Thursday, August 29, 2013

Lime Sublime Green Smoothie

Despite the pictures I post on facebook and instagram of some of the goodies I make, I do actually try to eat pretty healthy.  A mid-day green smoothie is almost a daily thing for me.  I started drinking  smoothies years ago as one of the first habits I picked up on my whole foods journey; a habit that I absolutely love.

By now I have a good repertoire of smoothies to choose from and change it up from day to day.  If you're a smoothie-drinker, I think you'll agree that being able to have a variety to choose from makes the habit a lot more enjoyable.

A few months ago I did a 30-day smoothie challenge and this smoothie was one of my favorites and probably the one I drink the most!  I love it because not only does it taste phenomenal but it's super low in calories as well and still packed with goodness.  This is always my go-to when I need a little detox as well.

Lime Sublime Green Smoothie
1 cup coconut water (or water or a combination)
1 cup frozen green grapes
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, frozen
2 handfuls of greens (spinach, kale, chard, etc.)
chunk of lime (make sure you wash it well) or use 1 tsp. zest and some juice if you don't have a high power blender
1 Tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. coconut oil (optional)
1 tsp. bee pollen (optional)
additional ice, if necessary

Place everything in a blender and blend until smooth.

SOURCE: adapted from Unconventional Kitchen

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Roatsted Tomatillo Salsa

The first time I made these, it was kind of a last minute deal, I just threw them together really and they turned out much better than I imagined.  I think I had originally planned on grilled chicken or something that night but forgot to defrost the chicken in time so had to do it in the microwave.  Well, I must have forgotten to decrease the power because before I knew it the chicken was poaching in it's own juices!!  Argh!

So, some quick thinking led me to my very last jar of bottled tomatillo salsa, some tortillas in the freezer and a few other fixings I found in the fridge.  I thought it would be edible at best but to my surprise my husband and I really enjoyed it and stacking the enchiladas this way made them fun to eat. 

This time around I was actually prepared for this meal and had a few extras I didn't have last time.  You're sure to love it!

Stacked Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
serves about 8 (1 serving: half a stack)
for the salsa:
1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved or quartered
3-4 garlic cloves, skins on
small onion, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, halved and seeded
1-2 anaheim peppers, halved and seeded
olive oil
salt and pepper
half a bunch of cilantro
juice of a lime

for the chicken:
2 chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth

for the filling:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or about 2 cups cooked beans)
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded

remaining ingredients and garnishes:
12 corn tortillas
chopped cilantro
avocado, diced or sliced
caramelized onion
monterey jack cheese

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil and.  Put tomatillos, garlic, onion and peppers on the sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the tomatillos begin to char.  Remove from oven and cool slightly.  Slip garlic from the skins and add it, along with the rest of the roasted veggies, to a blender or food processor.  Add cilantro and lime juice.  Blend until desired consistency.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Set aside.

While veggies are cooking, cook chicken. In a Dutch oven or a pot with a lid, add chicken and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium, cover with lid and cook about 30 minutes.  Remove and cool slightly then shred with a fork. Return chicken to broth and add about 1/2 cup of the tomatillo salsa.  Add beans and corn and let simmer on low for about 5 minutes, or until heated through.  Remove from heat, add 1 cup cheese and stir to combine.

*If you want caramelized onion, start it while the chicken and veggies cook.  Slice 1 large onion and place in a large saute pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and cook over medium heat until onions are soft and brown; about 15-20 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. 

To assemble enchiladas, line a cookie sheet with a slipat or spray with cooking spray.  Lay out 4 tortillas layer with about 1/3 cup chicken mixture and another tablespoon or so of the tomatillo salsa.  Lay another tortilla, more chicken mixture and salsa.  Top with a final tortilla, a spoonful of salsa and a little extra cheese.  Place in oven and cook about 20 minutes or until cheese on top is bubbly and slightly browning.

Remove from oven and top with caramelized onion, cilantro and avocado.  Serve warm.


Michele's Notes:
-I actually made the salsa the night before which made dinner much quicker to throw together.  You can also do the chicken the night before as well to save time.
-I only made two stacks since we have many wee mouths in this house.  I saved the remaining chicken mixture and little bit of salsa I had left for a double duty meal the next night!!  I cooked about 6 oz. homestyle noodles in 6 cups chicken broth, then added the chicken and salsa and made a delicious soup.  

