31 March 2010

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff

This is a super easy recipe that yields fall apart tender Beef Stroganoff.  Enjoy!

Crock Pot Beef Stroganoff by Joie de vivre


4 c. beef cubes (1 cut up an arm pot roast)
1 10.5 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
1 c. sour cream
1 Tbls. instant clear gel (optional)


1.  Place the beef cubes in the crock pot insert.
2.  Add the cream of mushroom soup and stir until beef cubes are coated
3.  Cover, and set crock pot on LOW for 8-10 hours
4.  Before serving, stir in the sour cream.  If you would like your stroganoff thicker, stir in the instant clear gel.  Serve over noodles.

26 March 2010

Lentil Soup with Spinach

Little League started this week and I have been one busy mommy!  Thank goodness I have some healthy crock pot recipes up my sleeve.  It is such a relief to get dinner going in the morning, and be reassured that my family will have something healthy and nourishing to eat after a day of rush, rush, rush.

Lentil Soup with Spinach by Joie de vivre
Serves: at least 6


1 c. brown lentils
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. lime zest
2 yellow potatoes (I used Yukon gold), peeled and chopped
8 cups chicken stock
5 oz. spinach per person (I'm a spinach eater)


1.  Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil.
2.  Saute the onions, carrots and celery until the onions are translucent.  Add the minced garlic, cumin seeds and the lime zest and continue to cook for 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat and add to your crock pot.
3.  Rinse the lentils in a colander under cold water and add to the crock pot.
4.  Add the potatoes and the chicken stock to your crock pot, cover and cook on LOW 8-10 hours.
5.  When ready to serve, heat a large pot with a lid over medium heat.  Add 1 Tbls. olive oil, add spinach, stir around with tongs to cover with oil and put the lid on the pot.  Let the spinach cook for exactly 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.
6.  To serve, place a large serving (about 3/4 c.) sauteed spinach at the bottom of each bowl and ladle the soup over it.  Enjoy!

24 March 2010

Back to Business

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to go on a religious retreat for women at a camp in Northern Idaho.  It was so good to get away.  Saturday morning was gorgeous outside.  This is the view that greeted all of us as we made our way to breakfast!

They fed us really well.  This is a picture of my first breakfast at the retreat.  What a welcomed respite from cooking and cleaning.  After this, I stopped carrying my camera around and just spent the rest of the time relaxing, but you get the idea.  We were well cared for and recharged to return home on Sunday.

I've been running non-stop since getting home trying to get caught up with all of the chores that pile up after a weekend away but it was totally worth it.

Spring came with abandon this past week and it's been just gorgeous out.  This tree is at the corner of my neighbor's property.  Seeing it this year is bittersweet.   My neighbor's husband passed away this past winter.  He always brought someone out each spring to trim this tree up and get it in shape before it flowered.  He always loved to see it in bloom.

This pipsqueak tree is at the corner of our property.  It was planted before we moved in and I'm not quite sure what it is...a weeping whatever, but I just don't see the point of this tree.  It is not tall enough to provide any shade, it's just about 6 inches taller than me, it doesn't bear any fruit, and it grows so much that I spend half the summer trimming the branches off of the ground.  At the end of every winter, I take particular pleasure trimming back all of the branches on it.  Despite it not having a point, for two weeks every year it flowers as well.  The way I trimmed it this year it looks a little like a bridal veil to me and has been particularly pretty in the sunlight.

Yesterday was so gorgeous out that the boys and I had a picnic at a park.  Although I loved having someone else cook for me all weekend, it was good to get back to some healthier fare.  We had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, plenty of fresh veggies with hummus to dip in, grapes and water.

I hope you all are having a wonderful day.  Little League season has started so you'll be seeing more crock pot fare out of me for a while.  In fact, I have a lentil stew going in the crock pot right now!  I'll share the recipe tomorrow.  See you then!

18 March 2010

Pie + Cupcake = Pupcake!

