Monday, November 30, 2009

Hearty Soup

today is a soup kind of day. it's rainy (again) and it just feels like a snuggle up and read a book or stay in bed. i did manage to get out of bed, eat breakfast, run some errands, make some soup, eat lunch with my momma, and test a new recipe.

breakfast was some greek yogurt with agave and blueberries. today i had chobani instead of fage. it tasted the same but was much cheaper! i found a huge 32 oz container at bj's for the same price that the 16 oz fage is at wegmans. i will be getting my yogurt in bulk from now on seeing as i can get double the amount for the same price.

i ate all the blueberries and still had some yogurt left so i added in a bit of my homemade chocolate granola to finish it off:)

the soup was wonderful, the lunch with mom was terrific, but the new recipe was a dud. i tried lemon thyme wafers and they were far too labor intensive and had to be piped onto a baking dish. i couldn't get them to come out in circles and they just weren't as good as they needed to be to justify all the work and annoyance. oh well. live and learn.

minestrone quinoa soup

the soup was just what this rainy day needed. it was surprisingly filling too. i made minestrone soup with quinoa based on a recipe in the newest january/february 2010 clean eating magazine. i made some changes and it was wonderful. mom liked it too!

carrots, fennel, and onion all diced and ready to get into the pot

simmering away

Minestrone Quinoa Soup (adapted from clean eating magazine)
(serves 8)

2 tbs olive oil
1 c carrots, diced (or i used pre-shredded carrots)
1 c fennel, diced
1 c red onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 tbs frest thyme leaves, chopped
3/4 c uncooked quinoa
1 - 14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
2 - 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes (i used fire roasted tomatoes with garlic)
4 c vegetable or chicken broth
1 c fresh baby spinach thinly sliced
3 tbs fresh basil, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
finely grated parmasean cheese

heat oil in large heavy pot over medium heat. add carrots, fennel, onions, and garlic. saute until tender (about 8-10 minutes). add bay leaves, thyme, and quinoa stirring to coat and cook for 2 more minutes. then add beans, tomatoes (with their juices), and broth. bring to a boil over high heat. reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. add spinach, basil, and salt and pepper to taste.

spoon into bowls and top with parmesan cheese, if desired.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Leftovers!

i had leftover thanksgiving vegetables for lunch so it's only fitting that we have turkey for dinner. i made some yummy empanadas. i took a bit of a short cut with pre-made pie crust instead of traditional empanada dough but it was just as good. i chopped up some leftover turkey and filled the dough with green chilies, onions, and salsa. i forgot to add the cheese to the inside, so i sprinkled it on top. yum! i served it with a spinach salad with balsamic vinaigrette - en excellent pairing.


Turkey and Green Chile Empanadas
(serves 3-4)

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4.5 oz can green chiles
1/2 c salsa (i love
1 1/2 c chopped turkey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (regular chili powder works too)
2 refrigerated pie crusts
shredded mexican cheese

preheat oven to 375 degrees.

saute onions in oil until tender. add green chilies (including liquid), salsa, garlic powder, cumin, and chipotle chili powder. cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes. add turkey and stir until combined and turkey is warmed through. remove from heat and let cool.

meanwhile, unroll out pie crust and roll out a little thinner with a rolling pin. using a cereal bowl, cut 4-6 rounds out of 2 pie crusts. spoon turkey mixture onto half of the dough circle. fold empty half of dough over filling (so it looks like a half moon) and crimp edges with thumb or fork. poke holes in empanada with fork to let steam escape. sprinkle shredded cheese on top of each half moon.

place on parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until crust is browned and cheese is bubbly.

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

i had a yummy lunch today. carrots and green beans with shallots and herbs (leftover from thanksgiving dinner) and chicken salad. i basically just threw together chicken, celery, tomatoes, and a little shredded cheese with my spike dressing. so good! i love that dressing and use it on everything from tacos to sandwiches to salads and even as a dip for veggies. check out the recipe here.

after my lunch fuel, E and i did some yard work. it was long over due because of all the rain. today was beautiful though, very warm which made mulching leaves, pulling up ivy and trimming bushes less horrible.

i have taken down all of our fall decorations and am trying to hold off until next weekend before putting up christmas decorations. it's really hard though. i really want to put them all up now and fill the house with christmas music. we even already have our tree (i know, we are crazy). it's outside though in a bucket of water hopefully drinking it up:)

so, my will power isn't very good and i convinced myself it was ok to put up just a couple of things around the house. lots of people in our neighborhood already have christmas lights up outside which makes me feel better. i didn't put up too many, actually just 2 places, just to make it feel cheery and christmasy.

entryway table

dining room table

que the christmas music. . .

