Friday, June 1, 2012

Ham and Bean Soup

In the weeks following Christmas and Easter it seems I'm always looking for good ways to use up ham thanks to Rob's propensity to buy excessively large quantities of meat for the holidays. This past year I decided to give Eating Well's "Soup Beans" recipe a try. Considering it cost less than $3 (not counting the cost of the leftover ham) it was a steal. We have made it several times since and have our own minor variation. It freezes well and is very filling!

The first time I made this, I was reminded of my sister since ham and bean soup was her favorite as a child. The whole house filled with a comforting, nostalgic smell. I could literally smell it on the top floor and in the basement (in a really good way!). We couldn't wait to serve up a bowl! I even made this recently in a slow cooker and put it in the basement to simmer all day due to the summer heat. I still smelled it while rocking the baby in her room...crazy! That's a great comfort food :)

We serve ours with garlic and cheese croutons crushed on top or with a slice of crusty french bread. Perfect meal for a cool day!

Click HERE or head over to the recipe tab for the recipe.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slow Cooker Yogurt

I love nothing more than being able to make something myself instead of buying it "pre-made" from the store. Typically for me this includes things like pizza crust, pasta sauce, tartar sauce, whipped cream, corn bread, etc. For some reason, I never had the desire to make my own yogurt until I went hunting for organic, full-fat, plain yogurt to feed Annabelle as a baby food. I couldn't find it anywhere (at least not anywhere convenient) so I decided to make it. I am so glad I did! I was nervous because it seemed complicated and easy to mess up - definitely not the case.

For my first batch I used a half gallon of organic, ultra-pasturized, whole milk. I didn't thicken or strain it although, I may try this in the future - especially if Rob and I plan to eat it ourselves. At our local grocery store the cost was $3.67 for the half-gallon (64 oz.) and was around $3.75 for 32 oz. of plain non-fat (they didn't offer any with fat), organic yogurt. Around a 50% savings for very little work and I got exactly what I wanted instead of trying to find a grocery store that carries what I need. If you made this for yourself and didn't care if it was organic or not, you could save even more. I'm sure you can get good deals on regular milk fairly often.

My first thought upon waking up this morning was, "I wonder if my yogurt turned out ok". I was pretty excited to take a peek and see how it turned out. I lifted the lid and voilĂ ! Sure enough, it had turned into yogurt overnight. I couldn't resist and had to taste a spoonful immediately. Considering I am never a fan of plain yogurt, I was ecstatic! I could have eaten a bowl of just plain yogurt with no complaints. It was a nice creamy texture and not nearly as "tangy" or "tart" as store bought yogurt (which I liked). With just a little sweetener and fruit mixed in it was perfect.

Needless to say, between the cost savings, ease of preparation, taste, and expected frequency of use, I plan to use this recipe over and over again. Hope you enjoy it as well!

Find the recipe here:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Buttermilk Oatcakes with Raspberry Compote

I have long been in search of a healthy pancake alternative. These oatcakes definitely fit the bill. They are filling and wholesome with a nice touch of cinnamon to liven them up. The raspberry compote is tart with a good cinnamon accent finished with a touch of maple syrup.

I served them this weekend for my parents, brother, and (soon to be) sister-in-law. When I said we would be eating oatcakes for breakfast my dad's face looked sceptical and my brother said his feelings were the same as my dad's! They both ate them up in the morning without complaint so I'm pretty sure I won them over. I'm sure my husband will try sneaking some chocolate chips into this recipe at some point - if he did they would taste a lot like an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie.

These oatcakes are very versatile and would be great with chopped up fresh fruit, bananas and walnuts, chocolate chips, or peanut butter on top. As an added bonus they are a breeze to pull together and give you plenty of downtime to chop fruit or make a pot of coffee while they rest and cook!

Buttermilk Oatcakes with Raspberry Compote

by Jill Tanzer

Prep Time: 20 mins.

Cook Time: 20 mins.

Keywords: fast stovetop breakfast low-fat low-calorie whole grain summer

Ingredients (4 servings, 3 oatcakes ea.)

    • 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk or plain kefir
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
    • 1 tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    Raspberry Compote
    • 2 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, or to taste
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


    To prepare oatcakes: Whisk buttermilk (or kefir) and egg in a medium bowl. Combine oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt in another medium bowl. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture and let stand for 15 minutes. The mixture will bubble slightly as it sits.