 SOURCE:  Salsa adapted from Our Best Bites

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Black Beans and Coconut Rice with Mango Salsa

So, when my siblings and I were growing up, we would go through times here and there when my mom would say to us something to the effect of "we're going to be eating beans and rice for a while," meaning money is tight and we're eating cheap.  I, being my mother's daughter, have also used that phrase a time or two in our marriage, to which my husband would respond, "Great!  I love beans and rice!!"

This is, in fact, a cheap easy meal, but it's still packed with lots of nutrition and flavor!  I was actually drawn to making beans this time because I needed to increase my iron and potassium intake and turns out beans are great for that. 

I couldn't help but make this colorful salsa to top of the rice and beans.  Don't get me wrong, rice and beans are great by themselves but the fresh mango, avocado and tomato and the nice bite from the cilantro really brought it home for me.  Enjoy!

Black Beans and Coconut Rice with Mango Salsa
serves about 4

for the beans:
1 cup thinly sliced celery
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 small red onion, small diced
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
pinch of smoked paprika

for the rice:
1 cup  jasmine rice
1 cup canned coconut milk (preferably full-fat)
1 cup water
pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. flaked coconut (optional)

for the salsa:
1 mango, diced
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 small anaheim pepper, finely diced (can substitute jalapeno for more heat)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper

In a medium sauce pan, add rice, coconut milk, water, salt and flaked coconut (if desired).  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the celery, black beans and onion to a salad bowl.  Squeeze lime, drizzle the olive oil and add the cumin and paprika.  Toss to coat.  Add a pinch of salt, if necessary.

In a smaller bowl, add the mango, tomato, avocado, pepper, onion and cilantro. Squeeze lime over it and add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to coat. 

Once rice is finished cooking, allow to cool slightly.

Serve rice warm or at room temperature, topped with bean mixture and salsa.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Peanut Butter Banana-Oat Muffins

I've been gearing up for school to start for the past few weeks.  We're breakfast people, so not a whole lot of boxed cereal here, mostly home-cooked.  So, I decided to start doubling my recipes lately and throwing the rest in the freezer to stock up for those rushed early mornings.

Peanut butter and banana are one of my most favorite combinations when it comes to breakfast foods.  I thought about throwing chocolate chips in there, but I decided I shouldn't have chocolate with EVERY meal!!  Plus, we're trying to reduce the amount of sugar, especially refined, in our diets.  What's lovely about these muffins is the banana adds a natural sweetness so you can keep the amount of added sugar lower; remember the blacker the better when it comes to bananas for baking.

Another thing I love about these muffins is they are light and and have a very tender crumb.  No heavy whole wheat bricks here!!

Peanut Butter Banana-Oat Muffins
2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 cup mashed banana, about 2 large
1/4 cup unrefined sugar (like sucanat)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/4 cup Greek yogurt (preferably not low-fat)
1/2 milk (I use almond)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (put oats in blender or spice grinder to grind them up)
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a mixing bowl, mash banana.  Add coconut oil and sugar and whisk until coconut oil is well incorporated.  Add egg, vanilla, peanut butter, yogurt and milk and whisk.  Add they dry ingredients and stir just to combine.  Do not over mix.

Line muffin tin with liners and divide batter evenly into wells.

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 12-14 minutes.  Cool on wire rack.  Store in an airtight container.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday Week 34 (2013)

Wow!  School is starting in 2 days here and I can ALMOST wrap my head around it.  My oldest is going to first grade so it's the first year I'll have one gone all day.  Not sure how I feel about that.  I hope her sisters don't get lonely...I hope I don't get lonely.

So, being able to eat lunch at school has been a big deal!  My daughter and I sat down together and planned out the first 3 weeks of lunches that she was going to take to school.  She's super excited and to tell you the truth, so am I.  She's a pretty good eater when it comes down to it but can be picky and definitely drags her feet when something new is in front of her (even if she ends up liking it).  I want to sneak in some new things (like hummus and homemade beans) for her to try, hoping that in a less-stressful environment, (aka not the dinner table where mom is yelling at her to EAT) and with her friends she'll be more willing to just eat.  We'll see how that goes.

So, this week we're embracing some of the fruits of our harvest and have lots of corn, tomatoes, peaches and basil coming up.  Can't wait!!

