Wednesday, February 22, 2012


After much waiting and working my new website is officially cooking! From now on I will be using this for all updates and posts and hope that all my loyal followers join me on the new, upgraded version of my blog.

I apologize for my absence these past months while my website was baking but I hope you'll agree that it was worth it.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Blog Update

To my valued readers. I haven't forgotten about you or my blog. I have been working on changing my blog to an official website. In the meantime my extra time blogging has gone towards converting things. I promise I will post again soon and I can't wait to reveal the new site. Hopefully be the end of January it will be working. Happy New Years!


Friday, December 16, 2011

Feel Better Soup

After 6 days of being sick at home this past week I was craving some hot homemade soup. So, between naps, chugging water, coughing and blowing my nose I woke up from a nap with enough energy to do a little chopping for some comfort soup before another nap. I already needed to run to Byerlys in my pajamas to get baby Vick's Vapor Rub so I picked up a rotisserie chicken. I got home and browsed the 101 healthy soups on Cooking Light and found a base recipe to use: Tuscan Chicken, Bean and Spinach Soup. I say base as I made a ton of modifications to fit what was in my cupboard.

Here was my version of what I call the
Feel Better Soup
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
2 cups peeled and diced squash
1 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups low sodium broth
4 cups water
2 Tbsp chopped parsley, rosemary and cilantro each
3 cups chopped rotisserie chicken
6 ounce bag of spinach
salt and pepper (I added more than usual since I used less broth and more water)
Grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil and butter. Let butter melt then add onion, carrots, celery, squash, mushrooms and garlic.
2. Sautee for ~ 5 minutes or until squash is soft
3. Add beans, broth, water and herbs; bring to a boil
4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
5. Add chicken, salt and pepper; cook for 2 minutes
6. Add spinach, let wilt (~3 minutes).
7. Serve in a bowl with sprinkled parmesan cheese on top.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Gifts Ideas for a Healthy Kitchen!

If you've ever walked into a kitchen store you've probably seen kitchen gadgets and appliances on every wall. Having the tools to prepare healthy food is key in maintaining your waist line. Wondering which ones to start with. Today, I'm featuring a few of my favorite items and items I aspire to have. Just in time for  the holidays in case you still needed a gift idea for that hard to buy person or are thinking ahead for great wedding shower/gift ideas for someone starting their kitchen collection. As you will see they range in price.

Vitamix: This fancy blender is known for being the creme dela creme in the cooking world. It can make amazing pureed soups and blend ANYTHING. From my friends that have it nothing compares. It would be great for a new mom to make baby food or for someone trying to follow a healthy diet. It can process whole foods and is used in many restaurants nationwide.

Magic Bullet: This mini blender is great for smoothies and dressing and is very convenient for an on the go person. It is available at many stores for a great price. I use mine year round and love how easy it can chop ice and frozen fruit. It makes getting my fruit intake in easy all winter and it's great for a breakfast on the go. Just as seen on TV it's that simple. I have official become a smoothie fanatic thanks to this amazing gadget. Great for families, college students and people cooking for one.
$50 at Target or

Microplane Zester & Citrus Press:  Wondering how you can add more flavor without fat? Think citrus. Citrus zest and juice can add extra flavor to dressings, sides and lean proteins. The microplane zester is also great for adding shaved cheese or garlic to dishes and could also be used to shave chocolate. This is my favorite kitchen gadget and a great gift for any new or seasoned chef
Zester: ~$14 at Target or Link or $15.95 at Crate and Barrel Link
Citrus Press: $16.95 Crate and Barrel Link

Pampered Chef Measure, Mix and Pour Salad Dressing holder: While many companies have salad dressing holders I love Pampered Chefs because they give recipes on the outside for people who are new to making dressings. This product is always in use at our house with a homemade vinaigrette dressing ready for salads or marinating. It's a great way to cut the additives and salt in dressings.
$12 Pampered Chef
Garlic Press: I know I already told you my favorite gadget it the mircoplane but I may have to correct myself and say that is tied with my garlic press. Another great way to add flavor to dishes without adding more butter or oil is using garlic or fresh herbs. While I love garlic I've always hated peeling and dicing the little cloves. Besides how long it take your hands smell after. Not anymore. This Pampered Chef garlic press lets you put the clove in unpeeled and the outcome is minced garlic. So, go in your cupboard and toss out your can of minced garlic and get the real stuff with more flavor and less pickling.
$16.50 at Pampered Chef

Food Scale: If you've never been good at eyeballing portion sizes or know someone who struggles having appropriate portions at their meals a food scale is the perfect item for their kitchen. This will eliminate any room for error. These vary in style from just showing the weight in grams or ounces to having more nutritional information available with the scale as well.
Perfect Portion Digital Food Scale: $49.99 at Target

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Food of the Month

Cheese, Cheese, Cheese!