    To prepare compote: Meanwhile, place raspberries, maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the berries are mostly broken down, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

    Coat a griddle or large nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium heat. Using 1/4 cup of batter for each, cook 3 oatcakes at a time until bubbles dot the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and continue cooking until browned, 1 to 2 minutes more, reducing heat if necessary to prevent overbrowning.

    Serve the oatcakes with the compote.

    Make Ahead

    You can make the raspberry compote ahead of time and refrigerate for up to one week. I also mix the dry ingredients and store in a pyrex overnight. Then in the morning I can just quickly add the buttermilk and let it rest.

    Nutrition Information

    303 calories; 5 g fat ( 2 g sat); 51 mg chol; 55 g carbs; 12 g protein; 9 g fiber; 609 mg sod;

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    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Santa Fe Soup

    Just had a friend ask me for this recipe so I figured I would share! It makes a full crockpot of soup (I usually make it there rather than the stovetop) and can feed a crowd. Or, it freezes really well and is nice to have on hand for a quick meal down the road. So make the full batch and save some for later. It is low fat and  you can add as much or little garnish as you like. I don't typically use this much pre-packed/canned foods but it is nice that you can buy the ingredients ahead of time or just keep them on hand in your pantry. If you rinse the beans it will reduce quite a bit of the sodium and you can look for reduced-sodium tomatoes if you like. 

    From: The Good to Give Cookbook

    1 lb. ground beef or turkey
    2 cans shoepeg corn (or sweet corn)
    1 can pinto beans
    1 can black beans
    1 can kidney beans
    1 can milder rotel tomatoes (tomatoes with green chiles)
    1 can diced toatoes
    2 pkg. dry ranch dressing
    2 pkg. taco seasoning
    2 cups water
    tortilla chips
    shredded cheddar cheese
    low-fat sour cream

    Brown meat and drain fat. Put all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil and then simmer on low for at least an hour and a half. You can also put in the crockpot in the morning and simmer on low all day if you prefer. Serve with broken up tortilla chips, cheese and sour cream.
    *This soup freezes really well! It makes a lot so I usually freeze half in a gallon ziploc bag. I put the ziploc bag into an 8x8 pan and pop it in the freezer. When it is mostly frozen (or fully frozen) I run a little water on the bottom of the pan to warm it and pop out the soup. Then it is frozen in a little square and stacks nicely in the freezer. Then, when I want to re-heat, I put the bag in a large bowl of lukewarm water and let it defrost until it slides out of the bag. Then re-heat the soup in a pan on the stove.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    Spaghetti Squash and Turkey Spinach Meatballs

    Turkey and Spinach Meatballs
    Spaghetti Squash with Turkey Spinach Meatballs
    A delicious and interesting meal! If you are cooking the spaghetti squash in the oven you can get it started while you are pulling the meatballs together. This is a quick dinner and a great way to add in some more veggies. Next time I make this I will mix some spinach into the pasta sauce as well to give it even more nutritional value. 


    Spaghetti Squash

    Heat whole squash in the microwave for 3-4 minutes to soften prior to cutting in half. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds.
    To cook in oven: Place squash cut side down in a 9x13 pan. Cook 45 minutes at 350 or until done.
    To cook in microwave: Place squash cut side down in a pan with 1/4 in. of water. Cook 8-10 minutes on high until done.

    Turkey and Spinach Meatballs

    1 lb. lean ground turkey (or lean ground beef if you prefer)
    2 tsp. garlic powder
    salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
    1 cup chopped fresh spinach leaves
    1 small onion grated
    1 egg
    1/4 cup bread crumbs (whole wheat if you want)
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese
    splash of milk
    non stick spray

    In a large bowl mix together onion, egg, bread crumbs, Parmesan, and milk. Mix until it turns to a loose paste.  Add in ground turkey, spinach, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Gently combine ingredients. Roll meat mixture into small meatballs, about 1-2 inches round. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet. Before placing in oven, spray each meatball with non stick spray.

    Cook 20-25 minutes until browned at 375 degrees.

    When spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to scrape out squash lengthwise. Place squash on plate and cover with spaghetti sauce of choice (I love all Newmann's Own products since they use all natural ingredients and everything tastes great!), and top with meatballs. If meatballs have cooled prior to serving, drop them in the saucepan with spaghetti sauce and cook until heated through. We sprinkled with just a bit of Parmesan cheese before serving.

