Healthy Banana Muffins

As I was making my son breakfast I noticed that I had two perfectly ripe bananas. Too ripe for eating but perfect for baking, so I whipped up a quick batch of banana muffins. Yum! These are so delicious and quite healthy too with the whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour and almond meal, only a cup of sugar and wholesome bananas, eggs and yogurt. Try it for a quick breakfast with some fruit or a healthy snack.

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Healthy Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12 large muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Rich, fragrant and healthy banana muffins.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup almond meal (flour)
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (or more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I use non-fat, but use what you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, juice sweetened or unsweetened (watch out, these can have a lot of sugar added) or raisins
  • 1/4 cup nuts of choice (I used pumpkin seeds today)
  • parchment paper muffin liners

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Combine flours and next 7 ingredients (through salt) in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
  3. In a small bowl mix with a whisk the yogurt, oil, egg, banana and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the cranberries and nuts. Stir gently.
  4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, stirring just until moist. Will be pretty thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into a muffin tin lined with parchment paper muffin liners. The parchment liners don’t require any oil, they are non-stick and are an incredible find! If you don’t have these then lightly spray your muffin tins with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean.
  6. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. I usually freeze half the batch to put in a lunch box or enjoy at a later date.

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May 16, 2017

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Mixing the dry ingredients
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Mixing the wet ingredients
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All ingredients mixed together

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Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

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Pretty warm day here in the Bay Area. I decided I would make crab cakes Crab Cakes and a tomato, corn and avocado salad. This was based on what looked fresh at the grocery store today. Just a quick salad that I threw together, no actual recipe, but I tried to capture it the best I could in the recipe below. Enjoy!

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Tomato, Corn and Avocado Salad with Ricotta Salata

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Healthy and quick spring/summer salad.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters depending on size
  • 1 avocado, diced and soaked in lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (approx)
  • 2 ears of fresh corn, cooked and sliced off the cobb
  • 2 tablespoons ricotta salata cheese, very small dice
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil

Procedure

  1. Combine the tomatoes, avocado with lime juice, corn and ricotta in a medium bowl. Try to add the corn while it is still hot or warm, it warms up the rest of the salad and makes the flavor more intense. Mix well.
  2. Sprinkle with the salt, pepper and olive oil and mix well.

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May 10, 2017

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Artichoke Hummus

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So easy and so delicious! I got the recipe from Feed Me Phoebe and I have made it several times. The first couple of times I used Great Northern beans instead of Garbanzo beans and I have also used marinated artichokes instead of water-packed artichokes, but I think it is healthier with the water-packed artichokes. I have also added a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach in the past, which I would have done today, but I am out of spinach! The hummus is great any of these ways. Below is the basic recipe, pretty much unchanged from Phoebe Lapine’s recipe.

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Sublime with a Himalayan Pink Salt Lentil Chip

Artichoke Hummus

  • Servings: 6-10
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Super quick and healthy hummus with items easily found in a pantry.

Credit:  Feed Me Phoebe 

Ingredients

  • One 15 ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • One 15-ounce can artichoke hearts in water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (one lemon)
  • kosher salt
  • pinch or two of paprika
  • one or two tablespoons of water
  • splash of extra virgin olive oil

Procedure

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil in a blender or food processor and puree until fairly smooth (I like it a little bumpy still). Taste for seasoning.
  2. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with crudités and lentil chips (or the more traditional pita chips). Enjoy!

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May 9, 2017

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Mushroom Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

Wow, ten days have passed since I last posted a recipe! My daughter was home for spring break and she was bored so she decided she would do a lot of the cooking, so Helpful! But she doesn’t follow recipes or want to participate in my blogging project, so I haven’t had much to post. Thank you again Melissa Clark and New York Times Cooking for this recipe! This is a very healthy and hearty vegetarian soup that can be bulked up further with lentils, grains or sausage (no longer vegetarian then) if one desires. We decided we just wanted a warm vegetarian soup that wasn’t too heavy, so we left it as is except we added a can of chopped tomatoes and some broth to the recipe.

