Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Delicious Chocolate Mousse Dip (Dairy-Free)

Using tofu to make chocolate mousse, pudding or dip couldn't be easier and the results couldn't be tastier...really!  If you have a loved one who insists they don't like tofu, please make them this recipe and be amazed.

Not only is the recipe completely decadent and full of chocolate goodness, it is high in protein and fiber too!

I was a skeptic, but now that I've tasted the delicious creation, I almost always have a box of this on hand:

Note:  be sure to use *silken* tofu, regular or firm tofu will not work.

Delicious Chocolate Mousse Dip (Dairy-Free)

1/2 cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 oz container silken tofu
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extra
1/4 cup agave nectar, sugar or other sweetener

In a microwave safe dish, melt the chocolate chips by cooking on HIGH in 30 second increments.  After each increment, stir the chocolate, repeating until it is smooth.

In a food processor, combine the melted chips, tofu, cocoa powder and vanilla:

Process until smooth, then add the agave or other sugar and process until the mixture is smooth:

Chill for 30 minutes (if you can wait--one time when I made a batch, it was room temperature because none of us wanted to wait!).

Serve with fresh strawberries for dipping:

Or pretzels:

Or eat a bit out of a bowl, with extra chips for good measure:

 Life is sweet!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Lemon-Thyme Grilled Vegetable Kebobs

When the weather is warm, I love cooking on our hot oven heating up the house, no cooking mess to clean up in the kitchen, and preparing dinner in the open air is such a nice change of pace!

With Memorial Day, summer and the grilling season right around the corner, here's an easy, fresh, healthful way to prepare grilled vegetables!

Lemon-Thyme Grilled Vegetable Kebobs

2 bell peppers
2 medium zucchini
2 portabella mushrooms
2 Vidalia onions
zest of one large lemon
juice of one large lemon (about 2-3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Prepare your vegetables:  wash the peppers and zucchini, wipe the mushrooms clean and peel the onions.

Cut into fairly uniform pieces.

Sprinkle with the lemon zest and squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the vegetables (divide into two containers to allow all the veggies to get adequate exposure to the marinade):

 Add the salt and pepper:

Add the thyme:

And add the olive oil, then toss to fully coat all the veggies:

Allow to marinate for 1 hour or up to overnight.  String onto a kebob (I love our flexible kebobs!):

Grill your vegetables over medium high heat for about 10-15 minutes, flipping as needed.  Test veggies with a fork to make sure they are tender enough for your taste:

Remove from the kebobs:

And serve!:

Makes enough grilled vegetables for 6-8.

Happy Memorial Day!

Life is sweet,

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fresh Coleslaw with Cucumber, Baby Corn and Mint

Here's a delicious, beautiful, Asian take on coleslaw.  Perfect for a potluck or summer evening, this no-cook side dish features a slightly tangy-sweet dressing...without any mayonnaise!

Fresh Coleslaw with Cucumber, Baby Corn and Mint

3 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded greens (I used bok choy, but spinach or kale would well)
1 red bell pepper, sliced in thin pieces
1 cup diced cucumber
1 - 14oz can baby corn, sliced thin
2 green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon gluten-free soy sauce (or regular if GF is not a concern)
sesame seeds as a garnish (if desired)

In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, greens, bell pepper, cucumber, baby corn, green onions and fresh mint (enlist a helper if so desired--remember, the more a child is involved in the preparation, the more likely they are to try the finished product!) :)

Combine the sesame oil, ketchup, lime juice, brown sugar, ground ginger, garlic and soy sauce in a jar.  Give it a good shake and pour over the vegetables:

Stir well and let marinate for one hour before serving or up to 1 day.

Serve with sesame seeds, if desired, and enjoy!

Makes about 5-6 cups coleslaw, enough for 8-10 as a dish.

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Flourless Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Oh my.

How could a recipe this simple taste. so. darn. good?

Watch out--if you make these cookies, they'll be hard to keep on hand.  But don't feel totally guilty about indulging, since whole grain oats and peanut butter are the two prime ingredients, you'll be eating a cookie with a good amount of goodness, too.

If you're feeling extra indulgent, add a few chocolate chips to each cookie.  Pure Bliss!

