Friday, December 3, 2010

Baked Pecan Honey Dijon Salmon

Except for occasional tuna sandwiches, I have never liked seafood.  But lately, everything I read about being healthy mentions how important it is to eat a lot of fish, salmon in particular.  It's supposed to be wonderful for heart health, for lowering cholesterol & blood pressure, lowering cancer risk, lowering macular degeneration risk, etc. (source). 

So, my goal is to eat more fish, which means I need to find ways to prepare it so that I will enjoy eating it.  Here is one recipe that makes the salmon palatable for me (and hopefully if you don't like salmon, maybe you can try it prepared this way and you might like it, too.)  What I do is I make one salmon fillet, and I put it on my husband's plate so it doesn't touch my other food, and then I take tiny bites off of his.  All the other flavors in this recipe do a decent job of hiding the fishy flavor.  You can see that I'm really trying hard despite how much I hate fish!

Here's the original recipe:  Baked Dijon Salmon

I added more honey than the recipe calls for.  I also used just 1 salmon fillet, instead of 4, and put all of the topping on top of the one fillet, so that it had 4 times as much topping as called for.  That way I could really hide the fishy flavor.

1 salmon fillet

1/4 cup melted butter
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
4 teaspoons parsley
Pepper to taste
1 lemon, for garnish

1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2)  Mix together all the ingredients for the topping and pour on top of salmon.
3)  Bake for 12-15 minutes in the oven, or until it flakes easily.  Ask your husband to take off the salmon skin.

For the side, I made some quinoa and then heated up some black beans to stir in.  I don't know if you have ever tried qunioa, but you really should if you haven't.  It's similar to a grain, but it's not!  It's really a seed and it's not only gluten free, but it's also a complete protein.  It reminds me of cous cous as far as taste goes.  Anyway if you make it with chicken broth it's really delicious.  And you can add some black beans or lemon juice, maybe some corn, or some spices, or herbs, or whatever you want to add some flavor.

Do you like seafood?  Do you have to be creative to find ways to prepare foods you don't like, either?  Please tell me I'm not the only adult in the world who is picky!

Linked up to Kelly the Kitchen Kop's Real Food Wednesdays.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Pumpkin Pecan Cinnamon Rolls

Happy Thanksgiving!  I made these last night so we could have them this morning for breakfast.  They are absolutely delicious, and except for having all wheat flour, they are not healthy at all.  It's not much fun to try to eat healthy most of the time unless you can be unhealthy once in a while.

I found them at Good Life Eats.  I had thought of making pumpkin cinnamon rolls and couldn't find a good recipe on, so I googled it and found this site by Katie Goodman.  I'll have to try more of her recipes in the future.

Anyways, for the cinnamon rolls, I didn't make the frosting to go on top but they are really good without it.  Except for using all whole wheat flour and changing up the spices a bit, I didn't make any changes to the recipe.  Oh, and I also added chopped pecans to the filling.  I have tried to make cinnamon rolls before using all whole wheat flour and they turned out kind of dense & hard.  But these came out so soft and delicious...I think maybe adding pumpkin to the batter kept them softer than otherwise?  The pumpkin flavor isn't very strong but it's just enough to make these good for Fall.

1/4 cup warm water
1 package active dry yeast
1/3 cup warm milk
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon melted butter
3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
Chopped pecans (I didn't measure them out, oops, I guess it was about 1/2- 3/4 cup.)

1 - In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on top of warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Stir yeast into water.
2 - Add milk, eggs, pumpkin, butter, 1 1/4 cups flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon & pumpkin pie spice.  Beat for 2 minutes.
3 - Gradually add remaining flour, a little at a time, until you have a dough stiff enough to knead.  (Actually since I was using all wheat flour, I ended up using less flour...probably more like 2 3/4 cups.)
4 - Turn dough out onto a floured surface.  Knead, adding flour until you have a smooth, elastic dough. (I just kneaded it right in the bowl.)
5 - Put dough into an oiled bowl (I just kept it in the same bowl).  Turn once to coat entire ball of dough with oil.  Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
6 -  Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, & pumpkin pie spice in a small bowl.
7 - Transfer the risen dough to a lightly greased work surface, and roll it into a 16" x 12" rectangle.  Spread softened butter over the dough and then sprinkle with the sugar mixture.

