Sunday, June 23, 2013

Beef & Broccoli

I forgot to take a picture of our meal at the table
 so this is our leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
I apologize for my absence blogging!! The Vossen Kitchen has been undergoing subtle changes since the first of the year and all of a sudden I realized we eat a lot differently than we used to. We have been trying to eat more "real" food and less processed foods. All the while, we have been adding more and more organic foods to our grocery cart and try to stay away from artificial colors and white, refined sugar and flour.

For example some staples that have changed for us:
Pure maple sugar and honey for most sweeteners)
Whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour (although for some recipes I use part whole wheat, part all-purpose)
Homemade whole wheat bread
Grass fed, pasture raised meats
Organic dairy products
Lots of fruits and vegetables

I know these changes we have made in our diet do cost more but what I realized is that I am saving so much money by NOT buying all of the processed foods I used to get on a regular basis. For example I used to go down the cereal isle and get a couple different boxes of cereal every week. I no longer go down that isle and stick to eggs, homemade whole wheat pancakes & waffles, plain yogurt with homemade berry sauce, whole wheat toast, etc. which are much better for us and they cost a fraction of what boxed cereals do.

You know I love Asian food and beef and broccoli is one of my favorites. I LOVE this garlic-gingery-soy sauce. This was the first time making this meal and Ryan said I need to put this into the rotation of favorite meals. Hope you enjoy!

Beef & Broccoli

3 Tbls soy sauce
3 Tbls liquid aminos
4 Tbls rice wine vinegar
2 Tbls honey
2 tsp organic yellow miso paste
2 tsp cornstarch 

1 Tbls canola oil
1 1/2 Tbls fresh minced ginger root
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 lb grass fed round or chuck steak, cut into thin strips
1 c organic snow peas
1 c frozen or fresh organic broccoli florets (I buy frozen organic broccoli in bulk from Costco)

In a small bowl combine: soy sauce, liquid aminos, rice wine vinegar, honey, miso & cornstarch. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or wok to medium high heat and add oil, ginger & garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Add beef and cook for 2-3 minutes stirring frequently. Add snow peas and broccoli and continue to cook for 3 minutes. Add soy sauce mixture and simmer for an additional 2 minutes until sauce thickens a little.

Serve over organic brown rice.
(I buy my brown rice from Trader Joe's in the frozen section - we love it!)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spaghetti Pie

I had an open jar of marinara sauce, pepperoni and cooked ground beef in my refrigerator the other night. This spaghetti or pizza pie came to mind and I was able to whip up dinner in under 20 minutes. (I did it early in the day and then refrigerated it so it was ready to pop in the oven in the evening-bonus!) It's part spaghetti, part pizza and makes one easy hot dish that your family should love. : )


Spaghetti Pie

2 c tomato-basil marinara sauce
3/4 lb cooked ground beef
1/2 c pepperoni slices
1 c mozzarella or provolone cheese
1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 c uncooked pasta (spaghetti would be best but I only had whole wheat wide noodle on hand)

Boil water in a medium sized stock pot.  Add salt and cook pasta to al dente, according to instructions (approximately 6-8 minutes, depending on the pasta you are using). Drain pasta and put back into the pan. Add marinara, ground beef, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper. Spray a pie pan with nonstick cooking spray and fill with pasta mixture. Top with mozzarella or provolone cheese and pepperoni slices.

Cook at 375 for 40 minutes.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Toasted Sandwich

This is really less of a recipe and more of an idea. About once a month we do our own version of Quiznos by toasting our sandwiches and creating a quick and delicious meal. The key to a great toasted sandwich is to start with great bread. I found these wheat mini-loafs at supertarget but I often use a large ciabatta loaf and slice it into 4 servings. The possibilities are endless for this meal. Use my suggestions as a guide but get creative!

Good quality bread - sliced in half

Place bread cut side up on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil or spread with pesto.

Top each piece with desired deli meat and top with sliced cheese.

(I used Apple Gate's organic turkey and ham. We topped one half of the bread with Havarti cheese and the other half with shredded cheddar.)

Place under the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.

Place pickles, tomato, spinach, onions, lettuce, etc. (whatever toppings you like!) inside your sandwich and enjoy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Caprese Pasta

This pasta dish is a no brainer. I looked in my fridge and saw I had fresh basil next to a ball of fresh mozzarella. And what do you know? Sitting on my countertop was a container of cherry tomatoes that I didn't even have a plan for (they were buy one get one free this week at the grocery store)! And so this caprese pasta dish was born. I also added spinach since I'm always trying to get more greens in. I made this as a sidedish, but it ended up being the main event since we all gobbled it up happlily. I love roasting the cherry tomatoes until they are literally bursting with flavor. You could add cooked Italian sausage to this and it would be a perfect meal.

Caprese Pasta

1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

2 c mafalda pasta (or your favorite pasta)
2-3 Tbls fresh basil, chopped
1 c baby spinach
1 c whole milk mozzarella, cut in chunks
1 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400. On a half sheet pan, arrange cherry tomatoes and drizzle with two Tbls of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until tomatoes start to burst.

Meanwhile, boil water for pasta. Add salt and pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain pasta and place back in the sauce pan. Add basil, spinach, mozzarella, olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted cherry tomatoes. Heat through and serve.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Chicken Marinade

This is my sister Stacy's favorite marinade and it is now my favorite too. These are ingredients that I always have on hand and I love the fact that you can marinade the meat for only an hour and still have great results. With grilling season just around the corner, this is the perfect marinade to spice up your grilled chicken. Pictured is our grilled chicken: one plain and one topped with Havarti cheese.





