Monday, January 31, 2011


if i were a super hero, flying would be my super power and this would be my kryptonite.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chocolate Laced Banana Bread

something about the weekends makes me crave comfort foods mostly in the form of baked goods. while visiting family in NM, we had a week of indulgence including many a baked good. my sister-in-law, A has celiacs and i am happy to report every treat we prepared was not only gluten-free but also super tasty. we made the blueberry strudel pancakes that were tender and fluffy, wonderfully chewy, goey chocolate chip cookies, as well as a chocolate laced banana bread. the common ingredient in those three treats? pamela's baking & pancake mix.

this gluten-free baking mix includes the following ingredients: brown rice flour, white rice flour, cultured buttermilk, natural almond meal, tapioca starch, sweet rice flour, potato starch, grainless and aluminum-free baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, xanthan gum. i am impressed with the simple, easy-to-pronounce ingredient list and feel good about using this for baking even though i am not gluten intolerant. i have even used this mix since returning home for pancakes the other morning.

i used pamela's baking & pancake mix to whip up some banana bread in NM. since my niece is both a finicky eater and a huge chocolate fan, i added in some chocolate shavings to encourage her to try it. turns out, we all loved the bread with the chocolate shavings. it was moist and tender and tasted wonderful still warm with a touch of butter. you could use chocolate chips but the thin chocolate shavings just seemed to melt into the bread and each bite was ever so slightly laced with smooth, dark chocolate banana heaven.

Chocolate Laced Banana Bread

3 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups pamela's mix
1/3 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

mix together mashed bananas, melted butter, agave, egg, and vanilla until smooth. stir in pamela's mix and stir until smooth. fold in shaved chocolate and pour into greased and floured loaf pan.

bake for 45-60 minutes. watch for a browned top. bread is finished when a toothpick insterted into the center comes out clean. cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Grape Crush

i'm going to let you in on a little secret here in the wasti house, we haven't been having our nightly glass of wine during the week. what the what?! well, in an effort to undo some of the havoc the holiday and our overall laziness/injuries at the end of 2010 wreaked on our bodies, we have been upping the exercise (if you follow me on twitter you may have heard me talk about p90x - so far, so good!) and getting our eating back into check. this means more whole grains, vegetables, fruits, wild fish, lean protein, and whole foods that you find at the store without labels on them. you know the ones that come out of the earth, off plants and trees, or walk/swim around in the wild (or at least out of cages).

now don't get me wrong, i don't consider a nightly glass of wine to be a bad thing. on the contrary, i happen to think it's a very good, healthy thing in most cases and many a doctor agrees with me. however, E and i figured we could do without the extra calories 5 days a week and if i am being honest, sometimes one glass of wine led to 2 or 2 1/2 and we definitely don't need those extra calories. so, where am i going with all of this and more importantly, what on earth does it have to do with you??

given the fact we aren't having a drink sunday night through thursday night, the friday night cocktail tastes so much better. in fact, E and i look forward to it all week. (no we don't have a problem, just a love of the finer things in life, including a good drink:) this week, i have found myself thinking about what my friday night cocktail is going to be. i feel like a special drink is a good way to kick off the weekend and then i can have a glass of wine saturday night. this led me to where we are now, the first weekly nightcap!

every friday, i am going to post one of my favorite cocktail recipes in the hopes that maybe you will share in the weekly nightcaps with us. so, without further adieu, the first weekly nightcap is a grape crush. i decided on this fresh grape crush because it seemed refreshing and not loaded with sugar. just some 100% grape juice, lemon juice, vodka, and club soda. simple, clean, and refreshing. the best part? it's under 200 calories and is loaded with vitamin C!


Grape Crush
serves 2

3 oz 100% grape juice
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
4 oz vodka
3-4 oz club soda

fill shaker with ice. add grape juice, lemon juice, and vodka. shake well and strain into 2 low ball glasses filled with ice. top off with club soda and serve.

