November 29, 2012

Crock Pot Beef (or Pork) Carnitas

Spice up your life with this no-fuss, tasty crock-pot recipe!  It is great served with some Jicama Slaw (check back in a few days for the recipe) or black beans and rice.  Enjoy!

1 1/2  -2  lbs flank steak (a pork loin works great too and is less $$)
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 bell peppers (any color), cut into strips
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped

spice rub
3 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Mix together all spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over your flank steak - all of the spice mixture (no kidding around here)! Then, place your steak at the bottom of your crock pot.

Cover the steak with the chopped onions, bell peppers and jalapeno pepper. Turn the crock-pot on LOW and cook for 8 hours.

After 8 hours, shred the meat in the crock pot (two forks work great). It should be incredibly easy to shred. Keep the meat in the crock-pot until ready to serve - it will reabsorb some of the juices (and spices).

Serve in corn or flour tortillas with any or all of the following: cilantro, salsa, cheese, black beans, sour cream, shredded lettuce, and/or diced avocado. 

Serves 6-8.
Time: 15 minutes active; 8 1/4 hours total

Slightly adapted from:

November 27, 2012

Chipotle Red Lentil Soup

Spicy, super filling, and "nutty" tasting. I know "nutty" sounds a bit weird, but we loved the flavor and texture - so did my 9 month old!  This is a great recipe for meatless Monday or any day that you want to serve plain old lentils in a new, delicious way. Enjoy!

1 1/4 cups red lentils
1 small onion, diced
1-14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1/2 Tbsp chipotle pepper powder OR 1 chipotle pepper in adobo, finely minced
2 tsp agave nectar (or honey)
1 1/4 cup chicken stock (homemade preferred)
3/4 cup water
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper 
3/4 cup coconut milk (regular, not low-fat OR use yogurt, low-fat is fine)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt to taste
hot cooked brown rice for serving, optional

Add the lentils, onion, tomato, cumin, chipotle powder and agave nectar to the slow cooker. Pour in water and stock. Stir everything together. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW 8-9. Turn the slow cooker off.

Carefully, with an immersion blender, purée the soup until it is as smooth as you like it. If you like it a bit chunky I recommend setting aside a small portion before pureeing so that some chunkiness is left (stir it back in once you are done with the immersion blender .  Stir in the coconut milk and salt to taste. Serve over rice and topped with fresh cilantro. 

November 25, 2012

Slow-Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Tired of left-over turkey already??  Then here is answer. Initially, I was put off by all the prep that appeared to go into this recipe. What is a slow-cooker for if I still have to spend quite a bit of time at the stove?  Well, it really wasn't that bad and the result was worth the effort - yummy!  This recipe seemingly serves an army and is full of flavor. Enjoy!

For the chicken:
2 – 2 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup yogurt (soy yogurt works great as well)
1 tablespoon butter*

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons butter*
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 large piece of ginger (2-3 inches in size), minced
3 tablespoons garam masala
1 – 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 whole jalapeno, washed, stem removed and pierced several times with a sharp knife
3/4 cups coconut milk (or half-and-half)
1 ½  teaspoons cornstarch

To Serve (optional):
Hot cooked brown rice  - I prefer peas mixed into mine ;-)
Chopped cilantro

Mix the coriander and cumin into the yogurt and pour it over the chicken, stir gently until all the pieces are evenly coated. Cover and let marinade for at least 4 hours, but up to two days before proceeding.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and quickly brown about 1/2 of the chicken. Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished, using another 1/2 tablespoon of butter for the second batch; transfer remained cooked chicken to the slow-cooker. 

Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, then stir. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to lightly brown and start to become translucent.

Stir in the garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) before raising the heat to high and adding the crushed tomatoes and sugar. Stir well, scraping the caramelized bits from the bottom of the pan and bring to a boil. Pour the suace over the chicken in the slow-cooker and add the jalapeno pepper.

Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours, or until the chicken is very tender and shreds easily.

Use a fork or whisk to stir the cornstarch into the coconut milk until smooth. Pour into the slow-cooker and stir gently until the color is even. Replace the lid and let cook for 10 minutes or until bubbly around the edges. Serve over hot rice topped with a generous amount of chopped cilantro.

*For those of you that don’t include dairy in your diet you can substitute Earth Balance Buttery Sticks and/or Extra Virgin olive oil in place of the butter. The coconut milk makes up for the richness lost by excluding the butter. 

Adapted from:

November 19, 2012

Figgy Banana Bread

This is a healthy and hearty rendition of a classic banana bread. Great with a cup of coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack - we all need something a bit healthy before going into our feasting out at Thanksgiving. If you are not a fan of figs or don't have any on hand you can use chopped dates or raisins...but, trust me, it won't be as good.  I added walnuts for a bit of crunch and additional nutrition (Omega-3's anyone?). Enjoy!