Dinner Menu Week 34 (2013)
Spicy Bok Choy Rice Bowl

Cold Soba Noodles with Sesame Ginger Sauce
raw veggies

Corn and Basil Cakes
fresh fruit

Caramelized onion, Chipotle and Mushroom Burgers
steak fries

Smoky Heirloom Tomato and Grilled Peach Pasta Salad w/ Basil Vinaigrette


Summer Corn, Bacon and Potato Chowder

Friday, August 16, 2013

S'mores Fudge Bars

I obviously didn't get enough s'more goodness on National S'more day last week.  I just had to tempt fate and make these dang things. Then I went and figured out how many calories were in each one...yeah, don't do that!

These are seriously one of those things are are just soooo good, but you really should just stop at one.  They are sweet and rich and perfect!

Each layer has it's own deliciousness about it.  The graham layer is buttery and slightly salty and, of course, crumbly and crunchy.  The chocolate fudge layer is smooth and milk chocolaty.  I highly suggest you get Hershey's brand milk chocolate so it has that quintessential s'more taste.  The marshmallow layer is homemade goodness that far surpasses the store bought stuff.

The hardest part about making these s'mores bars is waiting until they are completely set!  If you try to pull them out of the pan too early, the chocolate will start to seep out.  I put mine on the counter first, then got impatient and put them in the fridge, then finally couldn't hardly stand it any longer and threw them in the freezer!!

S'mores Fudge Bars
for the graham layer:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt

for the chocolate layer:
2 cups Hershey's milk chocolate chips
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

for the marshmallow layer:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cups light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Combine all the ingredients for the graham layer and press it into the baking pan.  Bake for 10 minutes.

While graham layer is baking, combine milk chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a medium saucepan.  Heat, over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until completely melted and smooth.  Immediately pour over graham layer.

In a mixing bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt. Boil until candy thermometer reads 240 degrees F.

Turn mixer on low and slowly drizzle syrup into the bowl.  Once it's all added, scrape down sides and turn mixer to medium and beat another 5-7 minutes or so, until mixture is thick and glossy.  Add vanilla in very last.

Spread fluff on top of chocolate layer and smooth with off-set spatula.

Turn broiler on and place pan first on bottom rack of oven for 2-3 minutes, or until puffy and getting light brown-don't take your eyes off the oven!!!  Move the pan up to the top rack and let it finish browning another 30-60 seconds or so.

Cool COMPLETELY!!  This may take several hours depending on your method of cooling.  Using the foil, pull bars out of pan and cut into about 1 1/2 in squares.

Bars will keep in an airtight container on the counter for 2 days or 5 days in the fridge.  Store any leftover fluff in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

SOURCE: Cookies & Cups

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday Week 33 (2013)

Wow, I can't believe the summer is already coming to a close.  School starts here in just over a week.  I don't think I'm quite ready for that; although I think my kids are.  We haven't done half of the things we set out to do, but we still have had some good fun. Now it's back to routines, carpools and early bedtimes...that last one doesn't seem so bad though.

It doesn't really seem like the summer is almost over.  I mean, I have only eaten fresh corn like 3 times so far and I definitely have not eaten my fair share of peaches and fresh tomatoes yet.  I have a whole pinterest board dedicated to summer eats that I've barely touched so I'm going to have to do my best to cram in as much as I can before the weather turns...but why get ahead of myself, it's barely August.  We've got plenty of heat yet.

Once again, the menu this week is quick and easy.  Gotta keep it that way or it just doesn't happen.  You'll notice I have salad just about every night.  I love having salad with dinner.  I usually make it the larger portion of my meal, while the others keep is on the side.  When I make a salad I like to make enough for at least two days, sometimes three.  That way I can chop once and eat thrice. 

Dinner Menu
green salad
Artisan Bread

Charred Corn Tacos
Southwest Cabbage Slaw
fresh fruit

Chicken Bacon Spinach Pasta w/ Tomatoes and Avocado
steamed broccoli
leftover salad

Chipotle Caramelized Onion Burgers (Homemade Burger Buns)
steamed fresh green beans
steak fries

Stacked Green Enchiladas
leftover slaw and veggies

Spicy Bok Choy Rice Bowl

leftovers/fend for yourself!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pasta alla Norma

I think it's kind of hard to make cooked eggplant look good.  It's hard to improve on brown.  Thank goodness this dish has some colorful counterparts to help it live up to it's fantastic taste!

I don't usually buy eggplant but I found myself with not one but two a few weeks ago in my CSA basket.  My usual go-to dish for eggplant is this orzo, which is pretty phenomenal, but that only used up one of the eggplants.  So I went searching.  

