26 October 2010

Brown Rice Pilaf with pecans and dried cranberries


Have you already started planning your side dishes for Thanksgiving?  Do you have set standards or are you an adventuresome type?  I like to try different side dishes every Thanksgiving.  I have my set favorite, my mom's stuffing, but I'm even going to mix that up this year and try to make it healthier in consideration for a diabetic in the family who is coming to dinner.

I made this Brown Rice Pilaf with pecans and dried cranberries to accompany the turkey made for my review of the Charbroil Big Easy.  I adapted it from a recipe by Lorna Sass in her cookbook, Whole Grains:  Every Day, Every Way.  I really liked the nuttiness and the whole grains, but I think when I make it again, I will cut out the butter.  The recipe calls for 3 Tbls. of butter which I used because it was my first time making the recipe, but it really didn't need it.  I think the butter made the dish taste a little heavy, especially since we already had all of the heavy aromas around the house from the turkey.  Either way you make it though, it could be your solution on what to make to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey this year!

Brown rice pilaf with pecans and dried cranberries by Joie de vivre.  Adapted from Whole Grains:  Every Day, Every Way by Lorna Sass
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

3 Tbls. unsalted butter (I'm going to omit this the next time I make it)
3/4  tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 c. chopped pecans
3 c. freshly cooked long grain brown rice (I made this in my rice cooker while the turkey was cooking)
3 Tbls. sweet sherry
2 Tbls. dried cranberries
3/4 tsp. grated orange zest
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  Heat the butter in a large skillet until melted and foamy.  Add the salt, pumpkin pie spice, and the chopped pecans.  Stir for 2-3 minutes until the pecans are slightly toasted.
2.  Add the rice and stir until combined.  Next, add the cranberries, sherry and orange zest.  Stir until combined.
3.  Remove from heat and adjust the salt and pepper to taste.



20 October 2010

Review of Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolates



As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was recently sent some samples of Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Chocolates to try.  (I know, it's a hard job, but someone has to do it!)  Fortunately for me, they came the day before I was to set out on a relaxing weekend at a women's retreat.  What better place or time to try some new chocolates than on a weekend retreat?

Saturday morning dawned warmish and beautiful.  The forecast called for rain all weekend so I was delighted to find a sunny spot all to myself where I could ready my book and try these new chocolates.



I settled into a nice adirondack chair which was bathed in sunlight, beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene (in Idaho) shimmered in the distance, popped my iPod buds into my ears, took a deep, relaxing sigh, and tried these chocolates.

For milk chocolate, these were surprisingly good.  I am really a dark chocolate fan, the darker the better, so I'm not the best person to be reviewing these, but I did enjoy them.  The milk chocolate was extremely smooth and actually melted on my tongue unlike some milk chocolates that don't melt and leave a waxy coating in your mouth.  The nut flavors, almond and hazelnut, were also very good.  They had nice pieces of nut in them that actually tasted nutty and complemented the chocolate nicely.  Another bonus, small sizes make for instant portion control.

If you are a fan of milk chocolate, go ahead and give these a try, I think you'll like them.

19 October 2010

Pumpkin Buckwheat Breakfast



I got a bee in my bonnet this week for eating pumpkin for breakfast after reading a post by Josie at The Skinny Way of Life where she put pumpkin in her oatmeal.  I had never even thought of eating pumpkin in this way before, but the idea of adding it to whole grains for breakfast really resonated with me.  I started rifling through my grains and came across a neglected bag of raw buckwheat groats.  Why has it been neglected you ask?  I am not a fan of buckwheat, it is just a little too earthy for me.  However, I thought if I add pumpkin to it, perhaps it would mask the earthy smell!  I soaked the buckwheat groats overnight in a saucepan and in the morning, they were ready to eat after cooking for a short 10 minutes.  After adding the pumpkin, a little honey, and some pumpkin pie spice, my breakfast was good to go.  Pouring nonfat milk over the top made the whole dish creamy and yummy.  It was like eating pumpkin pie for breakfast!  My new favorite way to eat whole grains for breakfast.



