Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Unexpected Chai Tea

What makes this Chai tea so 'unexpected'? It's the type of tea's I used to make it. I use a nice quality kukicha green tea and....drum roll please, Lapsang SouChong. If you have never had a campfire warmly taken in through your mouth and not your skin and nose, you are in for a treat! This is one of the most unexpected flavors in teas that I have found. It is very dark and smoky, the leaves are hand-picked, fermented and smoked over pinewood embers. This tea tastes as mysterious as it sounds and makes a mean chai. I hope you look for it today and try it out!

Unexpected Chai Tea

2 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamon pods
5 cloves
2 quarter size pieces of ginger, sliced
1/4 tsp cracked pepper
1/2 tsp vanilla, pure
5 TB loose-leaf green tea
1 TB Lapsang Souchong
2 cups milk, (I use farm-fresh and raw)
4 TB honey

1. Place the first 7 ingredients in a sauce pan, stopping before you add the tea. Let this simmer for 10 minutes.
2. After 10 minutes, add the tea and let simmer for another 3 minutes.
3. Turn heat down to low and pour in the milk, add the honey. Taste and adjust any spices to your liking.

Just a side note: I like a strong, spicy chai. To make this stronger in flavor, I added additional powdered cinnamon, cardamon and a little more powdered clove. I use powdered forms of the spices that were previously steeped whole and it came out wonderful. This tea is not a science and adjusting it to your taste is really the only way it will come out perfect. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

To another winter day whittled away in the kitchen,

Friday, January 7, 2011

Chili Days!

When it is blowing COLD outside, a huge pot of chili can make it feel good! This dish is sure to fire you up, but if you need it a little more mild, you might want to cut the chili powder in half. For those of you that don't mind a HOT kick, I say throw it all in!


1/2 tsp butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large carrot, small thin coins
1/4 cup white wine (or water if you don't have it)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 LG (40.5 oz) can kidney beans, undrained (or 2-3, 15 oz. cans)
1 can (7 oz.) tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can, fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup chili powder
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB cumin, ground
2 TB paprika
1 TB oregano
1/2 lb ground sirloin (or turkey if you are watching calories) (always hormone/antibiotic free)

1. Brown the meat and set aside.

*Nutritional tip- Rinse your cooked meat under hot water in a colander. You will save yourself much fat and calories by getting in this habit. After the meat has been rinsed, place it back in the pan and add a few spices to flavor it again. Possible spice choices are pepper, parsley, garlic, or an Italian seasoning blend. You can use these spices in place of salt to help watch the sodium in your diet. Do this every time you brown meat to cut down on saturated fat.

2. Place butter in a stock pot. On medium heat, saute the onion and celery for 4 minutes. Add the garlic, wine, vinegar and carrots to the pot. Let simmer for a few minutes until carrots soften.

3. Place the undrained kidney beans, tomato sauce and diced tomatoes in the pot and add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano and cilantro.

4. Mix in the cooked hamburger, simmer for 10-15 min. Stir well and serve.

This chili is great served with sour cream and tortilla chips! If it is too hot for you, then the sour cream can be used to tone it down!

Nutritional Tip:

Capsaicin is the component that gives peppers their heat. There are some interesting studies showing that eating hot peppers may help raise your metabolism for a few hours afterward. We are all aware of how eating hot peppers can make your mouth burn and your body sweat. By raising your metabolism you are changing how quickly your body burns off calories! The higher you can get your metabolism, the more calories you use up and not store as body fat.

Also, capsaicin is showing in some studies to release endorphins or 'feel-good' chemicals in us. Maybe that's the reason why chili is so good on a cold night? If there is enough chili powder in it, it could raise our core temperature for a few hours and give us feelings of comfort. You have to love a natural ingredient that can do that!

Let the wind blow, because we've got chili!

