Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Olive oil and Spinach Waffles with Berry lime compote

I am sitting here at my breakfast table with the sun shining through the window onto my plate. I am savoring every bite of my delicious health conscious breakfast while the kids are watching morning cartoons- and I am having a moment. A moment free of "mommy I need..." and worrying about the laundry and dirty dishes. A moment free of paying bills or getting hit in the head with a flying toy.
A moment of pure relaxation and calmness. A mini vacation lets call it... and it wouldn't be a perfect vacation without a delicious meal to accompany me.
This morning I wanted to experiment with healthy waffles. I have made a few batches of pancakes recently found Here and Here and they are so tasty but its fun to mix things up. It also helps to keep the kiddos interested in trying something new. Mixing spinach into meals verses serving it raw can be a great way to "trick" yourself or family into enjoying it. I have also found it has been easy for us to make the switch from white flour to whole wheat. I actually really love the texture it adds to my bread items.
In this recipe I used all wheat flour and no added sugars. Honey is a healthy alternative to sugar, it adds a floral sweetness and I love the texture from the oats. I honestly can't even tell that the spinach is in the waffles except for the cool green color it adds.
And for my absolutely favorite part? The Berry compote topping. It is tart and sweet, tangy and warm from the very slight hint of cinnamon. It is so delicious served warm OR cold. Give it a try... you will feel like superwoman.
Here's how I did it....
Recipe: (serves 3-4 adults, double if more is needed)
{Berry Lime Compote}
1 1/3 cups fresh or frozen berries.
1 lime
2 tablespoons honey (this leaves the syrup tart, add more honey if you want it sweeter)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 cinnamon stick or 1/8th teaspoon cinnamon

 Add 1 cup of the frozen or fresh berries into a saucepan. I used blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries from a frozen pack.
Add the juice of 1 lime and 2 tablespoons honey. Stir and add cinnamon stick.
Heat compote and stir occasionally, simmering until fruit has softened and blended together. (About 10 minutes or so)
Once fruit has broken down, add 1/2 teaspoon of cornstarch to thicken. Whisk until desired consistency and then add 1/3 cup of fresh or frozen fruit to compote to give it whole fruit chunks along with the syrup. Remove cinnamon stick.
 Compote can be enjoyed warm, or cooled and stored in the fridge and served as a cold syrup over pancakes or waffles!
{Olive oil and spinach waffles}
1 3/4 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 cup spinach
2 tablespoons warm honey (warming it for 5-7 seconds helps it incorporate easier)
1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of dry oats
2 cups whole wheat flour
Add all ingredients into blender except flour and oats. Blend until spinach is finely pureed. Add flour and oats and blend just until mixed. Pour batter into a greased waffle iron.
Makes 6-7 large waffles.

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Healthy and delicious Chicken Lime soup

 I am excited to have a member of my family guest posting on my blog today. Her name is also Emily. She is an amazing mother, and she loves to cook for her family. Like all of us, she is busy searching for healthy recipes that still have flavor. She was kind enough to share this recipe with me, and now we want to share it with you. Happy cooking!

Hi, I'm Emily,  I'm so excited to share this recipe with you!
 I'm always looking for great healthy recipes I can whip together for my family and I'll be honest, sometimes it's just altering another recipe to be what I want :) With three kids, that all seem to be busy and growing, and a husband who is gone long hours working all day on his feet it's important that we can reconnect and relax at the dinner table. I generally opt for easy and fast dinners during the week, but I never sacrifice flavor! Like most moms I have limited time (and energy) by the end of the day so having my list of go-to dinner ideas is so handy! This one is on it ;) In our house you eat everything given to you before you can have seconds of anything and my kids know (the older ones) that I am not a cook to order chef ;) that being said, it's important to me that when my kids sit down to dinner or any other meal that they like what they see, smell and taste! I make an effort to make things fun at the table even if that means just getting to pick their own toppings; It makes them feel like they are choosing what's for dinner. A great little trick I'll keep up my sleeve as long as I can! I want to tell you why I love this recipe. It's fast, it's easy, it's inexpensive and most importantly it feeds a whole heap of people :) and with only 5 main ingredients how could you go wrong? One of my concerns when it comes to feeding my family is the quality of what I am giving them. That's why I love cooking! I know exactly what I'm putting into all of my dishes... Including the TLC! I hope this recipe makes it to your dinning table and that you have as much fun making and eating it as my family does! Many blessings from our kitchen to yours!


