Breakfast Smoothies

Instead of my usual piping hot cup(s) of coffee every morning I have been making these smoothies since the weather turned very warm a few days ago. Yum! I love the coffee-banana-peanut butter flavor! And they keep me full all morning.

To make the coffee ice cubes – brew a strong pot of coffee, let it cool, then pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Transfer to a large storage bag and keep in the freezer.

Breakfast Smoothies
1 banana, sliced into chunks
1 (or two) heaping tablespoon of natural peanut butter {or I have been loving almond butter}
handful of coffee ice cubes (about 6)
1 cup vanilla soy or almond milk

Place everything in the blender, pulse until smooth.  Pour into glass.  Serves 2.

Up next I’m going to try a green monster smoothie:
1 banana (or any fruit/combo)
large handful of baby spinach leaves
1 cup vanilla almond milk
handful of regular ice cubes (or green tea ice cubes)
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tsp honey or agave nectar

It sounds like I need to get some flax seed and protein powder if I’m really going to get into these shakes? Thoughts?

Update 6/21/11:  I made the green monster smoothie yesterday morning and it was ok, but a little on the tangy side and tasted like it was missing something but I couldn’t figure out what.

I used:  1 medium banana that was sliced and frozen, handful of green tea ice cubes, handful of spinach leaves, 1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt, 2 tsp agave nectar, and about 1/2 cup or so unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  I’m not sure what else it needs??

I guess I’m going to try adding blueberries and strawberries.

Tortellini Soup

Soup is one of the things that I feel confident making without following an exact recipe.  I find it really easy to just add several things, adjust seasonings, and really just wing it with the measurements with outstanding results most of the time.  Soup is also really easy to scale up or down to make a lot or just a couple of bowls.

My mind was racing with additions that would be welcome in this soup.  I think spinach would have been great, but if my memory serves me correctly Tim is not a fan of spinach so I left it out.  Sausage meatballs, zucchini, and celery are a few other ideas.

This was the quickest meal that I have prepared in a long time too, definitely under 30 minutes.  Keep in mind that we like things a little on the zesty side, so omit or reduce the red pepper flakes accordingly.  Also note that you can cook the frozen tortellini right in the soup pot, but I chose to cook it on the side for no apparent reason.

Tortellini Soup

Inspired by The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Ingredients:

1 medium red onion, chopped {can use leeks or white onions}

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1.5 cups frozen peas and carrots

pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 {32 oz} carton chicken broth

water

1 package frozen tortellini {cheese or beef}

1 tsp dried parsley

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

Cook tortellini in boiling water according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add all of the seasonings and frozen peas and carrots {if you wanted to add zucchini or celery you would add it now}.  Saute a few minutes, then add the vinegar.  Next add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, about 1 cup of water to rinse the tomato sauce can, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil and add the tortellini {also add the spinach now if using}.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese on top.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

I was nursing a sore throat several days ago and I thought a nice warm bowl of noodles sounded like the perfect medicine for lunch one day.  This recipe did not disappoint.  I’ve read similar recipes to this one and they are served cold, so I’m sure this recipe would be great either way.  The veggies that you choose to use are totally interchangeable.  I used a bag of frozen “spring mix” stir fry veggies, but just bell peppers would be fine.

Noodles with Peanut Sauce

adapted from Betty Crocker Bridal Edition Cookbook, page 375

Ingredients:

8 ounces of egg, rice, or spaghetti noodles

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

2-3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tsp dried ginger

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

1 Tbsp oil for stir frying

stir fry veggies of your choice – fresh or frozen

Optional Toppings:

peanuts

sliced green onions

chopped cilantro

Directions:

Cook noodles in boiling water as directed.

Stir the peanut butter, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper together with a whisk, gradually add the broth.  {This kinda takes forever because the peanut butter is so thick, but keep at it.}

Stir fry the veggies until crisp tender in a little oil in a large saute pan.  Add the cooked and drained pasta and the peanut butter sauce to the pan.  Toss to combine and coat.

Place in serving bowls and add topping if you choose.

Southwest White Chicken Chili

White chili is not something that ever really intrigued me in the past.  It never looks that appetizing in pictures and I always overlooked it.  I now realize I was making a mistake.  I had no idea what I was missing!

This chili, while vastly different from my traditional chili, is very good and very flavorful.  It had just the right amount of spiciness from the peppers, creaminess from the soup, and heartiness from the chicken.  It is a real winner and I’ll definitely make it again.

