Thursday, November 29, 2012

Apple Cider Pancakes with Cider Glaze

So, I went to Vegas a few weeks ago and, of course, the first thing I do is look for all the foodie things to do!  One of my favorite stops was at Trader Joe's.  Any time anyone I know is traveling where there's a Trader Joe's, I make sure to have them stop for me.  Their pound plus chocolate bars are to die for!!!  I know they're great for melting and baking, but heck, they're fab for just eating too.

Anyway, while we were at TJ's they were handing out samples of their apple cider so my girls and I decided to try it.  I don't like juice in general, I just stick to water mainly, but I was pleasantly surprised.  I really, really liked it!!  I only bought one jug of it, should have bought more, but it came home with us and this is what the last of it turned into. 

I couldn't stay away from pancakes if my life depended on it.  They are so yummy and so versitile!  These days I try to stick with mostly whole wheat flour, little to no sugar and VERY little syrup. Even with that, these were absolutely delicious! 

Our Trader Joe's is opening up here this weekend and you better believe I'll be there.  You know what's going to be on my list!

Apple Cider Pancakes with Cider Glaze
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup apple cider
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. oil or butter (I used coconut oil, melted)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 honey crips apples, peeled and shredded
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
pinch cloves

In a mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, cider, eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and mix just to combine.  Fold in shredded apple.  Let batter sit while griddle heats up. 

Pour batter by 1/4 cup onto preheated griddle.  Cook until bubbles start to form and edges look dry; about 2-3 minutes.  Flip and cook on other side until light golden; about another 1-2 minutes.  Serve warm with cider glaze or topping of choice.

Cider Glaze
4 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2-3/4 cup powdered sugar

Whisk glaze ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth. Serve immediately. 

*You can also use browned butter in place of regular melted butter.  To brown butter, gradually melt butter on medium-high heat.  Continue cooking until butter starts to get brown in color and smell nutty, swirling occasionally.  Allow to cool.

SOURCE: Adapted from Baking Serendipity

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce

I know Thanksgiving is already over, but it's still the season to eat all things fall and Thanksgiving-ish if you ask me.  Cranberry sauce is such a great accompaniment to many dishes and it's so incredibly simple to make.  It practically makes itself!

I actually made this sauce to go with some turkey enchiladas we were having.  Let me tell you, this is much better than the stuff in the can. I love the hint of orange you get with the zest and freshly squeezed juice.  If you're not a fan of cran-orange things though, you can just use all water and leave out the zest.

If you're making something sweet the sauce, it would be delicious dolled up with some warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.  On the other hand, if you're using it for a savor dish, try adding some jalapeno or chipotle to it!

Fresh Orange Cranberry Sauce
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
juice and zest of 1 orange
4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen

Put everything in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Sauce will thicken upon cooling.  Serve warm or chilled.

SOURCE: Two Peas and their Pod

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November Menu 2012 (Week 4)

Wow, I can't believe Thanksgiving has come and gone and it's already the last week in November.  Are you still eating leftovers? I've still got a few leftovers but that won't last much longer.  Mmm, that's my favorite part about the Thanksgiving meal. 

So, I recently picked up a box of FRESH Idaho potatoes and I NEED ideas.  We don't eat a whole lot of potatoes, but you can't beat fresh ones.  So, leave a comment if you have a favorite recipe. 

November Menu 2012 (Week 4)
Turkey Cranchiladas
Fajita Sweet Potatoes
Apple, Walnut and Feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Turkey Noodle Soup


Butternut Squash Risotto
Autumn Chopped Salad

Cheesey Chicken and Basil Stuffed Potatoes
Steamed Green Beans
leftover salad

Veggie Stir Fry

PW Breakfast Burritos
fresh fruit

Other things we'll be having:
Baked Apple Pie Egg Rolls
Orange Cranberry Sauce
Peanut Butter Banana Breakfast Shake

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Easy Sesame Peanut Noodles

These noodles are fabulous! They are quick and easy and it's about the only time my kids ever get to eat ramen (minus the little msg packet).   Since my kids are peanut butter fiends, these noodles bode well with them.  They eat them without complaint!  I usually serve them with raw cucumber, carrots and sliced red pepper on the side for the kids, but you could also slice the veggies thin and mix them in as well. 

This is a MUST HAVE for those crazy busy weeknights when you just don't have time to cook anything else.  Minimal prep, yummy taste and better than Ramen!

