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Posts from the ‘cooking’ Category

Simple Homemade Applesauce (Unsweetened)

This is my super-simple applesauce recipe…  Really, it couldn’t be easier. With less than 10 minutes of hands-on time, there is NO reason not to make this. Immediately.

(Full-disclosure – this recipe requires a slow-cooker/crock-pot).

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Ingredients:

9 medium apples of your choice (preferably NOT Granny Smith – too sour!)

2 large lemons, juiced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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With so few ingredients, it is easy to double or even triple this recipe (just make sure your slow-cooker is large enough!). For a batch and a half, I use this red 4-quart slow-cooker with no problem. If I was going to make a double or triple batch, I would move up to my 6-quart cooker.

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This is an unsweetened applesauce, and Tristan and I both love the taste. The combination of the vanilla extract and the cinnamon actually makes it taste a wee bit sweet, I believe.

Directions:

Wash your apples, but don’t worry about peeling them.

Core the apples, using the cheat-method like me – cut all four “cheeks” off the sides of the apple, leaving the core intact ( and ta-da! a cored apple).

Slice or chop your apples into large chunks. (you certainly don’t need to waste your time being precious about the size or shape – it doesn’t matter at all).

Plop the apple slices into the slow-cooker, add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and sprinkle in the cinnamon.

Put the lid on, and set your cooker to LOW.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours, and enjoy the most amazing smelling kitchen during this time!

Once your apples are soft and juicy, mash with a potato masher, to achieve the applesauce consistency you desire.

Then, if you’re like me – whip out the immersion blender and go to town. It doesn’t take long. The skins blend right up, giving the applesauce a lovely hue, and TASTE!

I for one, don’t like the mouth-feel of cooked apple skins (eww), but I want the nutritional benefits of the skin. (And let’s be honest – I don’t want to peel that many apples, either!). So, I found a way to leave the skin on, while ending up with a smooth final product…  blending!

I use my Cuisinart immersion blender, but you could certainly blend the cooked apples up a blender, (working in batches), as well. Or, if you don’t have issues with cooked apple skins separating from the apple bits (again – ewww), just stop at the mashing step.

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We keep this in the refrigerator for about a week… IF it lasts that long. A week is about my standard time-frame for food safety and freshness, when it comes to home-cooking, it seems. This applesauce also freezes well, if that’s your thing.

Enjoy!

~

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

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I made this for breakfast this morning, and it was so delicious, I just had to share!

In the mix:

1/3 c. milk of choice (I used organic 2%)

1/3 c. rolled oats

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 small banana (or 1/2 large), chopped

3.5 oz plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)

1/16 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)

pinch of salt

splash of vanilla extract

3 TBSP canned pumpkin

1-2 TBSP pumpkin butter (recipe coming tomorrow!) for the bottom

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT the pumpkin butter together. Spread pumpkin butter in the bottom of your vessel of choice (for me it’s always a pint Ball jar), and then pour in the overnight oats. Let sit to thicken (refrigerate just a couple of hours, or overnight).

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This was amazing. And hey – I got my fruit and some veg in with breakfast! Win.

good to the last drop

Good to the last drop!

~

Weekends

Weekends always go by far too quickly. My life is busy, busy… and I look forward to my weekends, like a kid looking forward to Xmas.

Though I usually have so much that I want to accomplish, that they end up being just as busy as my weekdays… and… well… it’s just a vicious circle really.

However, this past weekend, I was able to take a well-deserved lazy day on Saturday. I had gotten off of work a few hours early on Friday, and was able to do my weekly grocery shopping, as well as a much-needed trip to Costco that afternoon. Then I came home and turned my kitchen into pumpkin-flavored heaven, as promised.

Pumpkin muffins (so moist and doughy!), pumpkin butter and pumpkin cream cheese. All made with real food ingredients, and respectably healthy.

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Put all three together, and you have a winning combination, as we happily discovered…

super deluxe muffins

Saturday morning was my usual ritual of Farmers’ Market and coffee…

sat am coffeefarmers bounty basket

I was thrilled to find GREENS at the market again… and (possibly?) went a little crazy, buying Collards (two types), and arugula! As well as 3 green peppers, breakfast radishes, and something called ‘Asparagus Beans’… (they look like Chinese Long Beans to me). I also bought some fingerling potatoes, eggs and some chicken breasts… as well as these super-cute itty-bitty tomatoes …

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Awwww.

