Thursday, February 28, 2013

Oat and yogurt breakfast bars

Oat and yogurt breakfast bars
Regular readers know I'm all about make-ahead, grab-and-go breakfasts.

So imagine my delight when the recipe choice list for my virtual book club this week included a good-for-you, whole-grain cereal bar. I was all over that like white on rice.

When cooking from a book entitled Whole Grains for a New Generation, I didn't expect to find too many sweet recipes.  Frankly, I didn't expect to find any at all, because I'm that new to cooking with whole grains.

This bar is all about the oats (just like my salted oat crack cookies but with actual nutritional value). I'm hooked on making oat flour simply by grinding up oatmeal in the food processor: genius! I modified the original recipe, based on what ingredients I could find (I'm hard-pressed to find quinoa flakes locally and didn't want to have to mail-order them just for this recipe), but I'm super-pleased with the results.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Roasted butternut squash with quinoa, sausage and greens

Roasted butternut squash with quinoa, sausage and greens
Yes, the recipe is a mouthful -- both in name and in flavor.

Regular readers know that I'm continuing my participation in the From Scratch Club's virtual book club, in which a group of home cooks selects a cookbook and then makes and discusses some recipes from each chapter or section. We're currently cooking our way through Liana Krissoff's Whole Grains for a New Generation (we're lucky enough to have Liana participating in our online discussions, too!).

Our last grain topic was rice. This time, it's quinoa.

I've become a huge fan of quinoa over the past few years, in large part because it is easy to prepare while also being one of the few good-for-you grains that Mr. Ninj doesn't hate (See? No kids, yet I have my own picky eater to deal with).

I chose this recipe from Liana's book because I love butternut squash. Since I, too, often pair it with sausage, as is called for here, I knew I couldn't go wrong. Added bonus? Liana included a recipe for making your own quick sausage, which was easy and awesome.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Southwestern bean soup with chicken and kale (7-can soup)

Southwestern bean soup with chicken and kale (aka 7-can soup)
I'm excited to tell you about this recipe -- probably way too excited, actually, as it is only soup.

But what a soup, my friends!

Regular readers know that my favorite recipes are those that meet the following criteria:
  1. Must be delicious
  2. Must be simple, ingredient-wise, so it can be made with pantry staples rather than a trip to an exotic market, as well as wicked easy to prepare (read: no creme brulee torches required)
  3. Should be stealthily healthy (that is, one bite should not prompt Mr. Ninj to say, "This must be good for me, right?")
This bean soup? Check, check and check.

About the same time I was reading in Eating Well magazine about low-calorie power soups inspired by a Weight Watchers garden vegetable soup, my friend Maria -- who I trust as an authority on healthy-yet-flavorful recipes, given that she is a caterer who also recently lost over 90 pounds -- posted the recipe for another Weight Watchers favorite: Seven-Can Soup.

The name says it all: seven cans of ingredients, thrown together in a pot, heated though and served.

Ridiculously easy!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

Every day is Valentine's Day when you have a heart on your head...

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cherry chocolate Greek yogurt cookies

Cherry chocolate Greek yogurt cookies
It's Valentine's week: guess how much I love my readers?

I'm giving you a delicious, healthy cookie post -- while I'm on vacation.

That's how much.  I didn't want to leave you hanging when there's a sugar-based holiday fast approaching.

I came up with this recipe at the tail end of Detox January; during the last week, I was craving sweets but didn't really have any new healthy (well, healthier) cookie recipes to try. I poked around Pinterest a bit and found a recipe for a Greek yogurt and fruit-based cookie, but it had a big slathering of icing on the top -- not very detoxy.

So I made up my own.

What I like about this recipe is that it is flexible; you can use any combination of fruit and yogurt to really customize your cookies. I used black cherry yogurt and dried cherries because that's what I had on hand. What about mango yogurt and bits of dried mango, maybe with some white chocolate chips thrown in for good measure? Or blueberry yogurt with frozen blueberries and some lemon zest or candied citrus peel?

You can see that the possibilities are nearly endless.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Cranberry rice and book clubs

Cranberry rice
Are you part of a book club?

I joined my first book club in 1991, just after graduating from college. This was pre-Oprah, so the concept was new to me. Get together with other book lovers to read and discuss books? Oh, happy day: it was like college lit class without the term papers.

I was hooked.
Even though we move around a lot (every five to six years, historically), I have been in one book club or another almost continuously since that first one.  Right now, I'm in two clubs: one physical, one virtual.

I joined the From Scratch Club's virtual book club at its inception last year. The first book we read and discussed was Tamar Adler's An Everlasting Meal.  While we all enjoyed the book and Adler's gorgeous prose, the book club members were ultimately more interested in a "cookalong" type of book and format. The second book we tackled was Alana Chernila's Homemade Pantry; every two weeks we read and cooked recipes from two chapters in the book and shared our stories and creations through Good Reads and Facebook. It was great fun, made even more enjoyable by the author's participation in the discussions and willingness to give feedback and answer questions.

We're now into the third book: Liana Krissoff's Whole Grains for a New Generation; again, we're fortunate enough to have the author joining us our journey. This book will be bit of a challenge for me, as I'm fairly grain-ignorant. Because of the nature of the book, instead of cooking by chapter, we are cooking by grain type.

This week, it's rice -- a nice, easy introduction to the world of grains.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Nutella toffee biscotti

Nutella toffee biscotti
Today is World Nutella Day.

Lately, there seems to be a celebration day for nearly everything. Not that I don't think fluffernuttters (October 8) and scarecrows (July 7) deserve celebrity and recognition, I do; think of the value-add. But National Umbrella Day? Or National Toothache Day? Really? Coincidentally, today is also National Weatherman's Day. In addition to having a sexist name, this day offers me nothing to eat, so I scoff. Sorry, Al Roker.

I think we can all agree, however, that Nutella deserves to be revered on a daily basis. It's nutty, chocolately deliciousness is equally as good smeared on your morning toast as it is baked into a gooey cookie. And speaking of cookies, I have a pretty wicked Nutella cookie recipe on this site and, apparently, over 80,000 of you agree with me.

Yep, 80,000. Crazypants.

So I'm happy to be worshipping at the Nutella altar today.

I toyed with the idea of trying to create something offbeat, perhaps something savory for this World Nutella Day, but I just kept coming back to what Nutella does best: dessert.

So you're getting a hopefully-equal-to-the-almighty-cookies biscotti recipe!