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Honey Whole Wheat Beer Bread

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Sheesh, I know what you guys are thinking. That with all the alcohol-laden recipes I’ve been posting lately, I must be a secret raging alcoholic! Well, I promise I’m not.  While I will take a sip once in a while, I generally dislike it on several levels. Besides the taste, and abstaining for scriptural reasons like not wanting to cause a brother to sin against their conscience (1 Corinthians 8:9-13), I’ve seen firsthand the effect it can have on a person’s health and on a family if abused, and I steer clear of alcohol so that I don’t continue that legacy.

However, while I have a personal distaste for it in its pure state, I do have quite a fondness for adding it to my baked goods. A little bit can really intensify the flavor in a recipe, and the baking (and cooking) process eliminates the alcohol content so that it will not have an intoxicating effect on your body.  Win-win!

Because of my fondness for baking with it, you really might think I had an alcohol problem if you took a look in my cupboard! I’ve got rum, bourbon, and brandy upstairs (great for so many things, including a fantastic fruit cake recipe I’ll be sharing come October–it takes two months to make), and I keep a few beers in the basement. Beer is my least favorite alcohol, but I make sure I always have a few on hand because one of my favorite breads happens to be beer bread. Go figure.

Beer creates magic when you put it in a quick bread, supplanting a yeasty flavor that quick breads lack, and it’s just so delicious! I’m very excited about my newest variation on beer bread (I can not believe this is my fourth beer bread post! Stop the madness!) because it is not only delicious, but healthy!

My favorite beer bread has white flour, butter, and white sugar in it, but I wanted something more wholesome this time so I used white whole wheat flour, canola oil, and honey. I was so delighted when I sliced into this loaf and took my first bite! I couldn’t believe how soft, tender and moist it was, and the flavor was incredible. Very yeasty, with a mild sweetness.  I think that honey and beer were meant to come together in bread!

You may remember the leftover Guiness I was going to throw out because I’d already made cupcakes and brownies and couldn’t take it any more. I’m so glad I decided to use the last of it to make this bread because it added a much more intense yeasty flavor to the bread than what I usually get from the lighter colored beers I use and it was quite lovely! But if you have a lighter beer, don’t make a special trip to the store, it will work just fine here and your bread will be much lighter in color (if you use white whole wheat flour like I did), and you might fool healthy-phobic people into thinking it’s white bread.

And lest you think that the beer-haters in your family won’t dig this, just remember I hate beer, and it literally makes my husband gag to even smell it.  (Remember when he threw up after I served him vodka sauce on his spaghetti?  Yeah, alcohol and him do not mix!)  But we both love this bread.  I think you will too.

Honey Whole Wheat Beer Bread

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3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder, such as Rumford
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup honey
12 oz. (1 1/2 cups) beer

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or oil a loaf pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a smaller bowl, beat the egg until uniform in color, then whisk in the oil, honey, and beer. Pour into the larger bowl and whisk well to combine. Pour into prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes prior to cutting. Wrap leftovers in plastic wrap or keep in a Ziploc bag with the air pressed out. This bread freezes well too, just slice it before you freeze it and you can take it out slice by slice, as you need it.

A Veronica’s Cornucopia Original

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Baba Ghanoush Two Ways: Classic & Tahini-Free

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After last week’s sugar & booze fest, I thought it was time to break out a beautifully healthy AND delicious recipe.  I’m feeling the need to cleanse my system after indulging in a few too many “tastes” of my creations and this is a perfect way to do it: with baba ghanoush!

Never heard of it?  Baba ghanoush is a Middle Eastern roasted eggplant dip that is similar to hummus, but eggplant stands in for chickpeas.  All other ingredients are pretty much the same!

I’ve always loved hummus but was never impressed with the baba ghanoush I ordered at restaurants.  It was either too smoky or too bland, but I’m stubborn and I had it in my head that if it was prepared properly, I would love it.  So when Jenna posted a recipe for it, and her beautiful pictures mesmerized and dazzled me, convincing me that indeed, I would love it if I made it myself, I ventured forth.

Behold, the baba ghanoush.

There was much jubilation in my kitchen upon the first bite, proof that baba ghanoush is delicious!!