Garlic Lime Fish Tacos

sometimes you just need a fish taco in the dead of winter. let the snow fall outside, it feels like i am on a tropical island inside with the wonderfully fresh, crunchy, citrusy mahi mahi taco with guacamole.

this super simple dish is perfect anytime of the year and if you like me and are trying to include more seafood in your diet, this is a great way to do it. you can use practically any fish out there and change up the toppings/fillings too. something about these, keeps me coming back for more.

a quick 15 minute marinade is all the fish needs which means this weeknight dinner clocks in at under 30 minutes total time start to finish including homemade guacamole!

Garlic Lime Fish Tacos
makes 4 tacos

1 lb fresh fish, i used mahi mahi
2 limes, zested and juiced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
7 oz pre-shredded slaw mix
whole wheat soft tortillas
baby spinach
guacamole (recipe below)

in a shallow dish, whisk together lime zest, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. pour half of lime mixture into a large plastic container and set aside. place fish into shallow dish and turn over several times to coat in marinade. let sit in fridge for 15 minutes, turning once after 8 minutes.

meanwhile, add shredded slaw mix to lime mixture in plastic container. shake well to coat and store in fridge.

heat large skillet over medium-high heat and sear fish on both sides until just cooked through (about 3 minutes per side) and starting to flake. remove from heat.

to assemble tacos, spread spinach onto tortilla, spoon slaw onto spinach, place fish on top of slaw and dollop with guacamole. wrap-up and enjoy!

serves 4

1 ripe avocado
3 tbs red onion, minced
1 lime, juiced
2 tbs cilantro, minced
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

roughly mash avocado in a bowl. add remaining ingredients and stir well to combine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Dark Chocolate Orange Mousse

i learned a hard lesson today. the good news is i did, in fact, learn from my mistake. i will not make that same miscalculation again. my mind now has a brand new "note to self" in a file folder called "lessons learned".

note to self: do not do arms & shoulders and ab ripper in the p90x series the night before a big snow fall - a big, wet, heavy snow. the kind of snow that makes tree branches hang low under the weight. it's as if they are sighing, longing to touch the ground, stretching their fingers to meet the white pillows of snow covering the earth. i now know, shoveling sidewalks, driveways, and mountains of snow piled up from the snow plow is enough of an arm, shoulder, and back workout. and abs? dang, flinging the heavy shovelfuls of snow will work even the toughest of obliques out there.

instead of doing a crazy upper body workout the night before i big snow, next time i'll make chocolate mousse. dark, chocolate orange mousse with whipped cream dolloped on top. whipped cream as light, pure, and fluffy as snow should be. just be sure to use an electric mixer to whip the egg whites and whip the cream, otherwise you may in the same boat i am today. save the arm workouts for shoveling snow.

Dark Chocolate Orange Mousse
4 generous servings

10 1/2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 tbs grand mariner
3 eggs yolks
4 egg whites
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
melt butter in medium saucepan oven low heat. add chocolate chips and stir until smooth and melted. revome from heat and stir in grand marnier. once cooled slightly, add egg yolks and stir well to combine.
in a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks have formed.  fold in the chocolate mixture.  spoon into bowls and chill in fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
when ready to serve, whisk heavy whipping cream until desired whipped cream consistency. spoon onto chilled chocolate mousse and enjoy!

by the way, anyone interested in joining me on the back patio for some chocolate mousse? i have a seat saved for you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Blueberry Strudel Pancakes

there is nothing like a snow day for something wonderful - a leisurely breakfast. and nothing says relaxed breakfast in my book quite like pancakes. and nothing says healthy pancakes like blueberries!

okay, these aren't exactly healthy but you do get a serving of fruit with them and they are gluten-free if that floats your boat. besides, i always feel like having a treat first thing in the morning is better than last thing at night because then i have all day to work it off. i used pamela's gluten-free mix but you could use any pancake mix or make your own (i have an alternate recipe below the gluten-free one).

but people, these aren't just any blueberry pancakes, these are blueberry strudel pancakes! of course, if you are trying to cut out sugar, you can leave off the topping (they still taste amazing) but the topping makes butter and syrup unnecessary. so, to sum up, these pancakes are a perfect indulgence for a snow day. since the snow continues tonight (at least here on the east coast), try these tomorrow morning. you'll thank me.

you're welcome.

