Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sweet & Salty

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I’m definitely a big nut lover.  I love nuts on salads, with fruit and yogurt, or just plain as a healthy snack.

Nuts are high in calories – so beware not to “go nuts” with them (ha ha), but enjoy in moderation. 

Healthcastle.com states: Nuts are one of the best plant sources of protein. They are rich in fiber, phytonutrients and antioxidants such as Vitamin E and selenium.  Nuts are also high in plant sterols and fat - but mostly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 - the good fats) which have all been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.

One downside of nuts is that they are typically quite expensive -- particularly flavored or roasted nuts.  To make this this snack more affordable, I buy raw nuts in bulk and roast them myself!

Roasting Nuts Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Select raw nuts – I like almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios…

Toss the nuts in a little olive  walnut, or vegetable oil.  About 2 tbsp of oil for every cup of nuts.  Then mix them with  your favorite seasonings.

Some I’ve tried:

  • grill seasoning
  • salt & pepper
  • garlic and season salt
  • cinnamon and brown sugar

Spread out the nuts on the baking sheet and roast in the oven for 5-10 min

** You'll know the nuts are done when they you can smell them and they have turned a nice golden brown.

Now eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stroganoff of Sorts

I was in the mood for stroganoff this weekend. 

Good old fashioned stroganoff is typically made with cream of mushroom soup and ground beef.

I’m not opposed to that kind of stroganoff – however, I had neither of these ingredients in my kitchen, and I also wanted to make something with a few more vegetables included.

Here’s what I came up with!  A stroganoff of sorts made with ground chicken breast, veggies, noodles, cream cheese & goat cheese.

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I used typical egg noodles for the base.  I cooked them up in a great big boiling pot of liberally salted water.

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I used the vegetables I had on hand: eggplant, cabbage, mushrooms, and green beans – however, I think almost any veggie mix would work!

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I sautéed my veggies in a little oil and butter.  

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Meanwhile, I cooked my chicken breast with onions, garlic, and seasonings (salt, pepper, thyme, paprika, and a splash of soy sauce).  Once the meat and veggies were properly  cooked, I mixed into one piping hot skillet and blended in a heaping tablespoon of herb and garlic goat cheese and 2 heaping tablespoons of cream cheese.  I was surprised at how far the cheeses went!

** TIP – you can use a bit of chicken or veggie broth to thin out the sauce if it’s a bit too thick.

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Finally, I dished the creamy kind-of stroganoff over the egg noodles and topped it off with a fabulous roll and a glass of white wine.  Yum!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chili for those chilly nights!

A warm pot of chili is the perfect accompaniment during those cool and rainy days.  Since we’ve been having a lot of cool rainy days lately in my neck of the woods, I was more than happy to cook up a big pot of chili. 

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I start out by cooking up either ground turkey or chicken (1-1.5 lbs).  I season it well with salt (or Lowry’s), pepper, cumin, and a bay leaf.  Of course, you can substitute with beef, but trust me – turkey / chicken tastes great and the fat & calories are a fraction of what beef would be!

Next I add chopped onions (2/3 cup) and garlic (2-3 cloves) and cook them down all together.

*Finally I pour in the following:

  • 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 heaping tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 15 oz can of crushed / diced / or whole tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 15 oz kidney beans
  • 15 oz black or northern beans
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1.5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

*these measurements are all estimates – so feel free to play around and mix up the amounts to your preference!

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BTW – I recently bought a cast-iron pot that can go from stovetop to oven.  It’s a bit more maintenance, but I love it!  My pot is a Martha Stewart and I got it from Macy’s for a great deal.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lentil Soup

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When I cook, I love to get inspiration from online recipes, cookbooks, cooking shows, restaurants and simply things that are in my kitchen!  I recently ate at Bronte Bistro in Rookwood Pavilion, and was inspired to make this lentil soup / stew.

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For all you Cincinnati folks:

Bronte Bistro Rookwood Pavilion                                                   Ste M, 2692 Madison Road, Cincinnati, OH 45208                        (513) 396-8970‎

The bistro is actually inside of the Joseph Beth bookstore, and it has a nice variety of Food Network specials (Rachel Ray’s turkey burger, etc..) and great “brunch-y” items. Beware – parking is a pain and you often have to wait 30 mins to be seated.  The plus side of waiting is that at least you can browse books to pass the time!

Any whoo - I tried their lentil soup and fell in love with it!  It inspired me to try my own, so I googled and checked by beloved cook books and online sites.  I ended up making a similar version of the recipe listed below:

All Recipes Lentil Barley Stew
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
  • 1 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 3/4 cup dry lentils
  • 1/4 cup dried onion flakes
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dried summer savory
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
Directions
  1. In a slow cooker, mix the broth, button mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, barley, lentils, onion flakes, garlic, savory, bay leaves, basil, pepper, and salt.
  2. Cover, and cook 4 to 6 hours on High or 10 to 12 hours on Low. Remove bay leaves before serving.