Mushroom Spinach Soup with Middle Eastern Spices

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Rich and Hearty vegetarian soup that has a lot of add-in options

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb mixed mushrooms such as shiitake, cremini, oyster, etc. medium dice
  • ½ lb shallots, finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped (use a little less if dried)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground allspice
  • one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup of low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • fresh lime juice, to taste (I cut one lime and served the wedges with the soup so people could squeeze in as much as they wanted at the table)
  • plain yogurt, for serving (optional)

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Spread out chopped mushrooms and shallots on a large lightly oiled sheet pan.  Sprinkle vegetables with a little salt and pepper and a little olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes and then stir. Roast for another 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have substantially shrunk and most of the liquid has evaporated. You can alternatively do this in the pot you are going to make your soup in by sautéing the vegetables.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil to just barely coat bottom of pot, after that is heated add the mushrooms and shallot mixture, tomato paste, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and allspice. If you like a little more spice, add a little more of all spices as I did. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Stir in can of tomatoes including the liquid, 4 cups of water and 1 cup of vegetable broth. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently for at least 20 minutes. I simmered for over an hour because I had the extra time. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted, 1-2 minutes.
  5. Using a blender or food processor, coarsely purée 1/2 of the soup and add back to unprocessed soup. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve in bowls with a squeeze of fresh lime, sprinkle of thyme and an optional dollop of yogurt. Enjoy!

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March 26, 2017

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Simmering soup before spinach was added.
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Finished soup (I forgot to add the spinach).

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MUSHROOM (AND BEEF) BOLOGNESE

The only one who usually eats pasta in this house is my son, and frankly he can eat enough of it for all of us if I let him! We call him a “pastaterian.”  I came across a Food and Wine recipe entitled Spaghetti with Mushroom Bolognese that I based this recipe on.  I changed several things, most importantly I added ground beef and a little chicken breast sausage to 3/4 of the the recipe to satisfy my son who was craving a meaty Bolognese sauce but still left lots of vegetables in to make it healthier than a traditional almost all beef sauce. I also left 1/4 of it vegetarian to satisfy my daughter. The original recipe also called for eggplant but since I added meat I left out the eggplant.  Overall we all really liked how both the meat and the vegetarian versions tasted.  I noted where you can add the meat or leave it out depending on your preferences.   Note:  The quantities may look large in the pictures because I doubled the recipe so I can serve it again for a kid party in a couple of days. 

Mushroom (and Beef) Bolognese

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
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Vegetarian Bolognese Sauce that can also have lean ground beef and mild chicken breast sausage added to it for a more traditional but vegetable-laden bolognese sauce

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • extra virgin olive oil or oil of choice
  • one small onion, small dice
  • 2 carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 3/4 lb lean grass-fed ground beef –IF it will not be vegetarian.
  • 1/4  lb mild ground chicken breast sausage —Note: This may be hard to find, at Whole Foods they made this up for me, just ask you butcher, or just use plain ground chicken breast or pre-made chicken sausage or lean ground beef. I think spicy chicken sausage would be really good except for my spice phobe… so I used the mild sausage.–IF it will not be vegetarian.
  • 1 lb cremini mushrooms, small dice
  • ½ lb shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps diced
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon mild white miso (this is surprising but turned out to be worthwhile)
  • one 2-inch chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus grated cheese for serving
  • one 14.5 oz can crushed peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
  • one 14.5 oz can chopped peeled tomatoes (organic or no salt added if possible)
  • 3 thyme sprigs (or 1 tablespoon of dried thyme)
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano (I probably add more, but I don’t measure)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (or honey, to cut the tomato acidity)
  • 1 package of fresh tagliatelle pasta (or pasta of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil (I think fresh is important here, dried basil really doesn’t taste the same, but do what you can)

Procedure

  1. In a small bowl, cover the porcini mushrooms with 1 cup of boiling water; soak until softened, about 30 minutes. Finely chop the porcini mushrooms, discarding any tough bits. Drain mushrooms, reserving 1/2 cup of the soaking liquid. Chop the mushrooms finely.
  2. In a large pot (I like to use an enameled cast-iron casserole, it cleans up easily) heat 1–2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook over moderate heat for about 5 minutes. Add additional oil if needed and then add the ground beef if using, chicken sausage if using, cremini, shiitake and chopped porcini mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and miso and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chunk of cheese, tomatoes and their juices, thyme, oregano, sugar and reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and bring to a simmer.
  3. Halfway cover the pot and cook over low heat so it simmers gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is very thick, about 1–1.5 hours. Discard the thyme and oregano sprigs (if using fresh herbs); season the sauce with salt and pepper and more oregano and thyme if needed.
  4. In a pot of boiling water (salt optional), cook the pasta until al dente. Drain
  5. Add the pasta and chopped basil to the sauce; toss to coat. Serve in bowls, topped with grated cheese.