I made the first batch and ate it within a week, then made a tahini-free batch the following week (I ran out of tahini, plus, leaving it out made the recipe 17 Day Diet-friendly).  I actually liked the tahini-free version better, but that is more likely due to me roasting the eggplant longer (the first batch was a little undercooked) than the lack of tahini.  I definitely recommend roasting your eggplants thoroughly (like Jenna says, when you think they’re done roasting, roast them a little more), because it makes a great difference in taste.

I tell you I can’t get enough of this stuff.  I have half a jar in my fridge right now and I had to get up and take a spoonful as I was writing this blog.  And that’s my favorite way to eat it, by the way.  Straight from the jar (or the food processor) with a spoon.  I use it more like a side dish than a dip, but it’s really good with pita chips too!

Baba Ghanoush

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3 medium eggplants
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Chips or bread, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Tahini-Free Baba Ghanoush

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3 medium eggplants
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
1/3 cup parsley, minced
Pita chips, crackers, or vegetables, to serve

Prick each eggplant with a fork until the surface is covered with holes. Place the eggplants under a broiler (or on a grill) and cook for about 40 minutes, until blackened and slightly shrunken, turning occasionally. When they’re very tender, let them cool.

When cool enough to handle, scoop the eggplant flesh into a the bowl of a food processor with a spoon, discarding the skins. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Process until desired texture, then add the parsley and pulse to combine. Serve with chips, pita bread, a baguette, crackers, etc.

Recipes source: adapted from Jenna’s Everything Blog

OPI Be a Dahlia Won't You

A closer look at my manicure at the time I took the photos of the classic baba ghanoush: decked out in OPI’s Be a Dahlia Won’t You (I love this color! I’m a pink-aholic). I just added a few nail decals instead of trying to do nail art by hand-much easier (and prettier)!

Cauliflower Colcannon

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I’m linking this post with the GreensLove bloghop.  If you are posting a recipe with any sort of greens this month, check it out and join the party!

A couple years ago I made lasagna and garlic bread for dinner on St. Patrick’s Day and happened to mention it in my Facebook status.  I don’t really celebrate the holiday, so it wasn’t on my radar, but one of my Facebook friends was like, “Hey! Where’s the corned beef and cabbage???”  I’d never made any sort of Irish-type food whether on St. Patrick’s Day or otherwise, and thought I just might try it the following year.

And so I purchased my first beef brisket last year.  It turned out to be the worst brisket in the history of briskets.  It. was. horrid.  I still shudder just thinking about it.  (80% fat, with a foul flavor.)  But, I also made this cauliflower colcannon, which was very good and ended up being the main course rather than our side dish.

The pureed cauliflower serves as a lower-carb, more nutritious replacement for the mashed potatoes that colcannon is usually made with.  I opted for kale instead of cabbage in my colcannon, but it would be good either way.  This made a mighty tasty dish, and a good alternative to traditional colcannon if you are going to be eating a high-calorie dessert afterward.  Kinda helps balance things out.  And I’m a Libra, so I’m all about balance.  Cauliflower Colcannon + 1 dozen Andes Mint Cupcakes = balance.  Right?  Right.  Let’s do this.

Cauliflower Colcannon

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1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 lightly packed cups kale, cabbage, or other greens
½ cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (1 clove)
Milk or heavy cream for thinning, if necessary

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat. Meanwhile, clean and cut the cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until very tender. Drain the cauliflower well and pat it very dry between several layers of paper towels, not allowing it to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of the butter, salt, and pepper until almost smooth. Set aside.

Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet and add the greens. Cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, until greens have wilted and given off some of their water. Add the onions and garlic and cook one minute more. Stir in the cauliflower mixture and thin with milk or cream, if necessary. Serve hot with a pat of butter, if desired.

Crockpot Chicken Cacciatore

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It’s Secret Recipe Club time again!  I can’t tell you how thankful I am to Amanda for starting this club.  The amount of fun I have with it is a little ridiculous.  My favorite part is getting my blog assignment and stealthily stalking that blog, hunting down recipes that I want to make and post for reveal day.  I always bookmark a million and it takes me an entire week to narrow down my choice to one recipe.

{You can find my past Secret Recipe Club posts here.}

This month I was assigned to A Little Nosh and unlike previous assignments, I knew which recipe I was going to make within a minute of clicking on her blog.  I still went through Amy’s archives and bookmarked half her recipes, but did eventually return to the original that caught my eye and knew I couldn’t fight it.  I had to make the crockpot chicken cacciatore because:

1) It’s beautiful and I like pretty food.

