Friday, October 24, 2014

12 Healthy Favorites for #FoodDay2014


Grilled Tuna Steak with Eggplant and Peppers Served with a Halter Ranch Syrah for #winePW 4.

Happy Food Day 2014! I'm very committed to eating healthy food, but also making it taste great. So I had to join in on this day celebrating real food, and share 12 healthy favorites for #FoodDay2014. 

Good, healthy food means something a little different for everyone. For me, it means building meals around vegetables, whole grains (yes, I like whole grain pasta!), and a modest amount of lean protein. We love our cheese, but use it in moderation and always the real deal. Extra virgin olive oil goes quickly in our house. Organic and local when possible; meat and fish that meet humane and sustainable standards. Limiting highly processed foods is a must. If you've read this blog before, you know that many of these wholesome meals are enjoyed with a glass or two of nice wine, typically from a small producer.

I also believe that if most of our eating conforms to the above goals, we don't have to sweat an occasional veering from this path. But I find when you come to appreciate what good, real food tastes like, you will opt for the sweet potato with cumin sage butter over the potato chip most of the time!

OK, that's it for my #FoodDay speechifying. On to 12 recipes that prove healthy and tasty work wonderfully together!

Grilled Tuna with Eggplant and Peppers This one shown at the top of the post gets lean protein from the tuna, and was a creative way to use the abundance of eggplant we had on hand from our farmshare.

Butternut Squash Soup with Sage and Mushrooms via Cooking Chat

Butternut Squash Soup with Sautéed Mushrooms and Sage This simple vegan soup gets a touch of elegance from the sautéed mushrooms. One of my popular posts to date!

Cilantro Lime Marinaded Pork Tenderloin I had to get a pork recipe in here! Tenderloin is a lean cut of pork, not to mention delicious. The healthiness and flavor of this dish gets punched up a notch by serving it with Sweet Potatoes Mashed with Cumin Sage Butter.

Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade for #WeekdaySupper


Grilled Swordfish with Garlic Soy Marinade This is a quick, easy way to enjoy healthy swordfish. We use the low sodium version of soy sauce in the marinade. Our 9 year old loves it, so we have this a lot.

Salmon with Mixed Mushroom Sauce Probably my favorite fish, it was hard to pick which recipe to feature here. I gave the nod to this tasty one with mushrooms, which goes very well with a nice glass of Pinot Noir (I'm in the red wine is healthy camp!).

Linguine with Kale Pesto. Cooking Chat recipe.


Linguine with Kale Pesto I was excited to come up with this way to make one of my favorite things--pesto--featuring the super-healthy green kale. For someone skeptical about kale, this could be the one to sway them over!

Muhammara Spicy Red Pepper Dip Figured I'd throw in one appetizer here! No cream here like other dips. The flavor comes from plenty of garlic, and it has pomegranate molasses in the mix to get some of that healthy fruit.

 Mediterranean Chicken with Penne, Red Peppers and Spinach

Mediterranean Chicken with Penne, Red Peppers and Spinach A nice way to get your healthy protein and veggies all into one dish.

Hearty Chicken Stew I make this stew with homemade broth, made from leftover roasted chicken. Packed with veggies along with chicken, I'd anticipate this might be even better for you than traditional chicken soup!

Grilled Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa Swordfish is good many ways, but topped with this pineapple salsa is especially tasty! And pineapple is a good fruit to mix into the diet. In fact, reminds me I haven't chopped one up for us in awhile.

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat recipe.

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger Ok, I just posted this recipe, but it definitely qualifies! It's a lightened up version of one I got originally from Vegetarian Planet by Didi Emmons. You get protein from the lentils, some good green spinach, and ginger which is pretty healthy too. Not to mention, it's super-tasty!
12 healthy recipes from Cooking Chat for #FoodDay2014, including Penne with Red Lentils

Farm Fresh Tomato Sauce with Ground Turkey OK, you may need to bookmark this for next summer to make with farm fresh tomatoes. But I needed one more to make it an even dozen here, and this was another one of my post popular posts so thought it would be good to share. That makes dozen of my favorite healthy recipes to enjoy on Food Day or any day!

12 Healthy Favorites for #FoodDay2014, including this Farm Fresh Tomato Sauce with Ground Turkey



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger for #WeekdaySupper

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.

Fast, inexpensive and tasty: all that you want in a #WeekdaySupper! No wonder why we make this Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger so often. I tend to have most of these ingredients on hand, making it easy to whip up. A great follow-up to the theme of the recent Budget Friendly #SundaySupper.

This dish is based on a recipe from The Vegetarian Planet. I've lightened it up with less butter then the original recipe, offset by an increase in garlic. So it's got healthy going for it too.

We enjoy this year-round, but there's something about sage that says fall to me, making this particularly well-suited to fall. Give it a try next time you are looking for something fast and tasty!

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.
1 lb. dried penne or other short pasta
3 tbsp butter*
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 2 inch piece of ginger, minced (or ¾ tsp powdered ginger)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced sage, or ½ tsp dried sage
¾ cup red lentils
1 cup water (plus extra during cooking as needed)
3-4 cups tightly packed baby spinach
Salt and pepper to taste

*Substitute dairy free spread or olive oil for the butter to make this dish vegetarian.

Begin boiling water for pasta. Melt butter in a medium pan, let it start to brown slightly, then sauté garlic and ginger for a couple minutes over medium low heat. Add the lentils, sage, a bit of salt, cup of water, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low, cover pan.

