Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Thai Chicken Noodle Bowls

Michelle and I made this delicious recipe (via Cooking Light) when I visited her this summer. I decided to make it for Doug's birthday dinner, too. He loved it! Neither of us are raw cucumber fans, but in this dish they just work. :) It was fun to use cucumber, carrot and basil fresh from the garden, too.

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons roasted red chile paste
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (4 onions)
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
6 ounces uncooked rice sticks (rice-flour noodles) *we also used angel hair pasta and it was equally delicious
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon roasted red chile paste
2 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons (about 2 cups)
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons finely chopped unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
Additional ingredients:
6 lime wedges

1. To prepare marinade, combine first 9 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; add chicken. Seal bag; marinate in refrigerator overnight.
2. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.
3. While chicken stands, cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain.
4. To prepare sauce, combine 1/4 cup rice vinegar and next 6 ingredients (through chile paste) in a small bowl.
5. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
6. Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut chicken crosswise into slices.
7. Place 3/4 cup noodles and slices from 1 chicken breast half in each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with 1/3 cup carrot, about 3 tablespoons cucumber, 2 teaspoons basil, and 1 teaspoon peanuts. Drizzle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons sauce, and serve with 1 lime wedge.

Tips: To make carrot ribbons, use a vegetable peeler.

Serves: 6

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mini Zucchini Quiches

It's that time of year... Happy Zucchini Harvest! I found this recipe on Weight Watchers. It's actually not very diet friendly, as each little mini muffin is about 100 calories, but they sure are tasty. These would be a great thing to bring as an appetizer or for a brunch. I'm thinking they probably freeze well, too!

1 cup shredded zucchini, uncooked
1 small onion, finely chopped   
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3 large eggs
1/4 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but you could use all-purpose as well)
1/8 cup basil, fresh, finely chopped   
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, extra virgin   
1 tsp baking powder   
1/2 tsp sugar   
1/2 tsp kosher salt   
1/5 tsp black pepper   

Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 24-hole nonstick mini muffin pan with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; spoon about 1 heaping tablespoon egg mixture into each prepared hole.

Bake until bottoms are golden brown and quiche are cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let quiche cool for a few minutes in pan; remove quiche to a wire rack to cool more. 

Yield: 24 mini quiches

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Perfect 100% Whole Wheat Bread

After many years of baking our own sandwich bread using this recipe, My Whole Wheat Bread, I have been on a search to find a way to make bread with 100% whole wheat. My previous recipe used 1/3 whole wheat to 2/3 white flour. I have experimented with just about every recipe and tip I could find with no luck. The loaves always came out dense or with a very strong wheat flavor.

However, thanks to a suggestion from my good friend, I have recently found the secret to 100% whole wheat bread. The secret ingredient is diastatic malt powder (aka malted barley flour). This is essentially sprouted barley that has been dried and crushed into a powder. It produces enzymes which gives bread a higher rise and sweeter flavor. The perfect solution for my issues of a heavy, poorly flavored bread!

This recipe is for a 1.5 lb loaf which I bake in 9x5 stoneware loaf pan from Pampered chef.

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water1/4 cup brown sugar (lightly packed)
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/4 tsp or 1 packet dry active yeast 
1 tsp salt
1 tsp diastatic malt powder


  • Measure all ingredients into bread machine and set on dough cycle (1 hr 20 min - 1 hr 50 min)
  • With lightly greased hands, gently shape dough and place into greased loaf pan and cover with clean towel
  • Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled - approx. 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 in the meantime
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Let rest in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

100% Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

These cookie bars are delicious and an healthy alternative to traditional chocolate chip cookies, as they are made with 100% whole wheat flour and tons of rolled oats! Plus they are very quick and easy to make. What's not to love?

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 cups rolled ("old-fashioned") oats
6 ounces (1 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Cream butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla with electric mixer on high.
2. Stir in flour, salt, and baking soda, all at the same time. Stir in oats. Last, add chocolate chips and stir to combine.
3. Press cookie dough into a greased 9x13-inch baking dish. Dough should be somewhat flattened, but it's okay for some cracks to remain.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes, or until lightly golden and cookies are set in the middle.
5. Cool for 20 minutes; cut into 24 squares.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Crunchy Granola

This is the best granola I've ever tasted! It makes a TON, too, so it's worth the effort to make, since it will last for a while. We eat it like cereal with milk and also on top of homemade yogurt. Yummy! All the nuts in this are what put it over the top, in my opinion.

