Monday, October 27, 2014

Kyle's Butternut Squash Soup

My son Kyle is taking after his dad (and grandpa), becoming pretty adventurous in the kitchen!
Because he has a gift (not like me), he doesn't need to use a recipe, 
so I don't have one to share, but I do have some awesome photos 
of the deliciousness we had over here on Friday night.
Kyle made butternut squash soup--It was soooo good!

First, he chopped up green apples, peeled squash, carrots and fresh ginger.

Then he sauteed onions

before adding the root veggies, fruit and some vegetable broth and cooking it all until soft.

After that, Kyle blended the result in batches.

He added salt and pepper, too, of course.
This is the gorgeous result.

This time, the whipping cream was forgotten,
but we loved it anyway.

Maybe Kyle will have a cooking blog of his own one day!
For a printer-friendly version of this soup, click here.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rabbit Food Sandwich a.k.a. Smashed Chickpea & Avocado Salad Sandwich Spread

Did you know that the USDA no longer uses the "Food Pyramid" as a guide and instead uses the "My Plate" reference? Until this post, I didn't. Here is the plate for dietary recommendations for adults:

Whenever I try to feed my husband fresh vegetables, he says, "That's not food; that's what food eats!" or "That's rabbit food!" I haven't given up, though, and when I saw this recipe (like egg salad, but without eggs or mayo), I thought it would be a great way to beef up a neglected portion of Mr.4444's diet.

Outside of hummus, I've not eaten chickpeas much, and Mr.4444 never even eats hummus when it's an appetizer, so I didn't let him see what the ingredients in this recipe were when I was preparing it. His verdict, "It's a really great sandwich, Hon!" (It also makes a great dip!)

For a simple, no-nonsense, printable version of this recipe, click here.


1 large, ripe avocado
1 15-oz can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
Juice from one lime
1/4 cup freshly-chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Bread (of course)
Sandwich toppings of your choice, such as lettuce/spinach, tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, etc.

FYI, I ended up using a different bread than that in the photo, simply because I realized I had half a loaf of other bread to use first. I've never had the "Sprouted Grains," bread, and I'm hoping it's good!

First, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans. The recipe recommended removing the skins, which until that moment I hadn't realized existed! Who knew garbanzo beans had skins?! I did this in the colander, in the sink, gently rubbing them to reveal the skins. Full-disclosure: The original recipe says that it takes ten minutes to prep, but this part of the prep took me ten minutes!

Pretty interesting!

There's only a subtle difference between garbanzo beans with or without skin, but I agree that this recipe is better without that added texture.

(Skinned on the left, unskinned on the right)

I was so distracted by my new garbanzo-skin knowledge that I failed to read the directions that said to drain them, rinse them, and then lay them on a paper towel to dry them. I did this after my de-skinning in the colander process and learned that the gentle rubbing with a paper towel sloughs the skins off, too. (I had missed some!)

Place all of the ingredients in a flat-bottomed bowl 

and smash with a potato masher until you have the desired texture. (If you missed any skins, they'll appear during this process.)

Looks just like guacamole, doesn't it?!

Assemble your sandwich

 and enjoy!

I really liked the cilantro and lime juice flavors in this sandwich! It was a nice, 
guilt-free alternative to mayo, and the texture was nice.
 I'm not sure rabbits enjoy limes, but I actually did think that rabbits would love this sandwich, too.

Too bad there wasn't any extra (Makes 3-4 sandwiches).

Friday, March 28, 2014

California Quinoa Salad

On a recent trip to Minneapolis, I was thrilled to visit Whole Foods, the deli of which is always a highlight of my visit, as I love their salads. (I also love that they let you sample them.) On that particular visit, I fell in love with their California Quinoa salad, made with red quinoa, veggies and fruits and some type of light dressing that tasted guilt-free. Sadly, though, the guilt returned when I saw the price sticker on the pound-and-a-half container when I got it home--$13! I resigned myself to not buying it again (which is easy, since we don't have a Whole Foods where I live) and just enjoying the salad. Then I remembered Pinterest! This recipe is inspired by this pin and this pin.

For a no-nonsense version of this recipe, click here. For the nutrition facts, scroll to the bottom of this post.


3 1/2 cups of vegetable broth (or water)
2 cups uncooked quinoa (I used red; it's pretty!)

1/2 cup dried fruit of your choosing [I switched the pictured raisins out (too old) for Door County cranberries. You could use cherries, too.]

First, put the broth, quinoa, and dried fruit in a saucepan and heat it to boiling over medium heat.

By the way, I didn't have any broth and didn't want to use plain water, so I made my own broth! (So exciting!) All you have to do is throw some veggies (any, really) into a pot of water, season it with salt and pepper, bring it to a boil and simmer for at least an hour, then strain it.

And now, back to our show!  Once the quinoa mixture is boiling, lower the heat and cook (covered) 15-20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed. To be completely honest, after 20 minutes, my quinoa was still a little soupy, but I liked its texture, so I just drained it and moved on.)

