Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tiny Stuffed Peppers

I bought a bag of those cute little sweet peppers that show up at the grocery store sometimes now.

I used my standard recipe for stuffed peppers:

1 bag small sweet peppers, cut in half and seeded
1 lb. ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
1 1b. can diced tomatoes (if it seems thin, add a little tomato sauce)
½ cup rice
½ cup water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (4 ozs.)
Salt, pepper

Sprinkle a little salt on the peppers. Brown the ground beef and onion.  Sprinkle with a little salt. Add tomatoes, rice, water, and Worcestershire sauce. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Taste.  Add a little more salt and pepper, if needed.  Stir in the cheese and stuff the peppers. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees about 20 minutes. (When I use green peppers, I bake about 30 minutes.)

To serve, I sprinkled a combination of chopped parsley, chives and dill on top.  Those herbs really made the peppers flavorful.

This was really good with a salad.  Since these peppers are small and more delicate than the large green peppers I usually use, ground turkey might work well in place of the beef. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Curry Chicken Soup and Rosemary Almonds

Continuing my healthy lunches and snacks for work, I made a Curry Chicken Soup and Rosemary Almonds today.  I've cooked oatmeal with golden raisins and dried cherries for breakfast for the week--each morning they'll go in the microwave and just get some skim milk added.  I'll pack a slice of whole-grain toast with a light spread of peanut-butter and add a banana at work for a mid-morning snack. My soup will be a light lunch.  In the afternoon I'll have a cup of hot sweet tea with a handful of rosemary almonds.  After school I'll eat a pear or apple to hold me until a light dinner. 

Curry Chicken Soup

I've made of a habit of prepping all veggies before I start cooking:
The ingredients are:

1 pound cooked chicken (I used rotisserie chicken this time--had some leftover)
2 chopped yellow onions
4 large chopped carrots
l large potato cubed.  I used Idaho Russet
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 cup frozen peas
1 32 oz. box chicken stock or broth
1 cup water
2-3 Tblsp. Olive oil
2 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste

Swirl some olive oil into a large dutch oven. Add the carrots and onions and sautee about 5 minutes until softened.  Add the curry powder and potato with 1 cup stock and 1 cup water.  Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes until the potatoes and carrots are soft.  Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot.  (Or cool slightly and puree in a blender and return to the pot.)  Add the rest of the stock with the cauliflower florets.  Cover and simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 20 minutes.  Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the peas and chicken and simmer about 5 more minutes.  Check for salt and flavor.  To serve, sprinkle some grated parmesan on top if desired.  Cool and pack into individual servings in small canning jars to take to work and refrigerate. 
I love the creamy yummy texture of this soup when the carrots, onions and potato are pureed together.  Another of my favorite soups now. (This recipe was adapted from my Reader's Digest book of Food Cures.)
The Rosemary Almonds are from a recipe I found
 in my Williams-Sonoma Christmas Entertaining cookbook.  I mixed 3 Tblsp. olive oil with 2-1/2 cups almonds and fine seasalt.  I mounded it with 4 sprigs of rosemary onto a cookie sheet and roasted it for 15 minutes.  I stirred it and roasted 10 minutes more.  I'll take handfuls of these almonds to work and snack on them with my afternoon tea.  I love these.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Healthy Food Snacks

I was away a few days visiting my daughter. Knowing I was coming back home to my New Year goal of healthy eating again, I thoroughly enjoyed my Shepherd's Pie at the Irish Pub, The Harp, followed by a double dip from Baskin-Robbins. I'm back and I need to make lunches and snacks for work. Since I've been away, I'm not  ready to go for groceries yet. I think "Chopped"--use what you have to make two nutrition-rich snacks and a healthy lunch for the three days left of the week!!  I look in the fridge and find a butternut squash, broccoli, carrots, some leftover green beans and tomato sauce. I have the usual pantry items.  I clean and slice the two carrots onto a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and slide into a 400 deg. oven.  I roast them about 10 min.  I add broccoli florets, also drizzled with oil and sprinkled with salt.  I let that roast about 10 more minutes and add some red pepper flakes and pine nuts and stir the mixture.  I let that roast until the vegetables are tender. It's bright, colorful and really good. I pack it into containers to eat for after-school snacks.