2)  I’d never eaten or made it and thought it would be fun to try something new.

3) It fit perfectly in our diet plan while we were in the 2nd cycle of the 17 Day Diet.

4) I noticed the recipe originally came from one of my blogging buddies, Renee of My Kitchen Adventures, and it tickled me to think that I’d be making Amy’s and Renee’s recipe at the same time.

 

I changed the recipe to make it on a slightly larger scale with a higher ratio of veggies, and it completely filled my 6-quart crockpot to the brim.  The leftovers were enough to last us all week, and what beautiful lunches we were bringing to work!  The vegetables and sauce were such a tasty compliment to the tender chicken breast meat, which pretty much fell apart as soon as you touched it with a fork.  So delicious.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing this great recipe.  I never even saw it on Renee’s blog, so I’m glad to have gotten the opportunity through you and the SRC to try it!

Crockpot Garden Chicken Cacciatore

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6 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large ribs of celery, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 (4 oz) cans sliced mushrooms, drained
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 (14.5 oz) cans of diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
½ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup cornstarch
1-2 tablespoons water or chicken broth
Additional salt and pepper, to taste

Place chicken breasts inside the bottom of a 6-quart crockpot. Add in the bell peppers, onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Pour the juice from the tomatoes into a medium bowl, then put the tomatoes into the crockpot.

Into the bowl with the tomato juice, add the tomato paste, chicken stock, and balsamic vinegar. Mix well, then pour on top of the tomatoes and vegetables. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, or high for 4 hours, or until the chicken is tender.

Mix the cornstarch and water together until no lumps remain, then pour over the top of the vegetables. Stir, turn the crockpot to high, and allow to cook for another 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over brown rice or your choice of starch.

Recipe source: adapted from A Little Nosh, originally from My Kitchen Adventures

To check out the other submissions in Group A for The Secret Recipe Club, click on the Mr. Linky below!



Skinny Dark Hot Cocoa


Hot cocoa?  Hot chocolate?  I’ve always said hot chocolate, no matter if it’s made with real chocolate or cocoa powder or a mix.  I also have always said pop, not soda or soda pop.  Potato, potahto I guess.  What about you?

Anyway, remember how Dennis and I weren’t planning on having sugar on Valentine’s Day?  Well, it would be just be unAmerican not to have any chocolate on the day when the rest of the country is eating 58 million pounds of it.  (I know, right?)  So, inspired by Faith’s delicious Skinny Caramel Hot Cocoa, I made this plain version for our Valentine’s Day dinner dessert, only changing the basic recipe a smidge to deepen the chocolate flavor (had to make up for our lack of chocolate candy, you know).  We like our chocolate dark in this house.

This hot cocoa is so sweet, so chocolatey and delicious, creamy even, that you wouldn’t guess that it’s fat and sugar free.  That it’s actually healthy.  Protein and calcium-rich milk?  Check.  The antioxidant power of cocoa powder?  Check.  Totally natural with no chemical sweeteners?  You got it.

I’m usually semi-opposed to healthifying sweet treats because, in my opinion, they’re called treats because they are meant to be enjoyed.  Mostly what cutting out fat and sugar does is make them less enjoyable (although I hope to prove my own theory wrong because I’m going to be experimenting soon, given that we’ve nixed sugar in our house!).  But when you can do it with such a satisfying result, I’m all for feeling great about drinking something that tastes so sinful.

*A note about stevia: I’m a huge advocate of using stevia to sweeten things, versus chemical sweeteners and even real sugar.  This is the ONLY completely natural sweetener out there that is also calorie free.  It is taken from the leaves of a plant and it is tremendously sweet so you need much less of it than sugar.  I was blessed to win a bunch of NuNaturals products through a giveaway from Renee of My Kitchen Adventures (thank you so much Renee!), and hope to do a review soon with comparisons to other sugar substitutes.  NuNaturals products are by far the best I’ve tried and I highly recommend them.

Since I’m not counting calories on the 17 Day Diet, I didn’t calculate them for this cocoa when we drank it, but just going from the labels on the milk and the cocoa (the only things that have calories in the recipe), I can tell you that there is 120 calories, 1 g fat,  22 g carbohydrates, and 2 grams fiber. Not to shabby, and I think you’ll agree that this hot cocoa is totally worth every healthy & delicious calorie.