Easy Chicken Marinade

1 c vegetable oil
1/2 c lemon juice
1/4 c yellow mustard
1-2 tsp garlic, minced
3/4 c soy sauce
1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp pepper
In a gallon size Ziploc bag, combine all ingredients. Add chicken or pork and marinade for 1-4 hours. Grill and enjoy!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

White Leek Soup

I guess I should really call this recipe Potato-Leek-Pear Soup but it seemed too lengthy. To help "sell" this soup to my toddler I called it: pear soup. Call it what you like, this recipe is so unique, so easy, and so delicious. I know it is a bit "out there" but we tried is last week and ate every last spoonful. Yes, my family ate soup with leeks and enjoyed them! I got this recipe from reading the book "French Kids Eat Everything" (if you have kids you should read it). I guess most babies in France eat leek soup as one of their first foods, and here I was, 29 and not sure if I had ever tried a leek. I will certainly be making this recipe again and I will now be on a mission to try cooking in other ways with leeks.

White Leek Soup

1 c. potatoes, peeled and diced small
2 c. leeks, washed and sliced white part only (about 6 leeks)
1 1/2 c water
2 pears, cored, peeled and chopped
2 tsp. honey or pure maple syrup
Pinch of salt
Dash of nutmeg (optional)

In a sauce pan, add potatoes, leeks and water and simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the chopped pear and simmer an additional 2-3 minutes. Drain but reserve the liquid! Add honey/syrup to vegetables and blend. Add reserved liquid to the vegetables a little at a time until you get the consistency you like. I used about 1/2 of the remaining water and my consistency was close to apple sauce. Add in salt and nutmeg.

Optional: Serve with a little tab of butter on top.

Key Lime Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. For that reason I only bake cheesecake when I am with my extended family so I am not able to eat the whole thing by myself. This weekend I made this key lime version and it was so easy and so delicious. I love the top layer of glaze that gives it that key lime pie feel. Make this cheesecake for your family...or yourself. : )

Key Lime Cheesecake


1 pkg graham crackers, crushed
1 stick butter, melted
1/4 sugar

In a medium bowl combine crushed graham crackers, butter and sugar. Press mixture into a pie pan. Set aside.


2 pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp grated lime zest
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs

In a large bowl or stand mixer beat cream cheese, sugar, lime zest, lime juice and vanilla until smooth. Add in eggs and mix until just combined. Pour cream cheese batter into unbaked graham crust.
Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Cool for 1 hour before topping with glaze.

Glaze Topping

1/4 c sugar
3/4 Tbls cornstarch
1/4 c water
2 Tbls lime juice
In a small sauce pan whisk all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Boil and stir for 3 minutes. Let cool for 15-20 minutes and then pour over baked cheesecake. Refrigerate 3 + hours.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mac & Cheese & Peas

I made this recipe for Vaida's first birthday party specifically for the little kids that were invited but I remember many of the adults enjoyed it just as much. Why wouldn't they? It's cute ditalini pasta covered in gooey, buttery, cheese sauce. Oh, and the peas are added to make it "healthy". : ) Actually, I often stir in the frozen peas at the dinner table to help "cool off" the pasta quickly for Vaida. The cheeses I used tonight were just the ones I had on hand. You can use any one or combination of cheeses that you like; just be sure to use a block of cheese and shred it by hand for the best results!

Mac & Cheese & Peas

2 c ditalini pasta (or elbow)
1 tsp salt
1/2 c shredded white cheddar cheese
1/2 c shredded gruyere cheese
1 Tbls butter
1/4 c cream or half & half
1/3 c frozen peas

Fill a sauce pan half-way up with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water and cook according to box instructions (about 10 minutes) or until al dente. Drain pasta and return to sauce pan. Add cheeses, butter and cream and stir until all of the cheese is melted. Add frozen peas and serve immediately.

Berry Sauce (for Yogurt)

Yogurt with strawberry sauce
I am pretty excited about this recipe. I think I have mentioned that I follow 100 Days of Real Food and love that I can get a little bit of information at a time from blogger, Lisa Leake. I certainly do not follow all of her rules (she cooks 100% unprocessed - pretty impressive!) but I have made small changes that fit our family and this berry sauce is now one of them. We eat a lot of yogurt in our house. Ryan packs it for lunch almost every day and Vaida eats Greek yogurt on a daily basis since we can't get her to eat a lot of meat (Greek yogurt has 45% of your daily protein). Leake pointed out on her blog that yogurt should only be made from 2 ingredients (milk & active, live cultures). I took a look at the Yoplait brand in our fridge and was surprised to see 10 ingredients listed. Since then I have been buying a bulk container of plain, Greek yogurt which is healthier and a whole lot cheaper than the individual cups. Then we top it with this delicious berry sauce using real ingredients. It is so easy. It took Vaida a few times to get on board with this new yogurt but now she asks for it and loves to stir in the sauce to change her yogurt to purple or red. So far we have tried strawberries and blueberries - tomorrow I will make a raspberry sauce!
Note: You could use this sauce on top of ice cream, pancakes, and/or mixed in Cream of Wheat or oatmeal.

Yogurt with wild blueberry sauce

Berry Sauce

¾ c frozen berries
2 Tbls pure maple syrup
¼ c water
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a light simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and puree with hand immersion or countertop blender.
Use immediately or store in the fridge for later.

Note: This doesn't make a huge batch so feel free to double recipe if needed. One batch seems to be enough to flavor one 32oz tub of yogurt.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Blueberry Bread

On a blizzardy Monday morning in March, a little baking was required to warm up our kitchen and living room. I found this recipe online and it looked pretty healthy but it did call for white sugar and white flour, so I boldly made two alterations and a little pure maple syrup and whole wheat flour later, we had delicious and nutritious blueberry bread. As a side note, I have found a great all-purpose flour that is unbleached and 30% ultra-grain so it has more whole grains and double the amount of fiber in it as regular all purpose flour. If you look in  your grocery store's baking aisle I am sure you will be able to find something similar.

