Adventures in Cooking – Week 12

What a dreary week it has been in Kansas City!  Like most people, when it’s raining outside I just want to take a nap or curl up with a good book and waste the day away.  Because I’ve been pretty lethargic after work this week, most of my meals have been easy to cook with little experimentation.  Luckily for all of you, I remembered a favorite treat that I would make myself when I was on my diet.  Baked apples (or as I like to call it, reverse apple pie)!  This recipe is from the Living the G.I. Diet book by Rick Gallop, along with many other delicious recipes and helpful information if you want help on eating healthy.  I highly recommend that you read this book.  One of the main ingredients in this dish, other than the apple, is muesli.  Muesli is usually a breakfast food, but it perfectly mimics a crust in this recipe.

Muesli Ingredients (makes 3 1/2 cups):

One cored red delicious apple

  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup oat bran
  • 3/4 slice almonds
  • 1/2 cup shelled unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  • In a large resealable plastic bag, combing the oats, oat bran, almonds, sunflower seeds, wheat germ, and cinnamon.
  • Use a rolling-pin to crush the mixture into coarse crumbs.  Shake the bag to combing the mixture.
  • Keep the dry mix in a resealable bag or airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Baked Apple Ingredients (1 serving):

Ready for the microwave

  • 1 apple, cored  (you can also use a pear, but with a shorter cooking time)
  • 3 tbsp muesli
  • 1 tbsp non-hydrogenated soft margarine
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tsp sugar substitute
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg

Instructions:

  • Place the apple on a smale plate or a bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, combine the muesli, margarine, raisins, and sugar substitute.  Stuff the mixture into the center of the apple, pressing any excess filling on top of the apple. Dust with cinnamon and nutmeg.
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap (makes sure it’s microwaveable!) and microwave on high until the apple is tender when pierced with a knife, about 3 minutes.

If you’re feeling more daring, you can also drizzle a little bit of caramel on top of the baked apple.  I hope you guys enjoy this recipe as much as I do, it’s one of my favorites!

Adventures in Cooking – Week 11

This week at work we had a food day.  Normally, when we have a food day I can’t eat anything because it’s catered from On the Boarder or some other equally fattening restaurant.  Luckily, this food day everyone was asked to bring in food that started with the letter B (don’t ask me where they came up with). The first thing that popped into my head was blueberries.  I love blueberries!  They are perfect little snacks and they go well in smoothies, pies, yogurt, cereal, oatmeal, etc.  Since I consumed so much sugar during the family road trip last weekend, I was experiencing sugar cravings and decided to make mini blueberry crisps.  This recipe is not the healthiest out there, but I tried to make healthy substitutes to the original recipe that I found on Sweet Tooth’s blog so that it wasn’t too bad for you.  For the sugars, I just used non-caloric versions and I used vegan butter from Whole Foods. Unfortunately, I do not have a picture this week since I forgot to take one before I went into work that day and they were almost gone by the end of the day!

Mini Blueberry Crisps

Crust Ingredients:

  • mini pre-made Kebler graham cracker crusts (I like my coworkers, but not enough to make handmade pie crust and fill those single-serving pie tins for the entire office)

Filling Ingredients:

  • 5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Juice of half of a lemon + zest

Topping Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Quick shake nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In a large bowl, mix together blueberries, vanilla, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  Sprinkle zest over berry mixture and place in a 13×9 buttered dish (or about 16 mini graham cracker pie crusts) – (If you are using frozen blueberries, let the mixture sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes so that the blueberries can soak up the other ingredients)
  • In another bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in butter and spread topping over berries – Bake for 20-30 minutes

Something to note, I made these the evening before work and when I tried one it tasted okay, but not great.  I brought then in the next day, heated one up in the microwave for 1 minute and they tasted fantastic!  I don’t know why, but the ingredients just tasted more rich the next day.

Adventures in Cooking – Week 10

This week, as most of you know, is the final week of the NCAA tournament.  I’ve had to listen about different basketball teams from all the guys at work and the guys at bowling (oh joy!) for the past month in anticipation of this event.  Now, I’m not a big sports fan.  I’ll watch games on television if someone else is watching it and I’ll even go to a live game or two, but I’m not the kind of person who remembers players names and their statistics.  Because of my indifference to sports, I’m sure I surprised a couple of people when I filled out a bracket this year.  Sadly, I’m doing pretty bad so far.   My final two teams are still in the playoffs, so I’m crossing my fingers that I’m right on that front so that I gain back some points!

This week’s recipe from “How Sweet It Is” is perfect for any party, especially for the games this week, and it’s super simple to make!

