Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Protein Waffles

Waffles are a great breakfast food, but if you don't add a little protein into the mix, they can leave you feeling hungry again much too early in the day.  These waffles have 175 calories per serving, plus 19g of carbs, 8gg of protein, and 7g of fat.  If you add in some yogurt or spread with some peanut (or other nut) butter, you can increase the protein further.  Plus, they're delicious!

Protein Waffles
(14 servings)

1 very ripe medium banana
1 c. 2% milkfat cottage cheese
1 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 c. milk
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. coconut oil

3/4 c. oat flour
1/2 c. hemp hearts
1 1/4 c. flour
4 t. baking powder

In a blender, combine all wet ingredients (listed before break).  Add in half of dry ingredients, pulse a few times to incorporate, then add rest of dry ingredients and blend.  Allow batter to rest about 5 minutes.  Heat and grease waffle iron.  Makes 7 round Belgian waffles (14 servings).

**If you don't have hemp seeds/hearts, increase oat flour to 1 1/4 c. total.  Or substitute whole wheat flour for the oat flour.  Omitting the hemp seeds will change the protein and fiber content.  You must have 2 1/2 cups of dry flour for the batter.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Italian pantry soup

I love Olive Garden's zuppa toscana.  It is the only way I think I would have tried kale, initially.  You have to remember I was a picky eater, up until about 7 years ago.  The only cooked vegetables I would eat were corn and potatoes.  Really.  I have come a long way since then, but I still am looking to increase my veggie intake, and really, shouldn't we all increase our vegetable intake?  This soup was born of my love for the zuppa at OG, but I was hampered by what I actually had in house.  And instead of making a special trip to the store to buy ingredients, I decided to bastardize my own version of the soup.  It was a very delicious experiment!

Italian pantry soup
1 can white cannelini beans, well-rinsed
4 Italian (chicken) sausages
1 tsp. oil
1 large russet potato, washed and sliced thin
6 c. water
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 tsp. chopped garlic
1 large bunch kale, rinsed, drained, and chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp. better than bouillon soup base

In a high-sided skillet, warm oil and brown sausages on all sides.  Remove to a plate and cut length-wise and return to pan to brown insides.  Remove to a paper plate and cut into bite-sized pieces and allow to drain.  In a crockpot or large stock pot, put beans, sausage pieces, sliced potato, onion, garlic, water, and soup base.  Cook on low in crock for ~6 hrs. or on stove-top in stock pot until potato is fork tender.  When soup is ready, add kale and cover for 5-10 minutes to wilt kale.  Serve hot.

If you like it hot, you could add some crushed red pepper.  If you like it creamy, like OG's, you could add either some heavy cream, a dollop of cream cheese or sour cream, or pureed potatoes to the broth in order to give it that creamy consistency.

Healthier pudding mix cookies

When my 3-year-old requested cookies today, I decided to give the much lauded pudding mix cookies from Pinterest a go.  But I know that I would want more than just one or two cookies, and I really didn't want to go putting two sticks of butter in them.  I turned to pinterest and found the healthy baking substitutions pin, and away I went.  I also used coconut sugar instead of the traditional brown and white sugars, but I also already had it on hand.  If you don't have coconut sugar, don't run all over town looking for it, but I do have to say that with the coconut sugar, these were not cloyingly sweet as so many cookies are (to me at least).

Healthier pudding mix cookies
1/4 c. Greek yogurt
1 ripe banana
1 c. coconut sugar (or 3/4 c. brown sugar and 1/4 c. white sugar)
1 box of chocolate pudding mix (I used chocolate fudge)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. instant coffee crystals or strongly brewed coffe, cooled (optional)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 1/4 c. flour
optional toppings or mix-ins (sprinkles, sugars, chocolate chips, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour and baking soda; set aside.  In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the banana, yogurt, and sugar until well combined.  Add in the pudding mix and incorporate fully.  With mixer on, add eggs one at a time, then vanilla and coffee.  Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until combined.  Place 1 inch dollops on greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes. (Oven times may vary, original recipe I adapted from called for 8-12).  Cookies are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

The texture of these cookies isn't very "cookie".  But it's not a cake, brownie, or muffin either.  I can't quite describe it.  But I'm sure that if you use traditional sugar in place of the coconut sugar, you will get something more traditionally "cookie," as the refined sugars will melt.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sweet and Tangy Meatballs

As promised, I'm writing about another of my freezer cooking recipes.  I do want to state out-right that I didn't find a flaw with the recipe, just that for our family, the recipe just doesn't seem to fit us well.  I will definitely use this recipe for entertaining (read: Super Bowl-type party), but I will not be adding it into my regular rotation.  Though the kids absolutely loved it, I just don't find it versatile enough to be a meal staple for us.

Sweet and Tangy meatballs
1 bottle barbeque sauce
1 bottle/jar of (grape) jelly
40 meatballs
1 c. chopped onions

Combine all ingredients and divide between two bags.  Lay flat to freeze.  Cook in crockpot on low for 2-4 hours.  Serve with rice or noodles.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Soup Post

Most of my posts here are recipes.  And I have to tell you that I fully intended this post to be a recipe. But, as usual, I didn't use measuring utensils and I forgot to write anything down, so now, you have yourself here a technique piece.  I hope you enjoy, and I will definitely try to take measurements the next time I make some of my soup :)

You know what I love about soup?  There aren't very many rules.  You don't have a chemical reaction, as in baking.  The only thing you really need is the broth and something to put in it.  I used to be a very picky eater.  Going by my old standard, I'm a positive foodie now.  But others, I know, would still classify me as picky.  That's fine.  I'm happy trying things at my own pace.

