Friday, May 21, 2010

BRANana Bread & Zucchini Pecan Flaxseed Bread

Sunday, May 16, 2010
Been on a kick baking bread.  We needed some food for a road trip so I made these and froze them.  It made for wonderful breakfast and snack food!  They are both fantastic and will definitely be made again.  The best part is that they are both relatively healthy (in moderation, as all things are).

BRANana Bread
3/4 c white flour
3/4 c wheat flour
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/3 c granulated sugar
1/4 c ground flaxseed or flaxmeal
1 tsp each baking soda and baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 c mashed ripe bananas (about 3 regular sized)
3/4 c yogurt
2 eggs
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts
1/3 c dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan lightly with cooking spray and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, wheat bran, sugar, ground flax, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together bananas, yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until moistened. Fold in nuts and chocolate chips, being careful not to overmix the batter.  Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until wooden skewer inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove loaf from pan and cool completely on rack. Slice and serve or wrap tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Yield: Makes 1 large loaf, 16 slices. Tip: The bananas must be very, very ripe (sweet!) for this banana bread as there’s very little added sugar. Freeze your bananas as they become over ripe and you will always be ready to throw together a banana loaf!
* Recipe from Taste of Home February/March 2010

Zucchini-Pecan Flaxseed Bread
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 cups shredded zucchini (about 2 medium zucchini)
1 cup vanilla low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup egg substitute
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Cooking spray
3 tablespoons chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, granulated sugar, and next 7 ingredients (through nutmeg) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Spread zucchini onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Press down firmly to remove excess liquid. Combine yogurt, egg substitute, oil, and vanilla in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in zucchini. Add zucchini mixture and 1/4 cup pecans to flour mixture, stirring until well combined. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle batter with 3 tablespoons pecans. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; place on wire rack.
* Recipe from Cooking Light

Italian Grillout

Saturday, May 15, 2010
We brought together some friends to share one of the things we miss so dearly from Italy - their grillouts.  Although we couldn't entirely recreate that experience, we shared some wonderful food and great conversation with friends. 

Everything was delicious.  I'm still on the hunt for Salsiccia (Italian Sausage) with no fennel.  The salsiccia that we ate in Northern Italy didn't have any and I'm not fond of sausage with fennel.  I found some that didn't have fennel listed, but it turned out it was still in there.  The sausage was still tasty, but after 4+ years of searching I'm still hoping to have true salsiccia that I can grill at home.

The rhubarb pie and carmelita bars were fantastic - even had people asking for the recipes.  They were both successful experiments!  The whole wheat crust is one we've been using for a few years - I'm not even sure where we found it.  It is delicious with anything.

Grilled Salsiccia
Klements Italian Sausage (I believe they were a new line that has no Nitrates and other additives)
We butterflied them (split down the middle) and put them on the grill, just as our Italian friends did!

Grilled Hot Dogs (for the kids)
Oscar Mayer Naturals

Grilled Marinated Chicken
Tossed with: Red Wine Vinegar, soy sauce, garlic salt, maple syrup, salt and pepper to taste

Grilled Marinated Veggies
2 pkgs baby bella mushrooms
colorful assortment of bell peppers
Italian oil-based dressing (we used Paul Newman's Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing)

Baked Polenta "Chips"
3 cups water
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese
Sale Roma (an Italian spice)
Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Slowly pour in a continuous stream of cornmeal, stirring constantly. Add the salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Shut off the heat and stir in cheese and seasoning. Working quickly, grease 13x9x2 with olive oil and pour in cornmeal mixture, spreading it out over the whole surface (the thinner you spread it the crispier it will get). Let the polenta set and cool for at least 1 hour. When the polenta has cooled completely, cut into squares. Oil both sides and arrange them on a baking sheet, leaving space around each one so that the edges can crisp. Broil on the top rack in the oven for 15 minutes, or until browned.
Whole Wheat Pie Crust
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. vegetable shortening
3 tbsp. water
Mix all ingredients together with a fork. Roll out and put in pie pan. [If using crust in unbaked pie - preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick bottom and sides and bake 10-15 minutes.]