This picture looks like chicken and dumplings, doesn’t it?  Next time, I’ll cut the chicken into smaller pieces.  🙂

Southwest White Chicken Chili

source:  adapted from Campbellskitchen.com

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp olive oil

3 large chicken breasts, cut into small cubes

4 tsp chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

pinch of red pepper flakes

1 large onion, chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 can reduced fat condensed cream of chicken soup

1 soup can of water

1.5 cups frozen whole kernel corn

1 can white beans {Canellini or Great Northern}, rinsed and drained

1 cup of low sodium chicken broth – optional {use more or less to reach desired consistency}

Directions:

Heat oil in a deep soup pot over med-high heat.  Add the chicken, onions, pepper, and spices.  Cook until chicken is cooked through, stirring often.

Add soup, water, corn, beans, and chicken stock.  Heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer at least 5 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasoning and add more broth accordingly.

Can serve with shredded cheese on top, but we didn’t.

Christmas Salad

Tim’s cousin made this salad for a family function a few months ago and I tried to recreate it at home not long ago.   I kick myself for not getting the exact recipe from her because I know there is something different about the way she made it.  I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is though.  For one thing, I know she soaked dry chickpeas, but I went ahead and used canned.  In any case, it is still delicious.   I’ll caution that you start small on the amount of onion that you use.  I have found that a little bit of raw onion goes a very long way.

Instead of a salad, I could see this used like a relish for grilled or roasted meat such as pork tenderloin.  And I could also see it used as a salsa.  With the addition of chopped tomato it would be fantastic scooped up with tortilla chips.

Named for the red and green colors, it is a beautiful salad any time of year that pomegranates are in season.  Not just at Christmas time.

Christmas Salad

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

seeds from one large pomegranate

1/2 of a small red onion, very finely chopped {or less}

bunch of cilantro, chopped {about 1/4 cup}

juice of one lime

s & p to taste

1 tsp cumin or to taste

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil {about 2-3 tablespoons)

Directions:

Combine everything in a large bowl and allow flavors to meld for 1 hour before serving.

Jalapeno Hummus

I’ve commented over and over again about how much I love hummus, so I won’t go into it again.  I’ll just leave you with this kicked up version of hummus for the folks who love jalapeno like us.  Enjoy!

Sorry no picture here, but it looks just like my regular hummus only with tiny green flecks in it from the jalapeno.

Jalapeno Hummus

2 jalapeno peppers, ribbed and seeded {You could go with 1-3 depending on your tastes}

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled

1 (14 oz) can of chickpeas, drained

juice of 2 small lemons

1/4 cup tahini

4-6 Tbsp water

2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp cumin

Combine the jalapenos, garlic, and chickpeas in the bowl of a large food processor.  Pulse into coarse paste.  Add lemon juice, tahini, some water {start with 4 Tbsp}, salt, and cumin.  Process until fully ground.  Scrape down sides of bowl.  With the machine running, add the oil through the feed tube.  Scrape sides of bowl again and then process for a few more seconds to ensure that everything is combined.  May need to add more water to reach desired consistency.

Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate before serving to allow flavors to blend.

Berry Granola Bars

Here’s a new granola bar recipe that I tried out.  Even though I doubled the original recipe, it still makes a smaller batch than any of my other granola bar recipes.  It is a nice and quick recipe though that yields a thick cookie-like bar.  I have listed the ingredients as I made it {doubled}, if you want to cut it in half, use an 8 x 4-inch loaf pan for baking and cut into 8 bars.

We ate them way too fast to warrant freezing them, but the recipe indicates that they freeze extremely well.

Berry Granola Bars

Source:  cooking for 2 magazine, Spring 2009.

Ingredients

4 Tbsp butter, soft

4 Tbsp brown sugar

2 eggs

4 tsp corn syrup

2 tsp molasses

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1-1/3 cup old-fashioned oats

6 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup chopped pecan

1/2 cup dried mixed berries {blueberries, strawberries, cherries, cranberries…any combo totaling 1/2 cup is fine}

Directions

Cream butter and brown sugar.  Beat in the eggs, corn syrup, molasses, and vanilla.

Combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well.  Stir in pecans and dried fruit,

Spread into a lightly greased 8″ or 9″ square pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until set and edges are browned.  Cool completely and then cut into bars.

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