Thursday, February 28, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I am totally hooked on Hummus.  I have been having it every day in my lunches for work (because I have to take cold lunches).  I am not sick of it yet.  It can get kind of pricy to buy at the store so I figured it was high time I learn to make it myself!  I finally gave in and bought tahini (ground sesame seeds found in peanut butter isle) and I am glad I did.  I am loving the homemade version even more than the store bought.  It is a lot cheaper to make your own.  If you like hummus, you need to try this recipe.

I love it with crackers and veggies.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
3 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup tahini, stirred well
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or use 3/4 cup dried chickpeas, cooked ahead of time and drained)
1/4 of a red bell pepper chopped, and skilleted until soft and browned
1 small garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne
Combine lemon juice and water in small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk together tahini and 2 tablespoons oil in second small bowl or measuring cup.
Process chickpeas, bell pepper, garlic, salt, cumin, and cayenne in food processor until almost fully ground, about 15 seconds. Scrape down bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, add lemon juice-water mixture in steady stream through feed tube. Scrape down bowl and continue to process for 1 minute. With machine running, add oil-tahini mixture in steady stream through feed tube; continue to process until hummus is smooth and creamy, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
 *This stays good for about 5 days in the refrigerator.  Enjoy on sandwiches or in wraps, take to a party with pita chips.  For my lunches I take cut up veggies (celery, carrots, baby tomatos, bell peppers) and crackers.  It is awesome to get my veggies servings in at lunchtime:)  Enjoy
Modified slightly from Mels Kitchen Cafe

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Spinach Artichoke Dip Pizza

Pizza is one of our favorite foods.  We have been really inventive with pizza lately:  bbq chicken pizza, breakfast pizza, spinach artichoke dip pizza.  The Spinach Artichoke Pizza is not all that healthy, but I made a few changes to help us out a little.  I got the idea online and used a recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip from my Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook.  It was a very fast weeknight meal for us.  I used a store bought dough (had one left over from our breakfast pizza, the pack comes with two).  All I did was make the dip, top the crust, then added some cheese and chicken.  I really liked it!
 Spinach Artichoke Dip
 Layer dip, extra spinach, mozz cheese and shredded chicken
  Dinner was done in 30 minutes flat!
Spinach Artichoke Dip Pizza
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayo (I like the olive oil mayo, might also be good with cream cheese here)
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Dash white pepper (or normal pepper)
1/2 can (14-oz) drained artichoke hearts, coasly chopped
1 cup spinach, coasly chopped (will use a little more next time)
1 Tbsp. dried onion flakes
For Pizza: 
1 pizza crust, 12in (pre-made or homemade)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded chicken (more or less)
Italian seasoning over the top

Pre-heat oven to 400.  Top pizza crust with Dip (use all of it, it is the perfect amount).  Top with cheese and shredded chicken (I also put a little extra spinach, but next time I will just put the spinach right in the dip).  Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning and bake for 10 minutes or until cheese starts to bubble.  Cut into 6 slices.  Enjoy

Dip recipe modified from:  Better Homes and Gardens

Tomato Soup and Salad

I am so excited to tell you I have an excellent Tomato Soup recipe now.  I always figured tomato soup was too difficult to make homemade (tried it once and it wasn't great).  I came across this simple recipe in my Taste of Homes Magazine.  I made it for friends and we really enjoyed it.  It tastes great leftover too.  It is really cheap to make, I don't know if I can go back to the canned tomato soup after having this recipe!
 Cozy Sunday evening meal
 It is good with a little dried basil on top

I made and awesome salad:  spinach, grilled chicken, bell peppers, carmelized onions, tomatoes, croutons, and avocado.  Drizzle with BBQ Ranch and you are set!
Best Tomato Soup (Serves 6-7)
2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic, undrained
3 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup butter 
1/2 cup finely chopped onion 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour 
1 carton (48 ounces) chicken broth 
1/2-1 cup milk (if you want it a little creamy)