8 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups wheat germ
1 1/2 cups oat bran (*For more fiber, use all wheat germ)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup finely chopped almonds
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup honey
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line three large baking sheets (with sides) with parchment or aluminum foil.
2. Combine the oats, wheat germ, oat bran, sunflower seeds, almonds, pecans, and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir together the salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, oil, cinnamon, and vanilla in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then pour over the dry ingredients, and stir to coat. Spread the mixture out evenly on the baking sheets.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until crispy and toasted, about 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through. Cool, then stir in the raisins or cranberries before storing in an airtight container.

* Note on the bake time: This will still seem chewy at 20 minutes. Resist the temptation to bake it until it is completely crisp, as it will continue to cook a bit after it is removed from the oven and may burn. It will be crispy after it is cooled.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Lasagna Soup

This winter we discovered our favorite soup: lasagna soup. It is from Our Best Bites and they have a great post with photos and instructions to take you through each step. I suggest you head over there to read it! What makes this soup extra special is a scoop of ricotta cheese mixture that is placing in the bowl prior to pouring in the soup. It really does give it a special lasagna taste and "feel." 

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs Italian Sausage (* I used a 1 lb "roll" of sausage meat and it worked just fine)
3 cups chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano
optional: 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken broth
8 ounces fusilli pasta
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, or a heaping tablespoon dried basil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
a few cracks of black pepper

optional: shredded mozzarella for sprinkling on top

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces and cook until browned and cooked through. Add onions and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes.   If you’re using dried basil, add it at this point.  Cook for about a minute. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.  You can add the dry pasta to the soup in the last 8-ish minutes of cooking, or cook the pasta separately and add to individual servings. Right before serving, stir in fresh basil if you’re using fresh, and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.

To serve, place a generous dollop of the ricotta mixture in each soup bowl, add pasta if you cooked it separately, and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.  Let it sit for a minute for the cheese to get all melty, sprinkle mozzarella on top if desired and eat up.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder with Peach Sauce

This is a recipe I saw on Amercia's Test Kitchen. I love how that show takes a scientific approach to cooking to get the best results. And this pork roast was absolutely the best I've ever had. AMAZING. You must try it! The meat was the most flavorful and tender possible and the peach sauce took it over the top. Doug didn't care for the sauce so much - he's anti-vinegar and mustard. But you must try it!


Pork Roast
1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (also referred to as Butt), 6 to 8 pounds
1/3 C Kosher Salt
1/3 C Light Brown Sugar, packed
Black Pepper, ground

Peach Sauce
10 oz. Peaches, frozen (cut into 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups) -OR- 2 fresh peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges)
2 C Dry White Wine
1/2 C Granulated Sugar
1/4 C Unseasoned Rice Vinegar, plus 1 T (* I used a pear-infused vinegar instead)
2 Sprigs Fresh Thyme (* I used a sprinkle of dried thyme)
1 T Whole-Grain Mustard

Pork Roast
1. Using sharp knife, cut slits 1 inch apart in crosshatch pattern in fat cap of roast, being careful not to cut into meat.
2. Combine salt and brown sugar in medium bowl then rub salt mixture over entire pork shoulder and into slits.
3. Wrap roast tightly in double layer of plastic wrap, place on rimmed baking sheet, and refrigerate at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
4. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and pre-heat oven to 325-degrees. Unwrap roast and brush off any excess salt mixture from surface.
5. Season roast with pepper.
6. Transfer roast to V-rack coated with nonstick cooking spray set in large roasting pan and add 1 quart water to roasting pan.
7. Cook roast, basting twice during cooking, until meat is extremely tender and instant-read thermometer inserted into roast near but not touching bone registers 190 degrees, 5 to 6 hours.
8. Transfer roast to carving board and let rest, loosely tented with foil, 1 hour.
9. Transfer liquid in roasting pan to fat separator and let stand 5 minutes.
10. Pour off 1/4 cup au jus; discard fat and reserve remaining jus for another use.
11. After resting, using sharp paring knife, cut around inverted T-shaped bone until it can be pulled free from roast (use clean kitchen towel to grasp bone).
12. Using serrated knife, slice roast and serve, passing sauce separately.

Peach Sauce
1. While the roast is resting, bring peaches, wine, granulated sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup defatted au jus, and thyme to simmer in small saucepan.
2. Cook sauce, stirring occasionally, until reduced to 2 cups, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove thyme and stir in remaining T of rice vinegar and mustard.
4. Cover and keep warm.