I found a version of this pasta dish in a Cooking Light book of mine.  With a few tweaks, this turned out pretty amazing too.  Even if you don't think you like eggplant, when paired with it's flavorful friends, you might just change your mind. I even went out and bought another eggplant just to make it again!

Pasta alla Norma is a typical Sicilian dish and is served with ricotta salata, which is ricotta that has been aged, pressed, salted and dried.  Although it can be hard to come by, you can substitute a semi-firm, salty cheese, like feta or queso fresco.  In a pinch, you can also use fresh mozzarella as well, which is what I've done here.

Pasta alla Norma
3/4 lb. pasta (12 oz.)
olive oil
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of red pepper flakes
splash of white cooking wine
1 can diced tomatoes
large handful of fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
1/2-1 cup ricotta salata, grated or cubed 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Drop pasta and cook until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, peel and chop eggplant.  In a large skillet, heat a couple drizzles of olive oil and add the eggplant.  Cook on medium heat until brown and tender.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 30 seconds, then add the splash of cooking wine and cook until almost evaporated.  Add tomatoes and simmer until pasta is finished cooking.  Add most of basil at the last minute.

Drain pasta and pour into a large serving dish.  Pour eggplant sauce over pasta and toss to combine.  Top with cheese and the rest of the fresh basil.  Serve warm.

SOURCE: Adapted from Better Recipes

Monday, August 5, 2013

Banana Split Ice Cream

So, a few weeks ago, my husband and I took our three (young) daughters on a loooooong car ride to Seattle to visit my brother and his family.  It was our first time in that neck of the woods and we had an absolute blast.  My brother, being the wonderful host that he is, wanted to show us all the favorite "hot spots" around town; Pike Place Market, Etta's (oh my gosh best seafood ever!!), Seattle Science Center, Top Pot Doughnuts and Bainbridge Island to name a few.

One of my favorite eats was Mora Iced Creamery the day we took the ferry to Bainbridge.  According to my brother they are touted to have the best ice cream...ever?  Or in the U.S., something like that.  I have to say that, although I can't vouch for it being the best ice cream in the U.S., it's definitely the best ice cream I've ever eaten.  It was absolutely fabulous!  And the selection of flavors...they have 10 different kinds of chocolate!!  It's an ice cream lovers paradise.

I decided on the banana split and knew immediately I wanted to try to recreate it at home.  I loved every bite.  It was a sweet banana ice cream, speckled with dark chocolate and swirled with a thick dulce de leche.

Although it would be hard to duplicate exactly what I had at Mora in my own kitchen, I think this version is pretty darn good.  I had no idea I liked banana ice cream so much.  This is definitely a treat you are not going to want to pass up this summer.

Banana Split Ice Cream 
for the ice cream base:
6 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3 medium/large bananas (the riper the better)
1/8 tsp. sea salt
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract

for the chocolate stracciatella:
5 oz. dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp. coconut oil

for the dulce de leche:
1 recipe Dulce de Leche 

Make dulce de leche ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.

Whisk together egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.

In a food processor or blender, blend together bananas, salt and heavy cream until smooth.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and sugar over medium high heat until very warm, stirring frequently; do not boil.  Remove from heat.

Temper the eggs by VERY SLOWLY adding the milk mixture (about a tablespoon or two at a time) and whisking constantly.  Once you've added about half of the milk mixture, slowly whisk it all back into the saucepan.  Return saucepan to stove and heat over low heat.  With a rubber spatula, stir mixture, until it coats the back of a spoon. (If you heat it too fast, you will get scrambled eggs. BUT, you can still salvage it by running it through the blender.)

Slowly add the milk and egg mixture to the banana mixture in the blender.  Add vanilla and pulse or process until smooth.  Pour custard into an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or until completely cooled. 

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.  When ice cream is getting close to being done, prepare chocolate.

Place chocolate and coconut oil in a microwave-safe bowl and heat at 30 second increments at half power, stirring in between.  Once chocolate is thin and smooth, drizzle into ice cream at the last possible moment of churning.  Chocolate will harden immediately and shred into "chips."

Warm dulce de leche slightly, if necessary.  Layer ice cream and dulce de leche in a freezer-safe storage container, in as many layers as you wish.  I did only two layers of dulce but think it would be perfect with three.  Gently and briefly swirl with a knife, if desired.  Place in coldest part of your freezer and freeze until firm.

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