8 - Roll the dough into a log the long way; it'll stretch to about 20" long as you roll.  

9 -Slice it into about 15 slices and place them in a greased 9" x 13" baking pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

10 - Bake in a preheated 375 degree over until they're brown around the edges and beginning to turn brown across the center, about 20-30 minutes.

The author of Good Life Eats, Katie, included a note for if you make them the night before which was helpful because that's what I had wanted to do.  You can put them in the fridge after you have placed them in the dish.  They'll still need to rise the next morning before baking.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pesto Provolone Hamburgers

Usually, I am not much of a fan of hamburgers, but these are to die for.  We took a recipe for Turkey Pesto Sliders from Annie's Eats and made regular-sized hamburgers, instead.

1 - I made hamburger buns using the recipe from her site, but I used whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose, olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and I left off the sesame seeds.  Next time I might make double the recipe so I can keep some in the freezer; they took a long time to make and a short time to eat (but they were worth it).

2 - My husband cooked some hamburgers made from grass-fed beef.

3 - We filled the hamburger buns with a burger, some Spinach Basil Pesto (we usually just keep a container of it in the fridge because we use it so often), and a slice of provolone and popped them in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melted.

Since I normally just have ketchup with hamburgers this was a nice change.  What is your favorite way to eat a hamburger?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Low Sodium Cashew Chicken

I wanted to try a recipe from Annie's Eats called Thai Chicken with Cashews.  However, the recipe has soy sauce, which my husband won't touch with a ten-foot pole because of the high salt content, even if it's the lower-sodium version. 

It also calls for red bell pepper.  Our grocery store doesn't sell organic red bell peppers so, because they are on the Dirty Dozen list of foods that contain the most pesticides, I left them out too.

I also left out the salt.

So, after taking out these ingredients, I figured this dish would be just a step up from regular chicken but not very tasty.  I was actually surprised at how delicious it was, even without the soy sauce.  I think I'll be making this often.

Low Sodium Cashew Chicken


1 bunch scallions
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken (we didn't use this much since it was just the two of us)
Pepper to taste
A few tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger (or 1 1/2 tsp. dried; but I think using fresh ginger really added a lot of flavor)
1/4 tsp. roasted red pepper flakes (optional)
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup roasted whole cashews (I put them in a 350 oven for about 5 minutes; if they come salted you could rinse them first to get rid of the extra salt)
Brown rice

-Begin cooking the brown rice.
-Chop scallions, separating white and green parts.
-Cut the chicken into small pieces and toss with pepper.
-Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat and then add olive oil.
-Stir-fry the chicken until cooked through (5-6 minutes).
 -Add garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and scallion whites to skillet and stir-fry about 5-6 minutes.
 -Stir together broth, cornstarch, and sugar, then stir it all into the skillet.
-Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1-2 minutes.
-Stir in cashews and scallion greens.
-Serve with brown rice.

p.s. If there are other vegetables you like to eat with stir-fry I'm sure you could add as many as you like.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Latte

I really love the Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks, but they are so expensive and I'm sure they have a ton of sugar.

So, I found two recipes on to make at home.

Today I tried this one. 

Pumpkin Spice Latte

-Brew a cup of double-strength coffee.
-Heat up a cup of milk.
-In a blender, combine the hot milk, a heaping teaspoon of sugar (or sucanat), 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1/8 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.
-Blend until frothy.
-Pour the milk mixture into a mug about 2/3 full.
-Add coffee until the mug is full.
-Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice (and whipped cream if you like).

The verdict:  I still prefer the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks, but since it is too expensive to get often this homemade version will suffice.