Blueberry Bread

1 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose four
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c rolled oats
-Combine above dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.

1 c real maple syrup
1 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream (I used half a cup of each)
2 eggs
½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tsp vanilla

-In a large bowl whisk above wet ingredients until smooth. Mix dry ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

1 c frozen wild blueberries
1 tsp all purpose flour
-Sprinkle flour over blueberries and toss until blueberries are coated. Gently fold blueberries into the batter. Do not over mix! Pour in a greased bread pan.

Bake at 375 for 50-55 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes and then remove loaf and let cool on a cooling rack.

Original recipe found:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Baked Maple-Dijon Chicken

Here is another Pinterest recipe I found this week and gave a try. The sauce was really unique and the chicken was flavorful and moist. Of course I tweaked it a little, and added chicken broth and a bit of cream because I was worried the sauce would be too mustard-y without it. The end result was delicious, tangy and just the right amount of sweet. Since Vaida ate two servings of this chicken dinner it is a winner in my book!

Baked Maple-Dijon Chicken

3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 c Dijon mustard (do not substitute)
1/4 c Real maple syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbls rice wine vinegar
1/2 c chicken broth
1 tsp fresh parsley or rosemary
1 Tbls heavy cream
1 tsp corn starch

Line an 8x8 pan with two layers of tin foil. Place chicken breasts on foil and set aside. In a small bowl whisk mustard, maple syrup, salt, pepper rice wine vinegar and chicken broth. Pour mixture over chicken and bake uncovered at 450 for 40 minutes.
Remove chicken from pan and transfer to a plate. Quickly whisk corn starch, cream and parsley/rosemary into the sauce that is in the pan and return the chicken to the sauce to serve. We served with mashed potatoes.

Recipe adapted from Table for Two. Original recipe:

Monday, March 11, 2013


This meal is a Vossen original; meaning I had ingredients for tacos but didn't feel like making tacos, so made up this casserole/hotdish/mexi-lasagna creation instead. Considering that I was talking on the phone while throwing these ingredients together, I think it turned out pretty good. I love the cream cheese added to the taco meat. We served this with chips, sour cream and guacamole and we ended up dipping our chips in the hotdish too. It was super easy to make and I made it early in the day and put it in the fridge so all I had to do at dinner time was pull it out and bake. I found these frozen herb cubes at Costco the other day - they are awesome! I bought a pack of basil, cilantro, garlic and parsley cubes and I think they will be handy to have in my freezer for times that I don't have fresh herbs on hand. See my picture below of my new find. : )


1 lb ground beef
salt & pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced (or 2 frozen garlic cubes)
2 tsp cilantro, minced (or 2 frozen cilantro cubes)
4 oz cream cheese
1 pkg taco seasoning
2/3 c water
1/3 c Ortega taco sauce
2 large whole wheat flour tortillas
1 c monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, shredded
3-4 Tbls black olives, sliced
green onion, chopped (optional)
sour cream (for topping)

Frozen garlic & cilantro - super convenient!
In a large pan, brown ground beef and drain excess grease. Add salt/pepper, garlic and cilantro to the beef and cook over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add cream cheese, taco seasoning, water and taco sauce. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens. In a round casserole pan, spray with Pam cooking spray and place 1 of the large tortillas in the bottom of the pan. Spoon half of the meat mixture on the tortilla and then sprinkle half of the cheese on top of it. Add the next layer (1 tortilla, 1/2 the meat, 1/2 of the cheese). Top with black olives and bake at 375 for 30-45 minutes. Top with green onion if using. Serve topped with sour cream and/or guacamole. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sticky Wings

We love wings at our house. I actually am glad there is not a Buffalo Wild Wings in my town or we would be eating there every week I'm sure. I came across this recipe while googling sweet and sticky wings. This is the best wing recipe I have been able to pull off at home and I think it is the method  that is so awesome. I can honestly say I read the recipe through a few times just to be sure I was reading "spray the chicken with Pam" correctly. The sweet sauce is amazing, don't get me wrong, but I can't wait to try this recipe with other sauces and see if they come out just as great. 

Sticky Wings

1/2 c soy sauce
1/2 c honey
1/4 c brown sugar
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 Tbls Louisiana hot sauce
2 Tbls grated fresh ginger
2-3 lbs chicken wings
3/4 c all-purpose flour
Pam canola oil spray
Mix soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, garlic, hot sauce, and ginger in a bowl until combined. Put the wings in a large bowl and pour 1/2 of the sauce over the chicken. Toss and refrigerate for 2 hours. Drain the wings well and pat dry with paper towels. Put the flour in a large ziplock bag. Add the wings, close bag and shake. The chicken wings should just be lightly dusted with flour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover half-sheet pan with foil, and spray well with Pam cooking spray. Place chicken wings evenly on the pan and spray the wings with Pam. Bake for 20 minutes, turn the chicken wings over, and bake for another 15 minutes. Brush remaining sauce over the wings and continue cooking another 20 minutes.
Recipe adapted from John Mitzewich

French Apple Tart

I absolutely love this recipe. It is "fancy" enough for company and with only 5 ingredients it is easy enough to make as a weeknight dessert. The pastry crust is light and flaky; the green apples are the perfect amount of tart; and the apricot preserves will make you wonder why you have never bought them before. Really this is the perfect dessert - let me know how your family likes it!