Since I'm trying to lower my cholesterol and beans are good for that as well as good protein, I saute some onions in olive oil in a pan on the stove, I add a can of rinsed roman beans and throw in those leftover green beans. 
After sauteeing a few minutes with some salt and freshly-ground pepper, I add some tomato sauce,  and simmer until it thickens.  I sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese on top and scoop it into little jars to take to school for one of my snack breaks.
I pack some tortilla chips to munch with these.
Finally, I make some Butternut Squash Soup to take for my actual lunches.  The recipe I use is below.
Walnuts make a tasty munchie to eat along with this soup.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 Tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. garam masala
dash ground ginger
dash ground cloves
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced (about 6 cups)
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. ea.) Vegetable Stock

In a heavy dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in the heated oil.  Add the spices. Stir.  Add the squash and saute about 10 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer until tender.  Use a hand-held immersion blender to puree the soup. I like to leave some texture in the soup. 
This makes about 4 servings.

Notice that I use small canning jars as my containers.  They are great to eat out of cold, or remove the metal lids and microwave right in the jar and eat right out of it heated.

It looks like I took a lot of food to work, but it's all healthy--just brimming with color. Snacks don't have to be celery and carrot sticks.  My quantities are small and so full of flavor, I don't need more.
After a day like this, all I want for dinner is a salad with a small piece of fish or lean meat.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year's Goals 2012

"Decide what to be and go be it." I found that quote on a blog and pinned it to my inspired board on Pinterest. That's pretty much how I approach each new year.  It's a chance to reinvent myself every year.  What I'm going to be in 2012 and how:

addicted to healthy choices
         buy local and cook seasonal, emphasis on heart-healthy and low cholesterol foods
         exercise for health and flexibility
         get to know my camera
         capture moments and unexpected views
         "cook without recipes"
         start with soups, sauces and breads
          knit for babies
          knit for Christmas gifts
          this is an ongoing battle
          "yes" to new things

So to start on the goals, I will continue what I started last year--preparing my foods for a week ahead to carry to work to make eating healthy easier during the workweek.  Breakfast this week will be the wonderful cholesterol-lowering oatmeal.
To make the mornings easy, I cook for the weekdays on the weekend.  I round up 5 microwave-safe bowls for the oatmeal.
I use regular oats that require 5 minutes of cooking time and regular or golden raisins--favorite is a mix of both.

I cook oatmeal using a little less than the amount of water suggested on the box.  I like the oatmeal to be a thicker texture.  I add the raisins when the oatmeal is almost done so I don't get raisin-flavored oatmeal--just oatmeal with softened raisins. 
 I pack the cooked oatmeal into bowls and let them cool, cover and refrigerate.
I pack one in my lunch every day.  At work I keep milk in a small refrigerator.  I heat the oatmeal in a microwave and add milk.
I love this breakfast and it's quick and healthy every morning.

Handmade Gifts-Special Christmas

Best Christmas Ever!  Again!  This year we made some of our gifts once again.They are some of the most fun.  Even our little grandson joined in and made pine cones filled with birdseed mixed in peanut butter (somewhat messy) and bundles of kindling wood for fireplaces. We started out looking all over the yard for sticks but found quite a stash on his grandfather's woodpile that he decided would make great gifts:
I received coasters, cut and made from wood from our own property. Notice the mug, also a gift, from an awesome potter, check out his website. His pottery is beautiful and of excellent quality.  This happens to be a handwarmer mug--holds in the heat of the drink and fits my hand beautifully!
I went to a light show with my daughter over Christmas at a local park--beautiful Christmas lights with hot chocolate and cookies.  I kept my ears warm with a snuggly headband from my daughter-in-law (or other daughter!):

My daughter knows I'm obsessed with her pillow cases and made two more for me along with a basket of New Year's cheer for everyone!

There were bought gifts and fun gifts. Mostly there was family and food and moments to remember.   And a gift from me for someone special to come.