Booze & Beverages · Recipes

Orange Berry Smoothie

Is anyone else out there feeling desperate for simple, healthful food after that holiday? Yeah, me too. As much as I love stuffing, casseroles and pie, they do take a toll on your energy level, complexion and waistline. Personally what I’ve been craving is fresh fruit, lots of water and NO bread! So I threw together a refreshing smoothie and a batch of low-fat breakfast muffins with broccoli and feta (which I’ll post here in a few days). Enjoy:

Orange Berry Smoothie

A refreshing blend of orange, strawberry & banana with coconut milk for creaminess.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (light)
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 banana, frozen or fresh

Directions

Blend all ingredients together and enjoy cold. Makes enough for two!

I used a frozen banana because I always keep them handy; a little over a cup of the OJ and coconut milk, because that’s what I had left in the jugs in my fridge; and a heaping cup full of frozen strawberries.You can use full-fat coconut milk if you don’t mind the extra calories, and of course you can substitute greek yogurt to make it extra thick.

This is SO fresh and tasty in the morning!

Booze & Beverages · Recipes

Three Ideas for Leftover Cranberry Sauce

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving & Black Friday and that you’re getting geared up for Cyber Monday (I know I am!) I meant to post this last year, but then forgot to do it and eventually it was too late. As I’ve mentioned before, I love making homemade cranberry sauce, and I always make sure there’s plenty extra. But what if you just have TOO much left over? Here are a couple fun things to do with extra cranberry jelly.

Photo Courtesy of Inspired2Cook (http://www.inspired2cook.com/2011/12/17/leftover-cranberry-sauce-vinaigrette/).

First up, a salad dressing by Inspired2Cook:

Cranberry Sauce Vinaigrette

Adapted from Cook’s Country Magazine. Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup leftover cranberry sauce

Whisk shallot, mustard, red wine vinegar, and olive oil into leftover cranberry sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

***

Next up, a smoothie, courtesy of Hillbilly Housewife:

Cranberry Smoothie

  • 1 can or 16 oz. of cranberry sauce
  • 1 bag (16 oz) frozen unsweetened peach slices, partially thawed
  • 1 container (6 oz) vanilla yogurt
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Blend together until smooth. Serve cold.

***

Finally, scones, courtesy of Gourmandia:

Cranberry Oat Scones

  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 2 C all-purpose whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 C light brown sugar, packed
  • 3 tsp (=1 tbsp) baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ C butter or margarine
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 C plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla OR orange extract
  • 2/3 C cranberry sauce (the thicker the better)

Preheat the oven to 425F. In the large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients, then add the butter/margarine and cut it into the flour mixture. As long as you’ve washed them well, you can use your hands to do the cutting, but a fork will work just fine. In the small mixing bowl, combine the egg, the plain yogurt, the vanilla/orange extract, and the cranberry sauce. Mix with the fork until well-blended. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients to them. Blend lightly with the fork until you have a soft dough. Scoop out quarter-cup-sized balls of dough and place them on the greased cookie sheet or into the cups of the greased muffin tin. (You can also drop all of the dough into a greased cake or loaf pan and use the dough to make a thick cake or dessert loaf. Bake your scones in the oven for abut 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. NOTE: If you are doing the loaf/cake version, you will need to cook it for a good half-hour.

Serve hot with butter, and enjoy.

***

Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving!

If I had to pick one signature dish that I make every year and that I know my family loves, it would be my cranberry sauce from scratch. I created this version with inspiration from a Rachael Ray Magazine recipe that I found right after college, and it’s such a hit that I haven’t looked back. Sugar, cranberries, ginger, cinnamon sticks and orange zest: perfection.

There’s a lot on our Thanksgiving menu this year: turkey, stuffing and gravy (although not for me), plus mashed sweet potatoes,  broccoli casserole, corn bread, roasted brussels sprouts, and of course pumpkin and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.  I’ve been eating light all week in anticipation! Mark and I combine festivities with both sides of the family these past couple years, but I always miss the relatives I can’t see, like the Florida peeps, and especially my dad. Plus, without the Italian side on hand, I don’t get any lasagna, which is tragic 😦

(Fear not, though: I always make stuffed shells the week of Thanksgiving to have in the fridge when I’m sick of cooking and hankering for something  reheat-able and satisfying).