Easy Sesame Peanut Noodles
for the sauce:
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup canned coconut milk*
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. sweet chili sauce
1 clove garlic, finely grated over a microplane
1 tsp. fresh ginger, finely grated over a microplane
juice of 1 lime

4 Ramen packets, just noodles
garnish: sliced green onion

Add all sacue ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  If it's still lumpy after whisking, put it in the microwave for about 15-20 seconds to soften the coconut milk and peanut butter.  If it's too thick add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency. 

Cook ramen noodles (do not use the seasoning packet!!!) and drain.  Return noodles to pan.  Pour sauce over warm noodles and stir.  Garnish with green onion, if desried. 

**Don't know what to do with the leftover can of coconut milk?  Here's some ideas.
-store in fridge in about 1-cup portions
-Thai Coconut Rice
-Fall Vegetable Curry
-Bean Curry
-Peaches and Cream Steel Cut Oats
-Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Week Menu Plan

So, for most people this is one week of the year that's a little off.  Many people are traveling, eating at other's homes, eating out,  kids are out of school, adults may get a few days off work, etc., etc. So, I will have a very loose menu this week.  I'll plan for the first half of the week, hope it happens, then plan the second half of the week after I see what leftovers we have after our big Thanksgiving meal.  We're not having a very large gathering, just my parents and sister, my hubby and I and our three girls, but it'll be fun nonetheless and we're still going to make a ton of food!  That's the best part if you ask me.  I'll lay out our "loose" menu plan then give you some ideas for what to cook this week if you still need some inspiration.  And best of all...what to do with those leftovers!!!

Thanksgiving Week Menu Plan
Chicken Enchiladas
leftover cabbage slaw
raw veggies

Fresh Tomato-Basil Soup
Sourdough Baguette

Butternut Squash Risotto
Autumn Chopped Salad

Thursday (the part I am in charge of)
Chopped Brussels Sprouts with Dried Cranberries, Walnuts and Feta
Dinner Rolls
Pie (still haven't decided which one yet)

For the BIG day
Cider Roasted Chicken/Turkey w/ Cider Reduction
Mashed Sweet Potatoes w/ Orange Essence and Walnuts
Brown Butter Risotto with Lobster (I have to qualify this.  Hubby said we should have lobster because that's what they really ate at the first Thanksgiving. I'm game!)
Garlic Rosemary Roast Chicken/Turkey
Coconut Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Caramel Apple Butter Cheesecake
Caramel Apple Cinnamon Rolls
Sour Lemon Pie
Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Leftover Ideas
Chicken/Turkey Enchiladas
White Chicken/Turkey Chili
Risotto w/ Roasted Chicken and Caramelized Onion
Chicken/Turkey Pot Pie
Chicken/Turkey Noodle Soup
Chicken and Garlic-Herb Potato Shepherd's Pie
Wild Rice and Quinoa with Turkey, Cranberries and Winter Squash
Squash/pumpkin Ravioli
Cranberry Chicken
Sweet Potato Quinoa Cakes

Orange Cranberry Scones with White Chips
Ginger Sweet Potato Muffins
Pumpkin Scones
Cranberry Pumpkin Bread with Crystalized Ginger
Cranberry Sour Cream Crumble
Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pecan Butter
Pumpkin Pancakes with Pumpkin Maple Syrup

Enjoy and have a great holidy week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lentil and Kale Pasta

It's so good to get back to healthy!  After spending the better part of a week in Las Vegas indulging and splurging, my body started craving warm, earthy and hearty flavors and food.  This totally fit the bill.  I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked the lentils.  They are a lot more flavorful than I remember them being.  It's been a while, but like I said,  I'm trying to clean out my pantry so I really wanted to use them up. 

The kale is amazing here too, adding not only color and texture but a ton of nutrition too.  I used my own sun-dried tomatoes that I dehydrated then reconstituted but you could also use oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes from the store.

Lentil and Kale Pasta
1/2 lb. whole wheat pasta (I used shells)
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, reconstitued and chopped
4 cups kale, rinsed and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
12-15 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and choped
1/2 cup crumbled feta
olive oil
juice of half a lemon (about 1-2 Tbsp.)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
garnish: finely grated parmesan cheese (to your liking)

Start cooking the lentils first or even ahead of time, they will take the longest; about 15-20 minutes.  Follow package directions.  Cook, drain and set aside.

In the meantime, cover sun-dried tomatoes in about 1-inch of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and chop.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse with cold water for about 10 seconds to cool it off a bit.  Put pasta and lentils and chopped tomatoes in a large salad bowl.