Baker's note: Parchment paper is a must for this recipe. Some butter and sugar will run off and burn black on the pan. Do not be alarmed - the tart will be fine. You will have to peel the parchment paper away at the end.

Apple tart assembled and ready for baking.

French Apple Tart

1 sheet Pepperidge Farms puff pastry (found in freezer section)
2-3 Granny Smith apples
1/2 c sugar
4 Tbls cold butter, diced small
1/3 c apricot preserves
2 Tbls water

Let puff pastry thaw out on counter about 1 hour before making. On a floured surface, roll out puff pastry so that it is roughly 10x14". Place dough on a parchment lined half sheet pan. Peel and core apples. Cut apples in half and then slice thinly. Arrange apples on dough. As you see in my picture, you will have to overlap the apples a little. Sprinkle apples with sugar and then dot with butter. Bake at 400 for 45-55 minutes. In a small bowl, mix apricot jam with water and heat in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Spoon or brush heated apricots over cooked apples and pastry. Loosen the tart and remove parchment paper so it doesn't stick. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature.

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten's "Back to Basics"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

Potatoes topped with bacon - what's not to love?!
I grew up eating potatoes probably five days a week. My dad used to joke that it wasn't even a meal if potatoes weren't in the table. When you are feeding a big family, potatoes make the perfect side dish...they are inexpensive, can be prepared a hundred different ways, and they are a hearty, fill-you-up, option. When I was asked to bring a side dish to a friends house, these loaded mashed potatoes quickly came to mind. They can be prepared in advance and then heated through right before serving.
You will see that I used Yukon gold or yellow potatoes instead of a classic russet. We love the golden potatoes for their rich color, smooth texture and flavor.

Loaded Baked Potato Casserole

5 lb bag golden/yellow potatoes, peeled
2 bay leaves
4 oz cream cheese
2/3 c sour cream
5 Tbls butter
3-5 Tbls milk or half and half
1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and cut in bite-size pieces
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Peel potatoes and place in a large stock pot. Cover potatoes with water and add bay leaves. Boil potatoes for 30-45 min until tender. Drain water and remove bay leaves. In a stand mixer add cream cheese, sour cream, butter, milk and potatoes. Mix on medium speed until smooth. Place mashed potatoes in a buttered casserole dish or 9x13 pan. Top with shredded cheese and cooked bacon. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with green onions.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Baked Fish

Blame it on living in Minnesota but we do not cook with seafood, really, ever. I am making a conscious effort to cook with fish more often and with it being Lent, it is the perfect time to try out some new recipes. My mom gave me this recipe and we loved it. The crushed potato chips and Parmesan cheese give the crunchy exterior tons of flavor. It actually tastes fried, not baked. We enjoyed this baked hake with homemade tarter sauce (just mix mayo, lemon juice, diced dill pickles, salt and pepper). Enjoy!

Baked Fish

1 lb boneless fish fillets (we used wild caught hake)
1/2 c milk
1 c of crushed potato chips
1/4 c shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbls bread crumbs
2 Tbls melted butter

Butter an 8x8 pan and sprinkle bread crumbs on bottom of pan.
In a shallow bowl, mix chips, cheese, and thyme. Set aside. In another bowl pour milk and dip fish fillets in milk and then coat in the crushed chip mixture.

Place coated fish in pan and pour melted butter over fish.
Bake at 475 for 15-18 minutes.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ugh, I have been in the worst food rut the past two weeks. (Hence, no blog posts.) Have you ever been in one of those? It is terrible. I would go to the grocery store with no plan and get home and feel like I had nothing to cook with. Then in an attempt to get out of my food funk, I took on recipes that were much to complicated for my blah-food-state. I made whole wheat homemade poptarts and stuffed pretzels that required both boiling and baking (and should be illegal to attempt with a whiney toddler). Finally, a batch of chocolate chip cookies pulled me out of my rut and back into the kitchen with good spirits. It happened on Friday afternoon: Vaida was napping, my house was clean, Pandora was playing my favorite country music, and it was just me in the kitchen. These cookies are easy and delicious and best enjoyed when they are warm with a glass of ice cold milk. When baking cookies I always take them out before they look done so they don't dry out.

On a side note, I have tried out several semi-healthy desserts lately: spinach brownies, whole wheat flour cookies, brownies made with coconut oil and honey, etc. Our family didn't want to eat seconds of any of these recipes and I came to the realization that dessert should be dessert. These cookies are made with Crisco, refined sugar and white flour - enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup Crisco shortening
1 1/4 c light brown sugar
2 Tbls milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lg egg
1 3/4 c all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c chopped walnuts (optional)

In a large bowl, cream Crisco and sugar. Add milk, vanilla and egg and mix until smooth. Stir in the remaining ingredients: flour, salt, soda, chocolate chips and nuts. Drop tablespoon size amount of batter on cookie sheet (I lined with parchment paper but you don't have to) and bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

White Chicken Enchiladas

I love Mexican food and make the classic version of enchiladas (ground beef with red sauce) on a regular basis. I saw this recipe on Pinterest yesterday around 1:00; picked up the groceries for it at 3:00; and had it prepared and in my refrigerator by 4:30. I just had to put it in the oven and dinner was served at 6:00. (Awesome, I know!) This recipe was so good. I couldn't get enough of the sour cream sauce that covered the enchiladas and every bite was tender and cheesy. This will be a recipe I will continue to tweak, not because it needed it, but because I can already think of variations that would be fun and equally delicious.

White Chicken Enchiladas

This picture doesn't really give this recipe justice.