Much warmth to you all,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Creamed Pork Chops and Asparagus

Just finding out today about an office potluck party that is happening tomorrow, I needed to make something good with just the ingredients I had on hand. I didn't want to go to the grocery store in 25 degree weather. Also, knowing that most office parties have plenty of sweets but less savories, I wanted to create something that could be served for lunch and not dessert.
Looking in my fridge, I noticed that I had some fresh pork chops waiting to be cooked, but it was only a package of 4. How am I going to make that stretch? Continuing to look, I noticed I had no milk! Great, now what? Wait! I do have sour cream and I know in cases of emergency, I have canned evaporated milk somewhere....Hold on! Don't stop reading! I know it may sound gross but it actually gets better and in the end, turns out yummy...soooo, continuing on, I had a package of hard boiled eggs from the deli and some frozen asparagus in my freezer. Now what can a girl make with all of this hodge podge? Take it in and spin it around- I remembered a creamed ham and asparagus recipe in one of my old cookbooks! If I took out the ham and replaced it with pan-fried pork chops and added different seasonings, maybe I could come up with a winning creamed pork chop and asparagus recipe! Well, here's my attempt and I have to say, I could hardly keep my husband out of it.

Creamed Pork Chops and Asparagus

1 package of 4 pork chops (antibiotic/hormone free)
1 TB olive oil
1 tsp butter (the real deal)
Italian seasoning (sprinkled over chops)
salt (Pink Himalayan is wonderful)
black pepper (black, cracked is best)

Place the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat when hot, place pork chops on oil. Cook on one side till browned (about 7 minutes) sprinkle salt, pepper, and Italian seasonings on the side up. After browning the first side, turn over and cook through. salt, pepper and season second side.

Take off the stove, and slice in thin slices. Turn slices and cube the meat. Set aside.

Creamed Asparagus

1 package of frozen or fresh asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
1 cup milk (I used evaporated, all I had!)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 TB corn starch
2 TB milk
2 TB butter
1/2 tsp Italian seasonings
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

1. In a saucepan, cook asparagus in a small amount of water until tender. Drain, and set aside.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan mix cornstarch with the 2 TB of milk. Add butter, salt, pepper, sour cream and remaining milk.
3. Let cook until the mixture thickens and bubbles.
4. Add the Italian seasonings, pork chops, eggs, and asparagus. stir well.

You can add any additional salt, pepper, or Italian seasonings to your taste.
Serve with buttered toast or biscuits.

I really hope you enjoy this spin on an old classic- creamed ham. The pork chops are an unexpected but tasty surprise!

Here's to making it work and having a Happy Holiday Season!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Tasty Tangerine Cake

I am unsure if I should call this a 'cake' recipe. For most people, that means it's an indulgence of sugar. This cake is a little more on the healthy side with not too much sweetness but enough to get your sugar fix if your sweet tooth is hollering!
It's really more like a coffee cake and if you do not have tangerines, feel free to exchange a large orange for them. By using the entire fruit, skin and all, it gives this cake a really unique taste. I think it is perfect with a good rich, dark coffee or a hot cup of green tea. I hope you will agree!

Tasty Tangerine Cake

2 Tangerines
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9-inch pan or tube pan.

1. Squeeze tangerines and reserve the juice, place tangerines in a blender.
2. Blend entire tangerines with milk and eggs on high until smooth.
3. Pour tangerine mixture into a bowl. Add the flour and baking soda.
4. Mix together gently
5. Melt butter. Add the honey and butter to the tangerine mixture.
6. Add raisins and walnuts, mix well.
6. Pour into a well greased pan or tube pan.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until top springs back. Pour reserved juice over hot cake and leave in the pan until almost completely cooled. Remove from pan and let finish cooling!

If you like, you can sprinkle powder sugar over the top to make the presentation prettier.

(Recipe modified from The Horn of the Moon Cookbook by Ginny Callan)

Nutritional Tip:

Tangerines are an excellent source of vitamin B and C Vitamins. During the winter months, in order to help fight off colds, it is helpful to increase your vitamin C consumption. Not to mention that Vitamin C makes your skin look fantastic throughout the year!

If you are going to eat cake you might as well eat one made with healthy fruit and less refined sugar. We all need to watch the amount of sugar coursing through our veins these days! We do not want to contribute to the diabetes epidemic spreading to our friends and family.
This recipe retains all the fiber of the fruit and includes more with the addition of whole wheat flour. Fiber helps slow down the absorption rate of food and helps us to feel full. I have heard people say they could eat an entire sheet cake without thinking about it. That's because it is basically flour, sugar and water with ZERO nutritional benefits. That combination seems to disappear like air in our mouths and in our stomachs, leaving us hungry a short time later. It is too bad it does not disappear like air on our hips! Haha! This recipe gives you more nutrients than most cakes. Let me know if you enjoyed it!

