Monthly Archives: October 2009

Clean Eating: Day 4

Breakfast (7:15): 1 tsp natural PB, 1/4 c. lite Activia yogurt, coffee

Snack (9:30): 1/2 c. natural homemade (NH) applesauce and 1/4 c. 1% cottage cheese

Lunch (12:00): 1 beef brat, 1 c. boiled whole potatoes, 1/2 c. cooked corn

Snack (3:00ish): 1/4 c. 1% cottage cheese and 1/2 c. NH applesauce

Supper (x): not sure yet, will see what the hubs wants! Probably buffalo chili leftovers?

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Filed under Clean Eating

Clean Eating: An intro

I will be posting more about clean eating, why I’m interested, the challenges it presents, and eventually, how it benefits me. I started on Monday of this week and am tracking everything that goes into my mouth on I may occasionally post my meals for the day, just to help track myself. I will also be updating my existing posts that are CE recipes with tags and categories, just for future reference.

I do not want to rely heavily on artificial sweeteners, no matter their origins. I will occasionally use them, but I will also keep using molasses, honey, and dark brown sugar to sweeten my food. I do need to cut out alot of the processed sugar that has been in my diet, and so far I’m doing well. However, I am not going to bake an apple pie completely with stevia or Sucanat. I’m going to try to challenge myself but be realistic at the same time.

More to come!!

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Filed under Clean Eating, Optimism

Roasted Garlic

I’ve become convinced in the past 2 or 3 years that garlic is actually magical. Not only does this little bulb supposedly keep vampires away, but it also goes into almost EVERY dish I cook. On top of that, it’s not only for cooking with… it can be eaten on it’s own.  And it’s delicious.

I don’t mean that you should slice up a couple of cloves and start munching. Instead, roast an entire head of garlic and use as a spread for fresh homemade bread, as a cracker topping, mix it into dips, or spread it lightly on raw veggies.  *Disclaimer: do not do this right before a big date or a trip to your dentist.*

Roasted Garlic

Heat oven to 400. Very carefully cut off the top quarter-inch to half-inch of the garlic head, and any excess roots on the bottom. You’ll want a flat bottom if possible, without cutting into the actual cloves. You can peel off any excess layers of outer skin, but be careful leave the entire head intact. Drizzle EVOO in the bottom of ceramic dish; place the head of garlic in the dish on its bottom, and generously cover garlic head with EVOO. Finish with a pinch of salt, and roast for 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the head you’re using. (If you prefer the garlic to be roasted brown, it may take 35-40 minutes for a large head of garlic.)

After roasting, let cool and remove from dish. You can separate the cloves and squeeze them from the bottoms, causing the garlic to “ooze” out of the cut tops; or, you can squeeze the entire bulb at once and watch the garlic ooze out of all the cloves! Be sure not to burn yourself though!!

Roasted garlic tastes great as a spread (as mentioned before), or also added to dishes, such as my Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes (previous post plug :)

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Filed under 30 min. or less, Clean Eating, Condiments, etc.

Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

N is so loveable. He’s really getting into the idea of “using everything we get”… which I consider to be called “sustainable living.” For instance, I carved a killer pumpkin on Sunday night, and roasted the pumpkin seeds. We pined for our future garden and compost pile when I threw away the stringy pumpkin insides.

HD carved pumpkin

He’s also getting worked up about Thanksgiving and how we’re going to make the whole meal in our kitchen with just one stove. Wait a minute… haven’t people been doing this for years and it works out?! N is not convinced. He refuses to cook the turkey ahead in any sort of way, and doesn’t think it will properly cook in our stove with the potatoes, vegetable sides, etc. that will be cooking in there as well. He considered making a smoker out of two large terra cotta planters…. I promptly shot that down. Next: turkey on the grill.

“We’re not grilling, we’re technically barbequing,” he insists. Okay, okay. N also insists on practicing to make sure it goes off without a hitch, and so we started with a smaller poultry carcass to test out the abilities of the little grill that could. Additionally, I had picked up some beautiful Yukon Gold and red potatoes, as well as a large head of garlic, at the farmer’s market on Saturday, and decided to add a new twist to N’s favorite side-dish: cream cheese mashed (and baked) potatoes.


These were deliiiiicious! Definitely garlicky, but not overwhelming. Creamy and smooth, but with a crunchy top. N noticed the bits of potato peel right away, but I gently reminded him that it’s the only nutritious part of the potato. Plus, what about using everything we get?! Why buy the whole potato and only use part of it?? This calmed him, and he scarfed them up obligingly. :)


Garlic Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

1 head roasted garlic (directions in next post)
2.5# of potatoes
4 oz. cream cheese (RF is ok)
1/3 c. heavy cream OR sour cream (1/4 c. of skim milk or plain yogurt *might* work?)