Pumpkin Buckwheat Breakfast by Joie de vivre
(Serves 1)

Ingredients:

1/4 c. raw buckwheat groats
1/2 c. water
1/2 c. canned pumpkin
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 tsp. honey
1 c. nonfat milk
1 tsp. flaxseed oil (optional)

Directions:

1.  Soak the buckwheat groats in the water overnight in a small saucepan with a lid.
2.  In the morning, remove the lid and place the saucepan over high heat.  Bring the water to a boil, then place the lid on the pan and lower the heat to low.  Gently simmer for 10 minutes.
3.  After 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat.  Check to see that all of the water has been absorbed by the groats.  If not, put over low heat until the water has been absorbed.  Leave the lid on the pot so the groats can steam while you get the other ingredients put together.
4.  Into your breakfast cereal bowl, add 1/2 pumpkin.  Add the pumpkin pie spice and the honey and mix together.  If desired, add the flaxseed oil.


5.  Mix the pumpkin, honey and flaxseed oil together and then add the cooked buckwheat.


6.  Mix the buckwheat and the pumpkin mixture together and pour milk over it as desired.  Enjoy.

My week in food

Although I had a good week in food, my photos are pretty weak this week (hee hee).  I was able to go on a women's retreat last weekend in Coeur d'Alene, ID which was BEAUTIFUL and completely relaxing, but I somehow forgot to take pictures of my food which is how it should be when you're relaxed.

Breakfasts


Oatmeal with 1/2 smashed banana, 1 c. nonfat milk, coffee and cream


Oatmeal with 1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries (a few smashed in my oatmeal too), 1 c. nonfat milk, coffee and cream


This tasted like pumpkin pie for breakfast!  I'll post the recipe next.  1/4 c. dried buckwheat (cooked) with pumpkin, honey, pumpkin pie spice.  1 c. nonfat milk, coffee and cream.  


Same breakfast as above, but made with 1/4 c. dried teff (cooked) instead of the buckwheat


Lunches


1/2 can salmon, whole grain crackers, 1/2 c. plain yogurt, 1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries


2 fried eggs, 1 piece of whole wheat toast spread with Marmite, 1 1/2 c. sliced strawberries, 1/2 c. plain yogurt.


Turkey sandwich with mustard on whole wheat bread, zucchini sticks




1 fried egg, 1 piece of whole wheat toast spread with Marmite, 1/2 apple sliced thinly, zucchini sticks, 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese


1/2 c. plain yogurt, 1 tin of sardines packed in water, 8 whole grain crackers, 1/4 c. pomegranate seeds


Dinners


4 oz. plain baked potato, 1/2 c. sauteed mushrooms, steamed broccoli with 1 tsp. butter, 3 oz. London broil

How to open a pomegranate

It's pomegranate season!  I remember buying pomegranates as a kid at our local flea market near Fresno, CA.  I used to spend HOURS carefully peeling back all the membranes in the pomegranate to eat the seeds one by one.  As an adult, I still love pomegranates, but no longer have the time or the desire to spend hours eating one.  The problem is, those suckers are hard to open without making a mess and crushing all of those beautiful juicy seeds inside!  A few years ago, I happened upon this method of opening them.  I can go from pomegranate to a bowl full of seeds in less than 5 minutes.  Oh yeah!


1.  First, cut off the top and the bottom of the pomegranate using a very sharp knife.



2.  Next, cut a shallow slit down the side of the pomegranate.  You need only cut through the outside of the pomegranate.


3.  Fill a large bowl with water and place the pomegranate into the bowl.  While the pomegranate is under the water, wedge your fingers in the slit you made with your thumbs on the opposite side of the fruit and split the pomegranate in two.  Continue to split the fruit into about six pieces.


4.  Once the pomegranate is broken up into about six pieces, gently start to separate the seeds from the rind and the membrane.  I usually just rub the pomegranate pieces between my fingers and thumbs and the seeds come off easily.  Do this step gently, you don't want to crush the seeds.


5.  You will notice that the seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl while the rind and the membranes of the pomegranate float.  When you are finished deseeding the pomegranate, use a strainer to skim off all of the floating rind and membrane.  Empty your strainer, then pour the water and the seeds into it.  You now have a strainer full of pomegranate seeds you can do what you wish with.