1 eggs
1/2 cup milk ( I used almond milk)
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas 
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup dried figs, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease one loaf pan.

Mix together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, oil, and mashed bananas in a bowl until evenly blended; set aside. In a large bowl, stir together the whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; pour in the egg mixture, and stir just until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45-55 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

November 17, 2012

Jerky Turkey Burgers

Are you looking for a kicked up turkey burger?  Then you need to try this one! It has great flavor along with a bit of heat. Enjoy!

1 1/3 pound ground turkey breast (dark meat is fine too)
1 garlic clove, minced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1-inch piece of ginger root, grated
1 teaspoons dried thyme 
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
extra-virgin olive oil 
1 ripe lime

For Serving (optional, but highly recommended): 
hamburger buns (I prefer wheat)
tomato slices
mango chutney or hot pepper jelly

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Combine the turkey, garlic, scallions, ginger, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Form mixture into 4 large patties. Drizzle the pan with a touch of oil. Place patties in the hot pan and cook 6 minutes on each side or until cooked through (no pink). Squeeze the juice of 1 ripe lime over the patties before removing them from the heat. Place the cooked patties on bun bottoms and top with lettuce leaves, thick slices of tomato and a dollop of mango chutney or hot pepper jelly.

Serves 4. 

Adapted from:

November 15, 2012

My Favorite Pizza Dough (No Knead!)

After trying many a recipes for pizza dough this one, with a blend of whole wheat and white flour, is my favorite. It is not to heavy, rises well, and crisps up without need to be overcooked (a had a lot of trial and error here...luckily my husband isn't too picky otherwise we would have been throwing out a lot of pizza dough). 

It is great for pizzas, calzones, flatbreads, breadsticks, etc. I make it without kneading it (that is one of my favorite things about the recipe, besides the flavor of course). It can be kept in the refrigerator in a zip-top plastic bag for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups white flour 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)
1/4 cup olive oil (original recipe had 2 tbsp oil)
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 packet yeast (1/4th oz)
2 tsp sea salt

In a mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients. Stir in the water and olive oil using a wooden spoon. You may need to use your hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. 

Cover the bowl with a dish towel and let rise for about 2 hours or until it has doubled in size. After the dough has doubled in size, cut in half or fourths. You can now store it in a zip-top bag in the refrigerator or freezer.  When using freshly made dough roll it out, cover it with your favorite toppings and bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes. 

If you are using dough from the refrigerator, let it sit out on the counter in the plastic bag for about an hour, then proceed with rolling, topping, and baking as indicated above. If you are using dough from the freezer, I suggest moving it to the refrigerator the night before so it can thaw. Once it is fully thawed, proceed using the direction for dough from the refrigeration as indicated above. 

Makes enough for 2 large pizzas or 4 small pizzas. 

Minimally adapted from:

November 13, 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Quick, filling, and flavorful, this soup is a must to add to your recipe box. Most of the ingredients are items I typically have on hand so I can throw this together in a flash. Plus, it is a great way to use up leftover corn tortillas or stale tortilla chips.  Enjoy! 

1 TBS Oil
1 1/3 pound chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
1 medium zucchini, small dice
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chipotle in adobo peppers
1-28 oz can stewed tomatoes
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken stock

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels, defrosted
1 red bell pepper, diced

4 cups corn tortillas, roughly chopped (or tortilla chips, crushed)
1-15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (optional)

Optional garnishes:
shredded cheese
sour cream
cilantro, chopped
red onion, chopped
chopped cilantro
avocado, diced

Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the hot soup pot then add the chicken. Season it with poultry seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper. Cook until lightly browned. Add the red bell pepper, zucchini, onions and garlic and chipotle peppers. Cook vegetables with chicken 5 to 7 minutes to soften. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock. Bring soup to a bubble, reduce heat to medium-low.

Stir in the corn, black beans (if using) and tortillas. Simmer until the tortillas have broken down and thickened the soup, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with any or all of the suggested garnishes.

Adapted from:

November 11, 2012

Honey Soy Crock-Pot Chicken

I adapted this recipe to reduce the sodium, sweeten it up a bit (where's the honey?), and add some more veggies (which you can steam in the slow cooker!). I also desired a thicker sauce so I added some cornstarch near the end of the cooking process. This is a great family meal that is healthy and easy. Enjoy!

1 ½ pound Boneless Chicken Thighs
1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce (Gluten-Free if desired)
1/3-1/2 cup Honey or Agave (or combo)
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Ginger, Minced
1 Tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
2 teaspoons Ground Black Pepper
1 TBS cornstarch

For Serving:
1 whole Yellow/Orange Bell Pepper*, Thinly Sliced
1 whole Red Bell Pepper*, Thinly Sliced 
1 ½ Tablespoon Sesame Seeds 
Steamed Broccoli*
Cooked Brown Rice

Place chicken in slow cooker.