One of the last "baby words" my 4 year old still says is "Pupcake" instead of "cupcake".  I've never really broken him of this word because I think it's cute.  However, he's growing up just far too quickly in my opinion and I know that "pupcake" will go the way of other baby things.  So I decided I needed to invent a "pupcake".  Pie + cupcake = pupcake.  This recipe is for a banana cream pupcake.  I made them in my mini muffin tins so each ended up being a hearty teaspoonful.  They would make cute appetizers, but only for close friends as the cupcake liner was a little floppy and they were a little messy.  They were so cute and yummy though, slight floppiness can be forgiven among close friends.

This recipe is basically a scaled down version of banana cream pie.  Enjoy!

Banana Cream Pupcakes by Joie de vivre
 Makes 24 pupcakes with plenty of vanilla cream leftover to make more


Mini cupcake liners
Mini cupcake pan
1 banana
Mini Nilla wafers
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/2  c. 2% milk
5 egg yolks
3 Tbls. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Whipped cream for garnish


1.  Line 24 mini muffin cups with mini cupcake liners
2.  Place one mini Nilla wafer at the bottom of each cup.  Set muffin pans aside

3.  Start making vanilla cream.  In a saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Add the 2% milk and whisk until combined.
4.  Place saucepan on medium heat and thoroughly whisk in the egg yolks.  Stirring constantly, bring the mixture to barely a simmer.  Cook at barely a simmer for one minute.
5.  Off of the heat, whisk in the butter and the vanilla extract until incorporated.  Mixture should be thickened, if it is not, return it to a gentle heat until it does start to thicken.

6.  Cut banana into thin slices.  Top each Nilla wafer in the muffin cups with one slice of banana.  Top these with one heaping tablespoon full of vanilla cream and then top with another slice of banana.

7.  When the pupcakes are all assembled, cover with Saran wrap and place in the fridge to cool.  The custard will firm up a little more.
8.  When ready to serve top each with a dollop of whipped cream and serve with a spoon.

See how cute these are?!  Sweet face was so excited to try them.  They got an enthusiastic approval from all of us!

The cuteness of these cupcakes (and the cuteness of Sweet Face) inspired a cuteness collage.  I'm submitting these cuties to the Eat Your Words challenge hosted by Tangled Noodle and Savor the Thyme. 

16 March 2010

Tuesday in Food

Happy Tuesday to you all!  Doe Eyes (above son) does not have school this week so we headed on an adventure to Yakima today!  (Yes, it was an adventure for us thank you very much)

Breakfast was late this morning as there was no early morning carpool to do.  WoHoo!  I had a bowl of Bob's Red Mill Spice N' Nice hot cereal with three prunes, sliced banana, coffee and milk.

Since we were in Yakima, no adventure to the city is complete without a visit to the local shrine of over-consumption, Miners' Burgers.

Do you see the size of Doe Eyes' lunch!  (He's in a growth spurt right now and ate it all, plus tater tots, fries, and a chocolate shake....our grocery bill is in so much trouble in a few years)

Sweet face (other son) with his lunch.  He basically didn't touch his hot dog but had chocolate shake and fries for lunch.  C'est la vie.

My lunch.  I'm not even kidding about the size of this food.  It is all HUGE!  I had to get a fork and eat this burger in separate pieces as I couldn't get my mouth around a whole cross section.  I had about a third of this burger plus a chocolate shake and some tater tots and french fries.  Even consuming only a third of my meal, I was FULL!

This was our ultimate destination, the Yakima Valley Museum.  I know it doesn't look like much from the outside, but for us, it's big time!  The kids love it here.  For our region, it is such a cute museum and it is dedicated to the history of Yakima.

Even after a day of adventure, we were all still full from lunch at dinnertime.  We all decided to just have cereal.  The kids call a meal like this "Brinner".  They now want "brinner" all week long.  

Have a great day tomorrow!  See you then.

15 March 2010

An Irish Feast for the non-Irish Joie

I do not have a lick of Irish in me, but I love the food and festivities associated with the day.
Even if you are like me and lack the Irish gene, St. Patrick's day is a day where we can all be Irish.  So lift your glass of Guinness high and get cooking!
On the menu:

Guinness braised corned beef
Whole wheat Irish soda bread with butter
Steamed carrots with butter

Guinness braised corned beef by Joie de vivre


1 corned beef roast
the spice packet that comes with your corned beef
1 bottle of Guinness


1.  Place your corned beef in the insert of your crock pot.
2.  Open the spice packet that came with the corned beef and sprinkle on top of the beef.
3.  Pour the bottle of Guinness over the corned beef.
4.  Cover the crock pot and set on LOW for 8-10 hours.
5.  Remove the corned beef from the crock pot.  Trim off all of the external fat and slice the roast into pieces going against the grain of the meat.

