Friday, February 20, 2015

Stick of Butter Oven Rice

I know...the title doesn't scream healthy eating like I've been talking about.  I recently needed a side dish, and I've been curious about this one for a while.  So I went for it.  It was nice just to throw it in the oven and forget it.  The taste was delicious, and I loved getting some of it along the edge where it was a little bit crispy.  YUM!  

Stick of Butter Oven Rice

1 c. uncooked white rice (NOT instant)
1 (10 oz) can of Condensed French Onion Soup
1 (10 oz) can of Beef Broth
1/2 c. of butter, sliced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a 9x9 inch baking dish combine rice, soup and broth.  Cut butter into slices and place on top of the mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove cover and bake 30 minutes more.

This can be doubled or tripled to feed more. Optional: small can of drained mushrooms can be added as well.

Recipe Source: Thirty Handmade Days

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

Not a week goes by that me and the hubs DON'T talk about our favorite places to eat in Ohio.  We haven't lived there for 2 1/2 years, and honestly we had so many favorite places and still crave them constantly!  One of these restaurants was 5 minutes down the road...the Olive Tree.  The first time we went was when I was in the really sick-y stages of pregnancy and did not love it.  Later on down the road I decided to give it another chance and seriously became obsessed.  We ate there at least 2 weekends a month, if not more.  We loved their shawarma, gyros, spicy feta, hummus, and tzatziki sauce to name a few.  My fav was definitely the falafel.  Falafel sandwich, salad, or straight up as an appetizer.  I have yet to find a place that makes Mediterranean food like the Olive Tree.
 I finally got the nerve to try making some myself.  Over the weekend we saw an episode of "Guys Big Bite" where he was making these, and I knew I just had to try!  My hubby has a deep-fryer, which makes cooking these a snap! 

And have you ever looked at the ingredients of falafel?  Beans, veggies, great for you!  (minus the frying part :)  This sandwich offers up more than half your day's worth of recommended fiber, so eat up!  Perfect choice for a Meatless Monday.  These really were so, so good!

Falafel Pita Sandwich with Yogurt Sauce

2 tablespoons canola oil, plus extra for frying
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (14-ounce) cans chick peas, drained
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 egg
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
5 tablespoons flour
2 cups freshly chopped parsley leaves
3/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Pitas, for sandwich
Toppings: shredded lettuce and chopped tomato, sliced cucumbers
Yogurt Dipping Sauce, recipe follows

Yogurt Dipping Sauce:

1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt, as needed

In medium skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons oil and sweat onion and peppers 2 to 3 minutes then garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.

In a food processor, pulse together chick peas, red chili flakes, ground cumin, the egg, salt and black pepper to form a coarse consistency. Then add flour, parsley, and cilantro. Pulse until mixture starts pulling from the sides of the food processor.

Remove mixture to a large bowl and mix in the onion mixture. Chill falafel until ready to cook.

Roll falafel dough into 1-inch rounds. Then form rounds into an oblong quenelle shape, like a football.

In a thick-bottomed skillet heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Cook falafel balls a few at a time, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Be sure to turn them so they do not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt while still hot.

Open the pita bread to make pockets. Place 3 to 4 falafels inside. Stuff with lettuce tomato and cucumbers and drizzle sauce generously on the inside. Serve immediately.

Yogurt Dipping Sauce:
Mix the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and cumin together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to use.

Yield: 1 cup

Recipe Source: Food Network

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nutella Banana Cookies

Well, we've been eating lots of veggies over here and limiting our sugar intake.  I am feeling stronger and more energetic the last few weeks.   On top of that, I have finally found a workout that is working well for me (outside of the gym of course).  Beachbody's T25 is such a great workout for the time.  I love Insanity, but it does a number on my knees.  I could never follow it fully, having to take days off.  This one is totally doable, and I feel it working already.  

Anyhow....I'm talking about healthy stuff and then have these cookies thrown in your face.  We had a few friends over recently and my hubby promised them dessert, so I made up a yummy lite trifle and these cookies for the kids.  These are so yummy!  Nutella is truly the star of this cookie.  Getting a little pocket of chocolate-y goodness is like winning the lottery ;)  Enjoy!

Nutella Banana Cookies

1½ cups flour
1 cup sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
¾ cup shortening
2 large mashed ripe bananas
1 egg
1¾ cup oats
¼ cup Nutella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Sift flour, sugar, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl.

Beat in mashed ripe bananas and egg.  Cut in shortening.  Mix in oats.

Take a knife and "slice" nutella into batter with a knife. Don't mix it in completely, the stripes are what make them pretty!
Spoon "drops" onto a greased cookie sheet. 

Bake at 400 degrees F for about 8-10 minutes. (Note: this is a lot softer than normal cookie dough and will not form balls, hence spoon “drops”)

Recipe Source:  Chef In Training

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Strawberry Agua Fresca

I tell you what...ever since moving to Washington, I have been immersed in Mexican culture.  We live in a predominantly agricultural area, and as that goes there are many migrant workers here.  We have had some of the best food around here I have ever had. One of the farming communities around  has a huge Cinco de Mayo festival every year which we have loved attending.  There, we have had some legit enchiladas, churros, tamarindo apples, and some amazing tacos.  One of my favorite things I discovered in going to this festival is fantastic agua fresca.  Basically this is infused fruit water with a little sugar.  So, so good!  I'd rather have this than a soda any day.  This was my first attempt at this, and I am so excited to try some other varieties!

Strawberry Agua Fresca

2 cups ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ cup granulated sugar
4 cups water
Sliced strawberries for garnish, optional

In a medium sized bowl, mash your strawberries, sugar and about a half cup of water, cover and place in your refrigerator.

After a couple of hours, take the strawberry mixture out of the refrigerator and blend.

Run the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, keeping the resulting strawberry juice and discarding the pulp and seeds.

Add the remaining water to the strawberry juice, chill and serve with ice and sliced strawberries for garnish!

Recipe Source:  A Night Owl Blog