Cran-Apple Oat Cake

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Gluten-free eating means I rarely eat toast, breakfast pastry, etc.  Sometimes, I just need a carb ‘fix’ and this recipe sounded delicious.  I slightly altered the original recipe and loved the results. The second time I made this recipe, I substituted blueberries for the craisins and baked in muffin paper/tins.  I’ve shared both versions with good feedback.  I’ll even admit that I didn’t eat all of it soon enough and the last piece was a bit dry.  I thought, ‘why not put almond milk on it?’ like a bowl of oatmeal. It was delicious.

A new favorite for my gluten-free recipe box!

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CRAN-APPLE OAT CAKE

2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
3 single-serving packets of Pure Stevia
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup egg whites
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 small tart apple, chopped
1/2 cup Craisins (original recipe called for cranberries)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  • Soak the oats in the almond milk in the refrigerator overnight.
  • In the morning, combine all ingredients.
  • Spread in greased 9-inch pie plate (or muffin tins).
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Recipe adapted from Briana-Thomas

Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to prepare meals primarily from my pantry and freezer until I had whittled down the food on hand. A large bag of black rice, from Costco, has been sitting there with no great recipes, until now.  I swear I hear Angels sing when I read this recipe.  It is a great salad, side dish and good enough for dessert, too. Black rice has a nutty flavor and texture which pairs beautifully with the other ingredients.  Also check out the history of black rice.

Black Rice Mango and Avocado Salad

Mango and Avocado Black Rice Salad with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette

1 1/2 cups organic black rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large ripe mango, diced
1 small ripe avocado, diced or sliced
1/4 cup roasted almonds (I used chopped pecans)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup diced red onion
For the Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon honey (agave nectar if vegan)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
lime wedges, to garnish
  • Rinse rice in mesh strainer. Add to medium saucepan. Add 2 3/4 cups water and a pinch of salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce to a low simmer, and cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed about 30-40 minutes. When rice is done cooking, remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cool for 10 minutes before adding dressing.
  • While rice is cooking prepare the dressing: Combine lime juice, olive oil, garlic, honey (or agave), cilantro, and salt in a food processor. Process for 15-30 seconds or until dressing is combined. Once rice is done cooking and has cooled a bit, stir in dressing. Cover bowl and place in fridge for an hour or until cool and you are ready to add in the rest of the salad ingredients.
  • Before serving, toss salad again with dressing and fold in cilantro, mango, and red onion. Pour into cold salad bowls and top with roasted almonds and avocado. Garnish with a lime wedge or extra cilantro if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe by AmbitousKitchen.com

Valentine’s Day…through the years

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Valentine’s Day is a day we cherished as children, exchanging Valentines with our classmates, carefully choosing cards for each person. We would spend what seemed like hours on our Valentines for our parents.

Our Mother’s would bake cookies to bring to class and we would have a big ‘sugar high’ before our sweet teachers would thankfully watch us leave the classroom for one crazy ride home on the bus. Cathys Valentine 1969

As I got older, Valentine’s Day became more about romance, setting expectations of what we should give and receive of this day full of cupid, hearts and roses.  More often than not, this day was a let-down. This week on CBS Sunday morning I saw one of my favorite comedians, Jim Gaffigan, share his thoughts on Valentine’s Day. He captures it well!

With children, Valentine’s Day would bring me back to my childhood, helping the girls pick out their favorite cartoon-themed Valentine’s, baking heart-shaped cookies, and often receiving the precious Valentines from their sweet little hands.

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Today, Valentine’s Day is a day to show love by sharing a gift of food with family and friends, calling a lonely friend, and being thankful and full of love for this precious gift of life….today!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

 

Garlic Roasted Green Beans with Shallots & Almonds

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I was craving green beans and our book club was meeting to discuss ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn. Our hostess served Tom Yum Koong Soup, favored by one of the characters in the book when fighting off a cold.  Others brought bar food and I brought green beans…never mentioned in the book but satisfied my craving.

This is a simple and absolutely delicious recipe. I’ll be making it again, and again, and again.