Place tomatoes with juices in a blender; cover and process until pureed. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Remove from the heat; stir in flour until smooth. Cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth. Add pureed tomatoes; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes to allow flavors to blend. If desired, sprinkle with cheese. Yield: 2 quarts. 
Slightly modifed from Taste of Homes Magazine (have to have account to see recipe, but can create one easily).
*There are a lot of cool topping ideas with this recipe:  popcorn, tater tots, baked tortillas, gold fish, grilled cheese, pretzels, pasta, pepperonis, cheese slices...they had it as a kid-friendly recipe and the kids could have add-ins for their soup, I thought it was cute.  I served mine with toasted sandwiches and cheesy tortillas (when we had company). 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weekend Eats

I have not had the chance to make a relaxing Saturday morning breakfast in a long time.  I made the most of my opportunity this Saturday and cooked one of Cliffs favorites (and mine too!).  Breakfast Pizza.  We haven't had it in so long it was like a new recipe.  I made some gravy the night before, look below for simple recipe.  Other than that I cooked it all up Saturday morning.  I also discovered a new way to have orange juice.  Sometimes I feel like orange juice is a little bitter, so I blended orange juice with frozen peaches and strawberries.  It looked super fancy and tasted great.  If you are looking for a good weekend breakfast, you need to give this a try!
 Breakfast pizza for two with strawberry peach orange juice
 Frothy and sweet
 I have made this before, but I simplified the recipe a little and it tasted awesome, so I will put my simplified version below.

Simplified Breakfast Pizza
Prepared store bought pizza dough (I used Mama Mary's whole wheat-my new go to for this recipe)
1/2 pound breakfast sausage (I just cooked 1 pound and saved the other half for omelets this week)
Bell Pepper strips, thinly sliced (about 1/4 of a bell pepper, optional could use more or less)
Butter, just a little fore the pan before cooking the eggs
6 eggs
splash milk for eggs
Seasonings for eggs:  salt, pepper, cayenne
1 cup gravy (made ahead of time, see recipe below)
1 cup cheese (I used mexican style)

Preheat oven to 400.  Cook your breakfast sausage like you would cook ground hamburger meat, over medium heat.  After it is fully cooked remove it from the pan and add your bell pepper (if there is a lot of grease you can drain some, but I did not have a lot of extra grease).  When bell peppers are browned and soft add a little butter to the pan (about half a tablespoon).  Beat eggs and milk with seasonings and add to the pan.  Stir often, and break up clumps so they are easy to put on your pizza.  Take off the heat while they are a little moist (almost done).  
Prepare your pizza:  Top your crust with gravy, like you would pizza sauce.  Layer sausage on top of gravy, then eggs, then cheese.  Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.  Serve with Strawberry Peach Orange Juice.

Simple Gravy
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 cup milk
Seasonings:  salt and pepper to taste

Make sure milk is measured out in measuring cup, set aside.  In a small saucepan over medium heat melt butter.  Add flour and stir until mixed, keep stirring for about 30 seconds.  Gradually wisk in milk (pour slowly but constantly).  Continue to wisk until flour starts to dissolve.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequenly and turn down heat.  Stir occasionally until it starts to thicken (usually about 5 minutes could be a little more).  My Mom taught me how to make this gravy and I use the recipe all the time.
*This is also a great base for mac and cheese, all you have to do is add cheese to your gravy and you have an awesome mac and cheese sauce.

Strawberry Peach Orange Juice
2 cups orange juice
5 frozen strawberries
3 frozen peach slices

Blend until frothy.

Hope you had a Happy Monday.  I was dragging all day, but it was still a good day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

My Aunt Kathy makes very delicious Pork Carnitas.  Meat usually isn't my favorite thing at food gatherings (I'm more of a sides and dessert kind of girl), but when she makes these pork carnitas, it is my favorite thing.  This is her recipe for cooking the pork.  She takes the pork from this recipe and stores it in ziplocks until she is ready to use it.  When she is ready to use it, she puts pico de gallo in a skillet until it starts to warm, then adds the pork meat until it starts to brown a little.  It is so so good.  You can make tacos, tostadas, nachos, potato nachos, use your imagination.
 I prepped this the night before so I just had to put it on the warmer in the morning
 This is what it looks like when you get it shredded
 We made yummy tacos with it and...
Potato nachos..our favorite!