What does that information matter to you?  Well, I had never tried parsnips or turnips before my Mother-in-law put them in some homemade chicken noodle soup at Christmastime in 2011.  And she didn't ask me if I would mind if she put them in, she just did.  So I braced myself before tasting that first bite.  And you know what?  The flavor of that broth, that soup, was so much more improved I couldn't believe it was still just your basic chicken noodle soup!  The parsnips and turnips added such a richer flavor note that I loved it.  Truth be told?  I put turnips and parsnips in every pot of chicken soup I make now.  I find that when I leave it out, the flavors are just too lacking for my taste.

Now, this past weekend, both of my boys were down with pink eye (bacterial) and a virus.  And I had just developed an ear infection.  I was tired and just wanted some comforting food.  When I'm sick like that, and it's cold to boot, the only thing that spells comfort food to me is s-o-u-p.

But I really didn't have it in me to boil a whole chicken to get the broth and the meat for my soup.  And I didn't want a whole 4 qt. stock pot full of soup to freeze and keep.  I decided to compromise - I went to the grocery store and picked up a medium parsnip, a large turnip, and deli-counter roast turkey breast (I didn't realize it was turkey until I got home and was opening the package; no matter, it was still delicious) that had been previously shredded.  So that cut a ton of time off the top for me.  I peeled and diced my parsnip and turnip and some carrots I already had on hand.  I tossed in two handfuls of my previously chopped and frozen onion and celery and a couple teaspoons of chopped garlic and sauteed them all in 2 Tbsp. of butter to release the flavors and soften them.  Then I poured in 6 c. of water and 2 Tbsp. of better than bouillon soup base (chicken flavor).  I brought it to a roiling boil for somewhere between 15 minutes and a half hour (I'm not sure on the time because one of my kids pooped his diaper, the other was having a potty crisis, and my husband wasn't home).  Basically, I got my veggies good and cooked in the broth.  But then, instead of adding my herbs, chicken, and pasta, I ladled half of my soup up and put it in a pyrex to cool on the counter a bit before freezing.  You see, now I have a ready-made soup base, to which I will only need to add meat, seasonings, and a starch!  Voila!  After I had the set-aside portion dished out, I added some water (the boiling had reduced the liquid level), my shredded turkey, and a half a box of ditalini.  I brought it back to a boil to cook the pasta and then I was ready to go.  I had my semi-homemade soup and quicker solution for the next time I might want to whip up some soup, semi-homemade style.  And really, setting aside a portion to freeze and use as a soup-base later worked very well, because I had much less soup I felt compelled to eat right away.  And by using just the veggies and the broth, I can add whichever meat and seasonings I want to change the style of the soup.

So now you know that I like soup as comfort food, and that I love turnips and parsnips in my soup.  Seriously, you have to try them.  But I also tend to add both dill and parsley to my homemade chicken noodle soup.  I read an article in a Women's World issue that talked about the different health benefits of all of the components of chicken noodle soup and each had health benefits (I can't remember what they were, but they were good).  I had never thought to add dill to chicken noodle soup before that article.  Parsley was pretty standard (as long as I remembered), but the dill was a new thought.  Well, as with the turnips and the parsnips, I loved it.  You can almost always find dill and parsley in my homemade chicken noodle soup now.  And I really don't feel like I need to add more than that - those simple ingredients combine together to bring such a wonderful, full flavor to my soups that I don't even need to add any other salt and pepper.

What is your favorite addition to chicken noodle soup?  Have you ever had parsnips and turnips before?  Would you try them?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Lazy Day Stew

This is one of the previously mentioned freezer meals as well.  If you want to see any of the meal recipes in their original format, please follow the links in my original freezer meals introductory post. This recipe was very hearty and flavorful; I served it with pasta to soak up some of the juices and my husband said it was even better the next day as leftovers for his lunch.  The original recipe calls for potatoes, but I omitted them from my freezer bags in order to have more versatility.  I figured I could always throw potatoes into the crockpot if I wanted it to be an actual stew.  This recipe makes two freezer meals - divide evenly between two gallon-sized zip-top freezer bags, and lay flat to freeze.

Lazy Day Stew
4 lbs cubed stewing beef
10 oz pkg dried lima beans
2 15-oz cans tomato sauce (one in each bag)
2 Tbs. brown sugar (one in each bag)
4 c. baby carrots, sliced
2 c. onions chopped
2 c. celery chopped
2 t. minced garlic
2 large or 4 md. bay leaves
2 tsp. seasoning salt
2 c. water/broth (1 c. per meal, to be added at time of cooking)

Split between two bags.  Add 1 c. water/broth at time of cooking; cook on low 4-6 hours.  Serve as a soup, over noodles or rice, or with a big hunk of crusty bread for sopping up juices.

For a delicious, non-tomato based stew, check out my oven stew recipe!

Banana Oat Muffin

This post was inspired by a recipe from C&E.  I love some banana bread, but really, it's not the most healthy way to eat your fruit, what with all the sugar and oil.  Below, please find my adapted recipe.  And of course, enjoy!

Banana Oat Muffins
3 very ripe bananas
1 c. plain fat-free Greek yogurt
1 egg
3/4 c. honey
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/16 t. nutmeg
2 1/2 c. oats
chocolate chips, walnuts, banana slices, nutella, or other toppers/mix-ins

In a blender or liquid-tight food processor, combine all ingredients except oatmeal.  Add in oats 1/2 c. at a time pulsing to incorporate.  For "lumpier" muffins, barely combine.  For a finer texture, combine well.  Pour into greased or lined muffin tin.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-25 minutes.  Makes 12-18 muffins.