Roasted Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds

GARLIC ROASTED GREEN BEANS WITH SHALLOTS & ALMONDS

2 lb. fresh green beans
5-6 shallots, peeled, and cut into thin slivers
5 large cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices
3 T olive oil
1 tsp. salt (or more to taste)
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
1/2 cup almonds, sliced or chopped
1 tsp. lemon zest

  • Preheat oven to 450 F.
  • Trim ends from green beans. Peel and cut shallots and garlic, then place with beans in plastic bowl. Add olive oil, salt & pepper, parsley, almonds and lemon zest. Toss until ingredients are well coated with oil.
  • Spray roasting pan with nonstick spray or mist with olive oil, then arrange the vegetables in a single layer. (I used parchment paper for roasting vegetables and the results are great).  Roast 12-15 minutes for thin beans, or slightly longer for regular beans, until beans are slightly shriveled, and shallots and garlic are lightly browned.

Recipe adapted from KalynsKitchen.com

 

Ham Bone Soup…still wonderful

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Ham Bone Soup was a recipe I found in a great cookbook given to my by my brother-in-law, Ron, and his wife, Cathy, many years ago. I was use left-over ham bones to make the broth, just like my Mother taught me. This particular recipe was a favorite of the entire family and I was sad when my cookbook and this recipe disappeared from my kitchen.

Ham Bone Soup

Many years later, my sister-in-law, Betty, found the recipe copied down by my late Mother-in-Law on a recipe card and gave it to me. God bless them! It was great to make the soup again, although I substituted Quinoa pasta for regular pasta. I cook the pasta separately and add to the soup when ready to serve, otherwise the pasta tends to fall apart.

Without the pasta added, the soup freezes well.

HAM BONE SOUP

3 quarts water
1 ham bone
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup sliced celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 package (10 oz.) frozen whole corn
1 package (10 oz.) frozen lima beans
1 16 oz. can black-eyed peas
1 16 oz. can chopped tomatoes
2 cup macaroni or pasta of choice
salt and pepper

In a large soup pot, combine water and ham bone and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add carrots, celery, onion, corn, lima beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

 

Taco Stew…a beloved family favorite

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Taco Stew has been a family favorite since the girls were little tykes. They loved it and it was another way I could get them to eat vegetables. In a pinch, I have substituted different vegetables and cheeses with equally good results.  Typically I double or even triple the recipe and freeze the leftovers. You could easily make this without the beef (or turkey) and omit the cheese and have a vegan version of Taco Stew.

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This recipe appeared in the Denver Post many years ago as a recipe a young boy submitted for a recipe contest and won.  Brilliant!

TACO STEW

1 pound lean ground beef or turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
15 ounce cans whole kernel corn, drained
10 ounce can diced tomatoes with chilies
15 ounce can pinto beans in chili sauce (or black beans)
1 envelope taco seasoning mix
1 can tomato soup
1 cup water
Tortilla chips
Grated Monterey Jack or Cheddar Cheese

Brown beef, drain and rinse with hot water to remove excess fat. Combine all ingredients, except tortilla chips and cheese, in a Dutch oven. Simmer on low.

Taco Stew Taco Stew

To serve, crumble tortilla chips in a serving bowl and cover with a generous heaping of stew. Sprinkle with cheese.

Women’s Bean Project…and National Soup Month

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January in National Soup (who knew) and there is nothing better than tummy warming soup to take away the winter chill.  Good friend and neighbor, Maribeth, introduced me to Sarah’s Spicy Split Pea Soup and I was wowed.  The next day I went to my local King Soopers to buy it and made a batch that I’ve shared and frozen for future use.  It’s also great knowing that my purchase contributes to the great work of this non-profit organization. My soup was packaged by Jessica (great work, Jessica, and I hope things are going well for you!). And here’s a shout out to SARAH for this great recipe.

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Women’s Bean Project is Women’s Bean Project is a nationally recognized social enterprise that has created transitional employment in gourmet food and jewelry manufacturing for chronically unemployed and impoverished women for 25 years.

If you cannot find these great soup mixes in your area, you can purchase on their website.  I’m anxious to try their other soups soon.  To my Vegan and Gluten-Free friends, these soups would be a great addition to your pantry.

