this beautiful dish to a life of collecting dust in my cabinet.

I often find myself drawn to healthy, savory pies and tarts purely with the thought of serving it in this dish.  Crustless quiche, lasagna pie, baked vegetable gratin,summertime tomato pie, and numerous versions of this polenta pie have all been baked to (near) perfection in this little ceramic pie plate.

The polenta pie started with a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Low-fat Favorites. I have changed it a little and used the easy “crust” as a base for many other savory dishes because it’s tasty and much healthier than a traditional pie crust.  Now I’m thinking that maybe I shouldn’t stop with savory pies… sweet cinnamon apple polenta pie sounds pretty tasty too…

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02.17.2013

Healthy, Hearty Banana Pancakes

Jack Johnson says in his song, “We can sleep in, I’ll make you banana pancakes, and pretend it’s the weekend now.” This sentiment sums up the indulgent, over-the-top feeling I get when I sit down to a plate of pancakes.  It just feels sinful!  But, with this recipe, you can “indulge” while knowing that you are still feeding your body in a nourishing, won’t weigh you down all day, way. These pancakes are a great breakfast to eat before a day hike or training run.

Or, just because…

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02.14.2013

Easy Peasy Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Whether you have jumped on the brussels-sprout bandwagon, or you still consider yourself “brussel-phobic”, I urge you to try this recipe.

Nearly everyone I have made these for has been won over by the crunchy, salty-sweet flavor these mini cabbages take on during the roasting process. The flavor is only enhanced by the nuttiness a sprinkle of pine nuts in the last few minutes of cooking adds to the dish. These tender morsels make a great side for a weekday dinner or for entertaining. I have even been known to make them for myself as a main course on a night when I don’t feel like cooking.

The best part of this recipe is that it is easy!  A few minutes of prep and 20 or so minutes in the oven and the dish is ready to go with minimal fuss!

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02.05.2013

Roasted Chickpeas

I first found roasted chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) last year and, although I really enjoyed them, after a couple of batches, I forgot about them….until a few months ago.  I was reading the newest issue of “Whole Living” magazine, and ran across a recipe for honey-sesame candied chickpeas.  Needless to say, my mouth was immediately watering.  A combination of the little honey- sesame stick candies with the crunchy wholesomeness of chickpeas– I’ll take it.

It took me a couple of batches and adjustments to make this recipe work, but when it did, the results were great.  These are a great alternative to chips or nuts at a party (especially if you have guests with nut allergies on the invite list) and they are healthy to boot.  The chickpeas are high in protein and fiber and at 270 calories per cup, you can have quite a few before worrying about the caloric impact. Note: these make a cute hostess gift when wrapped in a decorative tin and tied in a pretty kitchen towel or with cute twine.

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