Using the same pot as you cooked the pasta in, drizzle a good amount of olive oil on the bottom. Drop the kale and sprinkle with a pinch or two of red pepper flakes.  Saute 2-3 minutes, adding the garlic in the last 20 seconds or so, to avoid burning.  Add the kale to the salad bowl.  Wait for it to cool slightly before stirring it in. 

Add chopped artichokes, feta, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, basil and salt and pepper to the lentils and pasta, stirring to incorporate.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. 

Serve at room temperature, topped with finely grated parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Apples are one of my favorite things about fall. Almost every year for the past 5 or 6 years we find a local apple orchard and take our kids to pick apples. It's the whole experience of being together, picking delicious home grown fruit, then taking it home to eat and make into wonderful things!

This year must have been a bad year for apples because several of the orchards we tried to go to said they hardly had any and there were none left to pick-bummer! So, instead, I ordered a box of LOVELY honey crisps from our local CSA and have been thrilled to have them even though we didn't pick them.

Honey crisps are my absolute favorite apple. They are sweet and mild and nice and crisp and keep a long time under the right circumstances. They are the perfect apple for this dessert. They compliment the dense sweetness of the cake and the slight saltiness of the caramel sauce. I made this cake within hours of finding the recipe and it was gone in less than 24! And I've been craving it ever since! It's mouth-watering and delicious. It would be a beautiful addition to any family gathering or holiday party this season.

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

For the caramel sauce:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. thawed apple juice concentrate
4 Tbsp. butter
pinch salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Mix the brown sugar, heavy cream, apple juice concentrate, butter, salt and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until it gets thicker. Add the vanilla and cook another minute to thicken further. Turn off the heat, cool slightly.

For the cake:
2 medium cooking apples (I used Honey Crisp)
3/4 cup oil (I used coconut oil, melted)
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
2 Tbsp. thawed apple juice concentrate
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 large apple, peeled and shredded (I used Honey Crisp)
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9-inch round cake pan at least 2-inches deep.  Line the bottom with parchment, and grease the parchment.  Make sure you measure your pan.  If it's pretty close to 2 inches deep, make sure you put the pan on a cookie sheet in case of any spills.
Peel and slice the 2 medium apples into 1/4-inch thick wedges.  Overlap the apple wedges in a ring around the bottom of the pan.  Pour about 1/3-1/2 cup of the caramel sauce over the apples and set it aside.
To make the cake, beat the oil, brown sugar, apple juice concentrate, eggs, spices and salt together for 2 minutes on medium speed.  Add the flour and baking soda and mix to combine.  Fold in the shredded apple and nuts, if desired, until just incorporated.
Drop batter by scoops on top of the apples in the pan, gently spreading to even out and cover the bottom. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until cake tester inserted near center comes out clean.
Let cake cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Run a spatula around the edge to loosen it, then turn cake out onto a serving plate, bottom side up.  Pour reserved caramel sauce over the top of the cake and serve warm or room temperature.

SOURCE: Cake from King Arthur Flour and sauce adapted from Pioneer Woman

Monday, November 12, 2012

November Menu 2012 (Week 2)

Wow, what a whirlwind week we had last week! We spent the latter half in Las Vegas.  We went down for my husband to run the Ragnar Relay Race and decided to go a day ahead and stay a day later to make a little mini vacation out of it.  Other than the first night we were there it was pretty much an all girls weekend!  As in me and my three darling daughters under the age of 6.  I braved the Bellagio by myself with all three kids (hubs said he was impressed) but decided to stay away from the strip the rest of the time, unless hubby was with me.  We ventured out and did a few other fun things and tasted some delicious food! I was also happy to encounter not one but two Trader Joe's close by, love that store,  as well as Whole Foods.  I could have spent much more time perusing the aisles of both stores, but alas, with three kids in tow, it just wasn't possible. 

So, glad to be home and getting back to our normal crazy busy life. This week I still don't want to go shopping (still have a little sticker shock after the first meal we ate in Vegas) but I know I at least have to go get some fresh fruit and veggies to stock up on. So, I'll be pulling from my pantry again and a little from my freezer to get through the week.  Here's the simple menu I threw together last night after we got home. Hopefully we can stick to it, but it's totally subject to change.