Rhubarb Strawberry Crumb Pie
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tsp cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 pint fresh strawberries, halved
1 (9 inch) unbaked pie shell *see above
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup quick-cooking or rolled oats
6 Tbsp cold butter
In a large mixing bowl, beat egg. Add the sugar, flour and vanilla; mix well. Gently fold in rhubarb and strawberries. Pour into pastry shell. For topping, combine flour, brown sugar and oats in a small bowl; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over fruit. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack.
* Recipe from by Paula Phillips 
Oatmeal Carmelita Bars
2 c. flour (used half white/half wheat)
2 c. oatmeal
1 1/2 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter, softened (used Earth Balance)
1 (12 oz.) jar caramel ice cream topping (used dulce de leche sauce)
3 tbsp. flour (used wheat)
1 cup(6 oz.) chocolate chips (used dark chocolate chips)
1/2 c chopped pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13x9x2 inch pan. Blend 2 cups flour, 2 cups oatmeal, 1.5 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 cup butter at low speed until crumbly. Press half (about 3 cups) into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Combine caramel and flour, set aside. Sprinkle warm crust with chocolate chips. Drizzle caramel mixture over top; sprinkle evenly with reserved crumbs. Bake 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours until filling sets. Cut into bars.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Black Eyed Peas and Vegetables

Friday, May 14, 2010
We love trying out new bean focused dishes and this was certainly a success.  My sister and her family joined us - she and her daughter are gluten intolerant - so I served this with a honey wheat bread and they brought gluten free crackers/bread.  I should have made twice the recipe, though, because this was gone in no time at all. 

Black Eyed Peas and Vegetables
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of chili powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 small package frozen or fresh spinach
15 oz. can of black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 small package frozen corn
15 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
Put olive oil in frying pan and add dry spices, onion and garlic. Continue to stir until onions are soft and spices are fragrant. Add black eyed peas. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add spinach, tomatoes, and frozen corn. Cook another 10 minutes so the flavors will blend and the frozen vegetables are hot.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ligurian Fish Stew with Crostini

Wednesday, May 12, 2010
I was checking out another recipe when I stumbled upon this one.  And what a lucky stumble it was!  This is fantastic!  I only used half of the red pepper flakes as suggested in many of the comments.  I don't think it would have been too spicy with all of them, but it was great with only half. 

Ligurian Fish Stew with Crostini
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Kosher salt
3/4 cup white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 (28-ounce) can crushed or pureed Italian tomatoes (recommended: San Marzano)
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus extra for garnish
1 1/2 pounds whitefish fillets, halibut, cod or arctic char, skinned and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 (1-pound) loaf ciabatta or rustic bread, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch thick slices
Olive oil, for drizzling, plus 3 tablespoons
1 garlic clove, halved
In a 6-quart, heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven, heat 1/3 cup of oil over medium-high heat. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic. Season with salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Turn the heat to high. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cover and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 18 to 20 minutes. Season the fish with salt and add to the stew. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 5 to 8 minutes. Season the stew with salt, if needed. For the Crostini: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the bread slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake until light golden, about 12 minutes. Cool for 2 minutes. Rub the warm toasts with the cut side of the garlic. Ladle the stew into serving bowls and garnish with parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on top. Serve with the crostini.
* Recipe from by Giada De Laurentiis

Quick Tacos & Homemade "Spaghetti-O's"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010
These were NOT served together.  The "Spaghetti-O's" were for lunch with Greysen's friends.  While feeding my infant sweet potatoes I kept thinking how much they smelled like good old spaghetti-o's.  So I attempted my own healthy version and I thought it tasted just like the real thing!  The tacos were for supper.  Both were very good and well-received by all ages.  It was also a very easy day in the kitchen!

Homemade "Spaghetti-O's"
1/2 bag pasta shaped like ABC's (4 servings)
2 jars (or 2 cubes homemade) sweet potato #2 baby food
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp olive oil
Cook pasta to directions, add sweet potatoes, tomato paste and olive.  Stir in and let warm.

Quick Tacos
whole wheat tortillas
15 oz can black beans for tacos (seasoned)
shredded mozzarella for tacos
pico de gallo
spinach (or lettuce)
On plate, put tortilla, helping of cheese and beans and warm in microwave.  Then add pico de gallo and spinach.  YUM!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pumpkin Penne & Mom's Dressing

Monday, April 10, 2010
We had leftover dressing from my mom's house this past weekend, but nothing to go with it.  I had pulled this recipe a while back and thought it sounded interesting - Pumpkin Penne.  It was a good combination of flavors.  The only problem was that my son (who doesn't like cake and pie) did not like this pasta dish! 

Pumpkin Penne
1 - 12oz. box whole-wheat penne
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1.5 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk
1 - 15oz. can pumpkin
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Fresh parsley, chopped
1.5 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pot, covering to keep warm. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat oil on medium.  Add shallots; cook and sitr until tender, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in broth, evaporated milk, pumpkin, spice, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low.  Simmer, uncovered, for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Toss pasta with sauce. Spoon into bowls and top with parsley and cheese.  Makes 6 cups. 
* Recipe from Parents November 2009 magazine

Monday, May 3, 2010

Maple Salmon with Oscar Pasta and Carrot Fries

Monday, May 3, 2010
We wanted to try a new salmon glaze and needed to find things that complemented a maple glaze.  Oscar Pasta (with nutmeg) and Carrot Fries (with cinnamon) helped to create the perfect meal.  The flavors were wonderful - a healthy meal that tasted like dessert!