Colcannon by Joie de vivre


2 lb. russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch chunks.
1 bunch of scallions (about 8), white part only, sliced thinly
1 small head of green cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
2 Tbls. butter
1/2 cup 2% milk
1 scant tsp. salt
black pepper to taste


1.  In a tall soup pot, place the potatoes and add cool water until the potatoes are just covered.
2.  Sprinkle the scallions on top of the potatoes
3.  Layer the shredded cabbage on top of the scallions
4.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.
5.  Drain the contents in a colander and return them to the pot.
6.  Add butter, milk, salt and pepper and mash with a potato masher until potato chunks are thoroughly mashed.

13 March 2010

Saturday in Food plus a Buckwheat Pilaf recipe

Hi all!  I hope you all had glorious and restful Saturdays.  The kids were at Grandma's today so hubby and I were able to have a lazy morning catching up on missed T.V. shows.  Ah, bliss.

Breakfast:  For breakfast, I had a bowl of Julie Anne's Sweet Citrus granola.  More to come on this granola later, but it was good with just 2% milk on top.  Coffee and water rounded things out.

For lunch, I cut up one of the leftover venison steaks from a few nights ago and put it on a spinach salad dressed with Ranch dressing.  I also had quite a hunk of my whole wheat Irish soda bread and some butter.  Yummy!

Dinner was pork tenderloin, some buckwheat pilaf that I made in the pressure cooker, cut up watermelon and some sauteed mushrooms with a little bit of sauteed spinach added.

Aren't they pretty?

For dessert:  Two citrus granola chocolate chip cookies from Julie Anne's granola

I impressed myself with the buckwheat pilaf.  I have never been a buckwheat fan before, but I've always bought the toasted kind.  I read somewhere that the toasted buckwheat can be an acquired taste and if you're not into it, to try the raw.  I liked it a lot better!  And the pressure cooker made cooking it so easy. I'll share the recipe I made below.  Enjoy!

Buckwheat Pilaf by Joie de vivre
*This has a slight Asian bent to it to go with the pork tenderloin which was teriyaki flavored*


1 c. raw buckwheat groats
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 Tbls. shoyu
1 Tbls. toasted sesame seeds
1 3/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt (to taste)


1.  In your pressure cooker, combine all ingredients except salt and water and stir to coat the buckwheat throughly with the oil.  
2.  Add the water and stir.  Place the lid on the pressure cooker and lock into place.  Place over high heat.
3.  Once pressure is reached, lower the heat and cook for 5 minutes.
4.  Turn off the heat and let the pressure come down naturally (don't do the quick release method)  It should take about 7 minutes to release pressure.
5.  Take off the lid, fluff and adjust the seasoning with salt as desired.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread

Irish Soda Bread is one excuse I have to pretend to be Irish on St. Patrick's day.  This dense bread with currants speaks to my soul.  I wanted to "healthy" up the recipe I usually use and came up with this recipe.  It gives me an excuse now to make Irish Soda bread more often!

I'm sending this recipe over to The Daily Spud for the:
If you're looking for some St. Paddy's Day inspiration, or perhaps just some food gawking, head on over there March 17 for what will, I'm sure, be an awesome round-up of Irish favorites.

Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread by Joie de vivre


1 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbls. unsalted butter
1 egg
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. currents


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Prepare a nine inch pie pan by spraying it with vegetable oil spray.
2.  Place flours, salt, baking powder, baking soda and butter in your food processor.  Pulse until mixture is thoroughly combined.
3.  In a medium sized bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk and currents.
4.  Dump flour mixture into the egg mixture and mix until completely combined.  It will be very wet.
5.  Spread the dough in the pie pan so that it fills the pan.
6.  Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden brown on top.
7.  Let cool and cut into wedges to serve.

