Category Archives: Food and Recipes

Red Beet Hummus

Beets were never on my list of favorite foods as a kid, but I’ve grown to like them. And I especially like that they are so healthy and good for you. I make recipes with beets every so often–probably not as often as I should–and I had the perfect opportunity to make a beet recipe when I received a complimentary package of Gefen’s Vacuum-Packed Beets, which are organic and also pre-peeled, making them very handy and convenient to use.

These beets work great in everything from salads to smoothies. I decided to make Red Beet Hummus. I love trying different hummus recipes and hadn’t tried one with beets yet. I really like this hummus! It doesn’t have a super-strong beet flavor, since it just has about 1 medium-size beet in it. I think the mild beet flavor goes nicely with the other hummus ingredients, and adding beet to the mix makes this hummus so healthy! If you don’t happen to have any Gefen’s beets on hand, you can use precooked beets or roasted beets instead.

RED BEET HUMMUS by NancyC

  • 1 (15-ounce) can of Garbanzo Beans (also called chickpeas)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped, cooked (or roasted), peeled red beet (about 1 medium size beet)
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 clove minced garlic (you can use 2 cloves if you want a stronger garlic flavor)
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of paprika

Add garbanzo beans, chopped beet, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil in a blender or food processor. Puree until mixture is smooth. Add sea salt, pepper, and paprika and blend everything together. Add more seasoning to taste if desired. Serve with crackers or veggies or use as a spread on bread or bagels.

I’ve learned that beets are a great source of of vitamin C, iron, fiber, and essential minerals. I really need to get more beets in my diet! Do you make any dishes with beets?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

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Carrot Cake

When I think of Amish food, I think of good, homestyle comfort food. That’s why I was interested in reviewing the recently published Amish Community Cookbook: Simply Delicious Recipes from Amish and Mennonite Homes. I was in the mood for some comfort food and there are lots of comfort food-type recipes in this book…breakfast items, casseroles, main dishes, sides, and desserts. I thought I’d try the Carrot Cake because I really love carrot cake and this one sounded really easy to make.

It was easy, but there are some positives and negatives to this recipe. The positives are that it tastes great, and it has three–yes, three–cups of shredded carrots in it. All those cups of carrots made me feel a little better about eating this cake. The cream cheese icing, which I turned into a thicker frosting, is really good too (but not healthy at all)!

The negative thing about this recipe is that it sunk in the middle when I made it. It was higher at the edges and lower in the middle. I made a batch-and-a-half of frosting to fill in the sunken middle and make the cake appear level. And sprinkled the top with chopped pecans. So it ended up looking fine. I’m not sure if the sunken middle was due to something I did wrong or if it always turns out that way. So if you try this, you’ll have to let me know if your cake sunk or not!

At any rate, everyone I shared this cake with loved it. So I guess that’s the most important thing!

CARROT CAKE adapted from Amish Community Cookbook

Makes a 9×13″ cake

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups (granulated) sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups shredded carrots
  • 2 cups (all-purpose) flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

CREAM CHEESE ICING

(Note: I made a batch and a half of the frosting to have enough to generously cover the cake and the sunken middle: 3/4 cup butter, 4.5 ounces cream cheese, 3 tsp. vanilla, 6 cups powdered sugar; I also topped the frosting with 1/3 cup chopped pecans. Below is the original icing recipe from the book)

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar or more as needed for consistency (I used 4 cups of powdered sugar because I wanted a thicker frosting)

In large bowl, beat eggs well. Add sugar, beat until creamy. Beat in oil and vanilla. Stir in carrots.

In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.

Add dry ingredients to egg/sugar mixture. Stir in nuts. Pour into ungreased 9×13-inch pan and bake at 350˚F for 40 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely. Spread with cream cheese icing. Keep cake refrigerated.