    * Make a double batch of these meatballs to freeze for later!

    Almond Cheesecake Brownies

    No photo of these the time I thought to take a picture the leftovers were demolished by my husband! These brownies are one of my favorite treats. They are a little extra work but you can taste the richness from the melted butter/chocolate base. Pop them in the microwave for 8-10 seconds and they taste like they are fresh from the oven. These are so rich you really only need a small piece. 

    From the Good Housekeeping cookbook

    Serves: 24

    1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
    3/4 tsp. baking powder
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 c. butter/margarine
    4 squares (4 oz.) unsweetened chocolate
    4 squares (4 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate
    2 c. sugar
    5 large eggs
    2 1/2 tsp. vanilla
    1 1/2 pkg. cold cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
    3/4 tsp. almond extract

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9x13 pan. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.
    2. In a heavy 4 quart saucepan, melt butter and unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly until smooth. Remove from heat. With wooden spoon, beat in 1 1/2 c. sugar. Add 4 eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla; beat until well blended. Stir in flour mixture until just blended.
    3. In a small bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth; gradually beat in remaining 1/2 c. sugar. Beat in remaining 1 egg, almond extract, and remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla until blended.
    4. Spread 1 to 1 1/2 cup chocolate batter in prepared pan. Spoon cream cheese mixture in 6 large dollops on top of chocolate mixture. Cream cheese will spread and cover most of the chocolate batter. Spoon remaining chocolate batter over and between cream cheese in several large dollops. With tip of knife, cut and twist through mixtures to create a marbled effect.
    5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean (30-35 min). Cool completely in pan on wire rack before cutting.

    Nutrition info: 238 calories, 14g fat

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Chicken Tetrazzini

    I have been wanting to try this recipe for awhile so I whipped it together for dinner this week. It was extremely simple and requires very few items that I don't typically have on hand (pretty much all I had to pick up was mushrooms). It's a very forgiving recipe that you can make a lot of substitutions to with whatever you have in the pantry. The book also mentioned you could use leftover turkey instead of chicken...this will definitely be one of our staple "after Thanksgiving" meals to use up the extra turkey. This was absolutely delicious and just as good the next day! 

    Serves: 6

    6 oz. whole wheat fettuccine (I used the Dreamfields angel hair pasta we had on hand)
    2 tsp. canola oil
    3 leeks, white parts only, washed and finely chopped (I substituted diced yellow onions)
    6 oz. button mushrooms, quartered
    1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary, divided (or dried)
    3 T. all-purpose flour
    3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
    1/2 cup low fat milk
    2 cups cubed cooked chicken breast
    grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (I didn't have a lemon on hand so I used lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning)
    1/4 tsp. salt, divided
    Freshly ground pepper to taste
    1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
    1/4 cup fine dry breadcrumbs
    1 T. finely chopped fresh parsley

    1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 3-quart (9x13) baking dish with cooking spray.
    2. Cook pasta in boiling water until just tender (may want to under cook slightly since it will be baked later), 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain and set aside.
    3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 6-8 minutes. Add mushrooms and rosemary; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring for 1 minute. add broth and milk; bring to a boil, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes or more (mine took much longer). Remove from heat and stir in chicken. Season with lemon juice, 1/8 tsp salt, and pepper. Gently mix in the pasta. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Combine lemon zest (this is where I used a bit of lemon pepper seasoning), Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley, the remaining 1/2 tsp. rosemary, and the remaining salt and pepper (Since I didn't have fresh rosemary or parsley on hand, I used a dried Italian herb mixture to season the topping. You could also use Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.). Sprinkle the mixture over the casserole.
    4. Bake the casserole until bubbling, 20-30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Nutrition Info: 290 calories; 6g fat; 2g sat fat; 45mg chol; 25g protein; 5g fiber; 533mg sodium

    Sunday, November 27, 2011

    Broccoli, Cannellini Bean and Cheddar Soup

    I love broccoli cheese soup (especially Panera's...yum!)! This is a lightened up version from Eating Well that still tastes delicious. Sorry I didn't snap a photo but it does look about like what you would think. The extra sharp cheddar cheese does work better than just sharp cheddar but use whatever you have/can find. I use our immersion blender to finish this off right in the pot to make less of a mess. 

