Monday, December 29, 2014

Sausage potato soup with spinach and carrots

I don't normally do sausage but this was good and had just enough spice to it and it was particularly good sitting in front of the fire while it snowed. I served it up with biscuits and honey.

What you need and what to do:

1 TBLS olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, casing removed* (I used Mulay's Hot Italian Sausage)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, optional (turned out, I didn't need this with the hot sausage)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
5 cups chicken broth (you can use veggie broth here)
1-2 pounds potatoes, diced (peel them or not)
4 or 5 peeled and cut up carrots
3 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup 2% milk or leave it out all together

*Feel free to exchange for turkey or chicken sausage, but then I would add the red pepper flakes)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat on paper towels and put in a soup pot.
Stir in garlic, onion, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes (if using). Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in milk if you are using until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve immediately. Adapted from Damn Delicious

Monday, December 15, 2014

Soft ginger molasses cookies

I really like a "gingerbread" cookie at Christmastime since I don't make gingerbread people anymore. This one is good, especially in the winter with a cup of tea.

What you need and what to do:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1-1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 TBLS dark molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2+ cup granulated sugar, for rolling

In a larger bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, pepper, and salt. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric beater, beat butter, brown sugar, and molasses until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs until smooth.

Add flour mixture; beat until combined. Wrap dough in plastic, flattened into a disk. Chill until firm, about 1 hour or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make 1 1/2-inch balls of dough; roll each in sugar. Place them 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, keep cool while they wait in queue. Bake cookies until firm around the edges and slightly soft in the center, about 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Adapted from Martha Stewart

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cranberry Christmas rounds

Who doesn't like shortbread, and who wouldn't like to add little pieces of cranberries, and then enjoy them with a cup of tea for the holidays? They look all nice and neat and they taste simple but worth making every year. I doubled this recipe and got enough dough for about 80 cookies. Nice thing about it, you can freeze the dough for up to a month and then just cook them as you want. Perfect.

What you need and what to do:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I used kitchen scissors to cut them up, which didn't take long)

Beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add flour and salt; stir just until combined until it starts to stick together. Stir in dried cranberries. Divide dough into quarters, about a full cup of dough per quarter.
On parchment, shape each portion into a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter and 4 inches long. Wrap logs tightly in parchment or plastic. Chill 30 minutes or up to 1 day. (Dough can be wrapped tightly in plastic and frozen up to 1 month.)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. With a sharp knife, slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Rotate log as you cut to keep it from flattening. Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart.

Bake, rotating cookie sheets halfway through, until edges just begin to turn golden, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cookies cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks. Adapted from Martha Stewart.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mushroom feta frittata (say that 5 times quickly)

A nice dinner, light and airy or a good brunch. Serve warm or room temperature. Add some fresh sliced tomatoes and a whole wheat roll.

What you need and what to do:

4 TBLS.  extra-virgin olive oil divided
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup chopped mixed mushrooms (I used all shitakes but you can use a mix or another yummy kind)
3 crushed and minced garlic cloves
2 tsp. minced fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. minced fresh oregano, or 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 big handful of fresh spinach
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
10 large eggs
3 TBLS heavy cream (you can use just milk if you prefer)
4 oz. fresh feta, crumbled *See note at bottom
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

In a large oven-safe fry pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the green onions, garlic, mushrooms, thyme, oregano and red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and saute, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released most of their liquid, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the spinach. Preheat your broiler.

In a bowl, using a fork, beat together the eggs, cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 4 or 5 grinds of pepper until blended. Add the mushroom spinach mixture and the goat cheese and set aside.

Wipe out the fry pan, place it over medium-high heat, and warm the remaining 3 tablespoons oil spreading it around to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Pour in the egg mixture, spreading the vegetables in an even layer. As the eggs set around the edges of the pan, lift the edges of the frittata with a spatula and tilt the pan to allow the liquid egg in the center to run underneath. Cook until the eggs are firmly set along the edges but the center is still runny, 10-15 minutes.