Skinny Dark Hot Cocoa

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1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
2 packets NuNaturals NuStevia
Pinch fleur de sel or kosher salt
1 ¼ cups nonfat milk
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk together the cocoa powders, stevia powder, and salt in a small saucepan. Add half the milk and whisk vigorously until the cocoa powder is dissolved. Turn the heat to medium, and whisk in the remaining milk. Heat until the hot cocoa starts to steam (do not boil), and pour into a mug.  Enjoy!

For a caramel hot cocoa: stir in ¼ teaspoon caramel extract along with the vanilla at the end.

Serves 1

Recipe source: adapted from An Edible Mosaic

Yummy either way!

P.S. Happy leap day!  I know this is crazy, but this is the first year I’ve actually been aware that it’s a leap year.  How did I miss the other seven I lived through?  Queen Oblivious here! I know I’m getting random here but did anyone else used to watch the show Quantum Leap?  I honestly can’t remember a thing about it except I think I liked it (I was pretty young so maybe it was too mature for me), and I always associated the name with leap year.  Did it even have anything to do with a leap year?  OK, seriously, I’ll shut up now.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Dog Treats


It has been way too long since I’ve shared a recipe for our furry friends!  This recipe is similar to the other biscuit recipe I have on my blog, except the liquid is chicken broth instead of milk, and it bakes up a bit softer, even if you go the route of leaving them in the oven overnight to dry out, and perhaps it is both those reasons combined that my Jessie loves them even more than the Peanut Butter Dog Biscuits.

These bake up soft like cookies, but you can leave them in the oven overnight to make them crunchy.

Full disclosure: I totally tried one of these in the soft-baked state, and I even thought it was pretty tasty! :)

Another advantage, at least for those of us with…shall we say “husky” dogs, is that there is less than half as much peanut butter in this recipe, therefore it is lower in calories.  There are also more oats (more fiber) and less sweetener, which helps the calories as well. A treat that Jessie loves, and that is lower in calories than her former beloved treats is a win-win in our house.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Dog Treats

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1 cup whole wheat flour (I used WW pastry flour)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick oats
¼ cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder, such as Rumford
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup peanut butter
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, oats, wheat germ, and baking powder. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, peanut butter, honey, and olive oil. Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture until incorporated. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes or up to an hour. This gives the flour and oats time to absorb moisture and it will become thicker and easier to work with as it stands. Roll out to ¼ inch thick on a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place treats on prepared baking sheet. You can pop the first one in the oven as you cut out shapes and place them on the second sheet. Bake cookies for 15 minutes.

If your dog prefers softer cookie-type treats, cool the treats at this point and package in airtight containers. If you want to bake them into hard biscuits, which stores better and has the added benefit of helping clean your dog’s teeth, simply turn off the oven with the cookies still inside and leave them in overnight, or until the oven is cool. If you bake them in batches, remove each tray as they finish, and let them sit on the sheet until all the batches are baked, then turn off the oven and return all baking sheets to the oven to sit overnight, or until the oven is cool.

Recipe source: Shared Sugar

So I’m trying not to use my voice right now, and Dennis is loving it.  I’m recovering from the flu (yeah, that’s what I get for bragging on Friday night that I’ve never had it before…guess what I woke up with?) and my throat hurts too much to talk any more, so I am communicating mainly in gestures.  He helped me choose the photos for this blog in the usual way, except that I asked him to help me with pointing and shoulder shrugging to indicate I couldn’t decide between two photos.  Since I couldn’t argue vocally with his choice, I did a lot of fist-shaking and going back to the one that I preferred and he just laughed and asserted that his choice was the right one.  Well, I went with the one I liked, the one right before the recipe, but I’ll let you guys decide.  He like this fancier one.  But I liked the former because it was easier to read and more simple. But  now you get them both since I had to share our antics with you. :)

White Wheat Bread


I’ve been posting a lot of soup recipes lately, so I figured a good bread recipe was in order.  After all, that’s why we make soup in the first place, right?  To go with our bread?