Blueberry Strudel Pancakes

1 cup pamela's baking and pancake mix*
1 large egg
3/4 cup skim milk
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 cup blueberries, plus more for on top

strudel topping:
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp cinnamon

mix strudel topping together in a medium bowl with your fingers. set aside.

mix all pancake ingredients (minus blueberries) together until smooth. fold in blueberries and let sit for 3 minutes. pour 1/4 cup batter into greased skillet pre-heated over medium heat. flip and sprinkle strudel on browned side. put in 170 degree F oven to keep warm until ready to serve. sprinkle additional blueberries over pancakes before serving if desired.

*if you don't have pamela's mix, simply mix the following ingredients together and cook according to above directions:
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interesting Fact

i have discovered something fascinating. apparently, when i don't cook, i don't have new recipes to post.

weird, right? i guess i have to get back in the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

10 Things I Love About New Mexico

i spend more time in the land of enchantment then i ever thought i would. my brother, sister-in-law, and two nieces live there so E and i find ourselves visiting northern new mexico a couple times a year. i have grown to love many things about this very different climate.

10 things i love about new mexico

10. the view - mountains, mesas, pronghorn, elk, wild turkeys, mule deer, the list goes on . . .

9. naps are an afternoon past time

8. yummy breakfasts

7. after the girls go to bed, we play silly games while drinking too much

6. exercise consists of long hikes and dessert making

5. i get to love on these two schmoopies

4. some of my favorite people live there

3. there is a DQ - heaven in a cup

2. this is our biggest decision of the day

1. these two precious girls - i can't get enough of their hugs

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Whip it, and Whip it Good

is it wrong to consider hand beating egg whites to stiff peaks a workout?

fine, i'll go do some sun salutations too . . .

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tomato Baked Eggs with Hash Browns

in my book, lazy mornings call for big, hearty breakfasts. but nothing to over-the-top difficult to make either. i said lazy, remember? here in NM, we had just such a morning.

one of my favorite things at dinners is hash browns yet i never seem to have potatoes at home. luckily A had potatoes so i chopped some up for a easy, oven baked version of hash browns complete with onions and garlic. i decided to do tomato baked eggs to go with the potatoes. this would have been even better with some freshly baked crusty bread to sop up the tomato sauce but a spoon worked just fine too.

this super simple meal came together in 30 minutes with only 10 minutes hands on time. eggcellent!

Tomato Baked Eggs
serves 4

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 eggs

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

in large saucepan, warm olive oil over medium heat. add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. add tomatoes and bring to a simmer. reduce heat to low and let simmer for 10 minutes. stir in parmesan cheese and spoon tomato mixture into 4 oven proof bowls. crack an egg into each dish and bake for 10-12 minutes until egg is just set. remove from heat and let sit 2-3 minutes before serving.

Hash Browns
serves 4

4 medium potatoes, chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tbs olive oil

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

toss everything together making sure potatoes are evenly coated with olive oil. spread onto foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. toss potatoes and bake 10 more minutes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chicken Enchilada Chili

i have posted quite a few chili recipes on this blog. so why another one? because there is just something wonderful about curling up with a piping hot bowl of soup, stew, or chili on a cold day that is just so comforting to me. my perfect saturday would be waking up to snow, staying in my pj's, having E make breakfast, napping, and then eating chili while watching a movie on the couch (still in my pj's). you know it's been a successful lazy saturday if you are still in comfy pants, glass of wine in had at dinner time.

ok, now that i have let everyone know how ridiculously lazy i can be, let me assure you i did do something last saturday. i made a pot of chicken enchilada chili. the thought came to me when i looked into the fridge and saw we had rotisserie chicken left. i was thinking about making enchiladas but wanted the comfort of soup. hmmm . . . *lightbulb*

so, i present you with my mexican concoction. it's best with all the fixings, shredded mexican cheese, avocado, sour cream, and lots of tortilla chips for dipping and munching.

