Monthly Archives: November 2013

Black Friday Overload Cure: Apple Date Oat Nut Smoothie

adonsDid you get up at the crack of dawn yesterday to get all those “DOORBUSTER” deals? Hopefully, no one ran you over and you got everything you were after. But admit it. After eating a lot on Thanksgiving, you probably ate a lot yesterday too. Between leftovers and the stop at the diner for a late breakfast, are you kind of grossed out on food? That’s okay! I have the perfect cure for your Black Friday overload; the Apple Date Oat Nut Smoothie.

Apple Date Oat Nut Smoothie
1/2 cup low fat or non-fat yogurt
1 small apple, cut into pieces your blender can handle
2 pitted dates
1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice
1/2 cup oats
4-5 pieces of ice if desired

1. Put the ingredients in your blender in the order listed.
2. Begin blending, and, if you can, gradually increase the speed to high
3. Blend to desired consistency

When I was little, my mom went through various food kicks. I vaguely remember a muesli kick where she was eating yogurt with oats, dried fruit and nuts. Or maybe I saw it on TV. Who knows? But this smoothie reminded me of muesli.

This lovely antidote to holiday overindulgence will leave you feeling very satisfied. I had it at about 8:00 this morning. It’s almost noon and I’m not even close to hungry yet.

Oh! Did you notice the new blog? I’m in the process of moving to a WP blog. All the old recipes are here, and hopefully easier to find since I’ve categorized them. So enjoy the new blog look, as well as the new smoothie!

Bacon Beer Cheese Orzo

It’s going to snow and it’s going to snow a lot! Not tonight. Not this week, but at some point this winter, we will get snow. I recommend you bookmark this recipe for that occasion. It is the ultimate comfort food. It has every element of comfort that one could desire; bacon, beer, cheese and pasta.

Comfort was needed in our house this week. There’s been an odd virus going around our house for about a month. It’s left us all with a touch of laryngitis and exhaustion. We needed some comfort food! And even though I too was stricken, I managed to muster the energy needed to whip this up.

Bacon Beer Cheese Orzo
8 pieces of bacon, cooked and cut into chunks
1/2 cup or so chopped leek or onion
olive oil for the pan
salt and pepper
1 1/2 cups orzo
1 cup beer
2 cups broth
2 tbsp butter
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar

1. Heat the olive oil on medium in a pan big enough to hold all the ingredients.
2. Add bacon, garlic and leeks or onion and cook thoroughly. 
3. Pour uncooked Orzo into the pan and stir around until coated with the oil, etc.
4. Add beer and a cup of broth and cook on low until the broth is absorbed by the orzo. Stir a lot!
5. Add the other cup of broth and, still on low, cook until that’s also absorbed. Keep stirring! The orzo should look creamy and be soft. If it’s too hard, add 1/2 cup more broth or water and continue cooking until the liquid is absorbed. That should be enough.
6. Add butter and cheese. Stir until incorporated.
7. Garnish with chopped green onion or bacon crumbles or some chopped red pepper if you have it. 

This was a huge hit in my house. There is about one serving left and my guess is someone will hide it. Correction. I KNOW that someone will hide it because that someone will be me!

We had some left over roast chicken from Costco that I also added to this. If you want to lighten this up, you can use turkey bacon and low fat cheese. And if you’re looking for other orzo recipes, please check out my No Nonsense Orzo too!


Let’s Be Thankful Soup

What if this was all you had?

Most Sundays. my son grabs a can from the pantry to bring to church. Our church collects food and other things for a local shelter year round. There’s a beautiful, hand crafted wooden box in the commons. There’s always something in it. We get a warm feeling and smiles on our faces as we deposit our offerings to the community. I’m happy to teach my kids that, no matter how hard things may seem for us, there are others who are in much worse shape who we can and should help.

So let’s talk about that. What if that was you and the food you had was largely supplemented by the cans and boxes that came from the community? How would you feel? What would you make?