November Menu 2012 (week 1)
Easy Thai Peanut Noodles
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
chopped fresh veggies

Crispy Coconut Chicken Fingers
Jasmine rice
Steamed broccoli

Kale and Lentil Pasta

Smoky Pumpkin Soup
Sourdough Baguettte



Lemon and Oregano Roast Chicken
mashed potatoes
Sweet Peas
Autumn Chopped Salad

Other things we'll be having:
Cake Batter Pancakes
Ginger Sweet Potato Muffins
Mango-Strawberry Smoothie

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thai Chicken Slaw

Asian slaws are one of my most favorite salads of all time!  They are hearty, don't wilt and have tons of flavor and COLOR!  With colder temps upon us things can get kind of dreary and boring.  Who wouldn't welcome a pop of color and flavor?  This is a great salad to eat throughout the colder months because cabbage is readily available and even inexpensive.  In fact, the components of this salad are all inexpensive and pack a lot of nutritional punch!

I don't usually put chicken on my Asian salads but I couldn't resist slow cooking this chicken in the crock pot with some sweet chili sauce and coconut milk!  I love those flavors in Asian dishes. The result is an amazingly moist and delicious meat to shred over your salad.

Thai Chicken Slaw
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 

For the marinade:
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup canned coconut milk (full-fat)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely minced
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 lime, juiced
1 Tbsp. soy sauce

Whisk marinade ingredients together in a medium-sized saucepan. If sauce seems too thick feel free to add more lime juice or vinegar.   Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat and simmer about 3-4 minutes.  

Place chicken in a crock pot and pour about 1/3 cup of the marinade over it, reserving the rest for the dressing on the salad.  Cook on high heat 4-5 hours or until shreds easily.  Remove chicken from crock pot and shred the return it to crock pot to sit in the juices.

For the salad:
1/4 red cabbage, thinly shredded
1/4 green cabbage, thinly shredded
3 green onions, sliced
1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper, sliced and chopped
1 cup frozen, thawed edamame (look for non-GMO on the packaging)
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2-3 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped

Place all salad ingredients in a large salad bowl and toss.

To serve, top individual salad servings with shredded chicken and reserved dressing.

SOURCE: Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Menu 2012 (Week 1)

My goal for this week's menu is to not have to go shopping!  Now, I know it is almost inevitable that I WILL go, but I want to go for as little as possible.  I still have a bunch of produce leftover from my CSA basket from last week and I have a lot of bulk items in my pantry that I seem to accmulate, like lentils, dry beans and split peas and pastas. I want to use them up before I stock up again soon.  We're also going to be away from home a couple nights this week and will be either eating out or having leftovers.  So, here's to a creative menu this week for using what I've got.

November Menu 2012 (Week 1)
Vegetable Stir-Fry
Jasmine Rice

Penne with Pumpkin and Sausage (this recipe will get a face lift!!)
Apple Walnut and Feta Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

Cauliflower Soup


Eat out

Lentil Kale Pasta

Homemade Pizza

Other things we'll be having:
Chocolate Earth Balls
Overnight Refrigerator Oatmeal

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Fall Vegetable Curry

Here is another quick and nutritious meal you can add to your fall repertoire of dinners. It's also meatless (if that's your thing)! If you're a fan of curry, you'll definitely like this one. 

This curry is similar to this other Bean Curry on the blog in that it uses Garam Masala spice and turmeric.  However, I've kicked up the spiciness with some jalapeno and topped it with a yummy cilantro-yogurt sauce and fresh tomatoes.

Fall Vegetable Curry
1-2 Tbsp. olive or coconut oil
1 cup
diced peeled sweet potato  (about 1 medium)
1 cup small cauliflower florets 
1/2 cup thinly sliced yellow onion
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained 
1 sweet bell pepper (I used red), chopped
1 small jalapeno, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated  
1 tsp. Garam Masala
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup  canned coconut milk (can sub vegetable broth as well or add to make it more saucy) 
2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
1/2 cup plain yogurt

 Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sweet potato and saute about 3-4 minutes.  Add onion, cauliflower and cook another 2 minutes or so.  Add chick peas, pepper, jalapeno, garlic, ginger,Garam Masala, turmeric and salt and saute about 30 seconds. Add coconut milk, cover with lid, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, finely chop cilantro and stir it together with the yogurt and a pinch of salt.  Alternately you can blend it together in a small food processor. 

Once vegetables are tender, remove from heat and add the fresh tomatoes.  Garnish individual portions with cilantro-yogurt sauce.  Serve warm with Thai Coconut Rice, Naan bread or cous cous. 

SOURCE: Adapted from Cooking Light
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