If you’ve looked over this recipe and have any ideas why this cake may have sunken in the middle and how to fix that, be sure to let me know! Even with the sunken middle though, I would make this again because it really does taste good. If you’re a carrot cake fan, I’m sure you will like this! Have you made carrot cake before and do you have a favorite recipe for it?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Weekend Potluck, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.

Yogurt with Mixed Berries, Walnuts, and Dark Chocolate

This is such an easy and healthy recipe for breakfast, a snack, or dessert! it’s from a new book called The SirtFood Diet. Before I received my review copy, I had never heart of “Sirtfoods.” In a nutshell, what I read in this book was that polyphenol nutrients from certain plants are good for us. And plants that have “noteworthy amounts” of sirtuin-activating polyphenols are called “Sirtfoods.” I know this sounds pretty technical, but the book gives a good explanation about all this. It also provides information about the top 20 Sirtfoods, along with other foods that are beneficial. I found that I actually like a lot of these foods, which include Arugula, Garlic, Green Tea, and even Cocoa!

This book explains that Sirtfoods, rich in special nutrients that help activate the same “skinny genes” in our bodies that fasting triggers, can help in effective weight loss–and so the Sirtfood Diet was created by nutritionists Aidan Goggins and Glen Matten. I haven’t tried the diet, so I can’t endorse it, but I’m sharing what the book says about it. The diet includes a plan for losing 7 pounds in seven days, along with keeping the weight off. There’s a recipe section that includes a good variety of healthy dishes–some even include chicken and beef. The authors also recommend having a good juicer to get the most benefits from this diet.

After looking through the recipe section, I decided to try this yogurt recipe because I loved all the ingredients and it was so simple to make. Simple as it is though, I actually made this recipe the wrong way! I put the berries over the yogurt instead of the yogurt over the berries! it does work better to put the yogurt over the berries as the recipe says, so be sure to layer the ingredients right! Even though I made this wrong, it does look pretty, doesn’t it? 🙂

YOGURT WITH MIXED BERRIES, CHOPPED WALNUTS, AND DARK CHOCOLATE from the SirtFood Diet

Makes 1 serving

  • 1 1/3 cups mixed berries (I used some organic fresh strawberries and frozen blueberries)
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt (or vegan alternative, such as soy or coconut yogurt)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons dark chocolate (85 percent cocoa solids), grated

Add the mixed berries to a bowl and top with the yogurt. Sprinkle with the walnuts and chocolate.

That’s all there is to it! I’m so glad dark chocolate is good for you, even if it’s the 85% cocoa solid kind; I actually like the really, really dark chocolate better than the sweeter varieties.

Are you a healthy eater and have you heart of Sirtfoods?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots

I’ve never been very crazy about raw carrots. But I do like them cooked or roasted. So when I found this recipe for Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots in my review copy of No Excuses Detox, I knew I wanted to make them! As the subtitle says, this book includes 100 recipes to help you eat healthy every day.

Written by Megan Gilmore, No Excuses Detox features recipes that are quick and easy, affordable, and yummy–not the kind of recipes you’d expect to find in a “detox” cookbook. In fact, I was surprised that there are recipes for lots of comfort food-type foods with a healthy twist–like Butternut Mac n’ Cheese, Skillet Breakfast Hash, Speedy Black Bean Burgers, and even Carrot Cake Cupcakes. Lots of great recipes to choose from! But the Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots recipe was calling my name and I had just bought some organic rainbow carrots at Whole Foods, so it was the perfect time for me to try this out.

I used large carrots when I made this, but you can slice your carrots or use baby carrots and if you do, your cooking time will only be about 10 minutes. Since I used large carrots I had to cook mine a little longer. So here’s the recipe–it’s a great way to eat your carrots!

CINNAMON-GLAZED CARROTS from No Excuses Detox

The addition of cinnamon and naturally sweet maple syrup makes these carrots taste like dessert, plus they can be ready in just 15 minutes!–Megan Gilmore

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound baby carrots, sliced carrot coins, or halved large carrots
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of fine sea salt

In a Dutch oven, melt the coconut oil over medium heat and saute the carrots for 2 minutes. Add the water, which should start bubbling right away, and lower the heat to a simmer. Partially cover the pot and cook the carrots for about 10 minutes, until fork-tender (note: since I used larger carrots, my cooking time was more like 15 to 18 minutes). Check the pot periodically to make sure the water doesn’t completely evaporate so the carrots don’t burn.