Scrub the potatoes and cut out any bruises/eyes as desired. Put in a pot and cover with water, allowing 1-2 inches excess water covering the tops of potatoes. Sprinkle with salt and bring to a boil; hold at a simmer until potatoes are tender and skins are loosening/breaking apart. Drain well and let cool 5 minutes.

You can use a stand mixer, hand mixer, or manual potato masher to mash. If using a mixer, dump all ingredients together and blend. If mashing by hand, I would mix the cream cheese and sour cream/milk first, and then mash in the potatoes and garlic.  Add salt and pepper as desired. Spray the sides of a shallow casserole dish and spoon in potatoes. Bake at 375-400 for at least 30 minutes, longer if a crispier top is desired. We baked at 400 for 40-45 minutes.

These can also be refrigerated, covered, for up to 24 hours after spooning into the casserole dish. Reheating + baking time will be longer– at least 45 minutes at 375 if potatoes are fully cooled before baking.

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Filed under Fall, Side dishes, Vegetables, Winter

Aaaand… it’s winter.


I woke up to this:

October 12th and it's WHITE???

What the H, Wisconsin?! Just 3 days ago I posted about officially feeling fall-like, and now you hit us with THIS??

I'm in denial. This isn't actually real.

This calls for a hotdish. Something carby, cheesy, hot, filling, and substantial. Not just any ordinary hotdish will do. I threw together this Chicken Parmesan Hotdish based on one of da hubs and mine favorite meals- and what we had in our kitchen. There was no way I was going outside!

Definitely comfort food

Chicken Parmesan Hotdish

16 oz. jar of marinara, or 1 batch homemade marinara (recipe below
12 oz. cooked rigatoni, macaroni, mafalda, or whatever you have on hand (we use whole-wheat rigatoni)
1 c. cooked chicken
1 c. mozzarela, coarsely grated or shredded
1/2 c. parmesan, grated
sprinkle of thyme and oregano (optional)

Heat oven to 350 and grease the sides of an 8×8 dish. Spread cooked chicken out evenly along the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 c. mozza. Cover with cooked pasta, sauce, remainder of mozzarela, parmean, and spices. Cook for 35-40 minutes until brown and bubbly.

Marinara sauce

4-5 large tomatoes, or 3 cans of tomato sauce
1 T. tomato paste
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. green pepper, chopped finely
Salt, pepper, oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley, all to taste

Peel the tomatoes in a hot-water bath and chop well (if applicable). Sautee the onions in olive oil in a large skillet; add the garlic and pepper when onions are soft. Sautee for 3-4 minutes; add spices and cook briefly, about one minute. Stir in the tomatoes or tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Whisk in tomato paste, and allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and add spice as needed. If sauce is thicker than preferred, slowly stir in 1 T of water at a time; if too thin, add in a small amount of tomato paste while simmering. Can be used as a spaghetti sauce base, pizza sauce, or dipping sauce.

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Filed under Chicken, Clean Eating, Pasta

Veggies and lentils and chicken, oh my

It’s officially fall in Wisconsin, if anyone was wondering. It’s rainy, the treetops are gorgeous, and a sweater or cardigan is no longer quite enough coverage to provide warmth during the morning commute. So, like a crazy man, N decides he needs to celebrate the 40-degree weather by going out on the water in numerous long-sleeved t-shirts and attempt to bring home supper. This act is affectionately known in our house as “bringing home the fish-bacon.”

fish + bacon ?

So N leaves mid-afternoon and stays out on the water, holding a stick tied to some string dangling in the water, until it’s very dark and cold, and then comes home… usually empty-handed. That means I get the kitchen (and the TV/DVD player) to myself! Hurrah!

lentils hanging out near the celery


My midriff = not buff. I’ve been eating a lot more meat now that I’m eating with N, and that’s not necessary or good for my pants buttons. So I made a flex-soup of lentils and veggies we had around the house, and added cooked shredded chicken to half of it, just to appease the hub’s man-eating urges. Pretty much any veggie can be subbed: wilted spinach or other greens, green beans, cooked firm squash or sweet potato, etc. Work with what ya got, people!