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March 16, 2017

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Onions, carrot and garlic
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onions, carrot, garlic and mushrooms

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ground beef and chicken sausage

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Finished product! yum!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto

What a wonderfully warming and hearty Winter dish, that truly exceeded my expectations (and I think my husband’s as well)! I haven’t attempted risotto in years, but I came across a roasted butternut squash risotto recipe and decided that it would be a fun project to make today. Be warned, this takes time, but not the traditional standing over the pot and stirring for hours kind of time. For much of the time the dish was minding itself in the oven baking, which is not too bad for risotto! I based this off of a recipe by Cookie and Kate, but I made a few changes: I added a little more water, I added shiitake and cremini mushrooms in the risotto, added crispy mushrooms as a garnish and I skipped the butter. I also roasted the squash whole before cutting it because I really dislike cutting into hard squash – so worried about cutting off a limb! Risotto with only a cup of cheese and no butter, as well as brown rice for added nutrition! Pretty healthy and still so creamy and comforting.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom Brown Rice Risotto

  • Servings: 4 mains or 6 sides
  • Difficulty: medium
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Healthy and savory vegetarian risotto that bakes in the oven.

Credit: Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto by Cookie and Kate

Ingredients

Risotto

  • 1 small butternut squash
  • small yellow onion or sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 5 large cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (plus 2 more below for the garnish)
  • olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth, divided
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 cup of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon thyme

Crispy Mushrooms and Crispy Sage

  • 2 cremini mushrooms, paper thin slices (if you are short on time skip this, it will still be delicious)
  • 20 sage leaves
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place washed whole butternut squash on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, or until skin starts to brown and shrivel. Turn once or twice while baking. Let cool until you can touch it long enough to peel it.
  3. While squash is baking, heat a large dutch oven or pot on medium heat with some olive oil. Add chopped onions and cook for about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften. Add sliced mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes or until mushrooms begin to shrink and soften. Add some salt and pepper while cooking. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add 3 cups of broth and 1 cup of water to the onion mix, cover, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the rice. Cover the pot and bake in the 375 degree oven for 60 minutes. It may seem pretty dry when you remove the lid but don’t worry you will add more liquid soon!
  5. While the risotto is baking peel the cooked squash, scoop out the seeds and cut into a small dice. Place the diced squash on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes or until the squash begins to brown around the sides. Remove the squash from the oven and set aside.
  6. To make the crispy mushrooms and sage place the paper thin slices of mushroom and the sage leaves on a baking sheet sprinkled with olive oil and a little salt. Bake the sage for 5 minutes or less, you just want them a little crumbly.  Bake the paper thin mushrooms for around 30 minutes, turning once, until they become crispy but not burned. Check them often. When crispy remove from oven and set aside.
  7. Remove the risotto from the oven after one hour and place on the stovetop over medium heat. Pour in the wine and stir for 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1 cup of broth, thyme  and parmesan and stir vigorously for 3 minutes. Add more water if needed. You can keep it on low heat at this point if not ready to serve, adding water periodically to keep it from drying out and to keep the consistency creamy.
  8. Serve in shallow bowls with a pinch of cheese, crispy mushrooms and sage. Tastes great with a dry chablis.

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February 22, 2017

 

 

 

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Creamy and rich risotto in the pot!
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Garnished and ready to eat.

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Kale Chips

img_3421What to Make for Dinner…

Note: This is actually an older post from my original Medium Blog site.

My daughter has gone back to boarding school and my husband has a work dinner, so tonight I am cooking for just my son and myself. I wandered up and down the aisles of Whole Foods for a while drawing a blank. I almost never go to the store without a list or at least a plan in my head for what I need. Today was different for some reason, I was just completely drawing a blank! After running into a friend who suggested I grab something in the meat department that is half-way prepared since there are only two of us (great idea!) I settled on a lemon-herb marinated piece of salmon (the hubby is not really a fish fan so this is a good thing to eat without him) and some really big and beautiful looking organic Lacinato Kale (a.k.a. Dinosaur or Tuscan Kale). I decided I will also make some plain jasmine rice in my rice maker, to make things easy.

