Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fresh Panzanella

We finally have fresh tomatoes to go with the fresh basil from our garden. Today I made a quick and easy panzanella for my lunch. I toasted up some day old bread under the broiler with olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, and a little oregano. Then I diced up the tomato and added basil, fresh mozzarella, and some seasonings. I tossed it all together with a little balsamic vinegar. What a fresh, tasty, and healthy lunch. I think it definitely tastes great alone but even better knowing that I grew some of the ingredients that went into it!!

Panzanella-serves 1
1 cup toasted bread (I drizzle 2 slices of hearty bread with olive oil and broil until toasty and brown)
1 large tomato, cubed
2 oz. fresh mozzarella, cubed
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Toss cread, tomato, and cheese in a medium bowl.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar, add a bit of basil, and season with salt and pepper.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cookbook Review: Organically Raised

Feeding my children good food has always been a primary goal of mine. I used to make their baby food when they were starting solids and now I try to give them a variety of foods and I always encourage them to try new things. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut though and we keep eating the same things. For breakfast we rotate scrambled eggs, pancakes, oatmeal, and a traditional Arab breakfast. While these are generally healthy, and tasty, things have started to get boring lately!
So, I was delighted when I was contacted to check out a new organic cookbook made especially for babies and toddlers. It is titled Organically Raised which peeked my interest immediately. I have been more conscious about the foods I buy and prepare lately and this cookbook gave me a little boost. Last week we started testing out the new recipes and we've made a handful of them and have been pleasantly surprised. They are all super healthy and most of the recipes have an extra punch of nutrients from the use of flaxseed, sesame seeds, or ground nuts. Best of all, you'd never know you are eating healthier...the food just tastes good. Along with the recipes this book also contains a lot of information about ways to incorporate extra nutrients in our everyday food. It has tips throughout as well...did you know agave is a natural sweetener and even diabetics can eat it since it has a low score on the glycemic index?? I didn't know that.
First up...eggs! We are loving these new scrambled eggs with feta and basil since the normal scrambled eggs were plain and boring. The moment I added the basil Gabe perked up and came bouncing into the kitchen asking me what smelled so good. He and Grace both loved the eggs and even asked for seconds. The next thing I tried was a recipe for whole wheat apple waffles. These were definitely tasty!! I did switch up the flour from 100% whole wheat to a 50/50 mix of all purpose and wheat since it was just a little too healthy for us. I ate mine straight out of the wafflemaker but there is a recipe for some agave cinnamon syrup to accompany the waffles that is de-li-cious! The kids ate it up and Gabe even said "Mom will you promise to keep making this syrup." Good, huh?
For lunch the other day we tried these black beans burgers. This was definitely a healthy alternative to a traditional burger, while the kids ate them up, it was a little more difficult to pass these off as "burgers." They actually seemed to like the bean mixture prior to baking better then the finished product. I think grilling them in a grill pan or sauteing them might go over a little better. I'll have to try them in a bun with some lettuce also.
The biggest hit so far was the simplest of recipes. We made these quick and easy peanut butter balls...the recipe called for almond butter which I didn't have, so I subbed in peanut butter and it was an instant hit. The kids have been asking for them each day and even wanted to take them along on a picnic so their friends could try them out too.
Overall this cookbook definitely fits into our healthy lifestyle and I have enjoyed trying some new and delicious recipes. It would make a great gift for any new mom and has recipes for infants just starting on solids as well as recipes for the whole family to enjoy. There are standards like pancakes, mac and cheese, pizza, and more adventurous things like seared halibut, sushi, and lavender cupcakes. I am looking forward to making my way through the entire cookbook!
Check it out here:
Organically Raised Conscious Cooking for Babies and Toddlers by Anni Daulter

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Veggies and Feta

This recipe is loosely based on one I found in a health guide that came with some workout videos. I actually really like it and would enjoy it regardless of the calorie count. It is pretty simple and there is no sauce for the pasta, a splash of balsamic vinegar and the feta work to bring the dish together. We enjoyed it with some whole grain orzo from Whole Foods, which I highly recommend.

Orzo with Roasted Veggies and Feta
1/2 pound whole grain orzo
1 zucchini
1 red onion
1 medium red pepper
1 medium green pepper
(mushrooms, fresh diced tomato, and cauliflower work well too)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup feta cheese
olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
Heat oven to 400 degrees. All of the vegetables work best if they are chopped and left rather large since they will shrink as they cook. Place on a foil-lined tray and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with chopped rosemary, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat and roast vegetables for 25-30 minutes or until tender. Set aside.
Cook orzo according to package directions. Drain and place in a large serving bowl. Add roasted vegetables and balsamic vinegar. Toss to coat. Crumble feta on top of warm pasta and serve.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Tabbouleh is a traditional middle eastern parsley and bulgur salad. It is served at nearly every function I've attended with my husband. Growing up I wasn't much of a fan of this salad, but I've gotten used to it and now I even make it for my own family. Surprisingly my young son really enjoys this salad and will ask for it specifically. So, I made a small batch of it to take with us on a picnic the other day. He ate almost half of it all on his own!! I do put a bit more grain and a little less tomato in it which is to his liking.

3/4 c #1 Bulgur (cracked wheat)
4 lemons, juiced
2 bunches fresh curly parsley
1 handful fresh mint
1 large tomato, diced
6 green onions, sliced thinly
1 english cucumber, diced
1/2 c olive oil
Place bulgur in a large bowl and pour boiling water over the grain until it is just covered. Cover bowl and let sit for 30 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and let it cool completely.
While that is working, pick the curly parsley off the stem. This takes awhile, but is worth it. Wash it well. You can use the sink, bowl, or a colander but it is very sandy so be sure to wash it well. Remove and place it in a towel or salad spinner. Make sure to dry it do not want any excess water. Chop parsley in batches and place in a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and adjust seasonings according to your taste. You might like more or less tomato, oil, lemon, or salt. I usually add the juice of three lemons and slowly add more after tasting. It should taste bright, lemony, and fresh!

Mushroom Sandwich with Red Pepper Aioli

These portobello mushroom sandwiches are delicious. Best of all the aioli and tomato/basil mixture can be made ahead of time making it easy to prepare in a snap. I used rye bread today because I had it on hand, but a dense rustic bread that grills nicely would be best. Try this even if you aren't a huge mushroom fan, you'll be surprised!

Mushroom Sandwich with Red Pepper Aioli
2 large portobellos, wiped clean
1 large red pepper
1 clove garlic
baby spinach
fresh basil
olive oil
2 t balsamic vinegar
muenster cheese or you favorite melty cheese
rustic bread
Prepare Aioli: Roast red pepper on grill or over burner on gas stovetop. Grill until blackened on all sides then place in container and cover until cooled. Use your hands or paper towel to clean blackened skin off of pepper. Remove seeds. Place pepper in blender and add one clove of grated garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 basil leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until smooth. Set aside.
Tomato Mixture: Dice 1 large tomato and place in small bowl. Add 3 basil leaves sliced thinly. Season with balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
To assemble sandwiches: Oil and season both sides of the portobello mushroom and grill until tender, about 3 minutes per side. I like to place them on paper towels to soak up excess juices as I grill the bread. Place bread on grill and toast on both sides. Place cheese on one side and melt. Top bread with mushroom, tomato mixture, and spinach. Spread aioli on remaining toast and top sandwich. Enjoy!

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