Monday, April 29, 2013

Blueberry Muffins with Yogurt and Flaxseed

My son and I made these muffins together one early morning and they were such a treat.  We substituted whole white wheat flour and added ground flaxseed and wheat germ to up the nutrition value and they were a delicious breakfast that I felt good about serving.   The kids are a little persnickety about "healthy" whole wheat versions of things like pancakes, but these passed the test and they devoured them.  They still have a good bit of sugar in them, but at least they are perfectly portioned so they can have one with a banana or pear to round out their meal.

Blueberry Muffins with Yogurt and Flaxseedmakes 10-12 muffins

2 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole white wheat flour
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 tablespoon wheat germ
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 C fresh or frozen blueberries tossed with 1 tbsp flour

For the Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Whisk the eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla, and yogurt in a large bowl.  In a sperate bowl combine the dry ingredients and whisk together to get out any lumps.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir to combine, do not overmix.  Toss frozen blueberries with a tablespoon of flour and gently fold into the batter.  Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins or tin lined with muffin cups.  Combine crumb topping ingredients in a small bowl and mix with fingers or a fork until sandy.  Generously sprinkle on each muffin and then bake for 20-25 minutes.  Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Vegetarian Lentil Soup

I posted a version of this recipe in 2007 and it is still one of our very favorite soup recipes.  I make it at least once a month and it is always gobbled up at the dinner table.  My daughter, who doesn't really care for tomatoes, says she loves them in this dish.  It makes a great meal with a slice of crusty bread or a handful of crackers.

Lentil Soup

2 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (14 ½ oz) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 ¼ cups lentils
8-10 cups water
4 sprigs thyme

salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add garlic, salt, and pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Carefully break the whole tomatoes up with your hands as you add them to the pot with their juices.  They will burst and shoot seeds and juice everywhere if you're not careful.  Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add 8 cups of the water and stir. Remove the thyme leaves from the branches and add them to the soup along with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about an hour.  I often start this early in the day and cook it until the lentils are tender and then turn the heat off and let it set for an hour or two to let the flavors develop.  I reheat just before serving.

Monday, April 22, 2013


This is a pretty basic chili recipe that we have been making for years.  The kids love the beans so I always make sure to add plenty if I have them.  This time around I added a pinch of freshly ground chili pepper which gave it some kick, but just enough.  My daughter, like most kids, has a pretty low tolerance for any heat, so I was pleased when she ate her whole bowl.  And then promptly chased it down with two glasses of milk!

1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon dry garlic
1 48 ounce can tomato juice
1 can medium chili beans
1 can kidney beans
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large pot and add the beef, onion, and celery.  Sauté until meat is browned and vegetables are tender.  Add a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and all remaining spices and cook 1 minute more.  Add all remaining ingredients and bring up to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer  for at least 1 hour.   Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

  • We thoroughly enjoyed this Chicken and Gnocchi Soup and everyone is looking forward to having it again very soon.  The kids generally love gnocchi so I made sure to add extra for them.  It was a good call!
  • When making this be sure to use dark chicken meat to get the best flavor and definitely use half and half to get the creamy texture.  I also like to store the Swiss Chard separately and add it to the bottom of each bowl before ladling the hot soup over it since I like it to taste super fresh and still have a bit of texture left.

  • Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
  • adapted from

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 quart half and half
  • 1 pint chicken stock
  • 1 cup celery, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked chopped chicken, dark meat or rotisserie work the best
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 1-2 cups chopped Swiss chard
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese and parsley
  • 1 package mini gnocchi, cook as directed

  • Melt butter and oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and garlic and cook 6-8 minutes, or until tender.  Add flour and stir to combine, cook 2 minutes more.  Add half and half slowly, bringing up to a simmer and stirring often until thickened and then add broth and heat until it is simmering again.  Add seasonings, chicken, shredded carrot, and gnocchi.  Cook until gnocchi float and chicken is heated through.  Stir in Swiss chard just before serving.  Serve with grated Parmesan and parsley on top.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches

This tasty sandwich is a breeze to put together but it feels dressed up enough to serve for a get together with friends or family.  The first time I made these I followed this recipe for ham and cheese sliders, but I used mini potato rolls.  They were amazing!  They were warm and nicely crisp on the bottoms and they were perfect for our playgroup lunch.  I think the mini version would also make a great 2-3 bite appetizer.  My only problem was that they were not filling enough, so I used torta bread that I had bought from Costco to make a quick sandwich for my lunch the next day.  It was so delicious, much more filling, and it really hit the spot.  I think an entire tray of these would be the perfect food for our next game day meal.
Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwiches
serves 4

4 torta sandwich rolls
12 slices deli ham
4-8 slices swiss cheese
mayonnaise or miracle whip
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
1-2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce

Line a large baking sheet with foil.  Cut rolls and place bottoms side by side on sheet pan.  Layer the meat and cheese on each roll.  Spread miracle whip or mayo (or a combo of the two like the original recipe) on the inside of the tops and place on rolls.  Melt butter in a small saucepan (or microwave in a pyrex measuring cup) and then whisk in remaining ingredients.  Brush butter mixture over the tops of each of the sandwiches, you do not need to use all of it, and then cover tray with foil.  Bake for 350° for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake another 5 minutes.  Serve with napkins!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Pad Thai