Living Out Loud,

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Healthy One-Dish Winners

I'm baaack~ Hi everyone! I first have to apologize for taking so long to post. Life's pace has picked up and quick standbys of past entries are all I have found time for these days. However, I love being able to hunt back through the blog for that easy meal! I have made the pizza recipe a few times (June 21st), changing up the toppings every time. Another go-to meal is the black bean burger (Aug 19) and the cilantro potato soup (Sept 10). The potato soup is quick and really good on a cold night! Today's entry is pork chops with roasted winter veggies. I used brussel sprouts and carrots all in the same dish. It's an easy prep and an easy clean. You can't beat the no-fuss meal!

Pork Chops, Brussel Sprouts and Carrots

1 package of boneless pork chops or pork roast (as always, hormone/antibiotic free)
2 cups brussel sprouts
4 large carrots
1 cup chicken broth
2 TB mustard (I used a spicy, german mustard)
1 tsp garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Place pork chops in a baking dish and sprinkle salt and pepper over top.
2. Mix together mustard and garlic. Spread it over the pork chops.
3. Trim the ends off of the Brussels sprouts and add them on top of the chops.
4. Clean the carrots and cut them into large chunks. Add to the baking dish.
5. Pour broth over it all.
6. Place in an oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour.

Super simple, healthy and quick. What more could you ask for in a dish?

Holiday Food Tip:

In order to prepare for the holidays, start cutting back now in small, incremental ways to stay trim and healthy throughout the season. One way to do this is to start now, not serving breads or heavy starches with your dinner meals. Start eating lean protein with healthy vegetables and aim at cutting your calorie count by 100-200 calories a day. If you do this, it is like having a bank account that you've placed a nice little savings in. You can 'withdraw' from this account during the holidays without putting on the extra 5-10 lbs that most of us gain during the season! Have your piece of pecan pie and then the next day 'pay your account back' by going for a long walk or cutting 200 calories from another meal.

Take Control and Enjoy the Holiday Season This Year!

Sending Out Much Love,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Healthier Cupcakes? Yes and No~

This week NPR did a story on healthier cupcakes using beans as a base ingredient. I decided to try a recipe out and see how they taste. Personally, I thought they were not stellar and probably would not make them again unless I came up with some major renovations! The bean base tasted a little bitter and had a weird aftertaste. Just for the record, I used top organic ingredients including cocoa powder and I have taste buds which love different flavor combinations. That's why I was shocked when I did not like these! It was my first attempt and I did stay true to the recipe given, so if I ever try these again, I will make some recipe modifications and see how they turn out. The idea of a healthier cupcake is worth the exploration!

Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes

Makes 1 dozen cupcakes
For Cake
15-ounce can unseasoned black beans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon instant espresso
3 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

Like I said, this recipe is open for lots of experimenting! Sometimes the search for healthier is a great success; sometimes it is a bust. This recipe is a good effort. My husband just came in, took one bite and said, "mmm...These are good!". So who knows? Just maybe your kids would like these better than the regular version. You know the ones without any redeeming qualities! Is it worth the effort? I think so.

Thank you NPR!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cilantro Potato Soup

Sometimes only a potato can satisfy. Here's a comfort dish that you can't go wrong with!
Cilantro Potato Soup

1 med onion
1 TB butter
4 Large potatoes, (I leave them unpeeled) cube 3/4-inch
2 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup cilantro
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
3 TB olive oil
3 TB flour
2 TB parsley (fresh or dried)

1. In a large pot, saute onion in butter till translucent
2. Add Potatoes, water, cilantro, salt, pepper, paprika, and tomato sauce; let boil
3. Reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes until potatoes are tender, stir occassionally
4. In a small skillet, combine oil and flour until smooth. Cook over med heat until mixture is golden brown, stirring constantly. Be Careful- It will burn easy!
5. Stir mixture into hot soup. Add parsley. Cook and stir for another 5 minutes until soup thickens!

Nutritional Tips:

White potatoes are hugely popular but usually in the form of french fries! French fries should be kept as a rare treat. In a soup or baked with healthy toppings, the potato can be a nutritious part of anyone's diet.
The white potato contains valuable nutrients, such as iron and potassium. It is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. It is also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Potassium and Manganese.

Enjoy it!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Applesauce Pork Chops

Apples are in season here in South Carolina! What an exciting cooking time of the year! Apple Pork Chops, Apple Pies, Baked Apples, and not too mention the sheer joy of eating an apple every day to keep the doctor away!

