Updated every Tuesday for your culinary convenience!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Healthy Banana Bread

I LOVE this banana bread! It's moist, dense, and delicious, just like banana bread should be! And since it's made with whole wheat flour, brown sugar, and yogurt, I don't have to feel guilty if I finish off half a loaf!

So here's what you'll need:

That's a couple overripe bananas, 2 eggs, 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, 2/3 cup plain yogurt or applesauce (I use applesauce now because of Felicity's allergy), 1/3 cup canola oil (you could try substituting the applesauce here, and do a yogurt and applesauce combo!), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and about 3 tablespoons flaxseed meal. If you don't have flaxseed meal, you don't need it, but it sure is a nice healthy thing to sneak in there!

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

If you have a toddler, this is also a good time to get out another bowl, a spoon, and some inexpensive ingredients. Look at the joy on that face!

Mash up 1 1/2 cups worth of banana with a fork. If you have less than 1 1/2 cups total, add some applesauce until it makes 1 1/2 cups.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, then add the other ingredients. If you want to stir them one at a time, you can, but you can also just dump them all in together and stir them all at once, since the batter isn't terribly thick and is easy to stir thoroughly.

Line two 8-inch loaf pans with a generous amount of foil, because that's SO the way to go, and pour the batter into them.

Don't make the blonde mistake of pouring all the batter into one pan, because that makes a huge, inedible mess in your oven. At least, that's what somebody told me once. I really wouldn't know.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick yada yada yada. Pull them out of their pans to cool completely, then slice. Or, if you're doing muffins, bake them for 20 minutes.

Yum! How scrumptious is that??

I am a total butter fiend (it's the only dairy product I can have while breastfeeding Felicity), but I don't put butter on this, because it's so moist all by itself. Butter would be a redundant waste of calories.

Now get in the kitchen and start baking!

Healthy Banana Bread

1 ½ cups mashed very ripe banana
2 eggs
2 ½ cups whole wheat flour
1 ¼ cups brown sugar
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flaxseed meal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 8-inch loaf pans with foil.

Stir together all ingredients until blended. Pour into pan.

Bake 50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes, then remove from pan and place on wire rack. Let cool completely before slicing.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Indulgent Chocolate Energy Bars

Well, aren't these fabulous?

I love these bars! They're easy to make, uber-chocolaty, and they satisfy hunger better than any store-bought energy bar I've ever had! Read on to make them for yourself!

You will need:

That's 1/3 cup honey, 2/3 cup peanut butter (I've tried this with grind-your-own peanut butter and it ended up too dry and flaky, so I'm sticking with Skippy. Be sure to let me know if you come up with a healthier alternative!), 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 cup coconut flakes, 1/4 cup dry milk powder, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 1/2 cups of rice cereal (if you can find brown rice cereal, that would be better than Rice Krispies - I just can't find any), 1/3 cup chocolate chips, and 2 T flaxseeds or flaxseed meal.

Keep in mind that any of these ingredients can be substituted for anything as long as you keep consistency and proportions the same. No peanut butter? Try another nut butter. Vegan? Use molasses. Feel free to omit the milk or cocoa powder. Replace the chocolate chips with whole nuts (or raisins if you're a pervert). Do whatever you want, just be sure to choose foods with similar textures and flavors that will complement.

Start by warming the honey, then mix in the peanut butter, creating a smooth paste.

Add the other ingredients, one at a time. Generally, it's easiest to start with the finest foods, like the milk, cocoa powder, and flaxseed meal, and then work up to the more chunky foods, like the cereal and chocolate chips.

By the time you're done stirring, your arm may be feeling the burn!

Press the mixture into an 8x8 pan, or, if you double the recipe, a 9x13 works well. I like to line the pan with aluminum foil, to make it easy to remove the bars later.

Place them in the refrigerator to harden.

After a few hours, remove and slice into bars.

It's best to store these in the fridge, since they are messier at room temperature. If you want them to be portable, wrap each one on a small piece of plastic wrap.