Sprinkle the parmesan over the frittata and place under the broiler until the top is set and golden, about 2 minutes. Carefully remove the pan from the broiler letting it cool for about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6. Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

*Note - If you live locally (Buena Vista) and are able to use Jumpin Good Goat Flourissant with Herbes de Provence it's a great addition for this recipe. Otherwise use a good quality feta...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Coconut flour pancakes

These have a whopping 28 grams of protein in them and 12 grams carbs, and about 100 calories per pancake. Just remember to have your eggs at room temperature.

What you need and what to do:

4 eggs at room temperature
1/2 mashed banana
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tsp baking soda

Mix it all in a bowl. Batter will be fragile so make sure they are cooked on the bottom before carefully flipping. Makes 6 pancakes. We topped ours with the rest of the banana, plain Greek yogurt and some cooked honey crisp apples with cinnamon. Feel free to go traditional with maple syrup and butter....recipe from

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sausage quinoa stuffed acorn squash

I served these with a meal that included grilled beef steaks, which I don't eat, so I added these and it made for a perfect side for them or whole meal for me. Feel free to change up your sausage to pork, veggie or whatever you want or eliminate it all together. I love the squash and quinoa combo.

What you need and what to do:

2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
½ pound sausage (I used Applegate chicken and apple, it's very mild and was good with these)
½ cup onion, diced
¼ cup celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped or 2 tsp dried
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped or 2 tsp dried
½ cup diced apple (I used a honey crisp but a granny smith would be great)
¼ cup dried cranberries
2 cups cooked quinoa
⅓ cup parmesan cheese (don't use the shaky cheese, really, use the good stuff)
2 TBLS piñon nuts (chopped walnuts would also be good)
sea salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Drizzle acorn squash halves with ½ tablespoon olive oil per squash half. I always slice off the bottom of the squash just enough so it will sit flat without rocking on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.

While the squash is cooking, heat a large sauté pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the sausage and brown. Add the onion, celery, garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is tender and translucent.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped thyme and rosemary. Stir in the quinoa, apples, and dried cranberries. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Scoop the mixture into the roasted acorn squash halves. Top with parmesan cheese and piñon nuts.  Bake for 10 minutes. Serve hot. Adapted from the Messy Baker

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chicken chia meatballs

Chia gel replaces eggs in this recipe, helping keep these chicken meatballs light and fluffy. Top your favorite noodles and sauce with these, really lovely taste and texture. Adapted from Mind Body Green

What you need and what to do:

1/4 cup chia seeds soaked in 1/2 cup purified water for 20 minutes for your "chia paste"
1 pound ground organic chicken
3/4 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oats
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (NOT shaky cheese) additional to sprinkle on the top
2 TBLS extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons thinly sliced or chopped fresh basil (optional) for the top

Heat your water for your pasta (I used Tinyada brown rice noodles)
Put your spaghetti sauce in a small pan to heat. I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch always, but you can use a jar sauce, just make sure its a good one from organic ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 475°F while you are making your meatballs.

In a large bowl, use your hands to evenly combine all the ingredients except for the fresh basil and additional parmesan you will sprinkle on top. When evenly combined, form mixture into 20 fairly firm meatballs (about 3 tablespoons each). Arrange the meatballs on the baking sheet and roast until well done, about 20 minutes turning over once or twice to brown.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Fake meat chili with a BIG NOTE

That's right fake meat. There are lots of them on the market and some controversy because of what it takes to process them. I don't use them often but I DO like it in chili, mostly because it so closely resembles the one my mom made as a kid with hamburger which I don't eat. I haven't met a meat eater who wasn't somewhat surprised at the taste. BIG NOTE: If you really hate this idea then soak 1-1/2 cups rinsed quinoa overnight and through that in instead of the fake meat = equally good!