Below is the recipe for kale chips that I made out of the kale. They are a really yummy way to eat kale and my kids love them (but another thing my husband doesn’t care for). They are crunchy, a bit salty (depending on how salty you like them) and tangy from the vinegar. Yum, flavor explosion! Sometimes they are almost gone before the rest of dinner is made (but I have no idea where they go?).

Kale Chips

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: medium
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Such an incredible crunchy way to eat kale. Delicious and healthy alternative to a potato chip when you are craving some crunch and savory flavors.

Ingredients

  • 1 large bunch of Lacianto Kale (aka Dinosaur Kale or Tuscan Kale)
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced (Recently I have been leaving this out)
  • Kosher salt or sea salt to taste

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Wash kale thoroughly and pat dry. Remove the center ribs so you just have the dark green leafy part. Slice the kale leaves in half.
  3. Place sliced kale leaves in a large bowl. Add enough olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice to coat the leaves. Add the salt and using your hands massage the ingredients into the leaves so they are all covered.
  4. Spread the coated kale leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes to start. I often use a silicon baking mat (Silpat) to bake these on.
  5. After 7 minutes check to see if any leaves have become crispy (but still GREEN), if so remove them from the baking sheet and put in a serving bowl. Turn over the leaves that are still wet (most will still be wet) and return them to the oven and cook for a few more minutes.
  6. Every 3 minutes (or so) re-check for crispy pieces, removing them from the baking sheet and putting the rest back into the oven. This may seem tedious, but the kale can burn quickly and then it is ruined (even slightly brown kale tastes burnt), it took me a few tries before I understood I needed to keep the heat LOW and check on the kale constantly so I don’t burn any of it. When it is all crispy you are finished!
  7. May be served warm from the oven or at room temperature, but don’t make it too far ahead of time as it may lose its crispiness over time.

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February 9, 2017

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Remove the hard ribs.
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Ready to start baking.
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Baked to perfection!
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Close-up of a perfectly crispy piece of kale. Mmmm!
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I originally made this in the late summer when tomatoes were at their peak.
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The pre-seasoned salmon from Whole Foods. Can’t always make everything from scratch.

Hot and Sour Soup with Vegetables

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Cooking the onions, garlic, ginger, scallions and mushrooms.

Tonight is the last night that my daughter is home for her winter break and she suggested we make Hot and Sour Soup. What a great idea! I love soup and I think if you add a little protein and extra vegetables it makes such a nice one-pot meal, although tonight I decided I can’t even try to feed this to my spice-phobe son, so I also marinated a little chicken and steak in garlic, ginger, soy sauce and mirin and then stir-fried it and served it on the side along with some roasted broccoli that I tossed with a little olive oil, white wine vinegar and salt and pepper. It all was sooooo warm and yummy!  The soup is basically the recipe from Feedmephoebe.com, with some extra vegetables and I didn’t make it vegan, so thank you Phoebe Lapine for an excellent recipe!

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: fairly easy
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Better and healthier than take-out hot and sour soup with added vegetables based on Mushroom Hot and Sour Soup from FeedMePhoebe.com.

Credit: Feed Me Phoebe  

Ingredients

  •  olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated (about a 2 inch piece grated)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced and white and green parts separated
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 baby bok choy, sliced
  • 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or stock
  • 1/2 cup firm tofu, drained and cubed (or chicken, shrimp, etc)
  • 2 teaspoons sambal olek
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons of warm water
  • 2 egg whites, gently beaten

Procedure

  1. Heat a little olive oil in a medium to large stockpot or dutch oven.  Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger and white part of the scallions for 5 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently.Add a little salt and freshly ground black pepper if desired while sautéing.
  2. Add mushrooms and cook for another few minutes or until the mushrooms has become soft and released a lot of their liquid.
  3. Add the Sambal Olek and stir. Cook another minute.
  4. Add the soy sauce and vinegar to the mixture, stir and scrape up any browned bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Add the broth, bok choy and tofu, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and gently simmer for ten minutes.
  5. While the soup is simmering, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. set aside.
  6. Add the cornstarch to the soup and simmer for ten more minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.
  7. Remove the soup from the heat. Add the egg whites to the soup by slowly pouring them into the soup and at the same time carefully stirring the soup in large zigzags to form ribbons of egg whites in the soup. Gently stir in the green onions and serve in bowls.