Pork Carnitas


4 pound boneless pork butt, fat trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 onion, peeled and halved

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 cups water

1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Place all the ingredients in a crock-pot and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  Cook until the meat falls apart when prodded.  Remove oranges and shred pork using two forks.  Cool completely and divide into ziplocks bags for future use. 
You can eat the pork just like this or if you want to try something really yummy, heat a skillet over high heat.  Add a little oil to the skillet and some pico de gallo (really your preference but probably 1/4-1/2 cup).  Let that cook for about a minute or two and then add your pork and cook until it starts to brown (I like to put a little garlic salt on it too).  Enjoy
*Note, I doubled this and made a 9 pound pork butt.  It made a lot, we had 4 freezer bags and one container that we ate on for the week.  I recommend using the smaller pork unless you have a lot of freezer room. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Crock-Pot Peanut Clusters

Need a Valentine Day dessert?  These would be great to take to work or make for your sweetheart.  As you know I love peanut clusters!  I keep them in my fridge at all times and they are often my go-to dessert.  This recipe is my favorite, but there is a small downside: they need to be refrigerated or they get soft.  When I was making my Christmas plates this year I wanted to include peanut clusters so I decided to try my Mom's recipe for Crock-pot peanut clusters (I have only tried them once because she started making them after I had already left home).  They turned out amazing...pretty dang close to my favorite recipe and they can be kept at room temp.  You can make them in your crock-pot (takes about 3 hrs) and it makes a very large amount, perfect to take to a big gathering or give away as treats.  You have to try them.  I gave them away on Christmas plates, but they were so good I had to keep a stash for myself.

 There are a lot of different chocolates that go in here
 Crock-pot on low for 3 hours

When it looks like this, stir it up and drop onto parchment or into cupcake liners

Crock-Pot Peanut Clusters
32oz dry-roasted peanuts-I used 2 jars (16oz each)
1 package white chocolate bark
1/2 package milk chocolate bark
1 1/2 bags of dark chocolate chips
1 bar German chocolate baking chocolate

Pour peanuts into the bottom of a large crock-pot.  Top with all of the chocolate broken up as seen above.  Turn on low heat for 2-3 hours, keep an eye on it because you don't want it to burn.  When it looks melted (as seen above), turn off crock-pot and stir well.  Drop into muffin liners until set and then enjoy!  I love this recipe because it makes a lot.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Favorite Healthy Cookie Recipe

I am always a little nervous to try new healthy dessert recipes because I have had some major fails!!  My friend Kim showed me this recipe and I tried the ones she made-I really liked them.  It is always nice if you get to try the recipe before hand.  Thanks to Kim I have a great new dessert/snack/breakfast cookie recipe.  I say breakfast, but mostly I will eat these for snack and dessert.  I am a dessert person (I'm talking every night I want something sweet), so these are a great because they don't have any added sugar (only natural sugar from coconut and bananas)!  You have got to try them, see my note at the bottom for my official report!

 My new go-to dessert
 They are so yummy with peanut butter on top (I'm sure you aren't surprised)
 They created a small disaster
 Wet ingredients
 Dry ingredients
 Place dough on cookie sheet (make sure you make them the shape/size you want them because they don't change while they are baking)
 Bake 12-14 minutes and enjoy!

Favorite Healthy Cookies
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 cups rolled oats (I used 1/2 cup old fashioned, 1/2 cup quick, 1/2 cup Coaches Oats, 1/2 cup oat flour-totally optional they are good either way)
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I did a heaping 1/3 cup)
1 tsp. cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
Chocolate chips or dried cranberries, I divided my batter and did 1/2 cup choc. chips in one and 1/2 cup cranberries in the other
Peanut butter or almond butter for topping (optional!)