I served my pomegranate seeds in a little bowl to accompany my lunch yesterday.  (Yes, I really do eat sardines on crackers).  I love scooping up the pomegranate seeds on a spoon.  Easy peasy!  You can do it too.  Once you get the technique of opening pomegranates down, you can spend the few precious weeks in fall while they are in season enjoying them.

13 October 2010

Review of The Char-broil Big Easy



As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I was sent a Char-broil Big Easy Oil-less turkey fryer to review as well as a Flip video camera to record my experience!  I hope you find the video charming, it was recorded primarily by my 5 year old, he was the only one available at the time, so bear that in mind.

I was really excited by The Big Easy.  All I did to my turkey was remove the insides, rinse the inside and the outside of the bird with water, dry it, let it rest at room temperature for an hour, smear it with softened butter, season it liberally with Charbroil's All Purpose Rub, pop it in the hinged basket and pop it in The Big Easy.  I didn't have to baste, I didn't have to constantly worry about it, that was it.  An hour and a half after putting the turkey in, I had one of the juiciest, most flavorful turkeys I had ever had.  Even the leftovers are juicy!

video



As my loyal reader, you can get in on the action too! Charbroil is giving you free shipping on The Big Easy at charbroil.com. Plus, you can also take advantage of an exclusive offer of 10% off the Hinged Basket when you enter offer code TBEFB12 at time of checkout. The Big Easy is available for immediate purchase nationwide at Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Amazon.com and Bass Pro Shops.

05 October 2010

Chicken and Pesto Pizza




When meal planning for the week, I always ask my kids for input on what they want for dinners during the week.  Inevitably, every week we must have a "pizza night".  Since I've been trying to control the ingredients in my family's dinners, this week I made my own pizza.  The boys still wanted pepperoni, but I was able to control my own fat and calories by making a grown up pizza of chicken and pesto.  The following recipe for pizza dough was super easy with no kneading required.  It made a really wet dough that cooked up really crisp with lots of bubbly air holes throughout.  Enjoy!

Basic Pizza Dough adapted from Frank Stitt's Bottega Favorita cookbook
Makes 2 12-inch pizza crusts

Ingredients:

1 1/4 c. warm water
1 Tbls. honey
1 Tbls. active dry yeast
2 c. all purpose flour (extra for dusting)
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. olive oil
Cornmeal for dusting

Directions:

1.  Pour the warm water into a cup and stir in the honey.  Sprinkle the yeast on top and set aside while you get the other components of the dough mixed together.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together the flours and salt.  By now, your yeast mixture should be getting foamy.  Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture with the olive oil.  Mix with dough hooks on your hand mixer until all incorporated.  The dough will be very wet.
3.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes (dough should be doubled)
4.  Sprinkle extra all purpose flour on top of the dough and dust cornmeal on your pizza pan or pizza peel.  Using a dough scraper, divide the dough in two and place on your pizza pans.  Dust as needed with all purpose flour to shape the very sticky dough into two crusts.


Chicken Pesto Pizza by Joie de vivre
Yields 1 pizza

Ingredients:


1 pizza crust
1/2 cut up cooked chicken breast (I used the pre-cooked, pre-cut chicken breast from Oscar Meyer found in the deli)
1 Tbls. prepared pesto
2 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

1.  If using a pizza stone, place stone in the oven and preheat your oven as high as it will go.  (My oven hit about 500 degrees F.  Otherwise, preheat your oven as hot as it will go.
2.  If using a pizza stone, place your dough on a pizza peel that has been sprinkled liberally with cornmeal, or place dough on a pizza pan sprinkled liberally with cornmeal.
3.  Spread 1 Tbls. prepared pesto on the pizza dough.  Top with chicken breast and mozzarella cheese.
4.  Bake pizza either directly on pizza stone or in pizza pan for 12-15 minutes until crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.
5.  Enjoy!





This is the book that the pizza dough recipe came from.  It has tons of yummy looking photos and the recipes are easy to follow.

02 October 2010

My week in food

Between carpooling, volunteering for PTO, grocery shopping, play dates, exercising, house cleaning, laundry, and soaking up the wonderful early autumn weather we've been having here in eastern, WA, it feels like I've hardly had time to breathe this week!  Despite my schedule, I have felt confident in what I've been fueling my body with this week.  I'm determined to have as healthy a diet as I possibly can this autumn and winter to give myself a head start in fending off attacking viruses!  With school back in session, the kidlets are sure to bring home many nasty bugs.  Moms must stay strong!