How about you — what are YOUR family traditions and favorite recipes? 

I hope the holiday finds you safe, among family and friends, and relaxing away from work…at least for a little while.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Recipes

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni & Chili

Remember two weeks ago, when everyone stayed up past midnight to watch the election results right on the heels of Hurricane Sandy and just before a big Nor’Easter? Yeah, that’s when I made this. This cheesy lazy thing. I’m pretty glad it’s in my repertoire with the holiday craziness rolling in.

Sweet n’ Spicy Macaroni and Chili

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (1 16-0z. package) small whole wheat shells
  • 1 can (14.7 oz.) Trader Joe’s vegetarian chili (or similar)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of coconut milk
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of salsa
  • Salt, to taste
  • optional but snazzy: 1 TBSP chutney

I used orecchiette, when I couldn’t find the small whole wheat shells I wanted; Trader Joe’s Organic Vegetarian Chili; shredded mozzarella and parmesan cheese (Target brand); Trader Joe’s Light Coconut Milk; Trader Joe’s Smoky Peach Salsa; and Trader Joe’s Mango-Ginger Salsa.

Obviously you can make this with real chili, any variety of salsa, another kind of shredded cheese, and dairy milk if you eat those foods. I personally love how this is safe for lactose-intolerant and vegetarian seekers of comfort food.

Directions

Set a medium sized pot of pasta on to boil. You want it slightly undercooked as it will continue cooking in the final pan. Once the pasta is done, set aside in a bowl.

In the same pan you cooked the pasta in, add the chili and cheese. Stir in the coconut milk, salsa and a pinch of salt.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is warm and the cheese is melted; toss in the pasta. Stir, add the chutney if using, and taste. Adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve warm!

The original recipe also offered the following substitution to make the dish vegan: 1 cup Daiya vegan shredded non-dairy cheese, or 1/4 cup nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup coconut milk.

You can also feel free to add in a dash more coconut milk if this comes together too thick, and if you prefer even more heat than the salsa and the chutney offer, splash in some tabasco sauce or some jarred jalapenos (maybe these?)

Recipe inspiration came from healthy slow cooking.

Recipes

Healthy Baked Spaghetti

This is my lightened-up version of a comfort food favorite.  Chock full of seasonal vegetables, this dish features reduced-fat cheese as well as vegetarian crumbles instead of ground beef or sausage. And by using gluten-free rice pasta, you reduce that “bloated” feeling you get after eating a heavy pasta meal. I served it with a tasty mixed greens salad tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Enjoy this heart-healthy dinner and treat yourself to a glass of white wine with all the calories you’ve saved!

Ingredients

  • 1 package whole wheat or rice pasta
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray for your casserole dish
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • vegetarian meat crumbles (such as Morningstar meal starters)
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced (you could use any color)
  • salt & Italian seasoning to taste (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups mushrooms or another seasonal veggie (I used up a zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup shredded part skim mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup torn basil leaves
  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

Set a large pot of water on to boil. Cook pasta until it’s a few minutes away from being done, as it will continue cooking in the casserole dish and you don’t want it to fall apart. Drain and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the chopped onion once it’s hot, stirring frequently until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant, and then the vegetarian crumbles. Stir in the bell peppers and the mushrooms (or zucchini, like I did) and Italian seasoning & salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softening (about another 5 minutes).

Add the crushed tomatoes, water, and basil, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and cook, simmering, another 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce thickens.

Preheat the oven to 375 and spray a casserole dish or 9×13 glass baking pan.

Add the pasta to the skillet and toss to combine with the sauce.

Spoon half the spaghetti mixture into the casserole dish, then sprinkle half the cheese on top. Repeat with the other half of the spaghetti and cheese.

