Mashed Sweet Potatoes

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1/2 apple, peeled and chopped
3 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp honey
Nutmeg

Directions
Boil the sweet potatoes until soft, about 8 minutes (depending on size of cubes).  Drain.  Turn the burner down to medium low.  Using the same pot, melt the butter, then add the sweet potatoes back in the pot and combine.  Add apples, honey and nutmeg and stir.  Turn the burner down to low and let it stay warm until ready to serve.  The apples will soften but not break down completely.

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Beet Salad

1 beet, cooked, peeled and julienned
1/2 cup zucchini, julienned
1/2 cup cucumber, julienned
1/2 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 apple, julienned
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
Oil

Directions
Combine all the fruits and veggies, then add the salt, pepper, oil and BV to taste.  Toss and serve. Quick, healthy and YUMMY…who could ask for more?  Makes a big lunch salad or a few sides for dinner!

A Fun Filled Afternoon: Homemade Tahini, 2 Kinds of Hummus and Pita Chips

I have tried making tahini before and it turned out awful.  There was bits of sesame seeds and it was not smooth at all.  It was because my food processor wasn’t made to grind up something so fine.  A bottle of it is normally $8 and I really wanted to make hummus.  Then it dawned on me…my coffee grinder!  I used it to grind up lentils, rice and steel-cut oats to make my Homemade Protein Powder (in recipe folder). I toasted two small 1.5 oz. bags (they didn’t have bulk where I was) of sesame seeds on a baking sheet at 350° for 5 minutes.  After cooling for a few minutes, I put them in the grinder.  The trick is to pulse them and shake the gender around so it all grinds but doesn’t get too pasty too quickly. 

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Then I added it to a food processor, combining slowly with 1/4 of Extra Virgin Olive Oil until smooth.  It is close to peanut butter in texture and made about 1/2 cup.  I needed 1/3 cup of it for one hummus recipe and stored the rest.

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I decided to soak and cook Garbanzo beans at home and not only were they cheaper, but they tasted better and you can control the amount of salt and add other flavoring.  I added salt and turmeric!  This is where I got the process from.  Always give credit where credit is due! 

http://www.frugallivingnw.com/cooking-dried-beans-vs-buying-canned-beans/#_a5y_p=1360834

Here’s the first hummus recipe:

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
1 1/2 cups Garbanzo beans
2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (I used jarred ones because the juice has a kick to it, but freshly roasted would be good too)
Salt and pepper

Directions
Combine all in food processor until smooth.

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This other recipe is not vegan, but it is vegetarian.

Mediterranean Hummus
1 cup Garbanzo beans
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup crumbled feta
2 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions
Combine all in food processor until smooth.  This one can be made vegan by omitting the feta (just add the olive oil slowly and monitor the consistency because you may need to add less oil).

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Since the first has tahini, which has a lot of olive oil already, you only need a bit more to combine.  Since the second had no tahini, it needed something to smooth it out, so you add more oil.  You can make so many different flavors of hummus, most of which are vegan or vegetarian.  It can be used as  a healthy spread for sandwiches or even dip.  I used it for all of the above!

For the pita chips, I took a package of thin pitas, separated them and quartered them (as best I could).  I laid them out on a sheet pan, drizzled olive oil using a marinating brush to spread it around and only added salt and pepper to them. I baked them at 375° and started out for 5 minutes on one side, flipped them, then 5 more minutes on the other side but that overdid it.  It can be done for 5-6 minutes with no flipping.  Those still came out crunchy and golden brown, not brown brown.

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HOLY CRAP WHAT A YUMMY SNACK!

Efficiency at its Finest: Killing 5 Birds with One Stone (Figuratively of Course)

What does having a crappy blender, having an awesome juicer, having a picky toddler I must trick into eating, my homemade pasta sauce and my homemade veggie broth all have in common?  You might want to find something to hang on to (for my fellow Whovians)…it’ll be a wild ride!

I’ll start with the fact that I have a crappy blender.  It is a Ninja but not a good enough one for veggies and ice.  I made an amazing peanut butter banana smoothie the other day, but I like greening smoothies and it wasn’t cutting it for that. 

Enter juicer.   My parents bought us a juicer for Christmas 2013.  I had always wanted to start juicing.  I thought about just juicing veggies, then adding the juice to the smoothie, but what would I do with all that pulp?  Then my mother-in-law told me she heard you can use the pulp from juicing.  Perfect.