Creamy Feta Dip with Jalapeños

Creamy Feta Dip with Jalapenos

Ingredients

  • 16 oz brick of feta cheese
  • 3 whole jalapeño peppers
  • 1/4 cup olive oil + 1 tbsp
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Chose the top off the garlic bulb and drizzle it with a teaspoon of olive oil.  Wrap it in foil and roast for 25 – 30 minutes, or until garlic is golden in color.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Once the garlic is cool, squeeze the roasted garlic of the bulb onto a plate and mash with a fork.
  • Change the oven setting to broil.  Brush the jalapeños with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place them in the oven for 3 – 5 minutes, until the jalapeño skin starts to bubble and brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool. Once the jalapeños are cooled, remove the skins, cut in half, and discard the seeds.  Chop into small pieces.
  • In a large bowl, crumble the feta bricks.  Add the chopped jalapeños, the zest of half a lemon, the juice of half a lemon, the mashed roasted garlic, and 1/4 cup of olive oil.  Blend the ingredients with a fork.  You want the feta to be a bit “wet”, a mix between a spread and a dip.
  • Taste the feta and season with salt and pepper as desired.   Serve warm.

This dip can be served with pita chips, warm pita or naan, spread on sandwiches, or any other type of chip.  This recipe is probably in my top 5 for dips and I’m sure I’ll make it again and again since it’s just that good.

Adventures in Cooking – Week 9

This week I’ve been really lazy in the food department.  I pretty much lived off of leftovers, easy salads, and meals that took less than five minutes to prepare.  Which is why this week’s recipe is probably the easiest recipe I’ve done so far…chia seed pudding!  Now, for those of you who have not heard about chia seeds and their health benefits, I’m not surprised.  They are the latest craze for healthy eaters because these little seeds expand and become gel-like when they are introduced to liquids.  They are full of protein, antioxidants, and dietary fibers.

I was first introduced to these “super” seeds by one of my co-workers, Jamie.  Every afternoon he’ll add a bit of the chia seeds to his water bottle to stave off the afternoon hunger and he would often use them when he was training for the Kansas City Marathon last year.  Now, I’ll admit I’ve put off using these seeds as part of my daily diet, but I recently read a review on WebMD that basically said it was a great supplement and to get about 4 tablespoons a day.  I just might have to pick up a bag of my own the next time I go to Whole Foods.

Chia Seed Pudding

Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or your favorite alternative)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or stevia to taste (I used real grade A maple syrup the first time and it came out too sweet to me)
  • 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder

Instructions:

  • Mix all the ingredients together.  It make take a little time to incorporate the cocoa, but eventually it will.
  • After everything is mixed, cover and store in the fridge for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the fridge and stir for another 20 to 30 seconds until everything is mixed together well.  You can also leave it in the fridge overnight and enjoy the next day.  The chia seeds continue to absorb the liquid they are in so you may need to water you pudding down with some more almond milk if you leave it until the next day.  You can top your pudding with fresh fruit or just eat it plain.

For the original recipe, visit the Oh She Glows blog.  Enjoy!

Adventures in Cooking – Week 8

I love eating at Chipotle.  I rarely go to a fast-food restaurant these days, so every trip is considered a special treat. When I go to Chipotle, it’s usually when I’ve run out of salad for lunch at work and I didn’t have time to go to the store the night before.  I always get a buritto bowl with black beans, brown rice, a little bit of lettuce, cheese, and roasted chili-corn salsa. Love it!  This week’s recipe reminds me a bit of this favorite fast-food indulgence.

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (beef broth also provides an interesting flavor)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen sweet white corn
  • 1 3/4 cup dry black beans
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Instructions:

  • First, rinse and sort the dried beans, discarding any blemished ones or any grit.  Let them soak for 12 hours in a bowl along with 6 cups water.  Drain the beans.
  • In a large saucepan, cover drained, soaked beans with 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partly covered, and topping up with water if necessary, for about 1 hour. Drain the beans.
  • In a medium pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When shimmering and hot, add the onions and sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the garlic and stir for a minute or two until the garlic is fragrant, being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the quinoa and cover with broth.  Stir in cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes (or until all the liquid is absorbed).
  • Stir in the frozen corn and black beans.  Cover and let the post sit off the heat until the corn and beans are heated through, about 5-6 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro.  Serve warn or chilled – it is delicious both ways!

I let the black beans sit in the quinoa mixture longer that 6 minutes, so the quinoa turned a gray color.  It still tasted yummy!  Just add some lettuce and cheese and I now have my own homemade burrito bowl.

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