Dennis and I actually haven’t had any bread for the last 22 days, and won’t have any again for the next twelve.  We started the 17 Day Diet at the end of January, and this bread was the last thing I made as a temporary farewell to high-carbohydrate foods, knowing our mouths would not enjoy it for another month or so.  This diet cycles in 17-day increments and during the first two, there is no bread.  We are eating so good that I don’t miss it, but perhaps this spectacular recipe helped with the separation anxiety.  It was so delicious that recalling it makes me smile even a month later!  It also helps that I got the original recipe, which I adapted to the one I’m sharing here, from a friend (thank you, Tracy!), so it gives me the warm fuzzies all around.  You just can’t beat the combination of friendship and warm bread.

While this bread still does not beat out my number one favorite to date, Honey Oatmeal Bread, it is a very close second.  I was very impressed with how soft and tender the bread is, and the flavor, as with all homemade bread, is of course incredible.  It goes very well with soup, or just slathered with butter as a meal.  Not that I speak from experience or anything.

White Wheat Bread

To ensure success, make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature before you start. Cold will inhibit the yeast’s growth.  If you’re in a hurry, you can quickly bring the egg to room temperature by placing in a bowl of hot tap water for five minutes before cracking, and can warm the milk by zapping it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until lukewarm.

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1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 cup milk, room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg, beaten, room temperature
1 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 – 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

Combine yeast, sugar, and water in a large bowl; let stand five minutes. Add milk, oil, honey & egg; stir well. Stir white whole wheat flour and salt into yeast mixture. Gradually stir in enough all-purpose flour to make a soft dough.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface & knead until smooth & elastic (about 8-10 minutes.) (Tracy says it will only take a few minutes to do this if you use a bread hook on your Kitchenaid.) Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, for 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

Punch dough down, and divide in half; shape each half into a loaf. Place in 2 greased 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 by 3 inch loaf pans (I used 9×5 which seemed to work well, but they’ll probably be higher with the smaller pans). Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until loaves sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 loaves.

Recipe source: adapted from a 1986 Southern Living Magazine, shared with my by Tracy R.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup


I don’t think there is anything else to say.  Although this is the first chicken tortilla soup I’ve ever made, I’ve had many versions in restaurants and deli’s, and this is so much better than any of them.  If you couldn’t tell from the above exchange, I kinda get excited about food, and I’m pretty sure I moaned and squealed simultaneously when I took my first bite of this soup.  It is so bangin’ with flavor.  I just love it.

Now, I know my pictures aren’t portraying a creamy-type soup.  The day I made it, it looked super creamy like I had poured real cream into the soup, but then the leftovers betrayed me when I reheated them the next day for lunch and a photo, and it just looked like regular chicken tortilla soup.  Well, my pictures may be misleading, but I promise you this is one soup worth trying.

Creamy Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe

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1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 (16 oz) carton chicken broth
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes (I used roasted)
1 (7 oz) can green chiles, or 2 (4 oz) cans
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
6 corn tortilla, cut into thin strips
1 (15.25 oz ) can corn, drained
½ cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Optional toppings: Tortilla strips*, sour cream or Greek yogurt, cheddar cheese or avocado

Add chicken breasts, broth, tomatoes, green chiles, onion, green pepper, garlic, bay leaf, and spices to a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½-2 hours, or until the chicken is very tender.  Add the tortillas during the last fifteen minutes of cooking.  Remove chicken to a cutting board and let rest ten minutes, or until it is cool enough to touch without burning your fingers.  If your tortillas haven’t completely broken down yet, continue simmering the soup while the chicken rests.  Shred or chop the chicken and return to the pot, along with the corn, Greek yogurt, and cilantro.  Heat through and serve with optional toppings.

Crockpot directions: Add everything but the Greek yogurt and cilantro to the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 – 8 hours, until chicken is tender.  Shred chicken, return to crock.  Add yogurt and cilantro.  Cook an additional half hour.  Garnish as desired.

*Tortilla Strips:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and pour 1-2 teaspoons of vegetable oil on it.  Cut 3 corn tortillas into strips, then put on the baking sheet and use your hands to toss them with the oil until coated.  Spread out, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake until crispy, about 10 minutes.I made my tortilla strips super thin and burnt most of them, so if yours are thin, keep an eye on them–they may only need five minutes.

