Friday, January 28, 2011

Restaurant Style Meaty Marinara Sauce...

For a while now I have been wanting to try a new spaghetti recipe- one that is hardy, rich, and thick like ones they serve in an authentic Italian restaurants. I wanted something that you could use over spaghetti noodles, in a layered lasagna, or other pasta dishes and I think I have found and perfected the recipe I was dreaming of! I tried it out on my extended family this past week and got rave reviews... give it a whirl at your table, I am sure you will find the same great feedback! I have made it with both ground turkey and ground beef and I have served it over brown rice spaghetti and brown rice penne, either way it's delicious!

1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP grape seed oil
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup red wine
2 lbs. ground meat (turkey or beef)
s & p

In a large pot, add your grape seed oil and onion and saute for 2 minutes, then add your minced garlic and let that saute for another minute. Add your ground meat, turkey or beef, season it with salt and pepper and let it brown (I continually break up my meat because I like it really fine in this dish verses big chunks. If you are using beef, drain the fat once it's cooked before adding more ingredients.) Next, add everything else, stir well and let simmer for at least an hour- up to 3 if you have the time. You can also make this in the crock pot by following the same directions- still saute your onion and garlic and cook your meat on the stove- then add everything else to the crock pot to simmer all day long. Either way you choose to cook it, if it gets too thick, you may add up to a cup of water- but start at increments of 1/4 cup until you reach the consistency that you like. One last tip- I don't care for big chunks of tomatoes in this recipe, so I dump the can of diced tomatoes into my Vitamix for a few seconds to get them chopped even finer- and it's perfect!

***NOTE: This is a great recipe to freeze for later so keep that in mind when preparing it- do you want to set half of it aside or double it and keep it on hand for a night when you don't feel like cooking??? This is the perfect recipe for that!!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Lentil Soup...

It's a cold and gloomy day here, so I thought a crock pot recipe for a warm soup might come in handy. This one is simple, low in fat, high in fiber.

1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup lentils
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
5 cups chicken broth, regular or low sodium
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/3 lb. ground turkey, browned
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper

Brown your turkey meat on your stove, I season mine with s & p & garlic powder while it's cooking. Then dump everything in your crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir occasionally of you are home. Remove the bay leaf before serving. That's it!

Variations: I have made this with 1/3 pound, 1/2 pound and 1 pound of turkey before and it turns out great either way you choose... just depends what you are in the mood for. You could also omit the turkey and add some beans if you want to go the vegan route! Get creative!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash

This was a really fun use of my Butternut Squash that I got this week at Abundant Harvest Organics, our local CSA. It made a great side dish and my daughter loved them- if you like Sweet Potato Fries, you will probably like these too! Sorry about the bad picture... don't let it stop you!

1-2 butternut squash
grape seed oil
sea salt

Alternative Spices:
cinnamon, ground ginger, and nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 425. Cut your squash in half (vertically & then horizontally) then peel the outside "skin" off with a paring knife and deseed the inside cavity. Then slice your squash in thin slices, put it in a bowl and drizzle grapeseed oil on top. Sprinkle with seasoning- either sea salt and pepper OR cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Then spread them out on a roasting pan so that none of them are touching and bake for 35-45 minutes or until they begin to brown and edges are crisp. Let cool for a minute or two then begin snacking- YUM!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why Grape Seed Oil???

I received a comment the other day asking about the difference between Grape Seed Oil and Olive Oil and when I use which and why... so here's a brief breakdown of MY understanding...

I switched over to Grape Seed Oil with my cooking when I first heard about the high Smoke Point it has (421 degrees F) which means that you can use it to cook food up to that temperature without the oil breaking down or deteriorating or really changing flavor. Olive Oil on the other hand has a lower Smoke Point (350 degrees F) which means that when you cook with it, be it sauteing, frying, or baking it will begin to break down, change flavors, and possibly even let off a toxicity which you can often smell when cooking with it at high temperatures. So almost always, I use Grape Seed Oil when cooking with heat- with the exception of Coconut Oil (I use that when cooking eggs and when making baked goods, it's Smoke Point is 360 for reference) and I leave my Olive Oil for "cold cooking" such as salad dressings and the like.