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SARAH’S SPICY SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 package Spicy Split Pea Soup Mix
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (I used ham stock and increased to 8 cups)
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil (I used olive oil)
1 medium diced onion
4 or 5 diced carrots
2 stalks celery diced (added per Maribeth’s suggestion
salt and pepper to taste
spice packet (included)
1 cup milk (optional and I did not add)
optional:  cubed ham

  • Remove spice packet. Wash and drain peas.
  • Assemble peas, broth and water in a 4 quart pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently for 1 hour uncovered, or until peas are almost tender.  Add more water as needed so that peas stay well covered.
  • While peas are simmering, saute carrots, celery, and onion in butter or oil until tender and add spice packet.
  • Stir veggie mixture into peas; add milk if desired, and simmer additional 20 minutes until peas are fully cooked.
  • OPTIONAL:  While the recipe does not include blending the soup mixture, I used a hand blender to bring the soup to a smooth consistency.  I then added the ham and simmered another 15 minutes until the ham was heated through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

 

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

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Cold winter days and soup are the perfect pair.  I have such fond memories of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup from Panera and also from the little luncheonette at my work. With temperatures near and below zero this week, I was craving this savory gem especially after all of the sweets from the holidays.  It didn’t disappoint!

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

CHICKEN AND WILD RICE SOUP

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons onion, minced
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup diced, cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or dry sherry)
minced parsley or chives

  • Melt butter in 6 quart kettle and saute onion until tender. Blend in flour, gradually add broth and continue stirring.
  • Cook, until mixture thickens slightly. Stir in rice, chicken and salt. Simmer about 5 minutes.
  • Blend in half and half and wine. Heat to serving temperature. Garnish with minced parsley or chives.

The Day After Christmas

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Christmas decorations in Braga, Portugal.

The vision of the holidays brings about fond memories, warmth and good cheer. Once they are here we all seem to hustle and bustle around, becoming too busy to really enjoy the season and remembering the ‘reason for the season’.

As I did my last minute shopping for groceries and gifts, it was easy to see the stress on the clerks faces as well as the faces of the shoppers.  It makes me sad. I, too, am guilty of being stressed over the holiday and it is all self-imposed.  The perfect Christmas newsletter must be produced (not so perfect this year!), cookies and candies to be made, gifts to be purchased and wrapped, menus planned, etc., etc ., etc.

As I look at the decorations in my house that will now need to come down and the beauty of the Christmas tree disappearing, I searched for a song about ‘after Christmas’ and discovered this great song by Matthew West.  It captures my sentiments and hope that you, too, will keep ‘The Light of the World’ in your heart all year long.

Advent wreath Русский: Рождественский венок Sl...

Advent wreath Русский: Рождественский венок Slovenčina: Adventný veniec (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew West – Day After Christmas Lyrics

Artist: Matthew West

Album: The Heart Of Christmas

DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS

Here comes the letdown Christmas is over
Here comes the meltdown, there goes the cheer
But before we have a breakdown, let us remember
The light of the world is still here

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here
The light of the world

Come January I’m ready for summer
The Super Bowl’s over and I’ll settle for spring
Sometimes we all need a change in the weather
But it won’t change the reason we sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world

So take down the stockings, take back the sweaters
Take down the lights and the star and the tree
But don’t let this world take your joy after Christmas
Take joy to the world and just sing

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

Happy day after Christmas
And merry rest of the year
Even when Christmas is over
The light of the world is still here

The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world
The light of the world

Read more at http://www.songlyrics.com/matthew-west/day-after-christmas-lyrics/#DfXc2tXWkIsX00G1.99

Chocolate Kolaches

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Chocolate Kolaches

Christmas morning without Kolaches is like the 4th of July without fireworks. Cherry Kolaches have always been my favorite and, until a few years ago, the only kind I ever made.  What to do when your new son-in-law doesn’t like cooked fruit? You can never go wrong with Chocolate.

Hershey's Chocolate Kisses

Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses

The first year I was a bit doubtful about the results but I was pleasantly surprised. I took a piece of dough, as I would for the cherry kolaches, but flatten in slightly, pressing 1-2 chocolate kisses in the dough, then pinching the dough closed around the chocolate.

Allow the dough to rise, per the recipe, and bake.  Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar when removing from the oven (optional).

See the original recipe on my Cherry Kolaches post.

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