What you need and what to do:

Chop up the following in a soup pot, I also have sautéed the veggies in a frying pan and then added them and everything else to a crock pot so it stays warm then serve it in coffee mugs for easy eating.
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 nice sized yellow onion
 Saute until slightly soft in 2 Tbls olive oil

Add the following:
2 packages of fake meat (Quorn grounds which is soy free and highly processed with micoprotein, or Tofurky Ground Beef Style if you are ok with soy, I think Tofurky is cleaner with less processing OR you can reconstitute TVP which is all soy)
2 cans of fire roasted crushed tomatoes (I use Muir Glen)
2 cups plus of R.W. Knudson Very Veggie Juice(start with 2 and more to your desired consistency)
2 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed
1 can of pinto beans drained and rinsed
1 4-oz can of diced mild green chilies
Stir all together

Add the following spices:
1 TBLS garlic powder
2 tsp onion salt
1 TBLS cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
2 tsp oregano
sea salt
Start with these amounts stir well and when hot, taste and correct with more of whatever YOU think it needs. You don't really need to cook this long as long as your veggies are cooked and it's hot, you are ready to go!

This makes a good sized pot of chili. Toppings to include are shredded cheese, chopped green onions and oyster crackers (just like my mom used to make), Annie's cheddar bunnies are also good on top. Go Broncos!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Bacon corn chowder

Fire going, husband with bowl in his hands, as I head for the kitchen for salt and pepper I hear, "WOW, this is GOOD!" Nuf said.

What you need and what to do:

5 ears of fresh corn, shucked (or you can substitute 2 15-ounce cans of whole kernel corn, NON GMO folks!)
1 pound of bacon, diced
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (to make gluten free use 1-1/2 TBLS cornstarch or other alternative thickening agent)
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (I used Yukon gold, russets will take a bit longer to cook)
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles (I was able to get fresh roasted from a local greenhouse)
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning (add more/less to taste) *See note below
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt (add more/less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Garnish with thinly-sliced green onions, reserved bacon bits, a dollop of full fat Greek yogurt
Heat a large stock pot over high heat. Add the corn kernels and let them dry-roast for about 6-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until their edges begin to brown and caramelize. Transfer the corn to a plate to set aside.

In the same stock pot, fry the bacon pieces over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve 1 tablespoon bacon grease in the pan, and discard the rest.

Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until tender. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the flour until combined, then cook for an additional 1 minute, stirring occasionally.

Add in the chicken stock, milk, potatoes, green chiles, Old Bay, and thyme, and stir to combine. Continue heating until the mixture reaches a simmer but not a boil. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Add in the corn, cheese and most of the bacon bits, reserving a few to save as a garnish if desired. Stir to combine.

Taste test and season with salt, pepper and cayenne to taste. Adapted from GimmeSomeOven

* Old Bay Seasoning has been around forever as a seasoning for seafood, poultry, salads, and meats. I had planned on finding substitute spices because I figured there would be a lot of JUNK in it. Granted it's not organic but here are the ingredients: celery salt, spices including red pepper and black pepper and paprika! I was pleasantly surprised to know that something developed 70 years ago has some just plain stuff in it, woohoo Old make it organic.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Apple banana quinoa breakfast cups

I'm a bit up in the air about this one mostly because you cook them like a muffin but they don't really act like a muffin. I will make them again but in a bigger muffin tin size, throw it in a bowl and treat it like oatmeal. They are good, and the quinoa is great in them and if you want to watch portions, these finish out at about 200 calories if you use a regular muffin tin (makes 12). One of these carried me several hours. They are also wheat free, egg free, and dairy free and that counts for something!

What you need and what to do:

½ cup applesauce, no sugar added
1 cup mashed banana (about 3 ripe bananas)
1 cup cooked quinoa (about ½ cup dry) cooked
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond milk (you can use coconut milk too here)
1/8 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1 apple, peeled and chopped (I used a honey crisp, yum)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a muffin tin (I use spray coconut oil).
Cook the quinoa:
Bring 1 cup water to a boil, pour in 1/2 cup dry quinoa, reduce to a simmer until fluffy—about 12 minutes. This can cook while you are doing the other stuff.

Mix applesauce, mashed banana, almond milk, honey and vanilla in a bowl.
Mix dry ingredients (quinoa, oats, cinnamon) in a separate bowl. Slowly stir the wet into the dry until fully combined.
Peel core and chop up an apple. Mix the apple chunks into the bowl.
Fill each of the muffin cups to the top with the quinoa mixture. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Let cool for 5 minutes, then enjoy warm!

I am tempted to put in a bowl, add some almond milk and blueberries or raisins for a total yum experience. You could also add some chopped nuts.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat leftovers in the microwave before eating.