11 March 2010

Thursday in Food plus Tuna Burger Recipe

I am EXHAUSTED tonight and the evening is nowhere close to being finished.  I cleaned house today.  Why, oh why I decided to do everything in one day I don't know.  It does feel good to have the WHOLE house cleaned at the same time though!  I still have Mount St. Laundry to fold this evening, but had to show you my day in food.  :)

Breakfast:  I tried about 1/2 c. of a new product to me, Bob's Red Mill Spice N' Nice Hot Cereal.  I found it really homey and nourishing and a great way to start the day.  1 c. 2%milk, coffee, 1/8 c. Schwan's triple berry blend and a sliced banana.

Lunch:  I had leftover pizza for lunch and was SO proud of myself that I didn't quite eat all of these two pieces of pizza.  I supplemented the pizza with 1/2 c. plain yogurt, raw veggies, about 2 Tbls. hummus and some grapes.  Really, this is what I should have done two nights ago to keep my pizza consumption in check.

Dinner:  1 whole wheat bun with tuna burger, spinach salad with red peppers, carrots, cucumber dressed with Ranch, 1/2 c. cottage cheese with about 6 mandarin orange segments, 1/2 c. steamed green beans, and about 5-6 leftover sweet potato fries.

Hubby really liked the tuna burger and even the boys ate it!  I'll share the recipe below.  Enjoy!

Tuna burgers by Joie de vivre
Yields:  4 very hearty servings


3 small cans of tuna, drained
2 eggs
2/3 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbls. butter.


1.  Place all of the ingredients (except the butter) in a bowl.  Squish all ingredients together using your hands.
2.  Adjust the wet and dry ingredients until patties can be formed
3.  Make 4 patties and fry in the butter until golden on one side, flip and fry until golden on the other.
4.  Serve atop whole wheat buns.

10 March 2010

Wednesday in food

The sins of yesterday's overeating are forgotten!  Hooray for new days.  

Breakfast:  About 1/2 c. Bear Mush (it's just a cream of wheat made out of whole hard wheat), a banana, 2 pieces lite whole wheat toast spread with butter and Marmite, 1c. 2% milk and coffee.

Son wanted to be included in my blog today.  Here he is showing off the rolled up crusts from his peanut butter and honey sandwich that had been cut with a dinosaur sandwich cutter.  He also had peach yogurt with granola, grapes, zucchini and some hummus.

My Lunch:  A whole wheat pita stuffed with Gazpacho yogurt cheese, 1 piece of turkey and spinach, raw veggies dipped into about 2 Tbls. hummus, and grapes.

I made a MESS cooking dinner tonight (Hubby is still in the kitchen cleaning!).  I received some venison steaks from my neighbor.  She had never cooked this cut like steaks before, so we decided that in order to prevent them from drying out, I should pan fry them with oil.  Boy, did I splatter oil ALL OVER the kitchen (and floor!)

Dinner:  about 3 oz. venison steak, sweet potato fries, roasted carrots, 1/2 c. cottage cheese and a spinach salad dressed with Ranch dressing.

It felt so good to be in control again today!  See you all tomorrow!

Tuesday in Food

Hi all, just catching up.  Yesterday started out well in food, but by mid-afternoon, I developed a severe headache and kind of lost the will to care about dinner and overate like crazy.  The headache was also the reason I didn't get to posting last night.  But in the interest of being honest with myself, I must post.

Breakfast was a two egg-white omelette with two pieces of lite, whole wheat toast spread with butter and Marmite, a sliced banana, 1/8 c. Schwan's triple berry blend, 1/4 c. cottage cheese and coffee with milk.  Plus, lots and lots of water.  I was bursting with energy yesterday morning and went for a walk before breakfast, but that meant a later breakfast and I was famished by the time I ate.

For lunch, I made myself a peach/blueberry smoothie using 1 1/4 c. whey from making yogurt cheese, 1 1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen blueberries, and 1 c. cultured buttermilk.  I also rounded it out with two Ryvita pumpkin seed and oat crackers spread with my gazpacho yogurt cheese, some raw veggies with about 2 Tbls. hummus, about 10 walnut halves and a piece of turkey lunch meat.