I returned home in a light drizzle, to find Susan and Victor (Tristan’s Mom and nephew) at our house, hanging out. After Susan and I caught up -we’re both quite chatty (much to Victor’s dismay – 12 year old boys get bored pretty easily around women); they headed out, and that marked the end of my productive day! The rest of the day was spent in sweats, on the couch with Tristan, watching the first season of Raising Hope on DVD, and taking a nap.  It rained, it poured, and we lounged. Fantastic. I didn’t even have to cook dinner, courtesy of Mellow Mushroom and my lovely boyfriend who went to pick it up.

We were excited for the premiere of Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin, and bought some Schweddy Balls in his honor. It didn’t disappoint! (The ice cream or the show!).

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(If you don’t get that reference, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends).

When it comes to relaxing, I’m normally such a guiltaholic (Tristan says it’s my Catholic school childhood!); but on Saturday I was able to take a step back, and not give myself a hard time for relaxing. I know I deserve it (always!), but sometimes it is honestly hard to let go.

Sunday morning I had a mini lie-in, and then a breakfast of coffee, local eggs and homemade pumpkin muffins.

Then it was back to the business of my weekend to-do list… multiple loads of laundry, and of course, keeping busy in the kitchen.

I turned these… applesauce1

into applesauce. (will post the recipe tomorrow)

And I  lightened up my favorite hummus recipe, by using some vegetable broth (not exactly authentic – but rest-assured there was evoo and tahini in there – just less of it – as I tend to eat hummus by the boatload).

Sunday night I made my Minestrone soup (recipe to come), and indulged in a giant bowl of healthy comfort food. Seriously, it is so GOOD. I’ve been eating it nonstop ever since.

I also enjoyed my first Schlafly Pumpkin Ale this weekend, as well (which came to me all the way from Illinois! More on that later).

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Do you find it easy to ‘let go’ and relax on the weekends….? Or are you a control-freak, like me? 🙂

~

Nacho Average Dinner

After seeing Kath’s Not Nachos post the other day, I found myself with a serious nacho craving last night. As luck would have it, we had tacos for dinner a few nights ago, so there were leftovers to incorporate; which made pulling my nacho dinner together a snap! Hooray for convenience, and not wasting leftovers!

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In the mix:

      • Trader Joe’s Baked Blue Corn Chips
      • Extra sharp white cheddar cheese
      • Seasoned black beans (leftover)
      • Ground (local) chicken (leftover)
      • Shredded romaine
      • Chopped mixed veggies (green onion, red onion, carrot and celery)
      • Cherry tomatoes (garden-grown)
      • Trader Joe’s Pineapple Salsa
      • Plain Greek yogurt

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This tasted fresh and summery, which was just what I wanted.

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Rustic Summer Gazpacho

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Ingredients:

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ red onion, diced

3 stalks celery, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 purple bell pepper, diced

1 large cucumber (peeled if necessary),diced

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Veg-Out & Booze It Up

As per my ritual, Saturday morning found me at the Farmers’ Market. I went a little nuts this week (everything looked so beautiful!) and spent about $45 (I think. Maybe it would be best if I just “forgot”). I spent $27 at one of my favorite vendors… Hinson Farms. (My other favorite farm is Carlea Farms). All of the vendors at the market are fantastic, but these two definitely get top billing in my book!

I normally only go to the market with about $30 in cash (plus my checkbook for must haves and meat!). However, flush with cash… I spent, spent, spent. I was paying with quarters by the time I dragged myself away. And here is what I came home with…

 market bounty

Two dozen farm-fresh eggs, cucumbers, edamame, romaine (3 heads), Cherokee purple tomatoes, peaches, Russian fingerling potatoes, purple and green bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, Japanese eggplant, and a small honeydew melon.

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After the vet and car ordeal, I popped into the ABC store to restock some of our favorites and scope out some new finds…

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Lunch was simple sandwich of guacamole, tomato and pepper jack cheese on Great Harvest Honey Whole Wheat (the heels), with a few sweet potato chips. And then… then we napped. Food coma!

saturday lunch

Lilly napped as well… she was worn out from her exciting vet visit!

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When we arose, I got to work in the kitchen (again – and always!)

First, I macerated some fresh strawberries in Limóncello. This is a summertime favorite of ours!

limoncello berries

Then, it was cocktail time! I purchased Skinnygirl Margarita for the first time. I am a huge fan of Bethenny, and thought this was definitely worth a try! It was good… none too sweet – but of course, that’s how I like my margaritas! As I make a damn good one myself, this definitely will not be a staple in my house – but I think it is a good product, and I would love it if restaurants started carrying it!

skinnygirl marg

Dinner was a simple pesto pasta with sautéed veggies, drizzled in balsamic, on the side.

