Monday, December 30, 2013

Top 13 Real Food, Real Good Recipes of 2013

13 has always been fine by me.  Not one to believe in luck/unluck, I've never had a problem with 13.

2013 was a good year.  Sure, it was full of ups and downs, but as I pause to think of that for which I am thankful this year, I am overwhelmed.

Before '13 closes, here are my:

13 Favorite Real Food, Real Good Recipes of 2013

Tilapia with Mango Salsa:

Avocado Hummus:

Make Again Enchiladas:

Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse:

Easy Hash Brown Waffles:

Darn Good Skillet Dinner:

Homemade No-Bake Raw Energy Bars:

Super Spinach Salad with Warm Maple Dijon Dressing:

Fletcher's Thai Green Curry Noodles:

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Herbed Chickpea Salad:

Easy Overnight Vanilla Cinnamon Granola:

Slow Cooker Carolina Pork Barbecue:

These are all recipes that have been enjoyed by our family again and again.  I hope they become new family favorites for you in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

4 Easy Christmas Treats

This Christmas has been one of the more joyful ones I've had in some time.  Why?  Because I've been using a two letter word more often:


"No" to stressing myself out just to bake every type of cookie I can.

"No" to worrying about a few of the decorations that haven't been placed around the house.

"No" to baking a homemade gingerbread house (Trader Joe's pre-baked one is wonderful!)

and have been saying "yes" more too:

"Yes" to slowing down and reflecting on all of God's good gifts I've already been given.

"Yes" to being okay with not doing it all.

"Yes" to Joy…Peace…and my imperfectness.

So one of the many decisions I've made is to allow myself to wait until after Christmas to post a new recipe.

Until then, here are a few treats that I will try to make later this week, or…maybe not.  After all, sometimes saying "no" to doing something means saying "yes" to sanity and self-preservation.

But if you're looking for an easy treat or two to make for *fun*?:

Gingerbread Dip:

Cranberry and Pistachio Biscotti:

Candied Orange Peel:

Chocolate Drizzled Macaroons:

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Make Again Enchiladas

Okay, so I'll start with a confession:  these enchiladas are full of crumbled, sautéed tofu.  Have I lost any of you yet?

Still with me? Good.

Good for you for being open minded about tofu and good for you…since these enchiladas are super tasty and healthful.  The tofu resembles ground meat or turkey in these enchiladas, taking on all sorts of yummy, zesty Mexican flavors.

"Make again" is the term our family uses when a dinner is something the boys would like to see again on their plates.  Both boys declared that these were "make agains!" with enthusiasm, and R added, "I think they're make agains for next week."  High praise indeed.

Make Again Enchiladas

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
4 cloves garlic minced
1 poblano pepper (or bell pepper), seeded and diced
1 - 12 oz packet extra-firm tofu, drained
1 batch homemade taco seasoning (or store bought is fine)
1 bottle enchilada sauce, divided use
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided use (optional)
12 corn tortillas

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, garlic and pepper and sauté 4-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.

Add the tofu to the pan, crumbling the tofu as you add it.

Add the taco seasoning too, and stir well.

Allow the tofu to brown in the pan, using a metal spatula to stir it every few minutes.

Once browned, add 1/2-3/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, stir well and then remove from heat.  Add 1/2 -3/4 cup of the cheese, if using.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

As the tofu cools, add some boiling water to a pie pan or 9x9 dish.  One by one, place an enchilada in the hot water (it's okay if it cools a bit) for a few seconds to soften, then add 1/4 cup of the tofu mixture and roll up and place seam side down in a baking dish.  Repeat with remaining corn tortillas and tofu mixture.

Once all enchiladas are rolled, cover with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese, if desired.

Bake for 30 minutes or until browned slightly.

Makes 12 corn enchiladas.

Life is sweet,

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies (Vegan/Gluten-Free/Nut-Free)

Thanksgiving is mere days or even hours away and perhaps you have to bring a dessert to your family's gathering.  You don't want to do a pie (besides your Aunt Joanne already makes the world's best pies), you want something different, but you have someone with a dairy allergy and an egg allergy…someone who can't do nuts and another who is gluten-free.

Pumpkin Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies to the rescue!

I tasted these delicious little bites at the Market District yesterday and grabbed the recipe to try and home.  Perfectly simple to make in about 15 minutes, these no-bake cookies taste like a sweet pumpkin cookie batter.

Pumpkin Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies
(altered from a Market District recipe)

1 1/2 cups gluten-free quick oats (or regular if GF is not necessary)
1 cup oat flour (*take gluten-free oats and grind in a blender or food processor to make oat flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup almond (or your choice) milk
2 tablespoons coconut or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well to fully incorporate.

In a separate medium bowl, combine the pumpkin, milk, oil and vanilla extract, stirring well to combine.

Add the pumpkin mixture to the oatmeal mixture and stir well:

Combine very well and then begin to form into small 1-2 teaspoon bites:

Serve immediately or refrigerate and enjoy later:

Makes 4 dozen.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Life is sweet,

Friday, November 15, 2013

Healthy Meal Plan Friday: Busy Mom's Menu

Trying to get into a new routine of working part-time outside the home is an exciting challenge…with an emphasis on the "challenge" part of providing a healthful, crowd-pleasing meal.

Last week, when I found myself twice prepping items for the slow cooker around 9pm, so they could be tossed into the slow cooker first thing in the morning before I left for work at 7:45, it hit me:  how would I feel if I was working full-time?

Full-time working moms of the world, I stand in awe.

For all of you who work full-time, come home, feed your family, and then reset to do it all over the next day, you amaze me.  

Here are some meals, all of which can either be made in the slow cooker, prepped almost fully the night prior or made quickly when you get home in the evening.