    From: Eating Well in Season

    Serves: 6

    1 - 14oz. can of chicken or vegetable broth
    1 cup water
    1 lb. broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped (about 6 cups)
    1 - 14oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/4 tsp. white pepper
    1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese

    1. Bring broth and water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add broccoli, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in beans, salt, and pepper. Cook until beans are heated through, about 1 more minute.
    2. Transfer half the mixture to a blender and puree with half the cheese. Transfer to a bowl and repeat with the remaining half of soup and cheese. (Again, I just use the immersion blended to blend right in the pot).

    152 calories; 7g fat; 4g sat fat; 20 mg chol; 11g protein; 6g fiber; 558mg sodium

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Roasted Broccoli (w/optional garlic)

    From America's Test Kitchen

    Even if you don't like broccoli, this recipe is worth a try...delicious!!

    Servings: 4

    1 large head of broccoli (1 3/4 lbs)
    3 T. olive oil
    1/2 tsp. table salt
    1/2 tsp. sugar
    Ground black pepper
    Lemon wedges for serving
    *optional garlic to taste

    1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place large rimmed baking sheet on rack and heat oven to 500 degrees. Cut broccoli into large pieces, remove outer peel from stalk. Cut stalk into 2-3 inch lengths and 1/2 inch pieces. Place broccoli in large bowl; drizzle with olive oil and toss until well coated. Sprinkle with salt, sugar, and pepper and toss to combine 
    2. Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven. Carefully transfer broccoli to baking sheet and spread into an even layer, placing flat sides down. Return baking sheet to oven and roast until lightly browned (9-11 minutes). Serve immediately with lemon wedges. 

    * If you would like to use the optional garlic, mix minced garlic with the olive oil prior to drizzling oil over broccoli. 

    Wednesday, October 12, 2011

    Fish Sticks and Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash

    I enjoy going back to the good old days of my childhood when I loved fish sticks! These are good enough to eat as adults (or kids) and much healthier than the fried version I remember and love. I generally use frozen tilapia filets because I can never get my hands on fresh! The Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash is definitely something I will serve to my kids (and myself to, of course!). Great way to work in a few more veggies! 

    Fish Sticks
    Fish Stick prep
    Fish Sticks

    Servings: 4

    Canola oil cooking spray
    1 cup whole-wheat dry bread crumbs
    1 cup whole-grain cereal flakes
    1 tsp. lemon pepper
    ½ tsp. garlic powder
    ½ tsp. paprika
    ¼ tsp. salt
    ½ cup all-purpose flour
    2 large egg whites, beaten
    1 lb. tilapia fillets cut into ½ by 3 inch strips

    1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
    2. Place breadcrumbs, cereal flakes, lemon pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and salt in a food processor or blender and finely grind. Transfer to a shallow dish.
    3.  Place flour in a second shallow dish and egg whites in a third shallow dish. Dredge each strip of fish in the flour, dip it in the egg and then coat all sides with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on prepared pan. Coat both sides of the fish sticks with cooking spray.
    4. Bake until fish is cooked through and the breading is golden brown and crisp, about 10 minutes.

    * We make our own tartar sauce by mixing together ¼ cup of low calorie mayo with 2T. pickle relish, and a splash of lemon juice.

    Nutrition Info: 289 calories; 3g fat; 1g sat. fat; 57mg chol; 31g protein; 373mg sod; 4g fiber
    Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash
    Cheesy Broccoli-Potato Mash

    Servings: 6

    1 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into wedges
    3/4 lb. broccoli crowns, chopped (4 cups)
    ¾ cup fontina cheese
    ½ cup nonfat milk, heated
    ½ tsp salt
    Freshly ground pepper to taste

    Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large saucepan fitted with a steamer basket. Add potatoes, cover and steam for 10 minutes. Place broccoli on top, cover and steam until the potatoes and broccoli are tender, 6 to 8 minutes ore. Transfer the broccoli to a large bowl and coarsely mash with a potato masher. Add the potatoes, cheese, milk, salt, and pepper and continue mashing to desired consistency.

    * We cooked these in our rice/veggie steamer and used half broccoli and half cauliflower. We also didn’t have fontina cheese or Yukon gold potatoes on hand so we substituted parmesan and red potatoes. Cheddar cheese would also taste great I think!

    Nutrition Info: 135 calories; 4g fat; 3g sat fat; 16mg chol; 7g protein; 330mg sod