In the mix:

9 oz. whole wheat rotini

prepared pesto, to taste

15 oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

Prepare your pasta, drain and stir in as much pesto as your little heart desires. Throw in your drained cannellini beans, and stir to heat through.

Topped with:

garden fresh cherry tomatoes

fresh parmesan cheese curls

pesto bean pasta

For dessert? Limóncello strawberries, of course!

strawbs with limon

~

Things That Make You Go Mmmm!

Cravings struck me the other day … first for Mmmm Sauce, and then for something sweet with chocolate. I’ll get to the dessert in a bit… first, Mmmm.

I love Mmmm Sauce. Love. I wanted to lick the food processor blade when I was cleaning up, but I refrained. My tongue thanked me.

As someone who is definitely NOT a vegan, nor aspiring to be one – I find my love for Mama Pea’s reciPEAS a little surprising. I think that is just a testament to how fantastic she is in coming up with delicious food – vegan or not.

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As for the chocolate fix… I decided that I wanted to try to make a microwave cookie-type thing. I searched around a bit, and went with the guidelines for a 3 minute cookie on CNC – with a few changes. Thus, at 10pm, I found myself whipping up the following…

  • 1/4 c. oats
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp. organic cane sugar
  • 2 tsp. spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 (heaping) TBSP chocolate chips (60% cacao)

and cooked it on high, in a lightly sprayed crock for about 65 seconds. I started out with 45, and it didn’t appear done (and smelled like eggs!!), I cooked it for another 10 secs, took a peek, and then cooked it for another 10 secs. That seemed to do the trick.

I was able to lift it right out and onto a plate, with no problems with it sticking.

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I think I will have to experiment with it a few more times, before I can decide if it’s something I like or not. Next time I plan to forgo the egg white all together, and add mashed banana instead, also subbing honey for the sugar, with a bit more flour, too, I think. It was okay, but just a starting point. I definitely didn’t love it.

But the Mmmm Sauce? Yeah, I finished that in 2 meals and a snack. All by myself. Yep. And I’m not sorry.

~

Snap, Crackle, Pop!

On my own for dinner last night, I decided to make my house smell like curry!

While perusing the fridge, and checking out my “must make” recipe list from my favorite blogs, I happened upon a head of cauliflower. Thus, Mama Pea’s Cracklin’ Cauliflower BEGGED to be made. This has been on my radar for quite some time (January!), but I never managed to have cauliflower at just the right time to make it. I love anything even remotely Indian-flavored, so I was pretty certain it was going to be a winner.

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I have a killer Indian Spiced Roasted Chickpea recipe that I make often, so I made a batch of that as well, and threw some on top along with some Greek yogurt. (I also snacked quite a bit on the chick peas, as they were out of the oven first, while I was waiting on the cauliflower. I could eat the whole batch of chick peas). Y.U.M.

This is a nice, mildly spiced dish… I made it pretty much per instructions, aside from the fact that I left out the ginger because I didn’t have any. Nor did I venture out in the wicked storm to pluck some fresh cilantro from my garden. Next time I would probably bump the onions up quite a bit, as you can’t go wrong with more cooked onions. Mmm. Brilliant!

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Cracklin’ Cauliflower  (lightly adapted from Peas and Thank You)

2 servings

  • 1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
  • 2 t. olive oil
  • 1/2 t salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. garam masala
  • 1 small chopped yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. frozen peas
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

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Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut cauliflower into florets, wash and pat dry.

Put florets in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, to coat.

Add salt, curry, and garam masala, stir to coat.

Add onion, garlic, peas and lemon juice.

Season to taste with pepper and additional salt, if necessary.

Pour mixture into a baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.

Garnish with fresh cilantro (if using) and serve.

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For me, this was dinner last night and lunch today… (along with the roasted chickpeas and Greek yogurt topper). My belly is happy.

~

Homey Cinco de Mayo

Last night Tristan and I celebrated Cinco de Mayo in style! Well… if not in style, (I was in my comfy pants, after all) in deliciousness at least.