Recipe:{Main Ingredients}
10 C. Water 
12 tsp. Chicken bullion granules 
4 C. Shredded chicken
2 C. Salsa verde
1 1/2 cups Wild or brown rice
2 1/2 tsp. Ground cumin seed

{Optional Toppings}
Tortilla chips
Tomato slices

Place water and bullion granules in a 6qt soup pot and warm on low-med.
Heat some oil on med in a large skillet. Place three or four breasts in the oil making sure to flip over to cook fully. When chicken is done place one breast at a time on a cutting board and shred with two forks. Add chicken, salsa, rice and cumin to the broth and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low-med for 45 minutes. Garnish each bowl with toppings, cilantro and lime juice to taste (about 1/4 lime per bowl).

I was thankful Emily shared this recipe with me, my family loved it and I was actually able to freeze the left overs because it makes a large batch. I will save it for another night when I'm short on time. This soup is a fun change up to traditional soups we usually have. It is so tasty with all of the different toppings you can use, not to mention its ingredients are healthy!
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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Rosemary and Olive oil Roasted Vegetable Medley

My mom and I love to share recipes with each other. This results in several phone calls each day, where one of us excitedly shares a new discovery for a delicious dish. It's kind of just what we do. I was so happy when she told me about a vegetable dish that tastes delicious and involves eating EIGHT different vegetables at the same time!! YES! you heard me right... eight. This was intriguing to me because I am not very good at eating my vegetables. It seems like it comes more as a chore to me, I do it because I know I should- not because I want to. I constantly find myself looking for different ways to cook them up creatively.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1 heaping teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 fennel root
1 acorn squash
1 sweet potato
1/2 sweet onion
1/2 purple onion
1 container whole mushrooms
5-6 red potatoes
4 mini sweet peppers
Chop all your vegetables into bite sized chunks and add to a large bowl. Add Olive oil and  seasoning's on top and stir well. Add to a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about an hour or until potatoes fork test tender. When veggies are tender, turn oven on Lo Broil. Bake the veggies for 3-4 extra minutes to get an extra crispiness on top from the broiler.

*Leave mushrooms in half as they will cook down quiet a bit.  Don't be afraid to peel an acorn squash. It seems hard but let me show you how I did it...
 Start but cutting the squash in half. Then turn it over face down so it can't move around on you.

Take a knife and slice down the sides of it until all of the skin is peeled off. Cut into slices and then chunks.

Not sure what Fennel is? It maybe labeled as Anise at the store. I can promise you the checker wont know what it is. They ask me EVERY time. :) It has a licorice flavor and that sounds like a funny thing to add, but I love it because of it's subtle sweetness and unique flavor.
It will come with some large green stems growing out the top. You will want to chop the top and fibrous bottom from it, and peel the outer layers. Chop the inside into bite sized chunks.

I found a bag of about 25 of these sweet peppers at my local grocery store. They were less than $6 and I can use them in so many ways. For this dish I just sliced them up and added them on top of the other veggies. They develop a sweeter flavor as they roast.

As I was chopping  these vegetables up and could smell  the fresh rosemary and seasonings on top of them, I knew I was in for a treat.

We enjoyed these veggies as a delicious side dish to bone in chicken breasts seasoned with Weber "Kick'N Chicken seasoning"... one of my favorites. The chicken breasts take just a minute longer than the veggies, so add them first to get a head start. Then you can pull them all out at the same time and hear "ummmm... what smells good Mom!"