16 oz. Daisy brand sour cream*
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 Tbls fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast (I used rotisserie chicken)
1 can Rotel (tomatoes with green chilies)
1/2 c chopped onions
(1) 4 oz can diced green chilies 
8 medium-sized flour tortillas
1 c shredded pepper jack cheese
1 c shredded white cheddar cheese


Cheesy goodness
In a sauce pan mix together sour cream, soup, cilantro and pepper. Heat through over medium-low heat and set aside.
Combine the chicken, rotel, onions and green chilies in a large bowl.
Fill each tortilla with about 2-3 tablespoons of the chicken mixture and then top with about 1-2 tablespoon of the pepper jack cheese. Roll the tortillas up and place them seam side down in a greased 9 x 13 pan.
Pour and spread the sour cream sauce over enchiladas and top with the shredded cheddar cheese.
Bake at 350°F for 45 minutes until bubbly and cheese is melted. (I baked the enchiladas with tin foil for the first half of baking and removed the tin foil for the 2nd half.)

*I had to list Daisy brand sour cream because I am their biggest fan - I pick up a tub weekly and use it for everything from chips and dip to baking. Once you try it, you won't buy any other brand either. : )

Recipe adapted from:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Pudding

I was rummaging through my cupboards last night trying to find a quick dessert but had little success. A Sunday night doesn't feel complete without a little sweet treat. Then I realized I had Reddi Whip in the fridge so pudding naturally popped into my head. Unfortunately I didn't have any Jello brand boxes on hand so homemade was my only option. I'm so glad this was the case: homemade pudding is in fact not that difficult or time consuming. (I was able to make it in the time it took Ryan to give Vaida a bath.) Next time I'm going to add cocoa to make chocolate pudding.

Homemade Pudding

1/3 c brown sugar
2 1/2 Tbls cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
2 c milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 Tbls butter
1 tsp vanilla

In medium saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium heat until mixture boils stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute.
In small bowl, stir about 1/3 of hot mixture into egg yolks. Stir yolk mixture into hot mixture; blend well. Cook until mixture bubbles, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool before serving.

Recipe from Betty Crocker

Friday, February 8, 2013

Amazing Salsa

I am so excited about this recipe!! If your family is always on the hunt for great salsa - you can stop the search now. My husband and I have never been able to agree on a salsa that we both enjoy. I love fresh pico de gallo-style salsa, while Ryan likes Pace Picante. Needless to say we have had our fair share of salsa debates throughout the years. Until now. Now, we both agree that this is the best salsa ever. This is the kind of salsa you get at a Mexican restaurant where you end up eating more chips and salsa than your actual meal. I doubt I will ever buy a jar of salsa again. Even though this uses canned tomatoes, the cilantro and lime juice make it taste so fresh. Using a food processor or blender, you can create the consistency you like. (We like ours with small chunks.) Be warned: this makes a very large batch; but somehow I think you will find a way to eat it!

Restaurant Style Salsa

1 can (28 Ounce) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel diced tomatoes with green chili
1/4 c chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and diced (alter depending on the heat you like)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 whole lime, juiced

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor and pulse until a semi-smooth consistency. Because it is a large batch you may need to blend the ingredients in batches. I blended the whole tomatoes and one can of Rotel in one batch, and then I blended the other can of Rotel with all other ingredients and mixed the two batches together. Let refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Pioneer Woman

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baked Italian Chicken

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and debated weather or not I should give it a try. It looked delicious, but I thought the recipe seemed way to easy/good to be true. Just mix together artichokes, tomatoes, a little seasoning, chicken breasts and mozzarella and an hour later you have dinner. Well it is extremely easy and equally tasty. We served this on top of whole grain spaghetti and it was a complete meal. I am excited to have a new go-to chicken recipe to have on hand. : )


Baked Italian Chicken

5 Roma tomatoes, chopped
(1) 14 oz can artichoke hearts (liquid drained)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbls olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 Tbls flour

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 c mozzarella
2 Tbls fresh basil (optional garnish)

Mix first group of ingredients (tomatoes through flour) in a medium sized bowl and pour into a 9x13 casserole or glass pan. Place chicken into pan and partially cover with the tomato mixture. Cover in tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and remove tin foil - add cheese. Place back in oven under the broiler (I did mine on the low setting) for 5-10 minutes until cheese is golden. Top with fresh basil.

Recipe courtesy of Jill at

Monday, February 4, 2013

Make Your Own Salad Bar

Alright so this really isn't a recipe but it is a great meal so I thought I should share it. We love to do cobb salads for dinner but my husband and I disagree on what should be on a salad so I make a variety of toppings and serve it as a mini salad bar. This works great for feeding toddlers since all of the food is already cut in bite-size portions. Vaida loved being able to choose from all of the toppings and I find she eats more when she can scoop a portion for herself. You can make a mini salad bar with any vegetables and fruits you'd like. I posted a list of what we included but certainly don't feel limited to my list - the possibles are endless!

  • Spinach & spring lettuce blend
  • Grilled chicken
  • Pears
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Beets
  • Peas
  • Carrot shreds
  • Avocado

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

A rotisserie chicken was the inspiration for this meal. I was at the grocery store around 5 pm trying to get groceries for tonight's meal (never a fun predicament to be in) when a saw the cooked rotisserie chicken calling my name. I really should cook with this chicken more often. They are reasonably priced, convenient as can be, super tasty and so versatile. I used most of the meat in this soup, and then made chicken salad out of the rest of it which will be great in tomorrow's lunch. As for the soup, it was a nice change of pace from the chicken wild rice and chicken dumpling soup I usually make. I love anytime I can cook with fresh ginger - I think it makes this soup. Asian Chicken Noodle Soup was warm and satisfying on this bitter cold day.


Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

1/2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp black pepper
2-3 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips 
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

2 c shredded, cooked chicken
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 c water
32 oz chicken stock
1 pkg ramen noodles*
1/2 c chopped green onions
cilantro (optional) for garnish

In a soup pot, heat oil, salt, pepper, carrots, bell pepper, garlic and ginger over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes. Add chicken, soy sauce, rice vinegar, water and chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Break ramen noodles in half and add to simmering pot. Add green onions and cook for 5 minutes more. Serve with additional green onions or cilantro for a garnish.
*I only used the noodles and threw away the seasoning packet but you could certainly add part of it to give the soup a stronger flavor.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

If your kids are like mine, they could probably snack their way through the entire day and skip meals altogether. We reached the height of our bad snacking habits a couple of months (part of the reason I started blogging again) and realized the snacks that Vaida was eating every day had up to 20 ingredients listed on them. I took a step back and realized the food she was choosing to eat was overly processed and it was my fault since I bought the foods. Now our goal for the day is to eat a big breakfast - no morning snack - lunch - a healthy snack around 3-4:00 - dinner at 6:00. Instead of buying our "snack foods" in the cracker and cereal isles at the grocery store I have been trying to make them at home. For our afternoon snack we do a lot of yogurt, fruit, banana bread, pumpkin bread, blueberry muffins, and today's recipe: bran muffins. I love this recipe! They are super moist from the buttermilk and very filling since they are made with All Bran cereal. Vaida loves that they are mini sized (and also that she can spread her favorite food, butter, on them) and I love that they are a snack that I can pronounce all of the ingredients to.

Buttermilk Bran Muffins

1 c boiling water
2 c All Bran cereal
1/4 c butter
1/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 c buttermilk
2 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 c whole wheat flour
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 c All Bran cereal

Mix boiling water and 2 cups All Bran cereal in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl combine butter, sugar, applesauce and eggs. Add buttermilk. Next add baking soda, flours, and salt. Add the All Bran/boiling water mixture. Lastly, stir in 1 cup of dry All Bran cereal. Fill your greased mini-muffin tin 3/4 of the way with batter and bake at 400 for 10 minutes. Freeze leftovers. : ) 
Recipe from

Monday, January 28, 2013

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup

Soup, honestly, has to be the most comforting food there is. It is no secret that it is my favorite meal! I think what makes soup so appealing is that you can be creative and take chances. You can also taste along the way and make adjustments to suit your taste. If you like a thin soup - add more broth; thick soup - add potatoes or flour. If you want to try a new vegetable out on your family, soup is a great place to introduce it. The first time I had rutabaga and kale it was by adding it to a soup. This soup has my name all over it. I just put all of my favorites in the pot: a lightly creamy base, spicy Italian sausage, tomato, spinach, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pasta. What's not to like?

Italian Sausage & Tortellini Soup

1 lb hot Italian sausage
1 Tbls olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
salt and pepper
32 oz chicken broth
14 oz diced tomato
1 chicken bullion cube
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, shredded (plus additional for garnish)
1 c half & half
2 c baby spinach
2 1/2 c frozen or fresh cheese tortellini

In a stock pot, brown Italian sausage. Drain the grease and set sausage aside. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and pepper to stock pot and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth, tomato, bullion cube and thyme and simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Add sausage back to the soup along with Parmesan cheese, half & half and spinach. Bring soup back up to a simmer before adding tortellini. Simmer soup for an additional 5-10 minutes or until tortellini is cooked through. Serve with additional Parmesan cheese on top.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Golden Wheat Pancakes

For the past year our daughter's favorite meal has been pancakes. At first I was thrilled to find a meal she would devour. Then I realized there were very few nutrients in the basic pancakes I was making and it didn't sit well with me. I started getting creative and tweaking the recipe every week. First of all, I switched the all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour. I also switched to pure maple syrup instead of the corn syrup based ones I had been buying (without even realizing they didn't contain actual maple syrup).  Next I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the vegetable oil. I use a buttermilk recipe and have found I can substitute regular milk and Greek yogurt, when I have some on hand, for extra protein. I've successfully added pureed pumpkin and beets; flax seed, walnuts, pecans, apples with cinnamon, bananas and blueberries. Use the recipe below as a starting point and get creative. You will be surprised how healthy of a meal pancakes can be!

Golden Wheat Pancakes

(Double the recipe below and stock your freezer with leftover pancakes.)

1 egg, beaten
1 c buttermilk*
2 Tbls unsweetened applesauce
1 c whole wheat flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk the wet ingredients in one bowl and the dry ingredients in another. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and whisk until combined. (Batter may still be lumpy).

 - At this point you can add in any of the following ingredients:
  • 1/2 c. pureed pumpkin + 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. pureed beets
  • 1-2 Tbls of ground flax seed
  • 1 mashed banana (omit the sugar if you add this)
  • 1/2 apple, peeled and diced + 1 tsp cinnamon
Topped with frozen wild blueberries
Let batter sit 5-10 minutes before ladling onto a hot griddle.
(If you are adding chopped nuts or blueberries, I pour about 3/4 c. of batter onto my griddle and then sprinkle each pancake with nuts or blueberries.)
Wait for pancakes to form bubbles and then flip to cook the other side.

 *If you do not have buttermilk you can substitute 1 cup milk + dash of lemon juice. I have also substituted the buttermilk with a 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt + 1/2 cup milk .