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Enter picky toddler.  I mentioned in another post how my daughter used to eat everything in sight and now at 1 1/2 has seemed to gain this newfound independence and refuses most food, shaking of the head, waving of the hand and all.  If you know me well, I HATE wasting food.  If I could send it to the starving children, I would.  I made Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese (in recipe folder) the other day and she ate it all!  Hiding veggies in sauces seemed to work, so I must do it again!  The pulp from juicing is mostly chopped super fine so I needed a sauce to put it in that would hide it well.

Enter my homemade sauce.  Therese (and my hubby) have consistently loved one thing, and that is my pasta sauce, and it is a great thing to prep ahead and freeze in portions for a wide variety of future meals, like different pastas, chicken or eggplant parm, or create even more meals with lasagna, stuffed shells or manicotti.  I would hope I make my Nonna proud!  Let’s rewind for a second.  I had juiced 4 carrots, 2 stalks of celery and 1 packed cup of spinach.  I mixed a little bit of the pulp in Therese’s portion of the sauce and although it had visible spinach bits in it she gobbled it down!  SUCCESS!  I set aside more sauce and mixed the rest of the veggies in it for her for leftovers.  Now, I will never give away my sauce recipe, but I will say I do have a lot of left over stems from herbs and ends and peels from onions and garlic, plus the left over ends and peels of the carrots and celery from.  What do I do as to not waste this?

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Enter my homemade veggie stock.  My maternal grandmother showed me how she freezes organic material and although she throws it away, she doesn’t throw a lot away and freezes it to prevent it from sitting in the trash rotting.  I can just do this with celery, carrot, onion and garlic for veggie stock.  I still have plenty other organic material for composting!  Veggie stock is relatively easy.  Most recipes, like my Butternut Squash Soup and Tomato Bisque (both in recipe folder) call for 5 cups/32 oz. of stock, which is usually the size of a store-bought container.  I measure 5 cups of water in a pot and when I have about 3 cups of the peels and ends, I cover it and simmer it with salt, black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt until flavorful and most of the veggies are super wilted, soft and some even translucent.  I never measure the salts, powders and peppers I put in…I just test it.  🙂

I am always trying to come up with efficient ways of doing things and this definitely is one!  I really hope it helps you!  Cheap, easy, efficient and next to no waste.  Who could ask for more?

Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

My little one went from eating everything in sight to being the pickiest eater on the planet, and veggies are taking a hit.  I needed a way to hide them and I know a lot of parents need the same tricks to ensure their kids are getting everything they need.  She has been okay with peas, so those made an appearance but she had no idea about the squash and downed every bite…except of course the peas!  She picked those out of the bowl and gave me the, “How could you?” look.  Guessing what food she is in the mood for day by day is an Olympic sport!

1 cup Heavy Cream
1 cup Cheddar Cheese, shredded
3 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
1/2 cup Butternut Squash, cooked and pureed (I made this while making Butternut Squash Soup)
2 cups Pasta
1 cup Peas (or any veggie like broccoli, just keep in mind cooking times are different)
Salt and Pepper

Directions
Combine the first 3 ingredients in a small pot and simmer on low until completely melted.  Add butternut squash and continue warming on low.

Boil 3 cups of water, add the pasta and peas and cook for 7-9 minutes.  Drain.  Put pasta and peas back in the pot and mix the cheese sauce in with it and add salt and pepper to taste.

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I added tofu to mine!  You can add any protein you desire.  Makes about 4-5 servings.

Teriyaki Marinade

4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
Salt and Pepper

Directions
Combine all and whisk!

This made enough for marinating a half of a package of tofu.  This would be enough for one or two pieces of meat depending on size.   Multiply for multiple meals!

This was the meal I used it for.  Marinated tofu overnight, then grilled.  Spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, grilled onions, grilled peppers, grilled squash and a little shredded swiss cheese.  Teriyaki and honey mustard is a favorite combination of mine, so I used honey mustard dressing.  Therese used to eat anything, but has been picky lately.  This was no exception, but I loved it!

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Sugarless, Flourless Cookies

1 1/2 Cups Oatmeal
2 Bananas, mashed
1/3 Cup Raisins
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce (see applesauce recipe)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all.  Form 10 balls and put on a cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes.  I sprinkled extra cinnamon on top. It will seem “underdone” in the middle, but I like regular cookies like that so this was no exception!

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