Maple Salmon
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound salmon
In a small bowl, mix the maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, garlic salt, and pepper. Place salmon in a shallow glass baking dish, and coat with the maple syrup mixture. Cover the dish, and marinate salmon in the refrigerator 30 minutes, turning once. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the baking dish in the preheated oven, and bake salmon uncovered 20 minutes, or until easily flaked with a fork.
* Recipe from by Starflower
Oscar Pasta
Any kind of pasta - Greysen prefers penne or rotini
a big container of fresh spinach
dash of nutmeg
salt to taste
butter and or milk
(I sometimes also stir in diced or minced carrots)
Cook pasta to directions. Steam spinach in a pot with a tiny bit of water. Put fully cooked spinach in blender or magic bullet, add a dash or two of nutmeg, a dash or two of salt and a good chunk of butter (or natural oil butter). Can add a little bit of milk to make creamier (and easier to reheat). Blend. Pour spinach sauce over pasta. Stir and eat.
* Recipe that we created

Carrot Fries
Serves 4
8 small or 4 large carrots
2 Tbsp butter or oil
1/4 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Peel carrots, cut in half the short way, halve or quarter to make relatively even sticks.  Melt butter, stir in sugar and cinnamon. Toss carrots in butter mix.  Place on jelly roll.  Bake at 450F for 12-18 minutes.  Check and flip at about six minutes.
* Recipe memories of a recipe in a Sesame Street cookbook I saw at Menards.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Risotto with Chicken Tenders and Asparagus

Sunday, May 2, 2010
We tried a simple, yet delicious recipe that is perfect for kids!  Yesterday Greysen at brussel sprouts like candy and today he did the same with asparagus - unbelieveable!  The tenders were yummy (on food networks website there is also a dipping sauce which we didn't use so I didn't include here).   I cheated on the risotto today and used a boxed organic Italian blend risotto that we had in the cupboard.  A great, healthy meal!

Crunchy Parmesan Chicken Tenders
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 18)
1 1/4 cups freshly grated Parmesan
3/4 cup Italian-style seasoned bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Brush 1 tablespoon of oil over each of 2 heavy large lined baking sheets. Place the buttermilk in a large bowl. Add the chicken tenders and stir to coat. Let stand at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes. Stir the Parmesan and bread crumbs in a pie dish. Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and dredge them in the bread crumb mixture to coat completely, pressing to adhere. Arrange the coated chicken tenders on the prepared baking sheets, spacing evenly. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of oil over the chicken tenders and bake (flip with tongs at about 6 minutes) until they are cooked through and golden brown, about 12 minutes.
* Recipe from by Giada de Laurentiis

Baked Asparagus
Arrange asparagus spears, tough ends removed (which we didn't have to do because we had fresh snapped asparagus from the farmer's market), on cookie sheet, sprayed with Pam, not touching each other.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspon Kosher salt and brush with olive oil.  Bake 12 minutes at 400 degrees.  We then sprinkled with Tuscan Sunset from Penzeys Spices. 

Burgers and Brussel Sprouts

Saturday, May 1, 2010
The perfect meal for a beautiful day!  We grilled the burgers and put them on EarthGrains whole wheat thin buns.  Enjoyed the burgers and brussel sprouts with fresh cheese curds that we picked up at the farmer's market this morning.

Allen's Best Burgers
1 lb lean burger
He puts a little of each of the following in our Magic Bullet: olive oil, dash of worchestershire sauce, oregano, basil, rosemary, salt & pepper, Lawry's salt (and a special new ingredient - a quarter of an onion, finely diced in our Magic Bullet).  Mixed it with the burger and made patties. 

Carmelized Brussels Sprouts
Cut in half with a little olive oil in a frying pan until they brown. We seasoned them with Sale Roma or a Roman Salt (or a type of Italian seasoning).

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Perfect for a cooler spring evening.  Maybe I put more cayenne in than before, but WHOO was it spicy!  But our spice-loving 2-year-old devoured a bowl and asked for more! 

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
3 cans black beans
2 yellow or green bell peppers
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
5 to 6 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon lime juice
two 4 oz. canned diced green chiles (or 1-2 medium-sized minced Anaheim or poblano chiles)
2 teaspoons dried basil (or 1 tablespoon fresh basil)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato puree
Heat oil in skillet. Add garlic and all other seasonings, lime juice, bell peppers, and chiles. Sauté over medium heat until peppers and chiles are tender (about 15 minutes). Add sauté to beans and tomato puree. Simmer covered over low heat for about 20 min., stirring occasionally. Serve with dollop of light sour cream, sprinkle of cheese, or without any toppings. We served with taco chips.
*Recipe from