Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Braised Red Cabbage

File this recipe for braised red cabbage under "food you hated as a kid but would probably really like now". I absolutely loathed this dish as a kid, probably because of the strong smell it gives off when cooking. Now I can totally appreciate the sweet, sour, and salty balance of flavors, not to mention the anti-cancer properties of the red cabbage. Try it, I think you will like it - just be sure to turn on your kitchen vent fan :)

Braised Red Cabbage
Serves 4-6 as a side dish

1 medium head of red cabbage
1 large onion, chopped
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt (or more if your cabbage head is larger)
1/2 tsp black pepper

Shred the red cabbage by 1) removing the tough outer leaves, 2) cutting it into quarters, 3) cutting out and discarding the hard, white core, and 4) shredding the quarters by slicing them thinly with a sharp knife. Rinse well with cold water in a large colander. Add the olive oil to a large, deep skillet with a lid and turn the stove to medium heat. Add the onions and apples and saute until they begin to caramelize, about 8 minutes. Add the shredded cabbage, vinegar, honey, salt, and pepper to the apples and onions, stir well, and put the lid on the skillet. Turn the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is tender, about 45 minutes. Taste the cabbage and add more salt/pepper if needed.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

I am back to blogging after a long hiatus. The holidays were busy and my poor immune system got hit with every illness in the book, but no more excuses. Time to get back on track with healthy eating!

My Portobello Pizzas ( are my go-to recipe when I'm craving pizza but trying to watch my carb intake. Unfortunately, the cravings were off the charts recently and I got a little tired of the portobellos. Eggplants were on sale at the grocery store, so I gave it a try as my pizza base, and it worked beautifully. This is a good way to sneak more vegetables into your diet and satisfy your pizza craving without feeling guilty.

Mini Eggplant Pizzas

1 medium-largish purple eggplant
1.5 cups pizza sauce (your favorite jarred brand, or whip up your own with my simple recipe below)
2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves (optional)
olive oil for brushing the eggplant slices
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. Slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick discs. Brush each side with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Season the slices with salt and pepper (one side is fine). Bake for 5 minutes, then flip them over and bake for 5 more. Top the slices with desired amount of sauce and cheese. Put back in the oven and bake until cheese is melted and slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Top with fresh basil leaves.

Simple Pizza Sauce
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp onion powder
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil up on medium heat, then add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomato sauce, oregano, onion powder, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. The amount of salt you add will depend on how salty the tomato sauce is - start with a small amount and add more if necessary. Bring to a low bubble, then reduce to simmer and cook until sauce is thick, about 15-20 minutes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Baked Acorn Squash with Gorgonzola and Sage

I absolutely love winter squashes, especially this time of year. There is something so comforting about a slightly carmelized, piping hot baked winter squash just out of the oven on a cold day. While I love a good winter squash recipe with lots of butter and brown sugar, I prefer them in healthier savory dishes. This acorn squash recipe is so simple and it comes in its own little bowl - very cute! The gorgonzola and sage add such an interesting Fall flavor to the slightly sweet squash.

Baked Acorn Squash with Gorgonzola and Sage
serves 2

1 medium acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons gorgonzola cheese
4 large fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
salt and pepper

Preheat oven at 400. Cut the squash in half width-wise and scoop out the seeds and stringy stuff. You can cut the bumpy bottoms off the halves in order to get them to stand up. Whisk the olive oil and maple syrup together in a small bowl, then brush it on the insides of the squash halves with your fingers. Season the squash halves with salt and pepper. Bake until fork-tender, approximately 40 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of the squash. Take them out of the oven and add the gorgonzola and chopped sage, then put them back in until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Healthier Stuffed Mushrooms

Stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite appetizers. They are typically made with sausage and lots of gooey cheese - very delicious and indulgent but not particularly healthy. This is a lower calorie vegetarian version made with olives, cheese, and bread crumbs. It is one of my go-to appetizer recipes and everyone loves them. They also make a good side dish.

Mushrooms Stuffed with Olives and Cheese

1 pound white mushrooms
1/2 cup pitted cup green olives, finely diced (see note)
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (you can also use Parmesan)
3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven at 400. Clean the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel and pop off the stems. Mix the olives, cheese, breadcrumbs, olive oil, and scallions in a bowl. Add black pepper to your taste (you do not need to add salt - the olives and cheese are salty). Spoon the mixture into the mushrooms caps and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until mushrooms are tender. Let cool slightly before serving.