Peanut Butter Flourless Cookies (Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

1/2 cup gluten-free whole oats
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup natural peanut butter (no-stir type, can use almond or other nut butters too)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
(chocolate chips--optional--use dairy-free chips if you want the cookies to be dairy-free)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a food processor, blender or coffee grinder, grind the oats, brown sugar and baking soda until they resemble coarse sand.


 Add the peanut butter, vanilla extract and egg:

And process until the ingredients are fully incorporated, making sure to scrape the sides at least once between processing:

Form into tablespoon size balls:


And press gently with a fork:

Or, gently press in several chocolate chips on top of each cookie:

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cookies brown slightly and look either like this:

Or this:

**This is important:  let cool fully before serving.  Like all cookies, while they are warm they are crumbly, but these are especially crumbly while still warm.**

But did I mention they are delicious??

Makes 18 delicious cookies!

Life is sweet,

Monday, May 13, 2013

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa

I think this is either the 8th or 9th quinoa recipe I have posted on this website over the last couple of years (use the google search bar on the right side of this page and type "quinoa" to find them all).  

There's a reason I love quinoa (KEEN-wah) so much, actually several:

*a complete plant-based protein (with 8 grams of protein per serving)
*high in fiber
*while it is whole grain, it is actually related to beets and spinach

So much to love, not the least of which is the flavor.

So last week a group of wonderful women and I celebrated finishing Kelly Minter's study of Nehemiah with a potluck lunch.  I chose to bring a dish based on a recipe from Kelly's book, which is a wonderful study in and of itself, but also included some yummy recipes too.

The girls at my table requested the recipe, so I thought I'd share it with you all too.  Bonus:  G loved this recipe too!

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa

2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed and drained well)
1 small red onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen organic corn
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 - 1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
2 - 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained (or use 3 1/2 cups cooked black beans)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of one lime
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (or use white wine, apple cider or white balsamic vinegar)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa.  Cover and reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove the lid and remove from the heat.  Allow the remaining water to absorb, about 5 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, mince the onion and garlic and combine with the frozen corn in a large bowl:

Add the cumin, salt and pepper.

Once the quinoa is done cooking, add the cooked quinoa to the bowl (the residual heat from the quinoa will thaw the corn and lightly "cook" the onion and garlic):

Stir well:

Add the remaining ingredients (black beans, cilantro, lime juice, vinegar and oil) and stir well:

Serve and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings for a lunch of light dinner, serves 12-16 as a side dish.

Life is sweet,

Friday, May 10, 2013

Meal Plan Friday: Dav Pilkey!

Yesterday R, G and I went to a local bookstore where we had books signed by one of their favorite authors, Dav Pilkey.  Of course, the highlight was seeing these:

No, no, wait, it was meeting Dav (who was just about the nicest, most approachable person you can imagine):

A special thanks to the special person who shared a ticket with us!

Have a great weekend, here's Next Week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Meatless Monday:  Slow Cooker Black Bean and Pumpkin Soup, Cornbread, Orange Segments

Roasted Vegetable Lasagna, Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream Sauce and Lime, Refried Beans, Mango

Chana Masala, Quinoa, Naan, Fresh Pineapple

Chicken Parmesan, Steamed Broccoli, Bread, Pear Slices

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cilantro-Lime Honey Salad Dressing

Do you love cilantro?  Then this salad dressing is for you!

We're huge cilantro fans over here at the Sweet Pea home, and recently I found out that a very special person in G's life is a cilantro-lover too...his Kindergarten teacher. So in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I share this recipe created for G's teacher.

You will love this cilantro dressing on your salad, but we had it with dinner the other night and all of us started dipping our grilled chicken and other things in it too.  Enjoy!

Cilantro-Lime Honey Salad Dressing
(makes about 1/2 cup dressing, but can easily be doubled)

1/2 cup (packed) fresh cilantro (feel free to use the stems, just cut off the very bottoms)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice (about 1 medium lime)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup canola or olive oil

In a food processor or blender, add the cilantro, garlic, lime juice, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt, pepper and ground cumin.