Update on Fri. 11/5
Today I tried the other recipe and it was so awful that I won't even bother writing a separate post for it.  It is similar to the one above but uses two tablespoons of pumpkin puree.  It tasted like melted pumpkin pie and I could barely drink the whole mugful, so I definitely don't recommend it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Apple Blueberry Crumble


I saw this dessert at Rachana's blog and decided to try it a few months ago.  I make it several times a week now either for breakfast or a snack. 

Organic Granny Smith apples seem to taste the best.

 Here is our favorite type of blueberries:

I made just a couple of changes to her recipe...

Apple Blueberry Crumble
1 organic apple, chopped 
1/3 cup blueberries
1 tablespoon honey
Dash of cinnamon

1 tablespoon whole wheat flour or oat flour
2 tablespoons oats 
1 tablespoon sucanat (or brown sugar)
Handful of chopped walnuts
1-2 tablespoons butter

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Cook the apple, blueberries, honey and cinnamon powder in a pan on medium heat until the fruits are slightly soft.  (You can throw in some ground flaxseed too if you like.)
-Mix all the ingredients of the topping, except for the butter, in a bowl.
-Place the cooked fruits in a small baking dish.  
-Use that pan to melt the butter and then add it to the topping ingredients.
-Spoon the topping over the cooked fruits and spread evenly.
-Bake for about 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lentil Tacos

A very interesting and surprisingly yummy way to eat lentils. 

Here is the original recipe:  Tasty Lentil Tacos from

We thought the original recipe was too spicy so this time I used less chili powder.  Here it is with my modifications:

Lentil Tacos

1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon organic olive oil
1 cup dried organic lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 1/2 cups organic chicken broth
1 cup organic salsa
Up to 12 taco shells

Shredded organic lettuce or spinach
Shredded organic cheddar cheese
Organic sour cream

-Saute the onion and garlic in the oil until tender.
-Add lentils, chili powder, cumin, and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute.
-Add broth and bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat.
-Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
-Uncover and cook for 6-8 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
-Mash lentils slightly.
-Stir in salsa.
-Spoon in some lentil mixture into each taco shell and top with your favorite toppings.

I was able to find some really good organic taco shells made from blue corn so I used those.

Also, here is the cheese I like to use:

The reason I like this cheese (and also this brand of butter) is that cattle in Ireland are grass-fed most of the year (see Kerrygold).  Look at all these benefits of milk, butter, cheese, and beef from grass-fed cows as opposed to grain-fed.  Cheese from grass-fed cows, in particular, "is more than four times richer in conjugated linoleic acid—a cancer-fighting, fat-reducing fat—than cheese from standard, grain-fed cows. (Dhiman, T.R., "Conjugated linoleic acid: a food for cancer prevention." Proceedings from the 2000 Intermountain Nutrition Conference, pages 103-121.)" (source)

Pumpkin Pecan Muffins

These are really good - my husband and I made them for breakfast one day and then ate all 12 that day.

Ingredients and directions:

-3/4 cup sucanat
-1/4 cup olive oil
-2 eggs
-1 cup canned pumpkin
-1/4 cup water
-1/2 cup oat flour
-1 cup wheat flour
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
-1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix wet ingredients.  Mix dry ingredients and then add to wet mixture.  Add pecans last.
Fill 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes.

Original recipe:  Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins from

Friday, August 20, 2010

Black Bean Soup

This soup is really hearty and delicious.  Also, it is pretty quick to make - it took me about 30 minutes, start to finish.
The main ingredient - black beans.

Let me give you some benefits of black beans from The World's Healthiest Foods:
     -Lots of fiber
     -Lots of protein
     -Lots of antioxidants
     -Lots of iron
     -They help to lower cholesterol

Fast and Delicious Black Bean Soup

I modified the recipe -- no bell pepper (because I can't always find organic bell peppers, and bell peppers are on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits/vegetables), ground turkey instead of ham, no salt, and no cheese or sour cream on top (but only because I forgot to add them).  Also, I didn't bother to puree one of the cans of black beans.  I've done that before and it just seemed like an unnecessary extra step.