Chicken Enchilada Chili
serves 6-8

1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz can fire roasted green chilies
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 oz can sweet corn, drained
15 oz can black beans
28 oz crushed tomatoes
10 oz enchilada sauce (i like mine hot but you can use mild too)
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1/2 rotisserie chicken, shredded

heat oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. add onions and saute until tender. add garlic and green chilies and saute for 1 minute. add remaining ingredients except chicken and let simmer for 30 minutes. add chicken, stir well, and let sit for 5 minutes so chicken warms through.

top with shredded cheese and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Double Hot Cocoa

while we hunker down for the massive blizzard small dusting maryland is supposed to get, i decided something warm to drink is in order. instead of my usual afternoon tea, i thought perhaps i'd make hot cocoa.

i'm not sure about the rest of you, but this dairy farm raised girl knows the only way to make a good mug of hot chocolate is to use milk. water just doesn't do the chocolaty, decadent elixir justice. my dad would say whole milk is the way to go, but since 1% was all i had on hand, it worked just fine. plus, it saved me some calories which allowed me to use extra chocolate.

i like to add some dark chocolate chips as well as unsweetened cocoa powder because i think it adds a bit of thick richness that cocoa alone doesn't. i also use agave to sweeten my hot cocoa because it's less processed than sugar or powdered sugar.

i poured my divine drink into my new mug from janetha over at meals & moves (thanks janetha!), sat down on the couch, and sipped while i watched the barefoot contessa. let it snow!

Double Hot Cocoa
serves 2

2 cups milk
2 tbs dark chocolate chips
2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbs agave nectar

melt chocolate chips over low heat in a small sauce pan. add milk and whisk. continue to whisk occasionally while milk warms up. once chocolate chips are melted into the milk, add in cocoa powder and agave nectar. whisk well. once hot but not boiling, pour into 2 mugs and enjoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Horseradish Cream Sauce

there are few things better than a perfectly seared, tender, steak (my apologies to my vegetarian and vegan readers). last night perfection came in the form of wegmans organic grass fed sirloin. the one thing that sent this steak over-the-top? horseradish cream sauce.

cool, creamy, kicky, horseradish cream sauce perfectly juxtaposed the warm, juicy, peppery, medium-rare sirloin. it's as good dolloped on a steak hot off the grill as it is spread on warm wheat bread and peppery arugula for a steak sandwich. horseradish cream sauce is also fabulous in a sharp cheddar and warm turkey sandwich or over broiled white fish. i even love to dip grilled garlic shrimp in it.

i use thick, creamy greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthier, guilt-free horseradish cream sauce. go ahead, be generous with it. once you make this super simple, smooth, velvety sauce, i'm sure you'll be finding new ways to use it too!

Horseradish Cream Sauce

1 cup 0% greek yogurt
1 tbs dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated horseradish

stir all ingredients together and let sit in fridge to let flavors meld.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Basil Mint Grapefruit Sorbet

my wonderfully, thoughtful, florida-living, sunbirds of an aunt and uncle sent E and i a big box of florida oranges and grapefruits for christmas. it felt like we were opening a box of sunshine every time we picked one out. cutting into one filled our kitchen with an air of citrus freshness.

however, i have a confession, as much as E and i both like citrus fruits, we are having a hard time getting through the entire 23 lb box.

thankfully, i can turn to a little invention known as the world wide web. when i came across a recipe for grapefruit sorbet, a little light bulb went off and i immediately got to juicing some grapefruits. the recipe called for a basil simple syrup to sweeten the tart grapefruit. i added some fresh mint to the simple syrup as well as fresh basil and it added such a wonderfully bright, fresh taste to the sorbet. it made for complex notes on the tongue. you immediately tasted the tart grapefruit but the subtle flavors of mint, basil, and lemon linger. it is cool and refreshing and makes me think of summer. only five more months . . .