Process until roughly chopped.  Scrape the sides

With the food processor or blender running, add the oil.  Scrape the sides again and process until nearly smooth.

Serve with greens or however you choose to enjoy it!

Life is sweet,

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mexican Barbecue Grilled Chicken

My boys have many food loves, but they each have their own personal favorites.  If I want to hit a dinner home run that I know they'll both enjoy, I have a short list of tried-and-true winners.  In the protein category, near the top of the list would be:

1.  Anything Barbecue
2.  Anything Mexican

Why did it take me so long to develop a recipe that combines both?

I've taken our Eastern North Carolina BBQ sauce recipe and combined it with classic Mexican flavors, and voila!  An easy dinner home run.

We grilled our chicken, but by all means, bake or broil away too.

Mexican Barbecue Grilled Chicken

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground oregano
2 tablespoons canola oil
2-3 pounds bone-in chicken

Combine all ingredients in a large dish or plastic bag, wherever you are going to marinate your chicken (why use an extra bowl to mix the marinade--that's just more dish washing!):

Give the ingredients a good stir:

Add the chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour, or up until overnight:

Grill over medium-high heat.  The time depends on whether you chicken is boneless or not; bone-in chicken will take longer, but grill until the meat is no longer pink inside (these chicken legs took about 15 minutes).

Stock photo--we ate our outside and I blame the gorgeous day for distracting me from taking a picture.  Or the wine.

Serves 4.

Life is sweet,

Friday, May 3, 2013

Healthy Meal Plan: May!

I love May...Kentucky Derby (tomorrow!), Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, and at the end of this month, Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer.

Have a great first weekend of May and happy meal planning...

Here's Next Week's Healthy Meal Plan:

Our Dinners:
Caramelized Onion Calzones, Fresh Mango, Steamed Broccoli

Sweet Potato Enchiladas, Brown Rice with Lime and Cilantro, Fresh Pineapple

Citrus Glazed Chicken, Couscous, Cucumbers, Summer Marinated, Red Grapes

Macaroni and Cheese (with Broccoli, Cauliflower and Bacon), Kiwi Slices

Pizza Soup, Tossed Salad, Raspberries

Thai Vegetarian Wrap, Sweet Potato Fries, Peaches

After-School Snack Special:
Apple Nachos

Lunch Special:
Quinoa and Curried Chickpea Salad 

Life is sweet,

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Homemade Compost Bin (for less than $20)

We have a lot of kitchen scraps...lots of carrot peels, apple cores, clementine rinds, kale stalks, strawberry tops...I could go on...

Before we moved to our current home, there was a compost pile behind our garage, and we used it all.  the.  time.

Since our new garage has no "behind" where we could build a compost pile, I've been looking for a good compost bin for awhile now.

Then a friend mentioned that she made one out of a garbage bin.  Brilliant!  Sure, this is not a large-capacity compost pile, but for our suburban backyard, it is perfect.

Here are the simple steps to turn a garbage bin into a compost bin (with less than $20 and 20 minutes):

1.  You will need:

**1 garbage bin with a locking or hinged lid (to keep out critters) and wheels for easy transport and so the bottom receives air from holes (or you can prop your bin up on bricks--you just need air to be able to get in from as many sides as possible)
**1 drill with a 3/8 or 1/2 inch bit
**somewhere outdoors to store the bin
that's it!


2.  Begin drilling holes in regular intervals on the lid, sides and bottom:

3.  Make about 40-50 holes, to allow for adequate air circulation:


4.  Make sure you have enough holes (G helped).

 5.  Stand back and marvel at your new compost bin.

6.  Begin collection brown (old leaves and such) and green (fruit/vegetables scraps, garden waste) in about a 2:1 ratio.

7.  Keep mixture moist (we chose a rainy day to do this, so the garden scraps were all wet, or you can sprinkle with water) and close the lid.

8.  Now the fun part:  about once a week, roll the bin to encourage decomposing.  G loves this part the best!

If you want detailed instructions on what to put in your bin and how long it takes for items to decompose, click here.

Less kitchen waste, rich compost for our garden, so we can produce more herbs and vegetables to use in the kitchen:  a triple win in my book!

Life is sweet,