Put the following in a pot and heat for about 5 minutes:

     -2 tablespoons olive oil
     -1 medium onion, chopped (I used quite a bit less)
     -2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
     -3 cloves of garlic, minced

Next, add the following:

     -2 15-oz cans of black beans
     -1 14-oz can chicken broth
     -2 cups cooked ground turkey
     -1/4 teaspoon cumin
     -ground black pepper to taste

Bring it all to a boil, and then reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 20 minutes.  Garnish, if you like, with some shredded cheese and/or sour cream.

This is wonderful with some corn bread on the side!  (I didn't feel like making any so I had some toasted homemade bread).

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spinach Basil Pesto

I was looking for recipes to use spinach in a way that I would enjoy, because I'm not a fan of vegetables.  I found this one a year or two ago and I was very surprised at how much I liked it.

Here is where I found the recipe:Spinach Basil Pesto

It is fabulous with either pasta, chicken, or both.  

Here is how to make it:

- If you're planning to use this with chicken and/or pasta, get that cooking first.

-Next, throw the following into a blender or food processor:
     -1 1/2 cups baby spinach
     -3/4 cup basil
     -1/2 cup toasted pine nuts (often, I cannot find these at the store, so I have substituted almonds)
     -1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
     -4 cloves garlic, peeled & quartered
     -3/4 teaspoon salt (I leave this out to reduce the sodium)
     -1/2 teaspoon pepper
     -1 tablespoon lemon jice
     -1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (I leave this out cause I never feel like grating lemon peel)
     -1/2 cup olive oil

-Blend/process.  I have to add quite a bit more olive oil as it's blending; otherwise, this is too thick for the blender to handle.  If you have a food processor I bet it would work much better.

-Once your pasta and/or chicken is finished cooking, just add a few spoonfuls of the pesto and voila!  I keep the extra in the fridge (but then again, I am just cooking for two people so you may end up using the entire batch).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken Packets

The recipe I have for these chicken packets originally came, I believe, from "Once a Month Cooking", and calls for refrigerated crescent rolls.  Those are horrible for you though, so I found a recipe for homemade crescent rolls and figured that I would just use whole wheat flour in order to make them healthier.

I followed the recipe for crescent roll dough, halving it, but used half white flour and half whole wheat flour.  I also used butter instead of shortening and sucanat instead of sugar.

After I let the dough rise the first time, I rolled it out and cut it into rectangles instead of circles.

The recipe says to roll the dough into a circle, cut each circle into triangles, roll them up, and then freeze them.  I didn't do that...I just let the dough sit while I prepared the chicken.

I boiled 4 chicken breasts and then shredded them.  Next I added about 3/4 a package of cream cheese.  I started with just 3 ounces but ended up using more.  I also added a few chopped chives.

Here is the chicken mixed up with the cream cheese and the chives:

Next I took a rectangle of dough, rolled it out a bit more, and then put a pile of the chicken mixture on it.

I folded the dough over and pressed the edges together to make a little packet.  I guess I didn't put enough chicken in this one cause I had extra dough, which I trimmed.

Using the 4 chicken breasts, I had enough to make about a dozen packets.  However, I had lots of dough left over - I think I could have fourthed that crescent roll recipe.  Oh well, I just put the extra in the freezer and I can use it to make actual crescent rolls another day.

I baked one of the packets at 350 for 15 minutes so that I could try one right away, and popped the others in the fridge so that we will have a quick meal ready for Sunday after church.

These are fun to eat and I think they would be great for taking to work for lunch.  They can be eaten cold, if you like.

I will note that using whole wheat flour for the crescent rolls sure made them heavier than the light-and-fluffy refrigerated kind you buy in a store.  Also, using sucanat made them not quite sweet enough for my taste.  Perhaps I'll try honey next time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Whole Wheat Bread

Why I made homemade bread:

-Store bought bread has preservatives.  Google "dangers of preservatives" and you will find lots of information on why you want to avoid them.  Here is one quote, "Preservatives are toxic and tumor-causing. Most impact the nervous system, changing behavior. Some have an impact on reproductive health or weaken the immune system."