Basil Mint Grapefruit Sorbet
adapted from a spicy perspective

2 cups water
1 cup agave nectar
1/2 cup organic sugar
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 grapefruit, zested
10 large basil leaves
10 mint leaves
pinch of salt
approximately 6 large grapefruits, juiced (3 cups of juice)

to make simple syrup, bring water, agave, and sugar to a boil over medium heat. stir well and remove from heat. add lemon zest, grapefruit zest, basil and mint leaves. let sit 30 minutes.

juice 1 lemon and grapefruits until you have 3 cups of juice. add juice to a large airtight container. strain simple syrup and add it to juice. refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

add to ice cream maker and follow ice cream maker directions (i let it go for 35 minutes - it should be slushy). turn off ice cream maker and put sorbet back into airtight container and freeze. when ready to serve, let sorbet sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly before serving.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Spiced Nuts

i have found protein is the key for me to feel full and satisfied all day. i try to eat several small meals throughout the day and make sure each meal has protein in it. nuts are a wonderful snack that give you not only the coveted protein but also healthy fats.

this recipe for spiced nuts is not only super easy, but it is the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. a 1/4 cup of these spiced nuts in the afternoon is just what you need to get you through the afternoon until dinner. i eat them with a clementine for a perfectly balanced snack - a little fat, a little protein, and a little fruit. they are also perfect on the go. i have several snack bags of pre-measured nuts in my pantry so i can grab them if i am heading out. they are a great post-workout protein recovery boost for your hard worked muscles. i'll warn you though, these are crazy addictive! i find it hard to stop at the recommended 1/4 cup serving.

i usually get my whole, raw nuts from trader joes. i find they have the best selection and the best price around. i use pecans, pistachios, cashews, and almonds because they are my favorites. but, any nuts will work in the mix. peanuts would be great and next time i want to add walnuts because they are supposed to be the most heart healthy of the already traditionally heart healthy nuts.

Spiced Nuts
makes approximately 4 cups

1 cup each of the following:
- raw pecan halves
- raw pistachios
- raw cashew halves
- raw whole almonds
(you can really use any kind of nuts here as long as they are raw since you will be roasting them - use your favorites)

roast nuts together on a cookie sheet at 350 degrees until fragrant - about 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. keep a close eye on them though, they burn easily.

meanwhile in a small bowl, combine the following ingredients:
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tbs agave nectar
- 1 tbs finely minced fresh rosemary
- 1 tbs finely minced fresh thyme
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tbs butter, melted
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil

when nuts are roasted, place 1/3 of them in a large bowl. scoop 1/3 of spice and butter mixture on top of the nuts and stir really well until all nuts are covered. continue in two more batches until all the nuts and spice mixture are in the bowl. make sure all nuts are well covered with the spice mixture.

pour back onto baking sheet and spread out evenly. let the spiced nuts cool completely. store in airtight container for up to one month.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Moo Goo Gai Pan

i had the most wonderful treat last night. E came home from physical therapy and said he wanted to make dinner. um, yes please!

i had been flipping through a new cookbook called quick and easy chinese: 70 everyday recipes by nancie mcdermot. my dear friend, N, had given me another one of nancie's cookbooks entitled quick and easy thai. i loved the thai cookbook so much i ordered the chinese one. if this moo goo gai pan recipe is any indication of the rest of the chinese cookbook, i know i'm going to love it. i already want to get her third one - quick and easy vietnamese.

so E rocked the moo goo gai pan! he made a couple changes that i suggested and it was so good we gobbled it up. (bad move, E, you made a crucial mistake. you set the bar too high. now i know you can conquer a chinese recipe. i see more cooking in your future;)

when i had leftovers today for lunch, i added some bean sprouts and served it over a little brown rice to soak up that wonderful sauce. i realize that those two additions probably don't make it traditional moo goo gai pan anymore, but they were so good, i included them in the recipe.

Moo Goo Gai Pan
adapted from quick and easy chinese
serves 3-4

1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tbs chicken stock
1 tbs tamari
1 tbs dry sherry
2 tsp arrowroot
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1" fresh ginger, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
8oz sliced mushrooms
8oz fresh snow peas, cut in half
1 cup bean sprouts

stir together stock, tamari, sherry, arrowroot, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.

heat wok over medium-high heat. add oils, garlic, and ginger. add in chicken in single layer. cook until just opaque on one side, then flip and cook until opaque on second side. remove chicken from wok and set aside. add mushrooms and onions to wok and cook for 2 minutes, stirring often. add chicken back to wok as well as snow peas. add stock mixture and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring well until sauce is bubbling and has thickened. remove from heat and stir in bean sprouts. serve over warm brown rice.
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