Saturday, January 13, 2018

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I tried a new recipe the other day and I just love it.  The recipe is from a great blog called Ambitious Kitchen.  I made the dish vegan by using water in place of broth; of course you could use vegetable broth in this recipe if you like.  I really made no other changes to this recipe.  Here is the recipe link if you'd like to give this recipe a try. I know I'll be making this again.  I have been eating the leftovers cold. Yum!

Ambitious Kitchen recipe link is HERE.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ravioli Lasagna Mash Up

Ravioli Lasagna Mash Up

This recipe is basically a marriage of two rich and delicious classic Italian dishes; ravioli and lasagna.  How can you go wrong.  I like this dish because it's a bit less work than traditional homemade lasagna.  Another benefit we found is that we find this dish reheats better than lasagna.  There are a number of recipes out there for "Ravioli Lasagna"; I read several and did my own thing.  I decided to use a combination of lean ground turkey and rich Italian sausage.  Since ground turkey is not as flavorful, I added a lot of herbs and spices to the turkey.  I also added a lot of herbs and spices to the creamy ricotta mixture.  This is a flexible recipe. You can leave out the Italian sausage, you can leave out the onion, you can leave out the crushed red pepper flakes.  Of course, feel free to use your favorite jarred tomato sauce.  I would like this with a spinach and cheese ravioli.  You could leave out the ground turkey and Italian sausage and use a meat filled ravioli or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian dish.  Make it your own and enjoy!

Here is how I made my version of Ravioli Lasagna.



Meat Sauce:

1 pound lean ground turkey (I use Jennie-O brand)
1/3 to 1/2 pound ground hot Italian sausage (I use Johnsonville brand which is made from pork)
1/2 of a medium sized sweet onion, small dice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper
24 ounce jar marinara (I use Barilla brand "Tomato & Basil)

Ricotta Mixture:

15 ounce tub of part skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
several grinds of black pepper

1 1/2 pounds mini-frozen cheese ravioli (I used Kroger brand); DO NOT THAW
3/4 to 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large skillet, cook and crumble the ground Italian sausage, until no pink remains.  Drain well on paper towels to wick away grease. Set aside.

Carefully clean out the skillet with a paper towel to remove excess grease.  Return the skillet to the stove top and add in the ground turkey, diced onion, and the spices called for in the "Meat Sauce".  Cook and crumble the mixture, stirring and chopping, until no pink remains.  Add in the sauce.  Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pasta jar, replace the lid, and shake to get the sauce off the inside of the jar.  Add the watery sauce mixture into the meat sauce.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to warm through.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the ingredients listed under "Ricotta Mixture". Stir well with a fork to combine.

Next, assemble the dish:  Spoon about 1/3 or less of the Meat Sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan; spread around.  Top with 1/2 of the frozen ravioli in a single layer, 1/2 of the Ricotta Mixture, and 1/3 of the sauce.  Repeat the layers (1/2 the frozen ravioli, 1/2 the Ricotta Mixture, 1/3 the Meat Sauce).  Spread the sauce around to cover the ravioli.  Sprinkle top with grated mozzarella cheese. 

Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven (350 degrees F) for 40 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil.  Continue to bake in the oven for 10 additional minutes. 


Above: Before popping into the oven.
Below:  Most of the ingredients all assembled (onion and parmesan cheese not pictured... whoops!)


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vanilla Chai Chia Granola

Vanilla Chai Chia Granola

I tried a new granola recipe yesterday.  I like it. I think the pecans give the granola a different texture than some of my homemade granolas.  This is adapted from a blog called "Real Food Dietitians".  You can see their website HERE. If you sign up for their notifications from their blog, they send nice "e-booklets" with great recipes.  I've received a nice collection of soup recipes from them for example.  This granola recipe came in an "e-booklet" called "Healthy Holiday Treats: Featuring Ten Giftable Treat Recipes".  The recipe I called for "Made in Nature" brand dried plums.  I omitted the plums.  I added in chia seeds and sesame seeds and used honey in place of the recommended brown rice syrup or maple syrup.  The honey in my cupboard had changed in texture; it was becoming grainy with sugar crystals and very difficult to pour.  This recipe was a great use for my honey since the honey and coconut oil and spices are all simmered a bit together before adding it all to the oat mixture.

Above you can see my breakfast.  I had cottage cheese, unsweetened apple sauce, ground cinnamon, and some granola. Good breakfast and so easy first thing in the morning.

Below... granola toasting away in the oven. Boy, my house sure smelled great yesterday!

Vanilla Chia Chia Granola
Adapted from "Real Food Dietitians"

3 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1⁄2 cup honey (may substitute brown rice syrup or maple syrup)
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1⁄2 tsp. cloves
1⁄2 tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 ̊F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and chia seeds. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut oil and spices.
Stir continuously and heat just until warm. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
4. Add the honey mixture to the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer
to sheet pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through baking time.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before packaging up.  Store in an airtight container.  

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Protein Pancakes

Protein Oatmeal Cottage Cheese Pancakes

I saw this recipe on Facebook just the other day and decided to try this for breakfast today.  These are pancakes made with oatmeal, eggs, cottage cheese, and a few other items you likely have lurking in your pantry.  I made the batter in my Ninja Blender and had my pancakes cooked up in a jiffy.  My description of these pancakes is a cross between French toast and pancakes.  These pancakes are denser than your ordinary pancakes and "eggy" in the same way that French toast is eggy.  The photo above makes me want to go eat up my leftover pancakes right now. Yum!

