Time to Cook!

Inspiration for wholesome weeknight & weekend cooking.

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I’m always looking for a tasty slow cooker recipe.  The slow cooker is such a time saver during the week or on the weekend – after a little bit of prep time, set it and get on with your life.  Then, when it’s dinner time, your kitchen will smell wonderful and dinner is ready!  It’s just hard to find recipes that TASTE good, but this one does!  This chicken chili is great over rice.  Feel free to add extra hot sauce to your bowl if this is not spicy enough for you.

buffalo-chicken-chili

Recipe adapted from Katie Lee on Food Network.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves: 8 people

Ingredients:

2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
One 4-ounce can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce (or 1/4 cup butter and a scant 1/8 cup hot sauce)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded
1/2 jalapeno, seeds and membranes removed, minced (optional)
1 medium yellow onion, diced

Directions:

In a slow cooker pot, combine the chicken broth, beans, chiles, wing sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, celery, bay leaf, shredded chicken, jalapeno and onion and mix. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.
Serve over white rice with desired toppings: celery leaves, blue cheese, Cheddar cheese, hot sauce, and/or cilantro; cornbread on the side.

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This is a tasty oatmeal chocolate chip cookie that’s simple to make.  It’s a nice combination of crunchy, chewy, sweet and salty.  If you prefer not to use the vegetable shortening, you can substitute with coconut oil.  Also, instead of bittersweet chocolate, you can use any chocolate you prefer (I use bittersweet or dark chocolate).  Enjoy!

Salted Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate

Recipe from Real Simple Magazine.

Salted Oatmeal Cookies with Dark Chocolate

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Ingredients:

cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)

cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

teaspoons flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

tablespoons vegetable shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

large egg

teaspoon pure vanilla extract

ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 375° F with the rack in the upper and lower thirds. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment.
  2. Combine the oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Beat the butter, shortening, granulated sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until lightly and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined (do not over mix). Stir in the chocolate.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt.
  5. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until lightly brown around the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Storage suggestion: Keep the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

 

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Think of this as an Americanized version of a Chinese stir fry — tasty and only takes 15 minutes to prepare.  What’s not to love?  Also a good excuse to use up any ground beef and/or pork in your freezer (before it sits in there for too long!)  Serve with brown rice and put a bottle of Sriracha at the table for those who want more heat.

Mapo Tofu

Recipe slightly adapted from Food and Wine; contributed by Chef Kuniko Yagi.

“This is totally my way of making this dish,” chef Kuniko Yagi says. “I’m sure Chinese people wouldn’t let me call this mapo tofu.” Yagi’s version has more meat than tofu, but she still relies on jarred toban djan, the chile­-bean paste that gives this Chinese takeout staple its signature heat and deeply savory flavor.”

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 pound ground beef chuck (85% lean)
1/2 pound ground pork
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon chile-bean sauce, preferably toban djan (or 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce)
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce or tenmenjan (soybean paste)
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
One 14-ounce package soft tofu, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup water
4 scallions, finely chopped
Brown rice, for serving

Directions:

1. Heat a large skillet until hot. Add the oil, followed by the beef and pork. Season with salt and cook over high heat, stirring and breaking up the meat, until crumbly and lightly browned, about 3 minutes.

2. Stir in the chile­-bean sauce, hoisin and soy sauce and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Gently fold in the tofu. In a small bowl, whisk the cornstarch into the water. Add to the skillet and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and serve with brown rice.

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This is a wonderful tasting, moist and healthy muffin that you can feel good about giving to your kids or enjoying as an afternoon snack.  After tasting these, you won’t believe there isn’t any white flour, sugar, butter or vegetable oil in them.  They truly taste decadent — and they’re not!  Note: if you don’t have the wheat germ or flax, substitute with oats and the muffins will turn out fine!

Healthy Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Recipe adapted from the blog Baking Adventures in a Messy Kitchen.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups grated zucchini
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened or melted
2 large eggs
1 banana , well mashed
3/4 cup yogurt (vanilla or plain; Greek or non-fat or low fat)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups whole wheat white flour
1/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1/4 cup ground flaxseed or meal
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (heaping) dark chocolate mini chunks (Whole Foods private label sells these in a bag)

Directions:

To prepare, grate the zucchini, using paper towels to squeeze out any excess moisture, and mash the banana.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease mini muffin tray, planning for 45-50 mini muffins.

Using a stand mixer, beat together the zucchini, honey, molasses, coconut oil, eggs, banana, yogurt, and vanilla until well mixed.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, wheat germ, flax seed, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt with a whisk.

Add the flour mixture to the stand mixer incrementally, beating on low speed, stopping as soon as the flour is fully incorporated.

Remove the bowl from the stand and fold in the dark chocolate mini chunks.

Scoop the batter into mini muffin cups (filling just over 3/4 full), and bake them in the oven for approximately 13 minutes. Let sit in the pan for a few more minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

Try to eat just one. Really. Try.

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I love the Orzo and Spinach Salad that Whole Foods makes and thought about replicating it at home.  A quick search on the internet brought me to one that sounded promising, and I made a few modifications.  This salad can be served cold or at room temperature and would be great to bring to your next BBQ.

Orzo & Spinach Salad

Recipe adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 ounce) package uncooked orzo pasta (can be whole wheat)
  • 1 (10 ounce) package baby spinach leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb crumbled feta cheese (2 cups)
  • 1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 4 fresh basil leaves, chopped)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, feta, onion, pine nuts,olives, basil, salt and pepper. Toss with olive oil and white balsamic vinegar. Refrigerate and serve cold or at room temperature.
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This is my easy, weeknight (and weekend) vinaigrette that I make all the time, all year round.  It’s so easy to make — it only takes about 3 minutes — and you can make 2 or 3 X the recipe to keep in the fridge for the week.  Some nights, even making a 3-minute dressing is just too daunting, right?

Basic White Balsamic Dressing

 

Basic White Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar (Trader Joe’s brand is the best!)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of Maldon sea salt flakes
pinch of fresh ground pepper
pinch of marjoram and/or dill

In a small glass dish, add balsamic vinegar, then slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until combined.  Finish with salt, pepper and herbs.  Add vinaigrette into your greens in a salad bowl, tossing to see how much you need.  Taste a leaf.  If your salad has no taste, it just needs another pinch of salt and that will bring out all of the flavors.

To make a green salad special (I usually favor Butter / Bibb or baby lettuces), I often add toasted nuts and a sweet fruit like pears, persimmons, or apples.  I also like the combination of scallions and avocado.

 

 

 

 

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