Once the carrots are tender, raise the heat to cook off any excess water, then stir in the maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt (adjust seasonings to taste). Serve warm. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

There are other recipes I want to try in this book. It’s always nice when you can make great-tasting food that’s good for you, too. Do you have some favorite healthy recipes of your own?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday, Full Plate Thursday.

Creamy Navy Bean Soup

Creamy Navy Bean Soup @ NancyCRosemary is one of my favorite herbs. Unfortunately, my big outdoor rosemary plant did not make it through the winter, so I have a new small one growing inside right now. I’ll put it outside soon, hoping it will grow into another big plant! I used some of the rosemary from this little plant in this Creamy Navy Bean Soup recipe.

I made this soup several weeks ago on a chilly day. Even though the weather has warmed up, this is still a great recipe for any time of year if you are a soup-lover! Creamy soups usually call for heavy cream as an ingredient, but I used plain Greek yogurt in this soup–I thought the tangy yogurt would give the soup a nice flavor, and it really did! The rosemary gives it a great flavor, too. You’ll want to use fresh rosemary if you have it, but dried rosemary also works.

CREAMY NAVY BEAN SOUP by NancyC

Makes about four servings

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 1/2 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans Navy Beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Additional fresh or dried rosemary for garnish

In a  4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and heat for 1-2 minutes, then add garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper, and onions; cook until onions start to get tender and a little translucent, about 5 minutes.

Add in the broth and beans, heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let soup cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place half of the soup mixture in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Pour this mixture into a large bowl, then blend the remaining soup mixture and add to the large bowl.

Stir the plain Greek yogurt into the pureed soup mixture, blending well (if the yogurt is lumpy, use a hand better or immersion blender to smooth the mixture). Pour the soup mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat for 5 additional minutes.

Pour into 4 serving bowls and top with a garnish of fresh or dried rosemary, if desired, and serve.

In addition to rosemary, I also like to grow basil in a pot every summer–that’s another favorite herb of mine. Do you grow your own herbs, too, and what are your favorites?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday. Weekend Potluck, Full Plate Thursday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.

Chocolate Chip Toffee Brownies

I wish I could tell you that these Chocolate Chip Toffee Brownies are healthy and low-calorie…but they are definitely not! What they are is dense and very, very rich. Probably the only healthy ingredient is the unsweetened cocoa powder, which gives them a great chocolate flavor. Then there’s the chocolate chips, which make them extra chocolatey. And finally, the toffee bits which bake into the batter and give these brownies a subtle caramel flavor.

When you are craving something sweet and chocolatey, these brownies are a great thing to make. Just make sure you have lots of people to share them with so you’re not tempted to eat the whole pan yourself! But, they do freeze well so you can always save the extras for later if you don’t want to share…I’m just sayin’ 🙂

CHOCOLATE CHIP TOFFEE BROWNIES by NancyC

Makes a 9×13″ pan

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Half & Half (light cream)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 (8-ounce) package toffee bits, divided (use 1 1/4 cups for the batter; save 1/3 cup for topping)
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided (use 1 2/3 cups for the batter; save 1/3 cup for topping)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray); set aside.

In large bowl, cream softened butter and sugars. Then blend in eggs, vanilla, and Half & Half, mixing until smooth.

In medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, and cocoa powder together. Add this dry mixture to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, half at a time, mixing until everything is combined.

Fold in the toffee bits and mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, stirring to distribute evenly in batter. Pour or spoon batter into prepared 9×13″ pan, spreading batter evenly in pan. Sprinkle 1/3 cup each of the remaining chocolate chips and toffee bits over the batter.