Here's Next Week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Cranberry Pecan Baked Oatmeal (Vegan/Gluten-Free)

Big things are happening in the Sweet Pea home...drumroll please...I started a new job this week!  Yes, after many years of being a full-time mom and blogger, I've begun working part-time at a wonderful new job.

What does this mean?  My full life feels even fuller...busier...but in the best of ways.

A busy mom, no matter what her work status, heck, a busy anyone can benefit from this recipe.  It's a make-it-ahead-the-night-before-and-pop-it-in-the-oven-in-the-morning sort of dish that's been a real help this week.  Based on my Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal, consider this a holiday twist on a classic recipe.

Cranberry Pecan Baked Oatmeal (Vegan/Gluten-Free)

1/4 cup warm water*
3 tablespoons ground flax seed*
3 cups gluten-free oats (or use traditional if GF is not a concern)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup natural applesauce (no sugar added)
1 1/2 cups soy, almond or coconut milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans

*you may substitute 2 eggs for the warm water and ground flax seed and regular milk for the soy milk to make this more traditionally.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, if making right away, otherwise, preheat the oven when you're ready to bake!

In a small bowl, combine the warm water and ground flax seed (they form a thicker mixture that serves as an excellent egg replacer in this recipe).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking powder, and brown sugar.

In a small bowl, combine the wet ingredients:  water/flax mixure (or alternatively, 2 beaten eggs), applesauce, milk and vanilla extract.  Stir well. 

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. Add the cranberries and stir well.

Pour into a 9x13 pan and top with pecans, if desired.  Cover with foil.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the oatmeal is firm and slightly browned, if desired.  Alternatively, you can prepare this the night before and bake in the morning.

Makes 8 servings.

Peas and love,

Friday, November 1, 2013

Healthy Weekly Meal Plan: Candy Detox

Need a little healthy food as you detox from all the candy?

Here's a Healthy Meal Plan for next week:

Meatless Monday:  Greek Quinoa, Hummus, Clementines

Southwest Grilled Shrimp with an Avocado Mash
, Mango 

Slow Cooker Roasted Chicken, Sauteed Green Beans, Oven Roasted Potatoes, Apple Slices 

Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli and Bacon, Pineapple

Seven Bean Soup, Bread, Blackberries


Taqueria Style Tacos, Refried Beans, Kiwi


Life is sweet,

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Savory Pumpkin Hummus

This past weekend SPH and I packed up R, G and a whole lot of gear and headed to University of Virginia for SPH's college homecoming weekend.

Of course any good football game needs to include a good tailgate, and since the Cavaliers' colors are blue and orange,  I decided to create a pumpkin hummus recipe (orange) to serve with blue corn chips.

Go Hoos!

Savory Pumpkin Hummus

2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 - 15oz can Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
3-4 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons tahini
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1-2 teaspoons dried rosemary, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Place the garlic cloves in a microwave-safe dish and cover with the 2 tablespoons oil.

Cook on HIGH for 45 seconds.

Remove the garlic and chop well with a knife.

Place the garlic, oil and the remaining ingredients (begin with the lower amount of water and vinegar) in a food processor and process for 30 seconds.  Scrape the sides and process again until smooth.  Add additional water or vinegar to taste and for the desired texture.

Serve with vegetables, chips or crackers.

Makes about 2 cups hummus.

Life is sweet,

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hearty and Healthy Vegetable Bean Soup

Is there anything more warming than a bowl of hearty soup on a cold day?  Pair soup with a hunk or slice of bread, and you're warmed up in no time.

But with many hearty soups, you have to watch the fat, calories and sodium too.  If you love hearty with an emphasis on healthy, this soup has your number.

This recipe is completely meatless and vegan, but if your crew craves meat, some Italian turkey sausage would pair beautifully with the flavors.

I added alphabet pasta to the recipe, mainly to jazz it up and make it fun for the boys...but you can easily omit it or use any other small pasta, quinoa, couscous or even rice.

Side note:  if you have a big crowd gathering at your home, this soup is a really inexpensive way to feed your group.

Hearty and Healthy Vegetable Bean Soup

1-2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
1 medium zucchini, sliced
12 cups water
1 cup dried white beans
1 cup dried black beans
1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried lentils
4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
4 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons turmeric (optional)
1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup alphabet pasta, small pasta, quinoa, couscous or rice

In a very large stock pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.  Add the onions and garlic, and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until they begin to brown:

Add the carrot, celery, potatoes and zucchini, and cook for an additional 4-5 minutes:

Add the water, beans, lentils, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, garlic powder, turmeric and crushed tomatoes and bring to a boil:

Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans are tender.  

**Be sure to stir occasionally and check if there is ample water (you can add additional water as needed, just add an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt with each cup of water to keep the soup adequately seasoned), as this is a thick soup and you don't want it to dry out!** 

Add the pasta or other grain and simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

I found this fun gluten-free alphabet pasta!

Serve and enjoy!

Serves 12-16.

Life is sweet,

Friday, October 18, 2013

Healthy Weekly Meal Plan: A Meatless Menu Challenge

I've given you a challenge this week for the Healthy Weekly Meal Plan:  an entire week of meatless meals.  Save for the bit of fish in the pasta dish, this week's meals are all vegetarian, which may feel like a stretch...but you can do it!

Here's this week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Meatless Monday:  Peanutty Stir-fry, Brown Rice, Pineapple

Garlicky Smashed Tomato and Arugula Spaghetti, Apple Slices

Cinco de Mayo Burrito Bowls, Fresh Mango

Pizza Soup, Fresh Pears

Grilled Portabella Burgers, Roasted Butternut Squash, Braised Cabbage, Kiwi

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder, Spinach Salad, Pomegranate

Peas and Love,