Tip: For pancakes with a beautiful golden color, use a nonstick griddle with NO butter or grease on it. The pancakes pictured below on the left are an example of NOT using butter while the pancakes on the right were cooked on a buttered surface.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Beef & Bok Choy Lettuce Wraps

I am sure I had never heard of a lettuce wrap, let alone try one, until I moved to the twin cities area as a young adult. When I first saw people eating them as an appetizer at a restaurant I was so confused. Eating meat-filled lettuce with your hands? You have to admit, it would seem a bit odd to a "meat and potatoes" raised, farm girl. Well fast forward 10 years and here I a am feeding lettuce wraps to my family. We love them! Crisp lettuce, flavorful meat and nutrient packed vegetables all rolled up in one meal. We served this as a meal but it could be an appetizer or a side dish. If you don't have bok choy at your grocery store, you can substitute green or red cabbage. Really, any vegetables your family likes can be added to the filling.

Beef & Bok Choy Lettuce Wraps

1 lb ground beef
salt & pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 baby bok choy, cut in thin strips
2 c carrots, peeled into thin strips or shredded
8 oz water chestnuts, cut into strips
1 c green onion, chopped
4 white mushrooms, cut into strips
1/3 c soy sauce
2 Tbls hoisin sauce, stir fry sauce OR sweet & sour sauce
iceberg lettuce

Start by preparing all vegetables. Clean and cut the bok choy, carrots, water chestnuts, onion, garlic and mushroom and set aside.
In a large saute pan, brown beef with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Drain excess grease Add vegetables and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 mintutes. Add soy sauce and stir fry sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Serve in lettuce wraps with additional soy or sweet & sour sauce for dipping.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Waffles

There is nothing better than a lazy weekend morning that gives me a little time in the kitchen. This morning I tried a new waffle recipe that was a hit. These are whole wheat waffles with a crisp exterior and a fluffy interior. I only added one banana and a small about of walnuts so the "banana nut" flavor was subtle but sweet enough that they didn't require a bunch of maple syrup. I know this is a hearty, fill-you-up kind of meal since Vaida didn't ask for a morning snack today (small victory)! The best part of this recipe is that it makes a large batch. I put the leftovers in the freezer where we can pull out our healthy version of "Eggos" during the week. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Banana Nut Waffles

2 1/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c all purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
2 tsp salt
4 Tbls sugar
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c finely chopped walnuts

1 ripe banana, mashed
4 eggs, beaten
3 c milk
1/2 c veg oil (I only had a 1/4 cup of oil left, so I used that plus 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce)
2 tsp vanilla

Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients and then combine wet and dry just until incorporated. Batter will be a bit lumpy. Cook in waffle iron. Freeze leftovers.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Homemade Butternut Squash Ravioli

Beautiful ravioli in brown butter sage sauce
In my quest to serve healthier foods to my family I have been following an awesome blog "100 days of Real Food". While scanning her recipe index I came across this recipe. I thought to myself, "Hey, I have a butternut squash that needs to be used...and I have a pasta machine that hasn't been used in two years...this is the perfect recipe for me to make tonight." Bad idea. The recipe itself is not bad at all, in fact, I would have considered the whole thing a fun experience back when I could easily spend a couple of hours care free in the kitchen. Tonight was not the case. I had a sick husband on the couch and a hungry toddler who wanted to "help" me in every way. Picture rolling out pasta while your toddler is adding flour to the dough and to the butternut squash filling (that requires no flour)! Then I had to fill and seal the raviolis one-by-one with my single ravioli press. I only had the patience to get about 8 ravioli made before calling it good . I whipped up the brown butter sage sauce (yum!) and called my family together to see the small bowl representing my efforts. Turns out, Ryan was too sick to try even one bite and Vaida refused to let one piece on her plate! I ate my meal alone and decided I wouldn't take on such a challenge again! On a positive note, I pulled out the pasta and filling after Vaida went to sleep and rolled out a bunch of raviolis which are now in my freezer. This recipe really was delicious and I can't wait to serve it again, only this time it will only take 10 minutes to make from my freezer as opposed to an hour and a half!!
Not so beautiful (but still yummy) ravioli for the freezer

If you decide to take on this recipe please follow the link to 100 Days of Real Food (I normally wouldn't provide a link to another persons site but this is pretty detailed and I followed her instructions exactly).

Sweet & Sour Chicken

I love Chinese food. I always feel torn since I cannot bring myself to ever order Chinese as take out (I am squeamish about kitchen cleanliness in general, and if a restaurant's exterior is a dive, I assume the kitchen is too).
Anyhow, when I saw this easy recipe on Pinterest I knew I had to give it a try. You probably have all these ingredients in your pantry already and could put this together as quick as you could order take-out!
Tip: when working with chicken I always wear disposable food-safe gloves. I buy them in bulk from Costco and they make cleanup a breeze after breading the chicken in the egg mixture.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
1 lb boneless chicken breast
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 c cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 c veg oil
2/3 c sugar
4 Tbls ketchup
1/2 c white vinegar
1 tsp garlic salt
1 1/2 Tbls soy sauce

Cut chicken into 1" cubes. In a large ziploc bag, combine salt, pepper, garlic powder, ginger and cornstarch. Add chicken and shake to evenly coat chicken. Heat oil in large sauté pan. Drop chicken in beaten eggs and add to pan, cooking over medium high heat until brown on each side. Remove chicken and place on a sheet pan.
Whisk remaining 5 ingredients in a small bowl and pour over chicken. Bake at 350 for 30 min, flipping the chicken halfway. Serve with rice and steamed vegetables.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

I always like to keep sweet potatoes on hand for this easy recipe. Our whole family loves sweet potato fries and these are not actually fried, but roasted in olive oil, so there is no guilt involved while enjoying them. The hardest part of making this vegetable is remembering to start them an hour before you are ready to eat.
Note: your baking times will vary depending on how thick you cut your fries.