Meadowvale Dinner

E and i headed over to my grandfather's farm (meadowvale) for dinner tonight with mom, dad, poppop, AJ, UG, AB, & B. we had a couple of drinks and played some wii. we had a lot of fun both playing and watching others play. ahh, wii truly brings people together ;)

AJ made a wonderful herb rubbed pork tenderloin. it had cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne and was cooked perfectly. i love mine still pink. unfortunately i forgot to take a pic of the pork. i do have some pics of the side dish - apple-filled acorn squash rings with curry butter. they were very good. just enough curry and the apples and currants gave the acorn squash wonderful flavor. together, the dishes tasted very fall and they complimented each other very well.

mom stirring the apples and onions

mmmm, it's looking good

AJ, brushing on the curry butter

ready to bake!

Apple-Filled Acorn Squash Rings with Curry Butter (adapted from epicurious)
(8 servings)

6 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, diced (about 2 1/3 cups)
2/3 cup apple cider
1/2 cup dried currants
8 1-inch-thick unpeeled acorn squash rings (from 2 medium), seeded

melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. add onion and sauté until tender,
about 12 minutes. add 1 tablespoon curry powder; stir 1 minute. add apples, apple juice, and currants.
sauté until liquid evaporates, about 6 minutes. season filling to taste with salt and pepper.

preheat oven to 350°F. melt 5 tablespoons butter in small skillet over medium heat. add 1/2 tablespoon
curry powder; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. transfer curry butter to bowl. brush 2 large rimmed
baking sheets with some curry butter. arrange squash in single layer on sheets. sprinkle with salt and
pepper. scoop filling into center of rings.

drizzle remaining curry butter over squash and filling (mostly on squash). cover with foil and bake squash rings until squash is tender when pierced, about 40 minutes. using spatula, transfer squash rings with filling to plates.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

New Favorite Activity

we have had a ton of rain this fall. i feel like i am always emptying the rain gauge of at least an inch at a time. this past week has been rainy which is bad news for dignan and roxy. they get so bored. we can't even throw the ball for the out in the yard because it has just been one big mud pit. thanksgiving day we had the great idea of taking them to the tennis courts at the school near our house. they LOVED it. they could run around, not get muddy (which E and i loved the most) and slide around since it was still wet. they tired out pretty quickly too (another plus). yesterday we took them over there again (it has stopped raining but is still drying out). EA and RJ went with us and the dogs had fun just running around, being chased by the kids. we didn't even throw the ball much for them they just had fun running around.


yesterday was a low key eating day too. i didn't overeat at thanksgiving which was nice. i was pleasantly full but not stuffed. but still, i wasn't super hungry yesterday. we made hot chocolate after coming back from the tennis courts. it was cold and windy yesterday and hot chocolate was just what we needed to fuel us for a game of clue - spy edition.

we had leftover homemade chicken noodle soup for lunch with sweet potato biscuits and maple butter then worked it off by playing lots of wii tennis. the kids are unexaustable.

although, the dogs were worn out

after they left E had i settled down for a nice winters nap.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

i hope everyone had a wonderful thanksgiving! i was planning on posting our wonderful wasti feast last night but EA and RJ spent the night and we got wrapped up in wii.

E and i started out the day at the MAC. i was planning on doing an early spin class but apparently didn't get there early enough. the class was full and the gym was packed. i guess other people had the same great idea of getting to the gym early to get their workout over. anyway, home to make the apple pie, shower, and head to K's for a late dinner/early lunch depending on how you look at it.

peeling the apples

all chopped and mixed with goodness

in the (whole wheat) pie crust waiting for the topping

all topped and ready to bake - yum!

we arrived at K's and she had the house decorated to the nines. i mean, no detail was over-looked. (both she and LJ are real life martha stewarts, seriously) plus the house was already smelling like roasted turkey.

the table all set and decorated. she even had leaf name tags

K also surprised EA and RJ with turkey webkins

her butler's pantry was the bar/dessert area

check out that cake from providence - the decorations were amazing!

RJ had the great idea of making name tags for our drinks so they wouldn't get mixed up

K even had a fire going when we arrived
K and i started preparing in the kitchen while the boys watched the parade

E and i during hors d'oeuvres

K had a great spread in the kitchen.
she made the turkey, mashed sweet potatoes, cornbread muffins, mashed potatoes, and gravy. everyone brought some hors d'oeuvres and/or side dishes. M brought spinach pinwheels, a cheam cheese olive dip, glazed carrots with shallots and red wine. S brought warm brie with apples and plum preserves, butternut squash and field greens salad with warm cider vinagrette, and stuffing with cranberries, leeks, and nuts. i brought white wine and prosecco, green beans with caramilized shallots and the apple pie.

it was quite the feast!

getting our plates

my plate! i had a little of almost everything
turkey, carrots, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, sweet potatoes, and a sweet potato biscuit

after dinner we got a wasti family picture. we haven't had one of those since S & T's wedding almost a year ago.