NOTE:  I made a few modifications to the recipe.  I omitted the honey, forgot the vanilla extract, used old fashioned (rolled) oats in place of instant oats, and used two eggs in place of the suggested four egg whites.  I had my pancakes with peanut butter and maple syrup but I have some berries thawing out for tomorrow's breakfast.

Original recipe:

There are a lot of great looking recipes on the Daisy Brand website.  I think I will try some more of their recipes in the near future.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Taco Soup

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Taco Soup...
AKA: A Mystery Soup Popsicle

Believe it or not, I started this post way, way back in June!  I made this soup and ended up putting it in the freezer in individual portions.  Sometimes I get a little too carried away trying out new recipes.  The other day, it occurred to me that I should eat the soup in the freezer before making new soups so I thawed a portion of this soup and it's really good.  I wasn't exactly sure what kind of soup this was since I did not label it.  I could tell the soup contained shredded chicken but I thought the dark spots were black beans. Turns out the dark spots were cilantro!  The only thing the re-heated soup needed was a sprinkle of salt to sort of wake up the flavors.  I had another bowl of this soup just now and I added in a sprinkle of salt and a little dollop of plain Greek yogurt.  The soup is even better with the Greek yogurt swirled in!

******************** Here's the post I started back in June 2017 *************

The other day, I decided to cook a sweet potato for breakfast. It was good!  While I was waiting for the sweet potato to cook, cook, cook, away in the microwave oven, I threw this soup in the crock pot.  So easy.

Recipe link:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • 1 (28oz) can (or two 14oz cans) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 (14oz) can pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 ounces of hot diced jalapeno peppers from a can 
  • 1/2 teaspoon each paprika, oregano, and garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or you could use chicken broth/bone broth)
  • ¼ cup cilantro, roughly chopped, plus more to serve
  1. Place everything (except the cilantro) in the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 7-8 hours. Shred the chicken into the soup and stir in the cilantro.  If desired, serve with extra cilantro to garnish and Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

Flourless Pumpkin Blender Muffins with Chocolate Chips and Walnuts

I've made a lot of blender muffins in the past year or so and this one is probably my favorite. I tweaked the recipe just a tad and I love these muffins.  The recipe source is a blog called "Making Thyme for Health".  I think I may have made these muffins once before, but I added raisins and walnuts.  I guess my only changes this time around were (1) using extra virgin olive oil instead of the recommended peanut butter or coconut oil, (2) using plain almond milk instead of vanilla flavored almond milk, and (3) adding walnuts along with the chocolate chips.  



  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons evoo
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 and 1/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts 


Preheat the oven to 350°F and then grease or line a muffin tin for 12 muffins.
Starting with the wet ingredients first (pumpkin, maple syrup, eggs, etc.) layer everything except the chocolate chips and walnuts into a blender or a food processor; blend until smooth.
Using a spoon, gently stir the chocolate chips and walnuts into the batter. Pour the batter into the muffin tin, filling each about 3/4th of the way full. Bake in the oven for 22 minutes, until light golden brown.
Allow to to cool for at least 10-15 minutes before stuffing in your face.
I am sure these probably freeze well like the other blender muffins I've made but these are all gone. I took some to the knit shop to share with my friends and I ate the rest! 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Peanut Butter with Flax & Chia Seeds

I finally got to go to a Trader Joe's Grocery Store a few months back.  I have heard other food bloggers go on and on about Trader Joe's over the years and I never knew what the fuss was.  Turns out I think Trader Joe's is a pretty cool store, too.  My first observation was that the Trader Joe's store was much smaller than I expected.  So far, I've tried Trader Joe's brand herbal tea (Berries & Cherries), peanut butter, and almond butter.  The Trader Joe's nearest to me is about 1 1/2 hours away so I don't plan to shop there frequently.

One of the products I got is the Crunchy Peanut Butter (above) with Flax & Chia Seeds.  The only ingredients are peanuts, salt, flax seeds and chia seeds (no added sugar or fat).  This is the kind of peanut butter that separates and requires refrigeration.  It occurred to me I could buy natural peanut butter at my local grocery store and add in flax and chia seeds myself.  I did just that a few weeks ago and it's great.  This works well with natural peanut butter (without added sugar and fat) because these peanut butters are kind of loose and drippy at room temperature so it's relatively easy to stir in the seeds.  Once you stir in the seeds, you need to store the peanut butter in the fridge.

To this 15 ounce jar of Natural Peanut Butter (Kroger brand), I added in three teaspoons of chia seeds and three teaspoons of flax seeds.  It's great on bananas, it's great on apple slices, it's great on toast with honey, it's great on a spoon!   I think I actually like my version of this doctored up peanut butter a little bit better than the Trader Joe's version. Maybe there is a little bit more salt in the Kroger peanut butter.

Above:  Close up!  Yum!!!

This past week, I made up little veggie snack boxes.  I put about a tablespoon of the peanut butter in a plastic shot glass so I could have peanut butter and celery.