Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recent Recipes

We're always cooking something up in our kitchen. We TRY our hardest to keep it healthy although slip ups happen from time to time. :)

I've added a few of the recipes we've tried recently and have enjoyed.

First off, I had seen the recipe for Earth Balls a while back on another blog and then when my friend Erin posted the recipe for them again recently I figured I needed to make up a batch and see what all the fuss was about. I like to think of them as a great little energy snack! The only change that I made to the recipe was to leave out the raisins and add in pecans.

 Earth Balls
1 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey OR maple syrup (I prefer honey)
2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup raisins
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
Mix peanut butter, honey OR syrup and cocoa powder with mixer
Stir in raisins and half of the coconut
Chill for 1 hour, in separate bowl mix coconut and sunflower seeds together
Roll batter into small balls, then roll into coconut and sunflower seed
Keep chilled until you eat them
Any easy meal to make in the week that I got off of the Eating Well website is this recipe for Black Bean Quesadillas. Both Daniel and I really enjoyed these. We try to have two to three meatless dinners a week and this is an easy recipe to use. The only thing I changed was not using the oil.
Black Bean Quesadillas 
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
1/2 cup salsa
4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 ripe avocado, diced
Combine beans, cheese and 1/4 cup salsa in a medium bowl. Place tortillas on a work surface. Spread 1/2 cup filling on half of each tortilla. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently to flatten.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 quesadillas and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 2 to 4 minutes total. Serve the quesadillas with avocado and the remaining salsa.
 This Pasta recipe below was also taken from Eating Well. I love Eating Well, Cooking Light & All Recipes websites since they list all of the nutrition facts and I can see exactly that is is I'm feeding us. Anyway, we really liked this pasta because it was so light. I find that "cream" pasta sauces are always too much/too rich for my taste. Daniel doesn't much care for them either. I made a few changes to the recipe. I added a little more whole wheat pasta (about 10oz), green bell pepper instead of red (but only because they were on sell at the farmer's market), I halved the amount of yogurt, and no pine nuts. The only thing I will do differently next time is leave out the peas and add in either some mushrooms or perhaps squash. We aren't pea lovers.

Creamy Garlic Pasta w/ Shrimp & Vegetables 
6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti
12 ounces peeled and deveined raw shrimp (see Note), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups nonfat or low-fat plain yogurt
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (see Tip; optional)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and cook 2 minutes less than package directions. Add shrimp, asparagus, bell pepper and peas and cook until the pasta is tender and the shrimp are cooked, 2 to 4 minutes more. Drain well. Mash garlic and salt in a large bowl until a paste forms. Whisk in yogurt, parsley, lemon juice, oil and pepper. Add the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with pine nuts (if using).
There's nothing like a good stew in the crockpot! This is what we ate tonight with some cornbread! Delicious! I love making things that we both grew up eating (soups, stews, casseroles and such). I'm always working on finding a healthier way for us to do this though. Try finding casserole's without 'cream of something' soup in them. It's not an easy task. Anyway back to my point, this recipe uses spices from around the kitchen to go into the stew which makes me happy since I'm not a fan of buying the little stew/gravy/taco seasoning packet's. It turned out amazing! I always love something I can leave to cook while we are away enjoying our weekend! The only change made was using veggie broth instead of beef.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew 
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, chopped
Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, potatoes, carrots, and celery. 
Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.
This Quinoa & Black Bean recipe has quickly become a favorite over the past few months in our home. It's another one of our meatless meals. We started replacing all of our meals that had called for rice with quinoa about that time after we did a little research on all health benefits of quinoa. Quinoa is a complete protein which is hard to find in plants and grains. There are MANY great things about it, I'd encourage you to do a little google search. :) It is more expensive than rice but I like to think of it as being "the meat" in your meal since it's a complete protein. Anyway.. we love this recipe! We eat it as the main dish instead of a side. We typically trade the frozen corn for fresh and use only one can of black beans.
Quinoa & Black Beans
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned.
Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes, 
Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.

And the last recipe I'm gonna share for now is a new oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe. Sweet tooth is my middle name. And these are my favorite kind of cookies! I always change something with a recipe. Daniel always points out that I never just leave a recipe alone. I just like to add a little something extra to it. ;) With that said.... I used applesauce in place of the butter to take out a little of the fat. I halved the amount of sugar. And I used dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet. They turned out great and I'm glad I took out a little of the bad because they seemed to fly off the counter.
 Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chip
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). 
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. 
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. 
Like I have said, something is always cooking in the kitchen so I will try to post new recipes we try and like every couple weeks. Feel free to give them a try, they're O'Neal approved. :)

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