A few weeks ago I was blog hopping and I came across this post from one of my favorite blogs, Dinner a Love Story, and I identified with Jenny for a couple of reasons.  First, I rarely, if ever, follow a recipe to a T.  I am always editing things or substituting things because I never menu plan unless I'm hosting a party.  I fly by the seat of my pants every night and I can not tell you what I am making for dinner most nights until I start cutting up the onions.   Secondly, I  have always loved a good personal challenge.  So the idea of Dinner Party cum Personal Challenge sounds like a great idea.  I'm going to make it a goal to do that very soon.  When I do I will definitely let you know about it.  
Until then I can only tell you that I did copy her and I made the same Pad Thai recipe that she blogged about in that post.   I happened to find myself next door to the Super H Asian Market the very next day, and I took it as a sign that I was supposed to make this Pad Thai recipe as well.  I got every single ingredient on my list and set to work making pad thai from scratch that night.  It turned out a delightfully flavorful, yet light, pad thai.  It had great depth of flavor from the tamarind paste, red chilis, and pickled radish.  To my surprise the kids even devoured it...although, if they had smelled that pickled radish they may not have been so willing!  If you live near an Asian Market, and you like pad thai, I would suggest that you try this recipe.  It was pretty awesome.

Pad Thai
Here is my version from the second time I made it.  I increased it to serve 4 people, omitted the tofu, and simplified the process and the results were still terrific.

10-12 ounces pad thai noodles (rice noodles)
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tablespoons pickled radish, rinsed and chopped
2 cups brean sprouts
1/2 cup tamarind water (I mixed wet tamarind with water and then pressed it through a sieve)
4-5 Tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 cup simple syrup, made with palm sugar*
1 teaspoon ground dried thai chiles
1 large handful of garlic chives cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 cup crushed peanuts
lime wedges
In a large bowl, place the noodles and cover with boiling water.  Soak for 5-8 minutes, until tender but not mushy, drain.  Heat oil in a large saute pan or wok.  Add eggs and stir briefly.  Cook for 30 seconds and then add the shrimp.  Cook 2-3 minutes or until pink.  Add radish and noodles and cook 1 minute more.  Add all remaining ingredients, except lime.  Stir fry for 1-2 minutes or until the noodles have been coated and then serve.  Garnish with more peanuts and lime juice.
* Heat equal amounts of water with palm sugar and bring to a boil.  Whisk until dissolved and slightly thickened.

Monday, April 08, 2013

Mom's Granola

This recipe comes to you from my mother's kitchen...she has made this for years and everyone loves it.  I can eat it for breakfast with yogurt or by the handful as a snack and I never tire of it.  That is precisely why I only keep one jar out at a time and freeze the rest!

4 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (I used raisins and cranberries)
1 1/2 cup nuts (I used a combo of walnuts, slivered almonds and sliced almonds)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Mix oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nuts in a large bowl.  Combine honey and oil and heat until dissolved.  (Stovetop or microwave work.)  Whisk in vanilla.  Drizzle over oat mixture and toss to coat.  Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Let cool completely and then break up and add the dried fruit.  Store in an airtight container for short term use or freeze flat in a ziplock bag.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Sausage Stuffed Cabbage in Tomato

These sausage stuffed cabbage rolls are made with very simple ingredients, but they are packed with flavor from the sausage and the tomato sauce they are cooked in.  Once you have the cabbage leaves separated it is a very easy process to roll them up and then they cook away on the stove and taste just as good reheated on the second day.

Sausage Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 large head of cabbage
1 pound sweet italian pork or turkey sausage
1/4-1/2 cup grated parmesan
4 slices bread
1/2 cup milk
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
fresh pepper
1 large can (28oz) tomato puree

Fill a large pot or dutch oven with water and bring to a simmer.  Peel away the largest leaves of cabbage, wash, and reserve for later.  Place the head of cabbage in the simmering water and slowly and gently peel away the outer layers.   I find using a pair of tongs and a knife or fork help.  Set the leaves on a sheet pan to cool.   Reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid and discard the rest.
In a food processor place the onion and garlic.  Pulse a few times and then add the fresh bread.  Pulse a few more times and then dump into a large bowl.  Add the paremesan, milk, rosemary, salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.
Layer the dutch oven with a few of the large green outer leaves.  Trim a bit of the thick stem from the leaves and then place an ounce or two of meat mixture on each leaf and roll them up a bit like a burrito.  Place them in the lined dutch oven and repeat with remaining leaves until you run out of filling or leaves.
Pour the can of tomato puree over the rolls and gently tip the pot around to distribute the sauce.  Add some of the cooking liquid, about a cup or so, and tip to moisten all of the rolls.  Add more if it looks to be too little.  Heat over medium and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Bean Soup

What do you normally do with your leftover Easter Ham?  I like to make soup from our ham bone and the natural choice is a flavorful bean soup.  It takes very little in the way of work at the front end and it stays on the stovetop simmering away for an hour or two or three.  It is a one pot meal with only a handful of ingredients and it goes really well with the rest of you Easter leftovers, namely a ham sandwich,  a big chef salad, or an egg salad sandwich.  It reheats and freezes well too.
Bean Soup

1 Ham bone
1 pound dry navy beans
1 small onion, diced
3-4 stalks celery, diced
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
2 cups diced ham

Rinse the dry beans in water and then soak in a quart of water overnight.  In the morning drain the excess water from the beans.  In a large pot, heat a teaspoon or two of oil and add the onion, celery, and a bit of salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until onion starts to soften.  Add ham bone, beans, bay leaves, and enough water to cover the beans.  (I make sure the water is about 1 inch over the beans.)  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low and simmer until beans are tender, about 1-2 hours.  I often leave mine on low for 2-3 hours so that the flavors have time to develop.  Remove ham bone and take any remaining meat off the bone and return to soup.  Remove bay leaves and add the remaining 2 cups diced ham to soup and adjust seasonings if needed.   Heat through and serve.

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