Bake at 350˚F for 42 to 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let brownies cool completely in pan before cutting into squares. If using parchment paper, after brownies have cooled completely, lift the uncut brownies out of the pan with the parchment paper edges, then cut into squares.

It’s hard to resist a good brownie! Thankfully, the weather is getting nicer and I’m hoping to get outside more and exercise these brownies off! Do you have a weakness for brownies like I do?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Coconut Date Granola

Coconut Date Granola @NancyC

It was time for me to make some homemade granola–I make it every few months and this Coconut Date Granola is a sweeter granola than I usually make, because in addition to honey and maple syrup (I usually use one or the other, or some of both) this also is sweetened with light brown sugar. It also has the natural sweetness of chopped dates, which are really good for you. Some other healthy ingredients in this recipe include pepitas, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans. And some light olive oil, too.

I shared this granola with some friends and co-workers, and they all really liked it. So if you’re a granola-lover, you’ll have to keep this recipe in mind!

COCONUT DATE GRANOLA by NancyC

Makes about 13 cups (halve the recipe to make a smaller amount)

  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup wheat germ or ground flaxseed
  • 1 1/2 cups raw pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds-you can use roasted pepitas, but add those in after baking)
  • 1 1/2 cups hulled, raw sunflower kernels (you can use roasted kernels, but add those in after baking)
  • 2 cups sweetened or unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup light olive oil
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped dates

Preheat oven to 300˚F. Line 2 rimmed baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the oats, wheat germ or ground flaxseed, pepitas, sunflower kernels, coconut flakes, and chopped pecans; set aside.

In a small microwaveable bowl, heat honey for 20 to 30 seconds to make the consistency thinner. Then, in a medium size bowl, blend honey, maple syrup, olive oil, brown sugar, and salt, blending everything well. Pour honey/maple syrup/sugar mixture over oat mixture and toss until the oat mixture is well coated.

Spread granola mixture on prepared baking sheets and bake at 300˚F for 48 to 55 minutes, until mixture is golden, stirring mixture every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in the chopped dates (half of the dates for each baking sheet), and let granola cool completely (the mixture will get crunchier as it cools). Some of the granola may dry in larger clumps, so you may need to break those into smaller pieces. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

This granola makes a great breakfast with milk. It also makes a great breakfast parfait with yogurt. And it also makes a yummy snack to munch on later in the day! Do you make homemade granola, and what is your favorite kind?

Sharing this recipe at Weekend Potluck, Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Inspire Me Monday.

 

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

Whole Wheat Banana Bread @NancyCUsually when I bake things I use unbleached all-purpose flour. But I had purchased some organic whole wheat flour and was wanting to try making something with it. I like baking quick breads and I hadn’t made any banana bread lately, so I decided to try making a loaf of Whole Wheat Banana Bread. I thought it turned out really well! It’s a good, hearty banana bread with lots of chopped nuts and healthy ingredients like honey and light olive oil (although it does have some brown sugar in it). The mashed bananas and plain Greek yogurt make this loaf moist and It doesn’t have a strong wheaty taste, so it should appeal to anyone who likes banana bread.

WHOLE WHEAT BANANA BREAD by NancyC

Makes 1 loaf

  • 1/3 cup light olive oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (about 3 1/2 medium)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 325˚F. Grease and flour a 9×5″ loaf pan; set aside.

In large bowl, blend oil, honey, brown sugar, and vanilla, then add in eggs, mixing well. Stir in yogurt, then add in the mashed bananas, mixing everything together.

In medium bowl, blend flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients and mix just until ingredients are combined–do not overtax! Fold in chopped nuts.

Pour batter into greased loaf pan and bake at 325˚F for 48 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes, then remove and cool on completely on wire rack.

I baked this loaf on a chilly morning and it was the perfect snack for later in the day! I want to make more things with this organic whole wheat flour that I have. What do you like making with whole wheat flour?