I ended up getting full which I wonder perhaps if it was the start of my headache.  Not enough calories?  Not sure.  My son and I also had a play date at a local park where the wind was just screaming.  It could have also been the wind blowing through my ears.  Hmmm.  Anyway, I'm glad it's gone today.

When I felt the headache coming on and at first thought that perhaps I was hungry, I opted to have one of these Horizon Organic Vanilla milks.  Boy, are these things a little bit of heaven!  But alas, headache kept coming on stronger.

By 4:30 p.m., I called my hubby and said, "I have a headache and just feel like eating dinner and crawling into bed.  Do you mind if I order pizza and you can just heat it up when you get home?"  Like the winning man he is, he said he didn't mind.  I'd like to say that this was all of the pizza that I had, but it wasn't.  With the headache, I was beyond caring and went back two more times for refills!  I also rounded out the night with a piece of Pepperidge Farm Coconut Cake I had hiding in the freezer.

My lesson learned:  I can't always be perfect and today is a new day (even the wind has stopped blowing).  What's done is done and I can't beat myself up for it.   Have a great day everyone!

Some of my food of the day:

Gazpacho yogurt cheese

Have you ever made yogurt cheese?  In an effort to branch out from only using hummus to dip my raw veggies in, I came up with this YUMMY recipe yesterday using yogurt cheese.  Yogurt cheese is what you get when you strain the whey from yogurt.  The longer you strain it, the more creamy and dense it becomes.  I strained my yogurt cheese for about 18 hours and it had a consistency between cream cheese and sour cream.  It tasted really decadent with much less fat than cream cheese.

I have a special yogurt cheese strainer which I bought for about $18 from Amazon, it does make the process easier, the container is small enough to fit into a packed fridge and clean up is really easy, but if you don't want to pay for a special strainer, you can recreate a yogurt strainer by lining a colander with several layers of cheesecloth, placing the yogurt in the cheesecloth, and then putting the colander in a bowl to catch the drips.  However you do it, you need to find space in your refrigerator for whatever contraption you use.  I filled my yogurt strainer with about 2 1/2 c. yogurt and got about 1 1/2 c. yogurt cheese.  You can then use your yogurt cheese just like cream cheese.  Enjoy the recipe!

Gazpacho Flavored Yogurt Cheese by Joie de vivre
Yeilds:  about 2 1/2 c.


1 1/2 c. yogurt cheese
1 c. seeded tomato, chopped finely
1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped finely
1 cucumber, seeded and peeled, chopped finely
1/8 c. red pepper, chopped finely
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. garlic powder


1.  Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together.
2.  Eat as a vegetable or a cracker dip.

08 March 2010

Monday in food

Hi all!  I hope you had wonderful and productive Mondays.  I had the typical busy day of a mom, carpool, grocery shopping, returning ski rentals, shopping at health food store, more carpooling, Costco shopping, play date, making dinner, WHEW!  I think I'm going to take a hot bath tonight and go to bed early!

I started this busy day with 3/4 c. Crispix mixed with 1/4 c. All Bran, 1 c. milk split between my cereal and my coffee, and a sliced banana.  I was slightly panicked after finishing my cereal still being hungry, but I told myself to calm down, finish my coffee and banana and by the time I finished them I was satisfied.  My brain is just so used to over-serving myself cereal, that when it wasn't full when I finished, I panicked.  Cool heads prevailed though.

Lunch was at McDonald's.  Before you panic thinking I had ruined my week, I had a Southwest Chicken Salad with no tortilla chips and no sauce on the chicken.  I dressed it with balsamic vinegarette dressing instead of the Southwest Dressing as well.  I also had half of a fruit and walnut salad, minus the sugary walnuts and 1 c. 2% milk.  Well done in my opinion.  I was proud of my choice.

Dinner was 1/2 c. whole wheat pasta with homemade spaghetti sauce made with tomato sauce, shredded zucchini, onions, garlic and a can of anchovies, sauteed asparagus dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, 1/2 c. cottage cheese with 1 slice of pineapple ring, and a salad made of spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes, and red peppers dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Hawaiian sea salt.  I couldn't quite finish dinner eating everything but 1/3 of my salad and asparagus.

I hope you all had a wonderful day.  See you tomorrow!