-Store bought bread has sodium.  I don't mind it so much but my husband has hereditary high blood pressure and will not eat any store bought bread because of the salt content.

-Many store bought breads have high fructose corn syrup (although it is possible to find some without it if you look hard enough).

-Usually I cannot find any organic bread in stores, but with homemade bread, I can use organic ingredients.

Thus, my attempts at homemade bread.  I even went out and bought some 9x5 glass loaf pans.

Making it really isn't that hard but it just takes a lot of time because I don't have a bread machine.

Here is the recipe I tried today:  Simple Whole Wheat Bread

The recipe does call for both bread flour and whole wheat flour.  I went ahead and bought bread flour, because it said "Unbleached."  I thought that meant it would still be whole wheat...but when I opened the package it was pure white refined flour.  I don't want to waste that bag of flour so I went ahead and followed the recipe but I think next time, I will attempt it using only whole wheat flour.  Oh, also, I left out the salt. 

The nice thing about this recipe is that it makes THREE loaves.  So I can keep one loaf out and pop the other two in the freezer until needed.

Let the dough rise...

Then, punch it down.

Next you divide it into three loaves and let those rise.  Then you put them in the oven:

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Chocolate Covered Strawberries (and a couple cherries...)

Goal: To eat more fruits and vegetables.

I often buy lots of delicious looking fruits at the grocery store, with the best of intentions.  But so often they get moldy after only one day.

So one day I discovered that if I cover some strawberries in chocolate, I will eat them ALL within a day or two.  I know that chocolate covered strawberries have been around forever, but they have never tempted me because strawberries have never tempted me...they have all those little seeds and make for a weird texture.  But somehow they are really good with chocolate.  I guess if you use dark chocolate then it doesn't make it unhealthy.

1.  Wash the strawberries.

2.  Melt the chocolate.

I used this 85% dark chocolate plus some regular chocolate chips because the 85% is not sweet enough for me.

I broke the bar into small pieces and melted it all in a saucepan on low heat, stirring constantly.  I only used maybe a third of the bar along with some chocolate chips.

3.  Dip
Just tilt the pan a bit so all the chocolate gathers into one little pool, grasp a strawberry by its stem, and twirl it around in the pool of chocolate until it is covered.  Or, you can use a spoon to drizzle chocolate around the strawberry while you're holding it above the pan.

Place the strawberries on a plate covered with wax paper and pop it all in the fridge for a little bit.  Pretty soon the chocolate will harden.

As you can see, I dipped some cherries too, because I happened to have them on hand and wanted to see how they would taste covered in chocolate.

Now whenever you have a sweet tooth, you have a delicious snack in the fridge ready to go, and you can feel so good about all the vitamin C and antioxidants you're getting!  Enjoy! =)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Chicken and Lentils

My husband has been wanting to eat more lentils because because he discovered how healthy they are for one's heart.  (See World's Healthiest Food's info on lentils.)  They also have lots of fiber and iron.

So, I searched for lentils on and found this recipe.  (I have modified it, somewhat.)

First, I took 3 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts and boiled them.

Next, I heated up some coconut oil and added some chopped onion.

I then added chopped carrots and garlic. 

Next, I added the 3/4 cup of dried lentils (after rinsing them) and 14 ounces of chicken broth.
The recipe says to boil it, cover it, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.  After 20 minutes it became VERY dry so I had to add quite a bit of water.

20 more minutes of simmering and then I added the cooked chicken after shredding it.

The recipe then calls for a 10-oz can of tomato sauce.  I had to add more water, too, because it was getting too dry.

After 10 more minutes of cooking, I added some basil and some marjoram (had no rosemary on hand) and stirred in some fresh lemon juice.

I wasn't expecting to like this stew because I'm not a fan of lentils but I was surprised at how much I did.