Mmmmm! Chocolate goodies that I don't have to feel QUITE so guilty about eating up!

Chocolate Energy Bars
1/3 cup honey
2/3 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup coconut flakes (trust me)
¼ cup dry milk powder
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 ½ cups brown rice cereal
1/3 cup chocolate chips (or carob if you’re a masochist)
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
Heat the honey in the microwave to make it easier to stir, pour in a large bowl, and then stir in the peanut butter. Add each item in order, stirring after each addition. Line a 8x8 baking dish with foil or waxed paper. Put the mixture in the dish and press it down into the pan. Place in the refrigerator to harden, then cut into bars and wrap with plastic wrap to make them portable!

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Old-Fashioned Bread and Tomato Rice Soup

It would be wrong of me to try to steal the glory on a night like tonight, because I just finished serving my family a delicious meal from recipes found online.

I have a bunch of organic crushed tomatoes that will expire soon, so I googled "crushed tomatoes," and up popped this recipe. Dan declared it to be the best tomato soup he had ever eaten.

I needed something to pair with it, so I decided to attempt this bread, which RaeAnn told me about (she reads Cafe Mama, and now so do I!), and it turned out fabulous. I used whole wheat flour.

I didn't think to take a pic beforehand, but here's the aftermath.

Notice how Dan's bowl has been scraped clean?

Ariel seems to think it's finger lickin' good!

Another Makeshift Meal gets a gold star from the test panel!

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Truly Makeshift - Baked Potatoes with Chili

First of all, sorry I didn't post last week. I have no excuse - it was just a case of Mommy Brain. I realized on Thursday that I had totally forgotten.

Second of all, sorry that I forgot to take pictures tonight, because I made a truly makeshift meal that I would like to tell you all about. So I guess I'll just tell you.

Yesterday, I picked up some baked potatoes and some green bell peppers - both organic - because I figured they were versatile and I didn't know what I would be making over the next few days.

So, today, I scrubbed two of the potatoes and baked them, coated in butter and wrapped in foil, at 400 degrees for an hour and a half - nice and soft! Meanwhile, I pulled out a bag of frozen black beans (1 1/2 cups or 1 14 ounce can) and a half-a-bag of frozen pinto beans.

I chopped an organic onion (did I mention I'm going organic?) and sauted it in olive oil over medium heat in a medium-sized sauce pan. Then I chopped about 2/3 of an organic green pepper (by the way, both of these veggies I chopped smaller than normal - probably 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch squares, versus the usual 3/4 or so). I added the pepper to the pan and kept sauteing.

I peeled 4 cloves of organic garlic. But before I added them, I removed about half of the onion and pepper. It looked like too much to me, and besides, I had other ideas for it... :-D

Then I added the garlic and sauted for a minute more. When I was concerned about over-cooking, I added a little water. Meanwhile, I drained a can of stewed tomatoes, chopped them, and added them, along with my frozen beans. I added a bit more water, along with some cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. And I let it stew for a little while...

Dan got home (he had to go pick up sour cream) and asked me how it was going, so I told him to go taste-test. He informed me that there was a missing flavor. So he added some salt and pepper, and I struck upon the idea of adding a tablespoon of masa harina (Mexican flour treated with lime).

The masa harina completed the chili, and it was time to eat! We sat down to our meal, mashing the potatoes, buttering them, and ladling chili over them.

It was DELICIOUS! I was shocked to discover (this was my first time eating them) that organic russet potatoes have a FLAVOR! And a SMELL! It was a warm, buttery, delicious, cozy scent, and the flavor was actually strong enough that I could taste it through the chili. The green pepper was also delicious - I don't care for green pepper, and prefer dishes in which I can't taste it, but I ENJOYED tasting this!

The rest of the onion and pepper waits in the fridge for tomorrow's dinner - omelets! Just stick them in there with a little cheese...

See you next week for more cookin' goodness!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Vegetable Soup

Okay, so I posted this recipe at the beginning of November, before Tasty Tuesday was established, but it had no pictures. So here's a more descriptive version, WITH pictures.