Flexible lentil soup

1/2 pound of dried lentils
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3+ cups of chopped or sliced veggies– I used carrots, a couple of small potatoes, and 3 ribs of celery
5 cups chicken broth
2 T. tomato paste
2 tsp garam masala
salt & pepper to taste

sauteeing the carroten

Rinse and sort the lentils. I usually let mine soak in a little water, and I sift them in the water with my hands just to clean them up a little. Sautee the onion and garlic in a pot with some EVOO, just until soft. Add 1/2 c. of the broth and any raw veggies to the pot; let simmer/sautee in small amount of broth for 5- 10 minutes. Pour in another 1-2 cups of broth, the seasonings, and the lentils; keep at a slow simmer for 10 minutes, until lentils have soaked up much of the broth and thickened the mixture. Add the tomato paste and remainder of the brother and stir to incorporate the t-paste. (I also added some fresh chopped parsley and another minced clove of garlic at this point) Let simmer for at least 20 minutes, or however long you like, adding additional liquid as desired.

T-paste FTW

I had it simmering on the stove for over 2 hours as I waited for N to get home, and had to add an additional cup of water to keep it the consistency that I was looking for.

wafty steam= tastiness

If you or your H prefer meat, you can add in any cooked meat to the soup once the lentils and veggies are fully cooked. Enjoy!

fuzzy, because my P&S from 2004 is teh suck.

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Filed under Clean Eating, Main dishes, Soups, Vegetables

Rain rain go away….

What a dreary start to the week.  It has been precipitating for the past four days.  Four? Five?  I’ve lost track.  I’m sick of wet pant legs, wet socks, fuzzy hair, and my bad atttitude.

I’ve decided that I am going to boost myself out of this rut, and the best way to do that is to bake and decorate sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.  My grandma used to make Valentine’s Day sugar cookies and mail them.  Always a wonderful treat in the middle of winter.

I am going to do the same for a handful of wonderful friends: Jordan, my BFF and the Man of Honor at my wedding, who is slaving away at optometry school;  Brendan, Jordan’s loveable wonderful boyfriend in Boston;  and my slacker brother Greg, who lives in a trailer and is slowly making his way through college.

First: it was a major pain in the @$$ to track down autumn cookie cutters!!! I visited THREE different Michael’s stores, Target, Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts, and finally found success in Wal-Mart of all places. *groan*  I was really pumped about the Wilton’s oak leaf cutter, and I admit that I actually let out a little squeal when I found it on a mid-aisle rack.

My leaf cookie cutter! (And a beer in the background, for good measure.)

My leaf cookie cutter! (And a beer in the background, for good measure.)

The Best Sugar Cookies

1 c. softened butter
1 c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
lemon zest
2 3/4 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Cream the butter under soft and light, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and cream well,  looking for complete incorporation and a whipped texture- about 3 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla, almond, and lemon zest; mix until just combined. Sift the dry ingredients together; add gradually while mixing slowly. Mix just until combined.

mmmmm cookie dough

At this point, you can flatten the dough in batches between sheets of waxed paper and set in the fridge to chill- this is faster than letting the dough chill in the bowl. Either way you do it, the dough needs to chill until it is firm. This is what makes it easier to roll out without having to add too much excess flour– after all, nobody likes a dry cookie.

When chilled, roll out with a *little* flour to desired thickness, cut into shapes or circles, and bake in a 375 degree oven for 4-5 minutes; turn pan and bake another 4-5 minutes or JUST until baked. 30 seconds can make a lot of difference!

Once you take the pan out of the oven, the cookies will keep baking while they sit on the pan. If you take the cookies off right away, they may break or smoosh because they’re so hot. If you let the cookies cool on the pan completely, they may stick to the pan. I generally let them rest 3-6 minutes before transferring to paper towels (or a rack, whichever you prefer).

And you thought making cookies was easy, huh?!

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 c. softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla
a very very small splash of almond extract (optional)
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1-3 tsp water

(I don’t have exact measurements, because I’ve made this enough and know what consistency I’m looking for. Sorry.)

Whip the butter together with vanilla and almond. Add powdered sugar slowly until it crumbles in large pieces. Add 1 tsp of water and mix until smooth; add more powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Separate and add color if desired. Spread and eat! Oh, and be sure your cookies are cooled before trying to frost.

Ready to rumble

You’re looking for a frosting that isn’t noticeably greasy and buttery, that is stiff enough to layer on a cookie but smooth enough to spread on easily.
(*Note: I’ve been known to go back and forth between powdered sugar and water in little amounts until I feel it’s just perfect. Don’t be afraid to tweak and experiment.)

CMM <3 NJM. Aww barf. :)

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