Sharing at Fiesta Friday. Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Zucchini Vegetable Soup

Zucchini Vegetable Soup @ NancyCSoup is a favorite winter meal of mine–a big hot bowl of soup on a cold day is just so warm and comforting! This winter has actually been on the milder side where I live, but we’ve had some chilly days and I’ve been making homemade soup every so often.

anysharpIf you like veggies, this Zucchini Vegetable Soup is a good one to try. In addition to zucchini, it’s also made with green beans, chopped onion, and sliced carrots, all cooked until tender in a tomato–vegetable broth (or you can also substitute chicken broth if you like).

So there’s some chopping and slicing involved, but it’s worth it! And it gave me a chance to try my new complimentary AnySharp  knife sharpener that I received in the mail. It’s safe and easy to use and comes in a convenient small size for easy storage. It really helps make chopping and slicing veggies so much easier! You can visit AnySharp.com to learn more about it.

You can seed your zucchini before slicing it if you want, but if you don’t mind having some seeds in your soup, you can just slice it without seeding like I did.

ZUCCHINI VEGETABLE SOUP by NancyC

Makes 6-8 servings

  • 4 cups vegetable broth (or substitute chicken broth)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 6 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 medium)–cut slices into halves or fourths
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) green beans, sliced into 1″ pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 medium)
  • 2 cups sliced carrots (about 2 medium)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, depending on how seasoned you want it
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • additional salt and pepper to taste

In large pot, over medium heat, stir together the broth and tomato paste. Add the zucchini, green beans, onions, carrots, salt, dried parsley flakes, Italian seasoning, and minced garlic. Heat mixture to boiling, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste if desired, then serve.

The Italian seasoning adds a great flavor to this soup, along with the garlic and onion. If you’re trying to get more veggies in your diet, this is a great recipe to try! What kinds of soup have you been making this winter?

Sharing this at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.

Cheesy Mixed Vegetable Casserole

Cheesy Mixed Vegetable Casserole @NancyC

This past holiday season, I went to a special Christmas lunch where one of the items they served was a vegetable casserole side dish. It was really, really good. One of my co-workers decided to try making one herself and she talked about how good it was. So I finally decided to try my own version of a mixed vegetable casserole and if you like comfort food and cheesy side dishes, then you’ll really like this recipe! I added lots of cheddar cheese and made a crunchy topping that includes crumbled Ritz crackers and those yummy french fried onions. This is a great potluck dish or something your whole family would probably eat up in no time!

CHEESY MIXED VEGETABLE CASSEROLE by NancyC

Makes about 10 servings

  • 1 (19-ounce) bag of frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and drained (I used Birds Eye Steamfresh® Fresh Frozen Mixed Vegetables)
  • 1 cup frozen, thawed, and drained chopped broccoli (or substitute more corn, peas, or carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery ribs
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of mushroom soup or cream of celery soup, undiluted
  • 3 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese, divided
  • 1 cup Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup french fried onions (or you can use 2 cups of french fried onions or 2 cups of Ritz crackers)

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease or spray a 9×13″ pan or baking dish; set aside.

In large bowl, combine the thawed mixed vegetables, broccoli, onion, celery, mayonnaise, plain Greek yogurt, mushroom soup and 2 cups of the shredded cheddar cheese, blending everything together. Spoon into your 9×13″ pan.

Sprinkle the last cup of shredded cheddar cheese evenly over the top of the vegetable mixture. Then combine the crushed Ritz crackers with melted butter, mixing until crumbly, and sprinkle that evenly over the cheese. Last, sprinkle the french fried onions evenly over everything.

Bake at 350˚F, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, and serve.

This casserole is so tasty it really is hard to stop eating it! With all the cheese and toppings, it’s not low-calorie, but it’s nice to indulge in when you’re craving comfort food on a chilly day. And it makes a great side dish for the holidays or any time of the year for that matter. Have you made any comfort-food type dishes this winter?

Sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday, Meal Plan Monday, Weekend Potluck, Inspire Me Monday.