Here is one of my favorite dishes for Fall.

Applesauce Pork Chops

6 Porkchops (preferrably organic, farm-raised)
1 TB olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced in rings
1/2 cup raisins
2 large apples
1 cup apple juice (real apple juice, no HFCS!)
1/2 cup apple sauce (optional)
1 TB brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

1. Brown pork chops in oil on both sides
2. Place in a large ungreased baking dish
3. Place onions on top of pork chops
4. Sprinkle half the raisins on top
5. In a bowl mix apple juice and sauce, brown sugar, salt, basil, nutmeg and cloves; pour it over chops. Sprinkle rest of raisins on top.
6. Bake at 35o degrees for 60 to 90 minutes, until meat is tender

Nutritional Tips:

Apples are loaded with insoluble fiber that helps us feel full and protects against colon cancer.
They are a good source of vitamin C. If you have any open cuts or wounds, eat a ton of vitamin C to help heal your body and fight infection.

Eating apples along side a protein source (such as a pork chop) will help aid in the absorption of the iron. Vitamin C always helps the body absorb iron.

Pork Chops can be a healthy addition to your diet. As always, try and buy organic meats. They are raised without growth hormones, antibiotics, and in a humane way.
Pork is a great source of B vitamins, zinc, and especially Thiamine. Thiamine helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Who doesn't need more energy?

That's all there is to this recipe - short, sweet and yummy! I hope you all enjoy your last days of summer.

Falling head first into the Apple season,

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rosemary Olive Bread

Since my dog loves to find the new loaves of bread in our breadbasket, pull them out and eat them while we are away, I needed to make bread for my basil, tomato, and mozzarella sandwiches today. I chose to make a recipe using my machine. I hope you enjoy it!

Rosemary Olive Bread

1 Cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1 TB of dry active yeast (or 1 packet)
2 TB sugar
1/4 olive oil
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 TB chopped, fresh rosemary
1/2 cup stuffed pimento olives (I used from a jar)

1. Place water, yeast, and sugar in bread machine pan. Let foam for 10 minutes.
2. Take scissors and cut two large stems of rosemary into your yeast mixture.
3. Add oil, flour and salt.
4. Spoon out 1/2 cup olives onto a plate. Take a handheld food chopper and chop olives into smaller bites. Add to the mix.
5. Place in machine and cook on basic or white bread setting- press start.

To make basil, tomato, mozzarella sandwiches. Cut slices of bread, drizzle olive oil across, layer your basil leaves, then tomatoes, then a layer of mozzarella. Place in oven set on broiler. That's it, but watch it closely or it will burn you can see!

Nothing Beats Fresh Bread and Smiles,

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Homemade, Simple Chicken Potpie

Homemade Chicken Potpie

1 package organic chicken drumsticks (4)
1 package frozen mixed vegetables
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken soup
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp red wine vinegar (optional, I use for a little more flavoring)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
and your favorite spices.

I added turmeric, pepper flakes, parsley, onion powder.

1. Boil frozen or thawed chicken in a large pot for one hour. Use tongs to place in a bowl. When cool enough, strip meat off bone and shred it in a bowl. Set aside.
2. Open frozen veggies (any variety, I used gumbo mix) place in a frying pan let cook until the water has evaporated. On a medium heat, make a well in the middle of the veggies, pour oil in center and add chicken to the olive oil. Stir and cook until chicken is browned a little and mixed in with the veggies.
3. add milk, soup, and vinegar stir-well.
4. mix in your favorite spices
5. Place mixture on top of your crust
6. Place second crust on top of mixture, cut a slit down the center of the pie for heat to escape.
Place in a heated 375 degree oven, cook until crust is golden. Aprox. 25-30 minutes

You can use a store-bought crust or my easy recipe for a quick crust.

Olive Oil Pie Crust

2 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup olive oil

Place flour and salt in a large bowl. Add milk and olive oil. Stir until dry ingredients are blended. Divide dough into two round balls. Place a ball in between two pieces of wax paper. Roll out using a pin (or a large drinking glass) Remove top layer of wax paper. Carefully pick up wax paper with crust on it. Peel paper off as you place over the top of your pie pan. press edges to fit the pan. Pour chicken filling into pie crust. Roll out the second ball. Place the rolled crust on top of mixture and slit the top. Bake and eat!

That's it! Home-made chicken potpie! Delicious!

Thanks for Checking In!