i am thankful for a wonderful "in-law" family that feels like family

i am also thankful for "my side" of the family who never cease to make me laugh (not all pictured here)

and of course, my favorite person in the world - E

my schmoopies too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pizza Dinner

after a long day in the kitchen, i wanted something quick and easy for dinner but something still tasty. we decided on make your own pizza night. E went for his favorite, pepperoni with lots of cheese while i tried something a little different. i tried a spin on the fabulous pizza i had at iron bridge wine company a month or so back. check it out here.

i changed some things around a bit based on what i had on hand. i used mozzarella and parmesan cheeses with shallots and mushrooms cooked in a little dry sherry. i then drizzled some balsamic vinegar i reduced down. finally i added a little spinach at the last minute. the warmth of the pizza wilted it a bit but i didn't want it too cooked. for some reason i don't really like the flavor of cooked spinach. i love it raw though!

the pizza turned out really well. the only thing i would change is more balsamic glaze. it turns out i was almost out of balsamic vinegar (that's almost a cardinal sin in our house). as a result, the pizza was a little on the dry side. more glaze would have been perfect.

have you ever gotten creative with your pizza? if so, do tell - i love crazy pizza topping ideas!

now E and i are waiting for E's mom, sister and her husband to arrive. S and T drove down from massachusetts today and are coming for drinks in a little while. we'll be playing wii until they arrive.

happy thanksgiving eve!

Baking Day

it's actually quite funny that most of what i am contributing to the wasti thanksgiving feast requires baking. i always claim i am a cook not a baker. good thing i have made both of these things before and i know i can do it!

today i am baking sweet potato biscuits with maple butter and mrs. dec's apple pie. tomorrow i will also be making green beans with caramelized shallots and bringing prosecco and pinot gris.

so, about those biscuits . . .

these are so good especially with the maple butter. yum! plus the maple butter is good on lots of things (waffles, pancakes, toast, corn bread, etc.) i adapted the recipe from cooking light. i cleaned it up a little bit by switching to whole wheat pastry flour and using agave instead of the sugar. these are worth making and the perfect addition to the thanksgiving table.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
(makes 20-25 biscuits)

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c pureed sweet potato, cooled
1/3 c skim milk
1 tbs agave nectar

preheat oven to 400 degrees.

combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk together.

cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse meal and the butter is the size of peas. (do not over cut or biscuits will become tough)

in a separate bowl, mix together sweet potato, milk, and agave.

add sweet potato mixture and mix until just moist.

turn dough onto a floured surface and knead, gently 4-5 times. roll dough out to about an inch thickness. cut with a 2" biscuit cutter. re-roll scraps and continue to cut biscuits.

place biscuits on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake at 400 for approximately 15 minutes or until top just starts to turn golden brown.

serve warm with maple butter.

Maple Butter
(24 - 1 tsp servings)

6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 tbs pure maple syrup
1/8 tsp salt

combine all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. cover and chill until use. can be served chilled or let it stand at room temperature for 20 minutes to soften. enjoy!

i'm off to the gym before i tackle the apple pie! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Carne Asada

E and i just had an awesome steak! this was an incredibly flavorful carne asada marinated skirt steak. i marinated it overnight in a lime, cilantro, garlic mixture that gave so much flavor to the skirt steak. every bite was bursting with lime-garlic flavor.

as a side, i served sauteed green beans (with just some olive oil, salt, and pepper) and leftover risotto. let me tell you, this meal was darn near perfect.

sorry for the short posts but its been busy around here. i will be cooking and baking tomorrow. i'll keep you posted about what i will be making for thanksgiving dinner. K, E's sister, has quite the menu planned.

i wish safe travels to all those who will be traveling tomorrow, the busiest travel day of the year! stay safe, be thankful, and enjoy your time with your loved ones:)

Carne Asada Marinade (adapted from

5 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1 large handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stems, finely chopped (great flavor in the stems)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 limes, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil

stir together and combine with meat (i recommend skirt steak) in a ziploc bag. let marinate at least 4 hours (best overnight). remove from marinade and grill on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes a side. let stand, covered, for at least 5 minutes so the meat retains all its juices. slice and enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lemongrass Chicken

this was a first for me tonight - lemongrass chicken. it was delicious! very fresh tasting with lots of flavor. i served it over brown jasmine rice. (brown jasmine was very hard to find but i did find it at the asian market.)

try it, i think you'll like it:)

Lemongrass Chicken (adapted from
(serves 4-6)

8 ounces green beans, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
1 medium onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup minced lemongrass, remove outer layers
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons agave nectar
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon corn starch, dissolved into chicken stock
2 tablespoons spicy oyster sauce

1. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over high heat.
2. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir-fry until chicken is partially cooked, about 4 minutes.
3. Add lemongrass and next 4 ingredients; stir 2 minutes.
4. Add beans, stock and oyster sauce; reduce heat and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

step 2

step 3

step 4

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