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January 2017

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Cooking the soup. So many vegetables!
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The finished soup

Tamale Cooking Project

We were in the mountains and were looking for something to do instead of skiing so we decided to make tamales and gingerbread cookies. Oh my, this was a bit too much to take on in one day, but we did it and dirtied every dish in the house in the process! My daughter made the gingerbread cookies, so I will try to get the recipe from her and share that later. Together we made the tamales. We decided we would try to please everyone, so we made four different fillings: Vegetables and black beans, Braised chicken with cheese, Braised chicken without cheese, and Beef and cheese (we had leftover beef from tacos the night before). This is only the second time that we have made tamales, the first being some years ago, so we are not very experienced at this but I decided to post it so I can share it with others and give people the courage to try this, and so I can re-visit the recipe in the future in order to make it again and improve the recipe over time. The recipe may be a little vague as I winged a lot of it. I think I would not braise the chicken if I made this again, instead I would bake it or sauté it in a fry pan with the vegetables. I think that would add a lot of flavor. The ground beef I used for a few Aidan-friendly tamales was leftover from last night’s ground beef taco dinner, so that was the easy part.

 

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Some of the tamales before cooking them

Chicken and Vegetable Tamales

  • Servings: made about 20 tamales
  • Difficulty: difficult
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Healthy Chicken and Vegetable Tamales and Vegetarian Tamales for a fun afternoon cooking project.

Tamale dough recipe from  Mexico in My Kitchen

Ingredients

Tamale Dough (makes 16-20 tamales)

  • 2 1/2 cups of masa harina (corn flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of canola oil
  • 1 3/4 cup of warm low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

Vegetable Filling (for about 6 tamales)

  • 1 cup of sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 2 large mushrooms, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of refried black beans

Chicken and vegetable Filling (for about 12 tamales)

  • 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 large mushrooms, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 Poblano peppers
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (may be better with jack cheese?)
    • Note: may need more cheese if you are putting it in all of your tamales, we just put it in half of them.

Corn Husks – have at least 24 on hand as some may be small or torn

Tomatillo Sauce – this is very approximate

  • 1 pound of tomatillos, quartered
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, diced
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

Procedure

  1. Soak the corn husks in hot water for at least 30 minutes and then drain.
  2. Chicken and vegetable filling:
    1. In a medium sized pot add the chicken breast meat and the next 11 ingredients (through bay leaves). Bring to a boil and then partially cover and simmer 30 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
    2. While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, broil the Anaheim and Poblano peppers until the skin is blackened. Turn so all sides are blackened then let cool in a paper bag or foil. When cool peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Chop roughly.
    3. Let the chicken cool slightly in the liquid.
    4. Remove the chicken and vegetables, shred the chicken and mix with the vegetables in a large bowl. Add the broiled peppers and shredded cheese if using. Set aside.
    5. Drain the remaining broth through cheese cloth and reserve the broth for another use or use it in your dough recipe.
    6. NOTE:  I think this was pretty good, but next time for more flavor I would try sautéing all the vegetables together and then separating out 3/4 of the vegetables for the vegetarian filling and using 1/4 of them with the chicken. I would probably just bake the chicken and then dice it up.
  3. Vegetable filling:
    1. Heat a large pan on medium-high heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and coat the bottom of the pot. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper, mushroom, zucchini, jalapeño, spices and salt and pepper and sauté for 8 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and cook for 2 more minutes.
    2. Put the cooked vegetables in a bowl and stir in the black beans (and cheese if using) and then set aside.
  4. Tomatillo Sauce:
    1. Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
    2. Pour cooked ingredients into a blender and blend until sauce is slightly chunky but thoroughly mixed. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.
  5. Dough:
    1. In a large bowl mix the masa harina, baking powder and salt with a whisk.
    2. Add the canola oil and mix with a spoon or spatula.
    3. Add the warm chicken broth and continue to mix. You may need to add a few tablespoons more of the broth to get the right consistency. You want the dough to be creamy like soft ice cream. Set aside.
  6. Assembling the tamales and cooking them:
    1. Using your pre-soaked but dry corn husks, lay one husk out with the pointy end pointing at you. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the dough in the top middle of the husk forming a large oval.
    2. Add about 2 tablespoons of your filling on top of the dough, leaving some margin of plain dough on the perimeter.
    3. Fold one side of the husk to the center, fold the other side to the center overlapping the husk, then fold the bottom pointy end towards the center. Place on a plate while you assemble the rest.
    4. NOTE:  We kept the different types of tamales on different plates and then put different food coloring dots on them to color code them so after steaming we knew what each one had in it.
    5. After filling all of the tamales, prepare your steamer. Fill your pot to just under the steamer insert and heat to boiling. Put all of your tamales in the steamer standing up, with the closed side pointing down and the open side pointing up. Put a layer of extra corn husks on top and cover tightly with a lid. Cook on medium heat for 75 minutes, checking periodically to add water if needed (you don’t want the pot to run dry).
    6. To make sure your tamales are finished cooking you should be able to easily remove the husk from the dough and the dough should feel firm.
    7. Serve with the tomatillo sauce. Peel open the husk and enjoy!