While that's cooking, prep the rest of the delicious, healthy ingredients:

2 mangos, peeled and diced (I only used one, but will use two next time.)
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup finely-chopped red onion
1 cup shelled edamame
3 tablespoons finely-chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup sliced almonds (I just chopped mine.)
2 limes (zest and juice)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 orange, peeled, skin removed, and diced (This will be my addition next time.)

Don't let the coconut scare you; I couldn't even taste it.

Do yourself a favor and zest the limes before you cut and juice them! (I forgot.)

To me, the mixture looked like Christmas candy of some kind. Yum...

When the quinoa mixture is somewhat cooled, mix everything together, and voila!

While typing this, I decided I would add another mango and maybe an orange, 
because I have a sweet tooth, but it was delicious, all the same, 
and I'll definitely be making this again.

Serve warm or cold.
Makes about three quarts.

Believe it or not, I had no clue how to cut a mango, 
so I found this video, which made it seem simple.
(Keyword: seem)

P.S. Guessing that this recipe makes 14 cups (one cup per serving), 
I analyzed it via SparkPeople and got the following result:

Friday, February 14, 2014

Stuffed Green Pepper Soup

This delicious soup offers a lot of bang for the effort-buck; it really couldn't be simpler. 
It's no wonder my neighbor, Judy, chose it for her soup swap contribution! (Thanks, Judy!) 

Just brown and drain the ground beef, add it with the rest, and simmer for a while. Delicious!


2 lbs. ground beef, cooked and drained
2 quarts water
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes (undrained)
      (for a little spice, use diced tomatoes and chillies)
1 can (28 ounce) tomato sauce
2 cups cooked long grain white rice
2 cups chopped green pepper (I used 1 1/4 large green peppers)
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

While you're browning the ground beef and cooking the rice, prep your veggies:

Next, throw everything into a large saucepan or Dutch Oven.

What's that, you say? That's not a skillet; it's a saucepan?
Yes, I soon realized that was risky.

However, the soup and I survived unscathed.

Cover, and simmer 30-40 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Serve with your favorite crusty bread or nothing at all; it doesn't really need a sidekick.

Makes about 10 servings.

"What's that?" you say? "Is that a sidekick?"
No; it's the other delicious soup I made today--Black Bean and Quinoa
(for the adventurous, spinach-loving types).
Quinoa is nothing to be afraid of; it's like rice, only smaller and better for you.
You can find that recipe here.

To find a printer-friendly version of Stuffed Green Pepper Soup, click here.

Black Bean and Quinoa Soup

You'd be hard pressed to find a single unhealthy ingredient in this hearty, colorful soup; and yet, it tastes delicious, especially on the second day. [Warning: Not for spinach or black bean haters!]


1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped fresh tomato
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 large carrot, chopped
5 cups low sodium or no-salt-added vegetable broth
3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (15 ounce) cans low sodium or no-salt-added black beans, drained
4 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 avocado, chopped

[I must interject to say that I used regular chicken broth and regular black beans, with no regard to salt content in either. So, technically, it's not really healthy, but it's healthy enough for me!]

First, prep your ingredients:

I gave the beans only a slight rinse.

The quinoa is simple to rinse in a colander. 

Never had quinoa? Neither had I, a year or so ago, but it's nothing to be afraid of; it's simply a grain with a mild flavor and good a pleasant texture. It's a little like barley, I guess.

Saute onion and green pepper with 2-3 tablespoons of water in a soup pot,

until tender (about 5 minutes), adding more water if needed to prevent sticking. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomato, cumin, chili powder and red pepper flakes and cook for 2-3 minutes, until tomatoes soften. 

Add carrots and vegetable broth, bring to a boil, stir in the rinsed quinoa, reduce heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add black beans and continue cooking until heated through and quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Add spinach and stir until wilted. Mmmmm.....I love spinach!

Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve garnished with chopped avocado (optional, of course).

Makes two quarts.

The other delicious soup in the photo is Stuffed Green Pepper Soup
I made both soups within two hours.

You can find a printer-friendly version of this recipe here.

If this is your recipe, I apologize for not giving due credit; I simply forgot where I found it! I will happily amend the post with credit when provided such.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Banana Almond Chocolate Chip "Ice Cream"

I have a new, favorite treat.
It tastes surprizingly like ice cream, but it's much less guilt-producing!
Who knew that sliced, frozen bananas, when blended, tasted like ice cream?!
My friend Colleen's son did; that's who! (Thanks for sharing, Colleen!)

This is an excellent way to use up bananas you can't otherwise find a use for.
I have a freezer full of frozen bananas I've never gotten around to using.
Not anymore, though!
I mix the following in my Nutribullet, but I'm sure a blender would work, too.

1 sliced banana, frozen
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 1/2 teaspoons flaxseed
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 1/2 teaspoons of chocolate chips

Blend it all up and enjoy with a spoon or straw. Delicious!!

In addition to the nutritional information below (which I gleaned from My Fitness Pal), add 78 calories for the chocolate chips.

The same amount of ice cream would be at least 450 calories 
and contain 75% of the recommended daily allowance for fat calories.