I guess you're never too old to have your Mother trying to get you to eat your vegetables- but in this case, I didn't put up too big of a fight!
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Grandma's Chicken soup- A can't-beat classic


A few weeks after I brought home my first baby in November of 2009, I started to find myself sinking into the winter/postpartum blues a little. It was very gray outside, it was my first experience staying home full time so I was a little lonely, and to top it off my baby had a bad bout of colic. The days were fun with my new little one, but I would dread the nights as I knew they would bring lots of screaming from baby, and little to no rest for me.  It was pretty hard on my spirit and over time I found myself tired and unenthusiastic about things.
My Grandma and I have always been close, and she could sense something had changed about me. One evening she stopped by to visit, and I couldn't even answer the door because I didn't want to talk to anyone and I felt I wasn't keeping up with my home and looking the way I should. This was the day I realized I had to snap out of it. I couldn't even answer the door to my sweet Grandma? Isn't it silly how we feel like we have to be so perfect at all times....
Grandma called the next day, and offered to bring dinner. I was excited to have the evening off, and knew my husband would be gone to night class so I looked forward to having her and my Grandpa over to visit.
When Grandma walked in, She was holding her famous Peach Pie, and her delicious Chicken soup. Its different than any other chicken soup I have ever had, and I have to say it is one of the best old fashioned simple but so full of flavor dishes to exist.
Grandma always made this meal for me as a child. Mostly on a special date or when I got invited for a sleepover. As I enjoyed the delicious meal, I was instantly filled with comfort because I felt her love for me through the food she had made. She wasn't there to see if I had showered and done my hair, or cleaned my dishes or had all of the laundry folded. She was there to show me she cared about me. I believe sharing homemade food with others is a wonderful way to express love and bring people together.
Now, one of my favorite things about Grandma is, she is NOT afraid of heavy cream, butter, whole milk or using fat in her cooking. It's what makes her dishes taste so amazing, and turns them into instant comfort food. I feel as long as we eat heavier meals in limitation, there is nothing wrong with a little extra butter. Good for the spirit right? Glad we agree on that.
Here is one of my favorite old school recipes, perfect for a rainy day or to share with someone not feeling quite their self. Hope you love and enjoy it the way I have. Happy cooking!
1 tablespoon of butter
2 chicken breasts, skin on and bone in (this is a MUST to get the best flavor)
5 cups of water
2 heaping teaspoons of "better than bouillon chicken base" or 3 Chicken bouillon crystals if that's what you have.
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon ground thyme
3/4 cup chopped carrots
3/4 cup chopped celery

1 batch of Homemade egg noodles or 1 1/2 cups of your favorite egg noodles.
(Homemade egg noodles are so yummy, they cook up thick and chewy almost like having a little dumpling in your soup... so tasty!)

In a large pot on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter. When butter is melted and pan is hot, add two chicken breasts and brown on both sides. Sprinkle with garlic powder, and onion powder.

Once chicken is browned, add 5 cups of water and chicken base or crystals. Add thyme and salt.
Stir and cover. Let simmer for just over an hour until chicken is tender and easy to shred.
Remove chicken from broth and let cool on cutting board. Strain broth into a bowl to remove any loose fat from chicken. Return broth to pan. You will notice that a lot of your water has evaporated through boiling the chicken. I usually add 3-4 cups of water back into my chicken broth to ensure that I have plenty of broth once soup is filled with chicken, veggies, and noodles.
You will need to add salt back into the broth as well. Try 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you get the flavor you want.
While chicken is cooling, make a quick batch of homemade noodles. (They are fast and easy!)
Bring broth up to a boil, and add noodles. Let boil for 15 minutes.
Add chicken back to pot, along with carrots and celery. Reduce heat and let simmer for another 15-20 minutes or until carrots test tender. Because the egg noodles are floured, they thicken the soup a bit. If you would like it even thicker, add a little cornstarch to boiling broth.
Serve with delicious homemade French Bread and you will think you have died and gone to comfort food heaven :)
Note: For GLUTEN FREE version, omit homemade egg noodles and add your own gluten free noodles. Chicken base is gluten free. Soup with cornstarch if desired.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Easy Hot and chewy buttered Pretzels- and Sweet cinnamon wheat Pretzels

I love hot bread. It has to be my #1 favorite treat. You can slather it with butter or sweet jam and I swear it will take away all your troubles. I love experimenting with shaping bread in pretty ways, and creating visually pleasing food as well as something delicious to sink my teeth into.
Today I decided to try to make homemade pretzels. To my surprise, they are so much easier than I thought!!
Benson was my helper, and together we were so excited to pull these chewy hot treats out of the oven and enjoy them together!
Here's how we did it....