https://healthyseasonalcooking.wordpress.com

December 22, 2016

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Chopping the vegetarian tamale ingredients
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The onions and garlic in the pot for the chicken and vegetable tamales. I should have diced the onions and minced the garlic, so that is now how the recipe reads.
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The finished chicken and vegetable mixture. 
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Roasted peppers
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Tamale dough. Not quite creamy enough yet.
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Tomatillo Sauce cooking. We blended it first and then cooked, but I think that was a mistake so I am now recommending cooking first and blending second.
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Spreading the dough on the corn husk. A larger disk of dough would be better. There was a learning curve!
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We found that spreading the dough with a spatula worked the best. 
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Our cooked and color-coded tamales. The food coloring was a bit messy.  The pumpkin-gingerbread cookies are also on display. Yum!
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Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale out of the corn husk.
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Chicken, vegetable and cheese tamale with some tomatillo sauce. 

 

Stuffed Baby Eggplant Parmesan

I went to the Farmer’s Market yesterday and I found some baby eggplants. So cute! I have never seen baby eggplants before so I decided I would buy some. My son was shopping with me (this is a rarity! He was really only there because he is a boy scout and had to sell wreaths at the market). Anyway, he suggested we stuff them. Wow, what a good idea, but with what??? Later I decided why not make it like eggplant parmesan, but stuffed. I think they came out pretty tasty on the inside, but I am not sure how to improve on the skin, it was sort-of chewy. I guess eating the skin can be optional.

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Stuffed Baby Eggplant Parmesan

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

New twist on eggplant parmesan, but healthier and cuter. No frying involved, just a lot of super-healthy baked vegetables and it works well as either an appetizer or a side dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 baby eggplants (or one to two large eggplants)
  • 2 large Cremini mushrooms, finely diced
  • About 1 cup of fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup of chunky tomato sauce (I had some of my Basic Tomato Sauce in the freezer)
    • NOTE: Use a very chunky tomato sauce with onions and garlic, since the recipe is relying on these being in the sauce and I didn’t include adding extra onions and garlic into the vegetable mixture. If you don’t have them in the sauce then add a 1/4 cup of chopped onions and 1 minced garlic clove to the vegetable mixture.
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided
  • 1/4 cup of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, chiffonade cut (thin strips)
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh parsley, roughly chopped (optional garnish)

Procedure

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside flesh with a knife, leaving approximately 1/4 inch of flesh in the eggplant so it can serve as a cup for the vegetables. Chop the removed flesh into a small dice and put into a medium bowl.
  3. Roast the eggplant shells in the oven for 15 minutes, or until softened.
    1. Note:  Some people say salt the eggplant for an hour before roasting to make it less bitter but I think that the baby eggplants are not bitter and I have also read that salting is a waste of time, eggplants have been bred to not have that bitterness, so I skip that.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms and spinach to the bowl. Add some salt and pepper the the vegetables. Microwave the vegetables for one to two minutes, until softened.
    1. NOTE: You could also sauté them with some olive oil for a few minutes on the cooktop, I just wanted to save time and calories today. 
  5. Add the tomato sauce and half of the mozzarella and parmesan. Mix thoroughly.
  6.  Fill the eggplants with the vegetable mixture, top with remaining cheese and bake for 12 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned.
  7. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the basil and parsley. Enjoy!

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December 4, 2016

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The chopped eggplant, mushrooms and spinach before cooking.
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Homemade chunky tomato sauce that I had in my freezer.
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The cooked vegetables mixed with the tomato sauce and cheese
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Eggplants ready to cook
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Coming out of the oven
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Finished eggplant, served as an appetizer