Because this is my favorite soup, and I love it, and it's inexpensive, and it's healthy, and it's easy, and words don't do it justice...

You will need:

2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 large onion, 4-6 cloves of garlic, 2-3 sticks of celery, 2-3 carrots, 2-4 potatoes, 1 or 2 cans of diced tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon thyme, salt, pepper, and 5 cups of chicken broth (or 5 teaspoons of bullion and 5 cups of water).

You don't need flour. Ignore the flour.

Can you tell that this is a versatile recipe? You can basically put however much you want or have on hand of each ingredient, and feel free to add any other veggies that you want to get rid of and think might complement.

Start by chopping the onion.

And heating some olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.

Saute the onion in the pot until translucent.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic. When the onion is ready, press the garlic into the saucepan. You might want to turn the heat down a little. You don't want the garlic to brown.

Now is the time to start chopping like mad! In fact, if you aren't a crazy-fast chopper, you might want to do this step before you start cooking the onion. The garlic only needs a couple minutes.

It took me awhile before I finally figured out how to chop things like carrots and celery quickly and efficiently. The trick is to rock the knife back and forth while working it up the vegetable in a zig-zag pattern. When you rock it forward, you move up for the next slice, and when you rock it back, you push your last slice out of the way. See?

Once everything is chopped, add the fresh vegetables to the pot and saute them for a couple more minutes. This helps "lock in" flavor, so that your vegetables will taste different from one another instead of the whole soup tasting uniformly boring.

Once you've got the veggies in there, add your thyme, and some salt and pepper "to taste," whatever that means.

Dump the veggies into your crockpot. Add your diced tomatoes. I had planned on using one can, because I prefer less tomatoes, but then Dan chimed in that he likes it really tomatoey, so now we have two cans! I'm so obliging!

Really, it's scrumptious either way.

Add your broth/water-and-bullion and give the soup a good stir.

Cover and cook it for however darn long you want. If you have time to cook it on low, cook it on low for 8-10 hours. If you don't have time, cook it on high for 4-6 hours. The longer you cook it, the yummier it will be! Try to make it at least 5 hours. That way the potatoes will be nice and tender.

This one only got 4 hours, but it was still wonderful. See?

And, of course, it's fabulously healthy! And did I mention it tastes good?

Put this stuff on the table and they will dig right in! Even Ariel's getting in on the action! I recommend serving this with garlic bread. Fred Meyer makes garlic bread with whole cloves baked into it, and it is to die for. Seriously. I might die.

And here it is! Anything that gets my daughter saying, "Mo' cel-ry? Mo' cel-ry?" has my stamp of approval!

The ADDED BONUS to this recipe is that you can fiddle with the leftovers! Check this out!

Put your leftover soup in a saucepan to heat up.

Add some black beans. Probably about 1/3 of a can per bowl of soup.

Slop some cumin in there. Maybe a half teaspoon per bowl?

And sprinkle a little chili powder on it.

Stir it up, heat it up, and eat it up! It's now a mexi-flavored soup! This is WONDERFUL served with grilled cheese quesadillas. Hello, no cooking tonight!

Copy and paste below if you would like to print this recipe.

Vegetable Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion
4-6 cloves of garlic
2-3 large carrots
2-3 celery stalks
2-4 small russet potatoes
Any other vegetables you want to use up
½ teaspoon thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 cans diced tomatoes – undrained
5 cups chicken broth (or 5 cups water and 5 teaspoons bullion)

Chop all the vegetables, keeping the onion separate. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and sauté onion in oil until nearly translucent, then press the garlic and add it to the pot, sautéing another 2 minutes or so. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Add the other fresh vegetables, sautéing for just a few more minutes. During this time, add thyme, salt, and pepper.

Pour the sauted vegetables into your crockpot and add tomatoes and broth. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-6 hours. Longer means better flavor.