Recipe: Buttered Pretzels:
Recipe source: Busy at home

Ingredients for pretzels:
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pretzel Bath and topping:
1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon baking soda
Kosher or pretzel salt or cinnamon and sugar
Melted butter to brush on baked pretzels

Note: I used my stand mixer for this recipe, but you can certainly mix dough and knead by hand!

In a coffee mug or cup, add 1/2 cup of warm water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit about 5 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
Add remaining half cup of water into stand mixer. Add salt and then yeast mixture when  it's ready. **Why not add it all together? Salt kills yeast. Sugar helps it grow. Best to keep them apart until the yeast is foamy and active!**
Slowly add in four 1/2 cup at a time. After adding about half the flour, switch your mixer to the dough hook and let the mixer knead the dough on medium speed for 5 minutes.
The dough will be smooth and not sticky.
Add dough to a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 30 minutes.

When dough is risen, dump it onto a greased countertop. Cut dough in half, and then in half again until you have 8 equal pieces. Roll dough into 14 inch ropes and fold into a pretzel shape as seen in pictures below.
To make bath mixture, add 1/2 cup of warm water into a bowl with soda. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and stir.

Next, dip formed pretzels into soda water mixture, and set on greased baking sheet. Sprinkle kosher or pretzel salt on top and let rise for 10 minutes while oven heats to 450 degrees.
Bake for 10 minutes and brush with melted butter as soon as you pull them out of the oven. Make sure you grab one quick because your family will scarf these up fast... guaranteed!!

Use a sharp greased knife to easily cut your dough into 8 equal pieces.

Twist around the pull end through loop.

Have your kiddos help you roll out the ropes and sprinkle the salt on top.


Benson wanted to fold his own dough so I let him have a little. He made a snake and it turned out so perfect :) Cooking is so much fun when you do it with someone you love!

 We also experimented with a wheat pretzel with Cinnamon and Sugar. The texture and subtle sweetness is delicious!


Recipe: Cinnamon and Wheat Pretzels:
Recipe Source: Emmy in her Element

Ingredients for pretzels:
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons warm honey
3/4 teaspoon salt

Pretzel bath and toppings:
1/2 cup of warm water
1 tablespoon of baking soda
cinnamon and sugar mix to sprinkle on top

NOTE: I used my stand mixer for this recipe but you can definitely stir and knead by hand!
In a coffee mug or cup, add 1/2 cup warm water. Mix in 2 teaspoons honey (warmed in the microwave for 5-7 seconds). Stir together. Add yeast and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes or until yeast is foamy.
In stand mixer, add remaining 1/2 cup of warm water and salt.
Add yeast mix and stir together. Slowly add flours 1/2 cup at a time until combined. Switch to your dough hook and let the hook knead the dough for 5 minutes. It will produce a very smooth and non sticky dough.
Add dough to a greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes.

After risen, spray countertop with a little pam spray. Dump dough onto greased countertop
and cut into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a rope about 14 inches. Form into a pretzel shape as seen below.
To make bath mixture, add 1/2 cup of warm water into a bowl with soda. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute and stir. Dip pretzels into soda water bath and add to greased cookie sheet. Let rise for 10 minutes before baking.

YOU CAN ADD THE TOPPTINGS 2 WAYS: Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar while still wet from soda water, OR brush with butter after baking and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar. Of course they will taste a little better with the butter, but if you are saving on calories, you can add it after the soda water dip.
Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees and enjoy!

I took the above recipe and changed the flour and sugar to wheat and honey to make this one a little healthier. The difference in texture and flavor is a fun twist!


 Since each recipe makes 8 pretzels, I made two batches at a time so that we would have plenty to snack on. These are best enjoyed right out of the oven or within the first hour. After that they cool down and need to be re-heated to taste delicious again!
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