Preheat oven to 350.  Mix your mashed bananas, vanilla and coconut oil in a bowl (you may need to slightly melt your coconut oil if it is really hard, mine was fine to stir in without heating).  In a separate bowl mix the rest of the ingredients except the chocolate chips and cranberries.  Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.  Divide your batter in half and mix chocolate chips in one half and cranberries in the other half.  Drop by big spoonfuls (I used my large cookie scoop) onto a pan lined with parchment or non-stick foil.  Flatten your dough balls into the shape you want them to be becuase they won't change shape while baking.  Bake for 12-14 minutes.  It is kind of hard to tell when they are done.  I did mine for 14 minutes and the tops felt like they were set so I took them out. 
*This makes 20 nice sized cookies, store in fridge

Note:  I had these for dessert the first day I baked them (chocolate chip is my favorite).  Today I took one for a snack (cranberry is best for a snack) with peanut butter and it was just the right amount of filling.  I also had one for dessert tonight and it was great.  Keep in mind they are healthy, so don't expect them to taste like a normal buttery, sugary cookie.  They are more like a cookie colliding with a granola bar!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do:)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Potato Nachos

I am totally hooked on Potato Nachos!  We discovered them at our favorite mexican restaraunt (which is why it is our favorite).  The other day I made pulled pork in the crock-pot (coming soon) and used some of it to make potato nachos.  We both looked at each other and decided that was the best way to eat pulled pork.  You could make the nachos with any meat really, but you have to try them.
 Thinly sliced potatoes topped with your favorite meat and cheese
 We served ours with guacamole and enchilada sauce (mild from can)
 First you thinly slice potatoes, toss them in oil and bake (about 30 min total)
 When potaotes are done, top with your favorite meat and cheese
 Bake until cheese melts
I heated enchilada sauce on the stove to drizzle over our nachos (great flavor)

Potato Nachos
3 small or 2 large potatoes, washed
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Seasonings: Salt, pepper, Tony's, paprika (just a little), garlic salt
cooked meat of your choice (chicken or steak would be really good)
1 cup shredded cheese or more if you'de like
1/2 can enchilada sauce (just the normal small can)
Guacamole or avacado to top

Preheat oven to 400.   Thinly slice potatoes (I used my food processor because it cuts them evenly).  Try to slice them as even as possible so they cook evenly.  Place potatoes in large bowl or large ziplock and toss with olive oil and seasonings.  Place on a large cookie sheet lined with non-stick foil or parchment.  Bake for 20 minutes, flip the potatoes and bake for 10 more minutes.  Top with your meat and cheese and bake for 5-10 minutes longer (until cheese is melted).  Heat enchilada sauce on the stove.  Plate your nachos and drizzle with sauce.  Serve with guacamole.  Enjoy

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Bowl

My friend informed me yesterday the Super Bowl is the 2nd biggest eating day of the year, following Thanksgiving of course!  I believe it, the grocery stores are packed and the meat and queso sales are thru the roof.  So, what are your favorite things to have for the Super Bowl?  I don't know that I have a favorite, but I do like to have some good food and hang out with good friends, which we did yesterday!  Our small group got together and had burgers, dips, fruit and dessert.  I never thought I would say this but I brought a fruit salad to our Super Bowl party.  We have a pretty healthy group of friends and we already had burgers, dip and dessert on the menu, so I decided to bring a fruit salad that I have been making a lot lately.  I am hooked on it.  It is great for gatherings or to have on hand during the week for lunches.  You have to try it!
 It is very simple and delicious (like that burger?  It was super good)
Mix some of your favorite fruits together, and stir in orange juice concentrate!

Awesome Fruit Salad (from Sandra)
1 pound grapes, cleaned and taken off stem
1 apple of choice, diced
1 can mandrin oranges, drained and rinsed (you could also use fresh oranges)
2 large bananas ***Only use these if you plan to eat the fruit salad that day, because they turn to mush overnight
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate

Combine all your fruits together and then gently stir in orange juice concentrate.  The orange juice keeps the fruit fresh and gives it a nice flavor.  Cut in bananas before serving.  **If you use bananas, they only stay good about a day.  I had a little of this fruit salad leftover and I removed all the bananas so the rest would stay fresh longer.  Without the bananas this fruit salad will stay good 4-5 days.  Enjoy:)

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9