Sweet Potato Fries

Fries before cooking
1-2 sweet potatoes or yams
2-3 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
Penzeys California Pepper (a blend of pepper, garlic and dried bell peppers) or pepper
Peel and cut potatoes into uniform fries. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread potatoes out evenly. Drizzle generously with olive oil, salt and pepper and using tongs, toss to coat. Bake at 375 for 45-55 minules flipping once.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Good Lasagna

Growing up my mom had a recipe for "Good Spaghetti". I remember thinking it was a ridiculous name for a recipe. Of course it was "good" or else it wouldn't be in her recipe box. Well, here I am trying to come up with a catchy name for my lasagna and "Good Lasagna" is the best way I can describe it. I make this meal for company since it can all be put together before hand; I make it for friends who just had a baby since it can be put in the freezer for a couple of months; and I make it just for us when I want good leftovers, because after all this lasagna is just so good! The secret to lasagna success is using good sauce (no tomato puree in the jar) and good cheese (I use whole milk mozzarella).  I do use a prepared sauce but add diced tomatoes to it so it tastes homemade. Enjoy.

Good Lasagna

1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 jar (approx 2 cups) good prepared marinara sauce (I use Barilla Tomato & Sweet Basil)
1 - 14 oz can diced tomatoes
3 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 c cottage cheese
1 1/2 c Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 c monterey jack or provolone, shredded
1 1/2 Tbls Italian seasoning or Penzey's Pasta Sprinkle
10-12 lasagna noodles

In a large saute pan, brown ground beef and drain. Add onion, garlic, salt and pepper to the pan and cook 3-5 minutes. Add beef back to the pan and add tomato sauce and tomatoes. Simmer on low for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large stock pot filled with water boil pasta for 6 minutes or until al dente. In a medium size bowl, mix cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning. In a separate bowl, combine mozzarella and monterey/provolone cheese.
Spray a 9x13 pan with Pam. Layer half of the pasta on the bottom of the pan - half of the beef mixture - half of the cottage cheese - half of the mozzarella blend. Layer in the same order again. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Let sit 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Awesome Chicken Nuggets

Finished product - yum!
About three years ago I saw how fast-food chicken nuggets were made and I have not been able to touch one since. That is why I am so excited to share this recipe with you. These nuggets have a crispy whole wheat exterior and are are made with organic chicken breasts. Our whole family loved them, especially when dipped in homemade honey mustard (equal parts mayo, mustard, honey). I served these nuggets with sweet potato fries - a perfect combo!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

1 lb  organic boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 egg, beaten
Ingredients prepped and ready to go.
1 c seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
1/3 c shredded parmesan cheese/
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
olive oil 

In a large fry pan, heat about 1/4" oil over medium low heat. Cube chicken in 1-2" pieces and set aside. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, seasonings and cheese. Place nuggets of chicken in egg mixture and then in the breadcrumb mixture and then transfer into hot pan. Cook over medium low heat 4-5 minutes per side flipping occasionaly until golden brown and the center is no longer pink. (Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken so check the first couple you do before serving.)

Breaded chicken before cooking.
Recipe adapted from Lisa Leake

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup (version 2)

I made broccoli cheese soup for dinner last night and now that I am sitting at my computer I realized that I already posted a recipe for broccoli cheese a couple of years ago. I was going to just skip the post all together but I realized this recipe is a little different from the first one. Soup is by far my favorite food to make and enjoy and I rarely follow a recipe. What makes this version special is that is more nutrient packed since I "snuck in" pureed squash. A couple of months ago I read Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. It is a smart book - puree a bunch of vegetables and then add them to regular recipes. I can't say I loved all of her recipes (chocolate chip cookies with garbanzo beans was an epic fail!) but I still like her concept. I have a freezer full of vegetable purees now and add the spinach to my marinara sauce, beets to our pancakes, squash to our macaroni and cheese, etc. I'm not going to lie, my picky toddler only ate two bites of the soup, but the three adults at the table loved it so I am declaring it a success!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 bunches of organic broccoli, trimmed to 1" pieces
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 Tbls butter
1 can chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup pureed squash
1 block cheddar cheese, shredded*
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1 1/2 cups half & half
2 Tbls flour
3/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 splash of worchestershire sauce

In a sauce pan, melt butter and add onions, garlic, salt and pepper and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken stock and squash and bring to a bowl. Add broccoli and cover to simmer for 5 minutes. In a small bowl or cup add the flour and 1/2 cup of the half & half and whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to the soup, stirring to prevent clumps. Add cheese and worchestershire sauce and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with additional shredded cheddar cheese if desired.

*I recommend using a block of cheese since the pre-shredded has a powdery coating which can prevent smooth melting for this soup.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Homemade Granola

I have been playing around with homemade granola for the past couple of months and I think it will be a new staple in our household. Vaida loves the crunchy oats, nuts and dried fruit as an afternoon snack and I love pouring milk over a bowl of it for a hearty breakfast that really sticks with you. I have added flax seed and dried blueberries when I had them on hand. You could also add pumpkin seeds and any kind of nut that you like. When I was out of honey, I substituted real maple syrup which added great flavor.
I hope you enjoy this granola as much as we do!

Homemade Granola

4 c old-fashioned rolled oats
2 c shredded coconut (I like the large flakes)
2 c slivered raw almond (I use Trader Joe's brand)
3/4 c raw sunflower seeds
3/4 c vegetable oil or olive oil
1/2 c good honey
1 c dried cherries
1 c jumbo organic raisins
1 c dried cranberries
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Toss the oats, coconut, almonds, & sunflower seeds in a bowl. Whisk together oil & honey and pour over oat mixture. Stir until all the oats and nuts are coated. Pour on a half sheet pan and bake 45-55 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Cool granola and stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to pan. Add the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.