MIX IT UP: Put leftovers in a small saucepan to reheat over the stove. Add canned black beans, cumin, and chili powder to taste. Serve with grilled plain-cheese quesadillas. It’s like a new meal!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crispy Rosemary Chicken and Roasted Red Potatoes

This is my favorite "For Company" meal, because it always turns out delicious, looks good, and is something that even picky kids will eat. I don't make white potatoes real often because of the lack of food value, but these are definitely worth a little indulgence!

You will need:

6 red potatoes, 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, 1 thin slice of onion, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, up to 4 chicken breast halves (1 per person), 3/4 cup Grape Nuts cereal, 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves (crushed), another 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and a few tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use canola oil).

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Scrub the potatoes with a brush and remove any bad spots or sprouting eyes.

Now dice them. Here's what I do to make sure that they are a good size. If they are too big, they won't cook as well.

If the potato is on the smaller side, first I cut it in half.

Then I cut each half in half.

And each of those halves into thirds.

If the potato is on the bigger side, first I cut it into thirds.

Then I cut each of the thirds in half one way and in thirds the other way, just as I did with the small potato halves.

Put them in a 9x13 baking dish.

Does it seem too quiet to you? Better go check on the almost-two-year-old.

Hmmm... pulling all of her off-season clothes out of her closet and trying them on. Oh, well - nothing we can't clean up after we're done cooking. Back to work!

Melt the butter in a dish and cut a thin slice of onion. Sometimes I do two if the slice doesn't come out whole, or just because the onion is yummy!

Mince the onion somewhat finely...

...and add it to the butter. Add all the 1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and the paprika, too.

Mix it all together and pour it over your potatoes.

Stir to coat.

Cover the potatoes with foil and stick them in the oven. Set the timer for 35 minutes. Now start the chicken.

First, grind the Grape Nuts to a powder in a blender or food processor. I used a baby food processor because it was easier, although it didn't turn out as fine as it was when I used a blender. It still made delicious chicken, though!

Pour the Grape Nuts into a shallow bowl and stir in the remaining herbs.

Pour a little bit of oil into another shallow bowl, and dip a chicken breast into it, coating it all over.

Then coat the chicken with the Grape Nuts mixture.

Put them in a baking dish (I like to line mine with foil for easy clean-up).

When the timer goes off on your potatoes, remove them from the oven, take the foil off, and give them a good stir.

Meanwhile, turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Stick the potatoes back in, uncovered.

When the oven reaches 400 degrees, put the chicken in next to the potatoes. The chicken should be uncovered, too. bake everything for 20 - 25 minutes more, or until the chicken is cooked through.

So here's the finished product! I added some corn as a side dish - I'm sure a salad would also work well.

Check out that chicken! Doesn't it look delicious? It is positively succulent!

Mmmmm... and those potatoes! So good! Dan likes his as-is, but, when I could have dairy, I liked to dip them in a little sour cream...

Enjoy your dinner!

Want to print it? Copy and paste this to a Word document:

Crispy Rosemary Chicken

4 small chicken breast halves
¾ cup grape nuts cereal
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cereal in blender, cover, and blend on low speed until it is finely crushed. Pour cereal into a shallow dish and mix in the other seasonings. Pour oil in a small bowl, and brush it onto both sides of a chicken breast. Dip the breast into the cereal mixture, coating it evenly on both sides. Place in a greased 9x13 baking dish or a greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other 3 breasts. Bake uncovered 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Roasted Red Potatoes

6 red potatoes
4 tablespoons butter
1 thin slice of onion (1/4 inch)
½ teaspoon garlic salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Dice the red potatoes (cut in half, then cut the halves into quarters). Melt the butter in a small bowl or a 2-cup measuring cup. Mince the slice of onion into tiny pieces. Add the onion, garlic salt, pepper, and paprika to the butter and stir. Place the potatoes in a greased 9x9 baking dish and pour the butter mixture over them. Toss to coat. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil, stir, and bake uncovered for 10-20 minutes or until nicely browned on the edges.

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