Check and stir the lentil mixture every few minutes. If the lentil cooking liquid begins to evaporate, add another quarter cup or so of water. The lentils take about 15 minutes to soften...they should be soft but retain their shape as opposed to turning to lentil mush which can happen if you cook too long or too much water.

Add the spinach after the lentils have been cooking for about 10 minutes, stirring it in so that it wilts slightly.

Start cooking the pasta about 5 minute after you start cooking the lentils. Cook the pasta according to package instructions.

When the pasta is done to your liking, drain and combine the cooked pasta with the lentil mixture and an extra tablespoon of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger. Cooking Chat #WeekdaySupper post.


Wine Pairing:  A chardonnay works well with the lively ginger flavors, or you can also go for a Sauvignon Blanc.

Check out the Weekday Supper lineup!Sunday Supper Movement
Monday – 15 Minute Beef Soup by MealDiva
Tuesday – Salmon with Kale Chimichurri by The Girl In The Little Red Kitchen
Wednesday – Penne with Red Lentils and Ginger by Cooking Chat
Thursday – Curried Chicken Wraps by A Mama, Baby and Shar-pei in the Kitchen
Friday - Spinach Ricotta Meatballs by Feed Me, Seymour

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper.

Please don't follow this Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole recipe.

Well, sure, I'd like you to try to make a tasty casserole for your family too. But one key to budget friendly meals is to use everything. Casseroles are a great way to use up various veggies you have on hand. In this one, we give a starring role to leek tops, an item that often gets thrown out. But sautéed with onions, garlic and other veggies available, they can be pretty tasty!

Leek tops can be sauteed and added to casseroles. Cooking Chat recipe for #SundaySupper.

I had this casserole in mind when having dinner at my sister's home recently. My brother-in-law asked if I'd "help" use up some of their abundant basil before it fell victim to the frost. So this casserole got some pesto as a bonus ingredient. Add it if you have some basil or pesto on hand, but of course don't out and buy pesto for this if you want to stick to the budget theme. Add an extra clove or two of garlic if you're skipping the pesto. Here's my pesto recipe if you want to make some.

I love the challenge of cooking great, healthy food on a budget. So I'm pleased to co-host this Budget Friendly #SundaySupper with T.R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. Today I'm focusing on casserole as a good way to use what you have on hand. For more of my budget friendly tips, check out "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

Time to get to the recipe. Use it as a launching point for your own casserole to use what you've got. Red cabbage looks nice, but if it's green you have, put that in there! Got extra spinach or other greens? Add the into the saute too. OK, I think you get the idea here...

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole uses leek tops with red cabbage for nice color. Tasty for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper!
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 leek tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups red cabbage, chopped into thin slices
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup cheddar, divided
1/3 cup feta cheese
10 ozs elbow macaroni or other short shape
1/2 cup pesto (optional)
tsp dried basil if you aren't using pesto
handful or two of pumpkin seeds (sunflower seeds also a good option)
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, sauté on medium heat for a few minutes, then stir in the garlic.

Add the leek tops, bell pepper and cabbage. Stir well to combine all the veggies, then add the chicken broth. Cook for about 10 minutes until the veggies have softened a bit.

Put on a pot of water on to boil as you start cooking the veggies. Add the pasta after you've added the chicken stock, and cook al dente according to package instructions. Don't overcook the pasta as it will cook more in the oven.

Drain the pasta when done, and toss with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.  Combine the veggie mixture with the pasta, then add 1/2 cup of the cheddar plus the feta.

Spray a large casserole dish with oil. Add the pasta and veggie mixture to the casserole, leveling it with a spoon so that it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar over the top, followed by the seeds.

Cover the casserole, and place in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. Uncover the casserole took bake uncovered for another 5 minutes, this helps get the casserole browning nicely on top. After that final 5 minutes, you are are ready to eat. Scoop a generous serving of the casserole onto each plate and enjoy!

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for #SundaySupper

Wine Pairing: I tend to think of a nice medium bodied red with a casserole. We enjoyed this with a great Dolcetto/Barbera blend from Italy's Piedmont region. You could also try a full bodied white with this.
Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole for a Budget Friendly #SundaySupper.


Be sure to check out all the great Budget Friendly Recipe from the #SundaySupper crew!

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Budget Friendly #SundaySupper Preview

Mac, Veggie and Cheese Casserole. #SundaySupper post preview.

Eat well, spend less. That is one simple goal I'm sure many of us food bloggers share. Preparing most of our meals at home gives us more control over what we eat and it's also a great way to save money. But how can we home cooks really get that food bill down while making food that is healthy and tastes great? We will be picking up on this theme for the upcoming Budget Friendly #SundaySupper on October 19.

I'm excited to co-host the Budget Friendly Sunday Supper with T. R. Crumbley of Gluten Free Crumbley. I relish the challenge of coming up with great meals while keeping within our budget, and over the years I've been honing my approach for achieving this goal. I broke down some of my tips in this post, "8 Planning Tips to Feed Your Family Well and Under Budget."

I'm excited to share the recipe for  my casserole shown above (great dish for adding in what you have on hand!) and hearing more about all these tasty recipes from the #SundaySupper crew! Be sure to check back on Sunday for all the recipe details, and join our Twitter chat at 7 p.m. ET.

Scrumptious Mains (Breakfast and Dinner)
Satisfying Sides
Sweet Treats
Sips, Spreads, and Snacks
Sunday Supper Movement Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.