Friday, July 31, 2009

Cranberry Apricot Cream Cheese Muffins

I always try to have some sort of muffin or bread for breakfast in the morning. We like things that are prepared and easy to grab and relatively healthy :) I found this recipe in a cookbook from a friend: Cooking with HealthyRoads. I was happy to see that I had everything on hand that I needed to make these and I was excited to try them since they sounded so good. They really turned out pretty good. I wouldn't bake them quite as long next time so they are just a bit more moist. Overall, these were a yummy change from zucchini and banana bread.

Cranberry Apricot Cream Cheese Muffins
1/4 cup low fat cream cheese
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, diced
2 cups flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
3 T vegetable oil
1 large egg
2 large egg whites
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the cream cheese, cranberries and apricots; stir (the cookbook says with a whisk-good luck with that if that's what you want to mix it with).

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the next 5 ingredients (through the salt) in a medium bowl; make a well in the center of the mixture. Combine the buttermilk, oil, egg and egg whites; stir well with a whisk. Add to the flour mixture, stirring until just moist.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray, filling each of them 1/3 full. Top each with approximately 1 tsp cream cheese mixture, dividing the remaining batter evenly over the cream cheese mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in the center. Remove muffins from pans immediately, and place on wire rack.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo

Here is another delicious recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Go here for more information on the above book.

My zucchini plants are finally starting to produce. I don't know why they're so far behind this year, but my plants were dying down at this time last year, after getting about 50 pounds of zucchini. This year, I've just gotten a dozen or so small ones but there are many more blossoms so I'm hoping they keep coming!

Ryan loves orzo pasta for some reason and I had some fresh zucchini from the garden so I thought this would be perfect for dinner the other night. In fact, I've been waiting for fresh garden zucchini to try this and it turned out great. Ryan said leftovers for lunch were really good too!

Disappearing Zucchini Orzo
3/4 lb. pkg orzo pasta
1 chopped onion, garlic to taste
3 large zucchini
olive oil for saute
1/4 cup grated parmesan or any hard yellow cheese

Bring 6 cups of water or chicken stock to a boil and add pasta. Cook 8 to 12 minutes. Drain. Use a cheese grater to shred zucchini, saute briefly with chopped onion and garlic until lightly golden. Add spices to zucchini mixture, stir thoroughly, and then remove mixture from heat. Combine with cheese and cooked orzo, salt to taste, serve cool or at room temperature.


I'm branching out a bit from the cookbook that I've been using a lot lately-Simply in Season.

I read an awesome book a few months ago that has really helped change the way I look at food and what my husband and I eat. It was called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. Her family grew, gathered, harvested, raised most of the food that they ate for a whole year. What they couldn't grow, they searched for local sources to provide such as meat and milk, etc. There are many really excellent points that the author brings up about the benefits of supporting your local food system as much as you can. Even though I don't buy all organic food, I try to buy humanely raised meat, eggs, and dairy versus the cheapest I can find. There really are many more benefits to free-range, pasture raised meat and dairy and not supporting the commercial farms is one way to help improve our environment and decrease pollution. Anyway...I'll get off my soapbox about that, but I really do encourage people to learn more about where their food comes from-support local sources as much as you can and read the above book-it really is eye opening.

This recipe comes from the above book. I had to figure out a way to use up the beans from my garden and since my husband doesn't like them, I try to figure out ways to sneak them in so he can't really tell they're there. This was a delicous spread. I was a little hesitant to try it, but it turned out great. Very filling!

1/2 lb. trimmed green beans
1 coarsely chopped onion
1 T olive oil
3 hard boiled eggs
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 T lemon juice (optional)
Mayo or yogurt
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional- I didn't add, but I wish I would have. We like spicier food and I will add this next time)

Steam beans until tender. Sautee onions in olive oil over medium heat until they become slightly transparent. Combine beans, cooked onions, eggs, basil and lemon juice in food processor and blend into a coarse puree. Remove puree to a bowl and combine with enough mayo or yogurt to hold together (you don't need much, about 1/4 cup). Add salt and pepper to taste. This spread is fantastic served on crusty bread, crackers, or rice cakes. We used tortilla chips to scoop it up.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Three Pea Stir-Fry

My garden has been bursting with peas lately. I planted snow peas and peas in the pod and with all the moisture we've had and the cooler weather we've been having, my peas are growing like weeds. My snow peas have grown up over my 3 foot tall rabbit fence by about foot and a 1/2! I picked and picked peas yesterday and was able to put away 3 bags in the freezer to enjoy this winter. I made this dish a few nights ago with some fresh snow peas that I had picked. It's yummy!

Three Pea Stir-Fry From Simply in Season
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T ginger root, minced
1/8 to 1/4 tsp crushed hot chilies
1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas (omitted and snow peas doubled, cut in 1" pieces)
1 1/2 cups snow peas, cut in 1" pieces
1 cup peas
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp seasame oil
toasted sesame seeds

Heat 1 T oil in large frypan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Add first 3 ingredients and stir-fry until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add sugar snap and snow peas and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add peas and stir-fry until hot, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and salt to taste. Serve immediately with fluffy white rice.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Roasted Vegetables

I pondered what to make for dinner for quite a while tonight. I have a wonderful, productive garden this year, but I"m just not sure how to creatively utilize my produce. I've made many salads: chicken, tuna, 7 layer salad, to use up my romaine lettuce. I made spinach pizza and salad with hot bacon dressing when spinach was coming up like crazy. I made a pea stir-fry last night with the multitude of snow peas that are growing like weeds. Yesterday, I noticed my first beans ready to be picked and my beets are a decent size as well. Today, after giving up that my potato plants really did anything this year, I dug up one of my plants and found a half dozen small red potatoes. I was so excited! The plants looked like they'd been on death's door for a while and I never did notice them flowering. However it worked, I was excited I grew potatoes (especially after I've read it's supposed to be really easy and my plants just didn't look right). I found this recipe in my favorite cookbook and we had a delicous side dish of veggies and herbs grown right in my own backyard. Yum!

Roasted Vegetables From Simply in Season

8-10 cups of fresh vegetables (I used purple beans, beets and red potatoes. You can use any combo of fresh veggies such as squash, onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc. Just make sure the thinly slice the veggies that would take longer to roast such as the beets and potatoes.)
3 T fresh basil, chopped
2 T fresh cilantro or rosemary, chopped
1 1/2 T fresh thyme, chopped
1 T olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1-4 cloves garlic (or garlic powder)

Chop up veggies into bite size pieces and place on jelly roll pan, sprayed with cooking spray. Add the above seasonings and toss to coat. Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Delicious! Roasted veggies are so tasty and even my husband who doesn't care for green beans or beets enjoyed this dish.

Lemon Barbecued Chicken

We enjoyed a nice weekend of camping, this last weekend at North Point Recreation area on the Missouri river. It was beautiful! The campground was spacious and well maintained and the water was clear and clean. We brought our dogs camping for the first time and they had a great time. It was adorable watching them try swimming in the water.

I ended up marinating this chicken a few days as we didn't make it the first day we were at the campground. It was so flavorful and juicy! A must try this summer.

Lemon Barbecued Chicken From Backyard Grilling

2/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup vinegar
1 T soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1 broiler/fryer chicken (3-4 pounds), cut up

Combine the first 11 ingredients; set aside 1/4 cup. Pour remaining marinade into a large resealable plastic bag. Add chicken; seal bag. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Drain, discarding marinade. Grill the chicken, covered, over medium heat for 45 minutes or until juiced run clear, turning and basting with reserved marinade every 8-10 minutes.