Note: Try to use fresh olives in this recipe. Many grocery stores have an olive bar that will have these, and you can buy them by the pound. Olives from a can just aren't the same.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Scallions

I got this recipe from my co-worker and fellow foodie, Joelle. It's become a regular in my recipe line up for its simplicity (only 4 ingredients!), wonderfully fresh taste, and health factor. Brussels sprouts, like their cruciferous cousins broccoli, kale, and cabbage, are high in fiber and vitamins, and are believed to protect against cancer. Give this a try, even if you don't like brussels sprouts - I've won over several friends and family members who claim to hate them with this recipe.

Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Scallions

  • 10-ounce container Brussels sprouts (about 26), trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin diagonally
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice, or to taste (I usually add the juice of a whole lime because I love the lime flavor so much)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Cut sprouts in half and slice thin lengthwise. In a heavy skillet melt butter over moderately high heat until foam subsides and sauté sprouts and scallions, stirring, until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. In a bowl toss vegetables with lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

Did you know you can make yogurt at home in the CrockPot? I learned this from one of my favorite food blog sites, It's so easy and cheap, I make a batch nearly every week. It costs under $4 to make a half gallon of yogurt with this recipe!!! Those little 6-ounce containers you buy at the store can be 99 cents a piece! Beyond the cost savings, I think it really does taste better. So fresh and creamy. Below is the recipe from the blog site, and I've added some tips and ideas that I have come up with in the years I've been making it.

Homemade Yogurt Ingredients
-8 cups (half-gallon) of whole milk--pasteurized and homogenized is fine, but do NOT use ultra-pasteurized. (Debbie recommends starting with whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt-making)

--1/2 cup store-bought natural, live/active culture plain yogurt (you need to have a starter. Once you have made your own, you can use that as a starter)

--frozen/fresh fruit for flavoring

--thick bath towel

This takes a while. Make your yogurt on a weekend day when you are home to monitor.

Plug in your CrockPot and turn to low. Add an entire half gallon of milk. Cover and cook on low for 2 1/2 hours.

Unplug your CrockPot. Leave the cover on, and let it sit for 3 hours.

When 3 hours have passed, scoop out 2 cups of the warmish milk and put it in a bowl. Whisk in 1/2 cup of store-bought live/active culture yogurt. Then dump the bowl contents back into the CrockPot. Stir to combine.

Put the lid back on your CrockPot. Keep it unplugged, and wrap a heavy bath towel all the way around the crock for insulation.

Go to bed, or let it sit for 8 hours.

In the morning, the yogurt will have thickened---it's not as thick as store-bought yogurt, but has the consistency of low-fat plain yogurt.

Blend in batches with your favorite fruit. I did mango, strawberry, and blueberry. When you blend in the fruit, bubbles will form and might bother you. They aren't a big deal, and will settle eventually.

Chill in a plastic container(s) in the refrigerator. Your fresh yogurt will last 7-10 days. Save 1/2 cup as a starter to make a new batch.

My Tips
  • Follow the times exactly (set the timer!). One time I cut 30 minutes off the resting time and it didn't turn out. The milk has to be at a certain temperature for the bacteria to form. Also, be sure that the CrockPot is well-insulated in the towels, especially if your kitchen is cold.
  • Stoneyfield Farms plain low-fat yogurt is the brand I find to be most consistent for the starter yogurt.
  • Use whole milk until you get the hang of yogurt making, then try 2% if you want a lower fat content. To thicken yogurt made with 2% milk, add a few tablespoons of powdered milk when you whisk in the starter yogurt. I've also noticed that the longer the yogurt rests in the towel phase, the thicker it gets.
  • Flavorings - the possibilities are endless! I like to add jam (any flavor, but I really like raspberry, blueberry, and apricot), maple syrup, honey, fresh fruit, chocolate chips. Sometimes I put a vanilla bean in the milk when it's cooking for vanilla yogurt. Mmmmm...
  • I found these perfect little containers at Safeway and I take a serving of yogurt to work with me everyday. It's a great healthy breakfast or afternoon snack.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lemon Basil Quinoa

If you're tired of rice or potato side dishes, give quinoa a try. It's a gluten-free grain that is high in protein and fiber. It cooks in just 15 minutes, perfect for a weeknight dinner side. This recipe is great for summer, when the lemons are juicy and fresh basil is abundant.

Lemon Basil Quinoa
serves 4

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper

Pour the quinoa and chicken broth in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook covered until all the broth is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes (see note). While it is simmering, whisk the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper together into a dressing. When quinoa is done but still warm, add the dressing to it and mix well. After the quinoa is cooled, add the scallions and basil, and more salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

Note: if the cooking instructions on your box of quinoa differ, follow those instead.