The key to my meals this week was the preparation of some key proteins that resurfaced as various leftovers throughout the week.  Early in the week I grilled a London Broil that had been seasoned on the outside with McCormick's Far East Ginger Spice Blend and had grilled some turkey breast strips seasoned with Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle.  These were repurposed as several lunches and dinners in the form of wraps.  I also bought a package of chicken mango sausages at Costco last week that were a quick, low-fat protein for several lunches and dinners as well.  This week, I also figured out that my rice cooker will make wild rice.  The resulting pot of rice reheated well and supplemented a few meals this week too.

Breakfasts



Whole grain waffles made from Lorna Sass' Whole Grains:  Every day, every way cookbook.  These were phenomenal and filling, but they were phenomenal because there was 5 Tbls. butter in the batter!  I practiced moderation and only had one, but these were a good lesson, when you cook things yourself, you know what is in them, when you are at a restaurant, you never know what is hidden inside.

Miracle Breakfast Cream from French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook by Mireille Guiliano.  Basically, it is yogurt, ground almonds, flax oil, lemon juice and oatmeal.  On the side, I had a peach and coffee with cream.



1 egg fried in 2 tsp. olive oil, a peach and a piece of whole wheat toast spread with 1 Tbls. apricot jelly.  Coffee and cream.
Again, I had Miracle Breakfast Cream but this time added 1/2 of a banana smashed up with a fork.  It was yummy!  Mireille says in the French Women Don't Get Fat cookbook that Miracle Breakfast Cream is addicting.  I would have to agree with her!


1 egg fried in 2 tsp. olive oil, a peach, coffee with cream, and a piece of whole wheat toast spread with Marmite.

Miracle Breakfast Cream with a peach, coffee and cream.

Oatmeal with 1 tsp. flax oil mixed in, a peach, 1 c. nonfat milk, coffee.



Lunches



3 oz. turkey breast strips on a Flat Out Original flatbread, 1 Tbls. salsa, 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese, 1 peach.

 Chicken Mango sausage, 1 c. plain wild rice, 1 peach and some cucumber and celery sticks.

1 can sardines packed in water, 8 whole grain crackers, 1/2 c. whole milk yogurt, 1 peach.  This was a super quick and healthy lunch, but you definitely need time to brush your teeth afterwards!
Chicken Mango sausage, 1 c. wild rice, 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese, 1/2 banana, carrot sticks

 3 oz. London Broil strips on a Flat Out Original Flatbread, 1 c. (?) spinach, 1 Tbls, salsa, 1/2 c. whole milk yogurt with 1 tsp. flax oil mixed in.


Dinners


Chicken Mango sausage, 1 c. wild rice, 1 c. steamed cauliflower seasoned with butter and salt, 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese

Octopus and rice and bean salad.  I will post about my experience cooking the octopus, which turned out to be okay, but it was such a tiny portion for everyone at the table, that we all ended up having hot dogs as well!


Tandoori Tilapia from Devin Alexander's cookbook, I Can't Believe it's not Fattening.  This was AMAZING, even the kids gobbled it down.  It's going to make a reappearance on our menu in the near future.  I served this with 1/2 c. of my rice and bean salad, steamed summer squash seasoned with salt and butter, and 1/2 c. lowfat cottage cheese.

3 oz. London Broil strips served on a Flat Out Original Flatbread, lettuce, salsa.

1 c. rice and bean salad, Babybel cheese.


Homemade chicken and pesto pizza, peach.  I ended up having 3 pieces of pizza, but the glory of making it myself, I was able to point out (on the Weight Watcher point system) all of the ingredients for the pizza and it was only 8 points for 1/3 of the pizza.  Thank goodness for cooking and being able to control your ingredients!


Saturday is my meal planning day so the cycle starts again today.  I'll share with you this week my story of cooking the octopus and recipes for the pizza and the rice and bean salad, but until then, have a fabulous and healthy week!











These are the cookbooks I used to inspire this week's meals.  You may find them interesting!

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