As you prepare for Thanksgiving this week, please take a moment to think of those who don’t have what you have. They struggle to pay their bills and feed their family. And one night this week, go into your pantry and grab some cans. With those cans, make some soup. Just dump everything into a pot and let it simmer. Don’t get fancy and add too much to it. No pesto or curry. Maybe a little chopped onion or some garlic. This is a humble soup. As it simmers, grab a book. Read aloud to your kids. If you can’t find anything, try this poem called Thanks by W.S. Merwin. 

We will be having Let’s Be Thankful Soup on Wednesday night. I hope you will consider making it too.


Squash Soup with Sausage

I love all the flavors of fall. Of course, many of them are available year round now. But like many of you, I stick with certain foods in certain seasons. Asparagus for me is a sign of spring. I can get it any time I want but I won’t. I will only have it in the spring. Peaches are for summer. Chili is for winter. And acorn squash is a flavor for fall. I remember my mom preparing it. She would cut it in half, put butter and brown sugar in the bowl and bake it for a long time. It smelled great. I loved it then and I love it now!

I can’t get my kids to even taste squash. Heathens! But I still want it. So soup it was!

Squash Soup with Sausage (4 servings)
1 acorn squash, cooked
3 cups or more broth
half an onion, sautéed in butter
1 lb chicken sausage – I used Aidell’s Chicken Sausage with Pineapple

1. Prepare the sausage according to your taste. I sprinkled mine with a little sugar and cinnamon and baked mine for over an hour.
2. Saute the onion in a pat of butter until translucent.
3. Add the sausage and cook until heated through.
4. When the squash is done and has cooled enough that you can handle it, scoop it out of the shell.
5. Combine the squash and broth in a blender and blend until smooth.
6. Pour into a sauce pan, add sausage and onion and heat until warm.

I served mine to myself topped with chopped walnuts. It was delightful!

You can use whatever type of squash you like. You can use whatever type of sausage you like. You can use no sausage if you like! I got four good lunches out of this. Very tasty stuff! It would make a great starter for Thanksgiving too!


Orange Carrot Smoothie

We are rapidly approaching the holiday season. Life will get chaotic, with shopping and working and schlepping kids to and fro. Food choices will get poor. Very, very poor. Cookies will be everywhere!

What is one to do? How can you avoid the cookies and treats when you’re so crazy busy? It’s actually not that hard!

Last weekend, we were watching QVC. No, I’m not 90. There are times when you just need to turn away from sports and excessively repetitive news, and watch smiley happy people try to sell you stuff. This particular morning, the folks on QVC were trying to get me to buy a Vitamix blender. If you aren’t familiar with this item, it’s a high speed blender that can turn your math book into mush. Ok. I don’t know this for a fact and I’m certainly not going to try it. They succeeded. We bought it. Merry Early Christmas to me!

So I don’t know that the Vitamix will do to iPhones or math books. But I can tell you that it does a great job with all the fruits and vegetables I’ve put in it. What I’m most happy about with my new toy is that I can use  it to quickly make healthy smoothies that will help me avoid the unhealthy foods that will surround me over the next few weeks.

As I’ve told you before, the teenager isn’t a fan of vegetables, but he will tolerate them if they are ground into meat pies and pulverized in smoothies. I’ve gotten him to eat beets in a Beet and Cherry Smoothie and spinach in a Blueberry Spinach Smoothie. Now we’ve added a new veggie and fruit smoothie to the mix!

Orange Carrot Smoothie
1/2 navel orange, separated into sections
1/3 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
splash of vanilla
1/2 cup ice cubes

1. Put everything but the ice in your blender. A regular blender will do just fine. Blend until smooth. One trick I did learn from the Vitamix instructions is to start slow and increase your speed.
2. Add the ice and blend at ludicrous speed. (Bonus points if you understand my movie reference here.)

You now have one very healthy, very filling smoothie! Before you go out shopping or head off to the 300th holiday party of the season, make one. It will help you avoid the cheese and crackers, mini quiches, baby crab cakes and all the other goodies that will adorn the buffet table. Feel free to add some ginger or cinnamon. You can add a handful of oats to make it REALLY filling! And maybe this will be holiday season you won’t wake up on New Year’s Day wondering where the extra five pounds came from.