All 3 oils that I mentioned above have great health benefits as well. For instance, Grape Seed Oil contains antioxidants as well as Vitamin E & C and beta-carotene. It has also been shown to lower LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") and increase HDL ("good cholesterol"). Similar findings have been shown with Olive Oil, as well as it's benefits for the heart and preventions of cancer.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice

This is a great "all-in-one" meal that has a healthy grain (brown rice), some protein (eggs & chicken) and TONS of Veggies!! My favorite recipe I've tried so far for Fried Rice... I think you'll like it too!
2 cups brown rice
4 cups water
2 TBSP Grape Seed oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup tamari soy sauce
1 TBSP sesame seeds
1-2 chicken breasts, diced
s & p
There are s few different steps going on in this dish- Step 1: you need to cook your rice, so get your 4 cups water boiling and then add your brown rice letting it cook per directions on package. Step 2: While that's going, wash and dice your chicken breasts and throw them in a skillet with a drizzle of Grape Seed Oil and give them a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Let them cook up until they are nice and browned. Step 3: in a large skillet or a wok, add your 2 TBSP Grape Seed Oil and your scrambled eggs. Cook them like you would scrambled eggs, then push them to the outside edges of your pan and add your chopped bell pepper, carrots, garlic, and ginger to the middle of the pan and let them cook that for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Last step it so put it all together. So, when your rice is done, add your rice, frozen peas, cooked chicken from your other skillet, your soy sauce, and sesame seeds and keep turning it over until all the ingredients are well mixed. I serve this for dinner. It makes a ton- enough for 4 people to eat as a meal with some left overs! It's a perfect combination or a healthy grain, veggies, and some chicken for protein! Enjoy!!!

Gluten Free: This meal can easily be made Gluten Free by using Tamari Sauce and Brown rice.
Vegan: This is also an easy Vegan Recipe by omitting the chicken and eggs.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chewy Granola Bars...

After all those holiday goodies are you ready to have a healthy snack on hand?? Here's your ticket: Healthy Homemade Chewy Granola Bars, loved by kids and adults alike. Super simple to make, but heads up- they take about an hour in the oven... gotta cook them slowly to keep them chewy! This is another recipe complements of my super talent sister, Danika... love her! Thanks for sharing your recipe.... and your granola bars when we see you!

Here's a much overdue shout out & thanks for all your recipe sharing! She's great at it all- cooking, mothering, listening, being the "baby whisperer" for my friends & I, being an awesome auntie and great Granola Bar-Maker! Love you!!
1 cup almond butter
3/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
1/2 cup raisins or cranraisins (I use half of each)
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup ground flax seed (or you can use wheat germ)
2 TBSP sesame seeds
a sprinkling of cinnamon

Super simple. Preheat your oven to 225 then in a large mixing bowl, add your almond butter, honey and vanilla and mix until well blended. Then add your dry ingredients, mix well until it's evenly blended, sprinkle in some cinnamon and give it one more stir. Then in a greased cake pan, dump out the ingredients evenly and pat down with a spatula. Then bake for about an hour- should be golden brown on top (could take about an hour and 15- check them after an hour though). Take them out, let them cool and then cut them into granola bar sizes to your liking. Store in an air tight container to keep them fresh- Enjoy!!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sister's Homemade Pancakes...

So if you read my blog a lot, you know that a lot of my yummy recipes get handed to me by my family. Fortunately for me, my Mom (we call her Debs) is an AWESOME cook and aways has been. She, instilled an interested in my older sister (Danika) and I. We happened to have a younger brother, who married a sweet young chickie (Lisa) that likes to cook as well, and I married into a family with an adveturous sister-in-law (Gelayol) who's always trying new recipes and sharing them. So from time to time, when you read my blog you will hear me say that I got my recipes from one of them... including this one! So here's a shout out to them... and a BIG thanks to their love for cooking and sharing!

Here's my sister's Homemade Pancake recipe... once you try it you won't ever want to use one of those boxes of pre-made stuff that you just add water to- these are just too good... and much better for you! Plus, chances are you will already have all the ingredients to make them right there in your pantry. AND if you have an allergy, you can try switching the flour to the one that you use! See???? I told you they were GREAT!

1& 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1& 1/4 cup milk
1 egg
3 TBSP butter, melted
*** chocolate chips- optional
In a large mixing bowl, sift your flour, baking powder, salt and sugar together. Make a well in the center and add your milk, egg, and melted butter and mix until smooth. Heat a griddle on med. high heat, grease with butter or spray and pour batter onto griddle. If you want to sweeten them up with chocolate chips, simply sprinkle a few on before flipping the pancake to the second side. Serve with syrup, peanut butter, powdered sugar, fruit spread, or any of your other favorite toppings and enjoy!

NOTE: Flour amounts might differ if you change the flour to another type (i.e. a gluten free flour). I haven't experimented with different flours yet, so if you do, let us know!