I made tacos on corn tortillas, with local pastured ground chicken, and my homemade ‘taco seasoning’. I topped mine with sharp white cheddar, local romaine, chopped tomatoes, local spring onions, diced avocado and a few dollops of Greek yogurt. I think these were hands down the BEST tacos I have ever made. And I’ve made a lot. The ground chicken was unexpectedly moist and tender, I really enjoyed it. Thanks, Baucom’s Best!

chicken tacos etc

I also threw together my super easy Mexican rice, some simple black beans (un-pictured), and roasted some broccoli from the Farmer’s Market.

And of course, my personal Cinco de Mayo celebrations would not be complete without a margarita. (Full disclosure – I actually had one and a half margaritas. I had planned to have two, but I belatedly discovered that I was perilously low on Patron. Hmm… it’s in a clear bottle, I clearly should have paid more attention!). Good thing Tristan doesn’t drink margaritas. It was all for me!

angie's margarita

I don’t do the sickly sweet neon green margarita mix anymore… making your own margarita is so simple and beats that processed glow-in-the-dark junk…

Angie’s Favorite Margarita:

1 oz Patron (or tequila of choice)

1/2 oz Triple Sec

2 oz lime juice (I squeezed fresh last night, but you can also use the “Real Lime” juice in a bottle. It’s fine, I swear).

1-2 tsp finely ground cane sugar (or none at all if you want it sour)

margarita fixings

Pour all ingredients above into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake for a minute. This helps to disolve the sugar, and makes it a little bit frothy (which I love).

Pour over (new) ice into your glass of choice, rimmed with salt if that’s your thing (it’s mine!).

Top off with a splash of plain seltzer (I never measure this, but it’s not much). Swirl, and serve with a wedge of lime on the rim!

~

Cooking up and taking down…

Now that I’m amongst the land of the living again, I have been enjoying some pretty flowers…

spring flowers

… playtime outside with puppies…

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Tug of wubba

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They never stop!

… and being a busy bee in my kitchen…

Granola (of course!)… I make a big batch of this every 3-4 weeks.

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Spiced Vanilla Granola

English muffins… I make several batches of these at a time, split them and freeze them for easy breakfast and snacks. They are so wonderfully delicious! English muffins are something that I’ve really missed since cutting processed food out. I am so happy to be able to make my own whole-grain English muffins with minimal ingredients.

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Whole-grain English Muffins

Coconut Butter! This is so easy, it is ridiculous. Really. And, this 8 oz jar only cost me $2.79, to make.

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Coconut Butter

My favorite Almond Butter!! It was definitely time to make more! We’ll see how long this jar lasts. 🙂

jar of heaven

Heaven in a jar

Simple Broccoli salad with yogurt dressing…

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Fresh broccoli salad with yogurt dressing

Carrot Pumpkin Muffins…

pumpkin carrot muffin

How could you go wrong with this?

Emily’s Vegetable Masala burgers

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Delicious with avocado on top!

Collards. Lots of collards. (My “fall garden” exploded with them, all of a sudden).

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Sweet & Spicy Collards

Panang Curry

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Panang Tofu Curry

Dolsot Bibimbap and Kimchi

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Dolsot Bibimbap

kimchi

Spicy!

And of course… Lilly’s favorite Crunchy Peanut Butter dog treats!

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World's greatest (and healthiest) dog treats!

On the cookbook front, I recently purchased Mark Bittman’s Food Matters, and am in love. (shhh, don’t tell Tristan). I’ve made several recipes out of it already… Brothy Vegetable and Lentil Soup (with some modifications), Skillet Tamales (w/local grass fed beef), Refried Black Beans, Arroz Con Pollo – and then some (with local pastured chicken), and Cauliflower Mac & Cheese.  I have dozens more pages bookmarked to try .

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Cauliflower Mac & Cheese

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Lentil Soup

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Skillet Tamales and Refried Black Beans

As for outside of the kitchen, we’ve had a very rainy and chilly week here… Spring? Not so much. I actually love rainy days as a rule, but I have to say – I much prefer the dry days now with Lilly around. Mud sucks. Mud on paws, sucks even more. And mud on my carpet? Don’t get me started.

Also making me long for sunnier days? The fact that our beautiful gazebo took a cartwheeling tumble about a month ago, and now resembles something a 2 year old would make with Tinker Toys, rather than an attractive and useful addition to our backyard.

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Anyone know what to do with 145 lbs of crumpled steel?

We’ve bitten the bullet and purchased a new one (ooh, it’s even bigger!) and can’t wait to put it up. However, it is far too soggy out there right now.

So I’m uncharacteristically ready for the sun. Spring. Not summer. Do you hear me, universe? NOT. Summer.

~