Recipe source: Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

Chunky Chicken Soup

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It was snowing here in Kansas yesterday, and what better way to chase away the chill than with a big bowl of soup?  This is from The Pioneer Woman‘s recipe collection, and it is fantastic.  Although I adore noodles in my chicken soup, the chicken and vegetables are the stars here and I found that I didn’t even miss the noodles.  This soup is so delicious and flavorful, the health factor was an afterthought, but realizing how healthy it is makes it a win-win in my book.  Happy mouth, happy body.

Chunky Chicken Soup

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1 whole chicken
2 (32 oz) cartons chicken broth
1 whole bay leaf
2 large onions, chopped
8 ribs of celery, trimmed & chopped
8 carrots, peeled and chopped
5 parsnips, peeled and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

Place chicken in large stock pot and pour broth over it. Add the bay leaf and chopped vegetables. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until meat is cooked through. Remove chicken to a cutting board and allow to cool until you can touch it without burning your fingers, about ten minutes. Pull the chicken from the bone, discarding the skin, and shred or chop the meat before returning it to the pot. Taste and add salt if desired. Serve hot with freshly ground black pepper over the top.

Recipe source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins {Vegan}

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You may remember these from the roundup of all my fair entries.  The challenge was to make a heart-healthy muffin using at least one soy product (the contest was sponsored by the Kansas Soy Commission) and I created these beauties using four: soy flour, soy milk, tofu, and soy “cream cheese.”

These were so delicious, I had high hopes of coming home with the $75 prize for first place.  There was just one problem.  Two, actually.  I didn’t notice, until it was too late, that these were supposed to be “fruit muffins” and one of the judging criteria was “ease of preparation.  I gave a sigh of relief over the “fruit muffin” thing because although these are mostly a vegetable muffin, there are raisins in them and so they might pass the “fruit muffin” test.  My heart sank at the second oversight, however, because these really aren’t simple to prepare.  They’re not horribly difficult, but you don’t look at a list of ingredients this long and with this many steps and call it “easy.”

Well, that’s exactly what the judges wrote on my judging paper.  “Very healthy ingredients.  Wide variety of ingredients.  They taste wonderful & attractive.  We are looking for ease of preparation & thought this muffin, though wonderful, has too many ingredients.”

Shoot.  The real kick in the butt was my soy yeast bread, though (pictured above).  It didn’t rise as well as I would have liked, and thought the judges must have found it too dense because it didn’t place.  Well, this is what they wrote on that paper: “Beautiful bread-the cinnamon with the raisins is fantastic. I loved it!  HOWEVER: due to the facts listed in the State Fair Rule Book, this entry was to be entered on a “sturdy white plain paper plate” & had to be disqualified.  I am sorry.  Please pay close attention to the listed rules.” (Wasn’t she sweet about? Aw!)

I entered my bread on a foil-wrapped piece of cardboard because that is what I used for all my other breads for the regular contests.  But the special contests apparently have special rules too. DRAT!  Oh well, maybe next year I’ll get it right.

One thing I did get right is the moisture (so moist!) and taste (like dessert!) on these muffins.  They are just SO good you would never guess they don’t have any eggs or dairy–even the soy “cream cheese” filling tastes nothing like soy.  Honestly, they hardly even taste “healthy” because they are so good.  I froze the leftovers and have been enjoying them slowly.  I have only a precious few left and even after almost two months in the freezer, they are still as wonderful as the day I made them!

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins

Printable recipe
Printable recipe with picture

Filling
8 oz. Toffutti Better Than Cream Cheese
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Muffins
1 cup white whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup soy flour*
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 ½ teaspoons salt
16 oz. silken tofu
½ cup orange juice
½ cup soy milk
¼ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 ½ cups finely shredded carrots
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup raisins

Topping
¼ cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Mix the filling ingredients together until smooth; set aside. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, rolled oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In a blender, combine tofu, orange juice, soy milk, agave nectar, and canola oil. Blend until smooth, then add the orange zest and pulse once to combine. Pour into the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until moistened. Fold in the carrots, walnuts, and raisins. Divide half the batter between prepared muffin cups, then spoon about 1 ½ teaspoons of the filling mixture over the centers before covering with the remaining batter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until the center no longer looks wet and feels done when touched in the middle (a toothpick will not come out clean because of the filling so go by the look and feel). Remove to cool completely on a wire rack.

*There’s no need to go out and buy soy flour if you don’t have it, just use a full cup of all-purpose flour and omit the soy flour.

Recipe source: adapted beyond belief from Healthy Happy Life

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