Cover loosely with foil sprayed with cooking spray and cook 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. (Don’t let the foil touch the cheese!)

Let stand for five minutes and serve hot.

What makes this healthier:

  • Not using butter to grease the pan or cook any of the ingredients.
  • Substituting lower-fat cheese without sacrificing flavor.
  • Replacing ground beef or sausage with my favorite vegetarian crumbles, by Morningstar (these have not only great flavor but believable texture, which is key for recreating dishes you may have grown up with).
  • Whole wheat or rice pasta (which I prefer because it’s gluten free, keeping my stomach pain-free with the added bonus of preventing bloat).
  • Serving with a side salad instead of outdoing your pasta portion!

I really hope you enjoy this. It’s adapted from a Bobby Deen recipe I found in Food Network Magazine, and has made its way into our regular meal rotation.

Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

These are very pumpkin-y and taste like Fall (in Mexico)? Super easy and nutritious with a few key ingredient swaps, these make a good weeknight meal when served with veggies (I chose corn) or a salad.

Pumpkin Spice Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 4 oz. light cream cheese  (about half a small container)
  • 1 1/2 cups pureed pumpkin (fresh or frozen — I used fresh!)
  • heaping TBSP pumpkin butter
  • dash of nutmeg
  • packet of taco seasoning (only need a tablespoon or so, to taste)
  • 1 can (7 oz.) diced green chilis
  • 1 can (10 oz.) green enchilada sauce, mild
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) fat free black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1 package whole wheat tortillas (small or large)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 and get out a 9×13 glass baking dish.

In a mixing bowl, combine the pureed pumpkin (use frozen if you don’t have fresh) with the cream cheese (brought to room temperature) and stir to blend. Then, add the taco seasoning mix, chilis, and black beans (rinsed). Stir until just combined. Last, add the pumpkin butter and nutmeg and mix by hand until just blended.

In my opinion, the pumpkin butter really MAKES this dish and gives it the flavor punch it needs to be special. Without it, though, the enchiladas will turn out just fine, so don’t let one ingredient deter you.

Assemble each enchilada one by one, cupping the tortilla in one hand while scooping a few spoons full of the pumpkin mixture into the center, adding cheese on top. You’ll use about half your cheese inside the enchiladas and the rest on top of the dish before it goes into the oven.

Place the tortillas folded-side down in the pan; you can probably squeeze about 7 in one pan. Top them with enchilada sauce, taking a spoon to spread it in between and beneath each one, and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese starts browning. Serve warm.

I made some key choices to keep this healthier: whole wheat tortillas, low-fat shredded cheese, fat free black beans (which I rinsed under cold water to reduce the sodium content), lite cream cheese, and serving this with veggies on the side instead of tortilla chips, and without sour cream (it’s creamy enough already!) I also reduced the amount of cheese I typically bake on top. One of these enchiladas plus a full serving of veggies, like the frozen corn I used here, is a much healthier choice than using “Mexican night” as an excuse to overload on fried chips, fatty condiments and beer!

If you liked this, check out my butternut squash enchiladas, and my spinach-ricotta enchiladas — two more vegetarian options that are just as easy and delicious.

Booze & Beverages · Recipes

Strawbanana Spinach Smoothie

If  you know me, you know I always throw greens into EVERY smoothie I make, because…well, why not? It tastes great and it adds critical nutrients. This one is simple but delicious and makes a great breakfast drink.

Strawbanana Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of frozen strawberries
  • 1 small coconut water
  • 1 banana, frozen (fresh is also OK)
  • handful of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup apple juice (add more or less to taste)

Directions

Adding liquids to the bottom of the blender first, blend all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy cold.

This recipe makes enough for two good-sized smoothies that you can put in the fridge for the week. You can use more or less apple juice to your taste; it does add sugar, so you could leave it out and either add more coconut water to make up the difference, or just use plain old water. You won’t even be able to taste (or see) the spinach, but you WILL get all the benefits of this leafy green powerhouse: folic acid, protein, and calcium. It’s also iron-rich and packed with antioxidants and fiber.