In a small bowl whisk together soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, chili garlic sauce, mustard, and black pepper. Pour over chicken in slow cooker. Cook chicken on low for 5 hours. Ladle out about a 1/2 cup of the broth from the slow cooker and whisk in the cornstarch. Add the mixture back to the slow cooker and cook on low for 1 hour or until thickened.  Shred chicken in the slow cooker.

Serve over cooked rice with bell peppers and broccoli. Garnish with sesame seeds.

Serves 4-5. 

*You can steam the broccoli and bell peppers in the slow cooker if desired, just place the vegetable in a steamer basket and place them on top of the chicken for the last 30 minutes of the cooking time. 

Adapted from:

November 9, 2012

Tandoori-Style Turkey Burgers

Exotic burgers make dinner fun again. These burgers are nicely seasoned (not overpowering or too spicy) and are such a nice change from a plain old turkey burger. We served them with sweet potato fries. Enjoy!

1 1/2 pounds ground turkey (preferable dark meat)
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (from a peeled 2-inch piece)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise 
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
Whole Wheat Buns and slices of tomato for serving
Mango chutney, optional

Heat grill or non-stick pan to medium-high. In a medium bowl, place turkey, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Gently form mixture into 4 patties.  

Cook patties in preheated grill or pan until opaque throughout, approximately 6-8 minutes per side. Server on whole wheat buns with slices of cucumber, cilantro, and tomato.  For an extra kick top the patties with a dollop of mango chutney. 

Serves 4.

Slightly adapted from:

November 7, 2012

Golden Rice

Delicious!  I really enjoyed the mild flavor of the saffron balanced with the sweetness of the cinnamon, apricots and raisins and the almonds add a really nice crunch. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did =)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter (use vegan buttery sticks if desired)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon saffron 
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 1/4 cups jasmine rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup water (or all stock)
2 teaspoons salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2/3 cup salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
8-10 dried apricots, chopped
2/3 cup golden raisins
Freshly ground pepper

In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the saffron, cinnamon, stock, water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. No peeking....for 20 minutes! If the rice is still a bit moist at this point turn the burner off, but leave the lid on until you are ready to serve it. 

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the scallions and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the almonds, apricots and raisins and cook until the apricots start to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir the mixture into the rice, season with pepper and serve hot.

Serves 6-8

Minimally adapted from:

November 5, 2012

Sarasota Cupcake Company - Sarasota, FL

Sarasota Cupcake Company on UrbanspoonI had really been looking forward to trying their cupcakes as there was a place in Bend, OR that I frequented that had amazing cupcakes ( Unfortunately, I had set my standards too high. The flavors were pre-assembled - no choosing your own cake and frosting flavors...that takes some of the fun out of it. The cupcakes were fairly dry...maybe a day or two old??? Additionally, the staff couldn't even tell me what was in a certain flavor - the Chocolate Truffle had a chocolate cupcake with truffle filling inside and a cream cheese frosting (the frosting overpowered all the other flavors). So at $4 dollars a pop, I don't plan to return :-( 

November 3, 2012

Spicy Lentil Stew

Flavorful, spicy and filling, this stew is definitely a keeper. The garam masala imparts a wonderfully exotic flavor and the Rotel tomatoes and jalapeno add quite a bit of heat. This stew is also great served over hot rice. Enjoy!

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (optional - depends on how hot you like it)
2 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 butternut squash (about 3 lbs–average sized), peeled and chopped
2 10-oz cans Rotel tomatoes with their juice
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 3/4 cup red lentils
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
fresh minced cilantro, golden raisins, and shredded coconut for serving (optional)

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrot and jalapeno (if using) and saute for 6-8 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1-2 more minutes, and then add the garam masala, stirring well to coat. Take off the heat.

Place the chickpeas, butternut squash, Rotel tomatoes, red lentils, broth and onion mixture in your slow cooker. Turn the heat on LOW and cook for 8-10 hours (longer equals a thicker stew).

Season with sea salt to taste and serve with minced cilantro, golden raisins and coconut on top. 

Serves 6. 

Adapted from:

November 1, 2012

Orange-Balsamic Chicken

This simple and yummy chicken dish is super quick and easy to make. The glaze is sweet, but not overly so since it is balanced nicely by the acidity of the vinegar. It is great served with brown rice and steamed broccoli. Enjoy!

1 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tsp rosemary, chopped
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup chicken stock

In a large pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high to high heat.

Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot and ripples, add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes, then turn and sprinkle with rosemary. Cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

In a small bowl, stir together the marmalade, vinegar and stock and pour over the chicken. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and becomes a thin glaze.