If you're saying to yourself, why cheese? Well, for one, the packers are on a nice winning streak and I'm a proud cheese head and two, because the holidays make me think of delicious cheese dishes and plates.

I started my food of the month off a few days behind but with a great entrance.
Barefoot Contessa's Mac and Cheese
This was a great dish for a Sunday afternoon. I made mine with Trader Joe's organic vegetable radiatore noodles and I split my milk (1/2 skim milk and 1/2 2% lactaid milk). I also used a gruyere/swiss mix instead of straight gruyere cheese and it was delicious. Also, I only had whole wheat bread so I used this to make the bread crumbs. Lastly, and this was my mistake, I added 3/4 Tbsp instead of 1/2 tsp of nutmeg but we all liked it. I think I would do a 1/2 Tbsp if I made it again.
-From a nutrition standpoint for macaroni and cheese I would classify this one in the middle. It's not a low fat recipe but it also isn't an insane recipe with cream and extra pounds of cheese. You could always cut back on how much cheese you add if you want to lighten it up even more.  I found it to be a nice balance that can be paired with some veggies or a side salad to round out the meal.

Another one of my favorite recipes for the holiday season to bring as an appetizer is the Pesto Cheese Blossom from The Food Network.
-To make this healthier I always use fat free cream cheese.  You mix the cream cheese with garlic so it will still have a good flavor. I opt out of adding the pistachios since I'm not a big fan of them but I know others who have made this with them. I've brought this to a work party, friends party and made it for family and everyone loves it. Plus you can make it the day ahead and it's Christmas colors.

It's hard to talk about cheese and not talk about serving sizes. Cheese, in the right portion size is a great source of calcium but it is often over ate. Since it is made from milk it is higher in fat so it's important to note how much you are eating. I would stick to 1- 1.5 ounces per serving. This looks like 6 dice and while that seems like a lot of plain cheese it adds up quickly when cheese is added to things like pizza, nachos, macaroni and cheese, etc...

Another thing to note is some cheese are a little lower in fat than others. For example, feta, provolone, mozzarella and swiss cheese have less natural fat than cheddar and havarti cheese. Another great cheese is Laughing Cow, who make a great portioned swiss cheese with 50 calories per wedge plus a light version that comes in multiple flavors for only 35 calories per wedge. It is a great substitution for cream cheese or to spread on sandwiches. Another way to cut back on the fat in cheese is to choose ones made with 2% milk. They will have less fat without sacrificing taste and texture like some fat free cheeses do.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fighting Fruit Fatigue

You may remember I talked about fruit fatigue at the beginning of the month in my choose cherries post. Well today I discussed ways to fight fruit fatigue on Twin Cities Live. Try new ways to to eat fruit instead of only eating apples, bananas, oranges and watermelon. Many fruits are available year round in dried, juice, frozen or canned forms. The recommended amount of fruit for adults is 1-2 cups per day. Only one if 5 Americans are getting enough fruit each day, are you? I hope so and if not read on for some great ways to increase your fruit intake for a long, healthy life.

I showed viewers ways to cook with dried cherries, tart cherry juice, pears, grapefruits and grapefruit juice! I was also lucky enough to be accompanied by my cousin Jess who took so many lovely pictures during the segment.  Check out the finished dishes below (recipes linked at the bottom). I highly recommend the cherry chili for a delicious warm winter dish, the smoothie for breakfast or a snack, the baked brie as a Christmas party appetizer, the salad as a dinner party starter, the grapefruit slaw served with tilapia or cod and the ginger grapefruit spritzer as a party cocktail!

Prepping the food before the show
Cherry Chili and the Yogurt Cherry Smoothie ingredients ready to make live
Candied Walnut, Pear and Leafy Green Salad and Baked Brie en Crout with Pears
Grapefruit Slaw and Ginger Grapefruit Spritzers

Twin Cities Live Segment: Fruit Fatigue Link
Recipe Links 
Cherry Chili
Cherry Yogurt Smoothie
Candied Walnut, Pear and Leafy Green Salad - try topping with goat cheese
Brie en Croute with Pears - I used croissants in place of the frozen pastry puff
Grapefruit Slaw - I topped it with grated fresh ginger
Ginger Grapefruit Spritzer

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What was your favorite Thanksgiving dish this year?

I was in charge of a vegetable side for our Thanksgiving meal and I chose to make a Brussel Sprouts recipe that I had tried a few weeks back and was a huge success! I made them ahead of time according to the recipe directions with the  addition of parmesan cheese sprinkled on top then we reheated them in the oven before we ate. If you like Brussel sprouts you'll love this recipe that combines the flavors of garlic, bacon and shallots with this crunchy vegetable.

Now, the best part about post-Thanksgiving. Sharing recipes from your meals. I'd love to hear what your favorite dish was or new things you tried. I love trying new recipes in the winter!

The perfect post-Thanksgiving dinner picture: Tenley taking a nap after enjoying her large marrow bone while the family ate their meal.