Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 50- holidays

Between the holiday baking, shopping, parties, traveling, and visiting, this blog has gotten very little attention.   But the Healthy Home revolution is still going strong!  I just completed my 2nd week of insanity and I've been eating healthier than ever.  Why wait till the new year to start a new exercise program?  I need it the most now with all the Christmas cookies around.  Ha!

So here's to eating healthy during the holiday season, if not at those holiday parties, then in between and when you have the control over what is in front of you.  Below you will find my weeks plan.  After this week things will get a little more vague as I am traveling to other people's houses for the holidays and will be cooking less myself.  I will continue to post the recipes I've made over the last few weeks that haven't made it on here yet.   Enjoy your week!

Happy Cooking!

Week 50 - December 15, 2013

Sunday - date night

Monday - lentil with broccoli and honey mustard vinaigrette

Tuesday- tacos, veggies and dip

Wednesday - meat sauce and pasta with salad

Thursday - leftovers

Friday- pizza night

Saturday- family day (making no plans)

Please Note: weeks 51 and 52 will not be posted. I'm traveling for the holidays and will have limited Internet access. Happy Holidays!!!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Week 49 - cold weather comfort

As we are all getting ready for the holidays- some of us enjoying a winter wonderland, others some unusually cold temperatures- there is nothing I want more than a big plate of heart warming comfort food. This week I'm making some of my favorites with a healthy twist. As usual, I've included the links to my inspiration but will post my versions as the week progresses. Enjoy your week and stay warm my friends!

Happy Cooking !

Week 49 - December 8, 2013

Sunday: cooks choice
Spaghetti & meatballs

Monday: meatless mondays
Salmon, Brussel sprouts, quinoa

Tuesday: comfort food
Stuffed pepper casserole, Caesar salad

Wednesday: chicken creation
Chicken yaki soba, salted edamame

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: pizza night

Saturday: Chicken pesto pasta
(My own recipe)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Easy Skillet Shrimp and Couscous

The name says it all!  Not only was this a super simple meal, but it is packed with flavor and a real crowd pleaser.  My husband loved it!  So if your family loves couscous, then give it a try!  Make it your own my changing up the veggies, but I highly recommend keeping the leeks - they give such a great onion-garlicky flavor to the dish.

Happy Cooking!

Easy Skillet Shrimp and Couscous
recipe from http://www.marthastewart.com/313967/shrimp-with-couscous?czone=food%2Fdinner-tonight-center%2Fdinner-tonight-main-courses&gallery=274502&slide=256410&center=276948

2 T olive oil 
1 1/2 lbs medium shrimp, shelled and deveined (I bought mine frozen and defrosted them according to the package directions)
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 leeks, sliced into 1/2 inch half-moons
2 carrots, shredded
4-5 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup of couscous (I used whole wheat couscous)
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup of frozen peas 

Preheat a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add 1 T of olive oil and the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook until just cooked, about 3- 5minutes.  You will need to keep an eye on them and move them around in the pan as to not overcook.

Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside. 

Now time for the veggies.  Add remaining tablespoon olive oil to pan; stir in mustard seeds. Cook until seeds begin to pop, about 30 seconds. Add the leeks, carrots and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until leeks are tender, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in couscous, peas, and 2 cups boiling water (I boiled mine in the microwave).  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp back to the pan.

Stir to combine and serve immediately!  Delicious!!!

I served this dish with lots and lots of vegetables - sauteed greens and roasted butternut squash with brussel sprouts.  So easy and yummy!  Enjoy!!!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts

If you are looking for an easy fall and/or winter side dish, then this is for you!  Throw it together in 10 minutes or less (even faster with pre-cut veggies from the grocery store) and let your oven do the rest.  This is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes on a cold day - just love it!

Happy Cooking!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprouts
1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed (or purchase some already cubed squash from your grocery store)
1 lb of brussel sprouts, trimmed and cut in half (also can be bought ready to go)
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Place your vegetables on a large cookie sheet sprayed lightly with olive oil or cooking spray.  Toss the vegetables in more olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly.  Bake at 400 for 30-40 minutes, tossing at least once about 20 minutes into the cooking process. 
Remove from the oven once tender and golden brown.  Taste to see if you need more salt and/or pepper.  Serve immediately.

Honestly, I could just eat a big bowl of these!  Love my veggies!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Week 48 - thanksgiving leftovers

I hope that you all enjoyed a long weekend with friends, family, and delicious food.  This week, I'll be creating a menu around all my thanksgiving leftovers.  We had our big dinner Friday, so in my mind, I have until Wednesday to eat the leftovers and freeze anything I don't plan to use before then.   I hate wasting food, especially with so many going hungry around the globe and here in the US.  So my goal is to always waste nothing. 

On another note, my husband is traveling again for work (leaving Friday for 6 nights) so I'm trying to sneak in a date night before he heads out of town.  Luckily, my mom is flying in to help with the kids so we'll be having fun decorating the house and baking Christmas cookies while he's away.  I love this time of year!!!  So needless to say, I don't plan to make much of anything towards the end of this week.  I'm just going to enjoy my time with loved ones.

Enjoy your week and happy cooking!

Week 48 - December 1, 2013

Sunday: turkey soup with carrots and orzo

Monday: hot turkey sandwiches with leftovers veggie sides

Tuesday: lentil soup with ham and green salad

Wednesday: Scalloped potatoes with Broccoli and Ham, green salad

Thursday: date night

Friday: Pizza and family movie night

Saturday: take-out (my mom will be visiting and we may not want to cook)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Crockpot Lasagna Soup

This crockpot concoction was so popular amongst the kids and my husband that there were hardly any leftovers out of the entire huge pot!  My toddler went back for seconds and then thirds!!!  The best way to describe this recipe is that its similar to a goulash, and its what you top it off with that makes it taste more like a lasagna - the ricotta and cheese that gets all warm and melty.  Delicious!

So this is going in my regular rotation for sure.  And the best part (for me, anyway) is that this recipe is so incredibly simple...throw it in the crockpot and let it cook all day.  Your house smells like homemade sauce and you have dinner ready for your after a long day.  I definitely recommend this one folks.  Enjoy!

Happy Cooking!
Crockpot Lasagna Soup
my version based on http://www.familyfreshmeals.com/2012/11/slow-cooker-crockpot-lasagna-soup.html
1 lb mild Italian sausage (I used turkey sausage)
3 cups of vegetable broth
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1 cup V8 (or any vegetable juice)
2 cups uncooked shell pasta
1 cup water
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp salt
Optional toppings- shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated Parmesan, and/or part-skim ricotta

Start off my combining the diced tomatoes and tomato paste in the crockpot (I used a whisk).  And my trick to getting the tomato paste out of the can?  Open up both sides with the can opener and push it through, as pictured below.  Easy and no mess, nothing wasted.
In the meantime, cook the Italian sausage over medium high heat until cooked through.  Allow it to drain on a plate lined with paper towels to soak up any extra grease...you don't want a greasy soup.  And what is it that I'm doing in the picture below?  Another trick - using a potato smasher to break up the meat into small bits as it cooks. 

Now add the V8, vegetable stock, onions, garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, pepper, and sausage.  NO WATER and NO PASTA yet...that doesn't come until its almost ready to eat.

Stir until well combined.
Cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.  Then add the water and pasta, turn to high and cook an additional 30 minutes on high. 

Serve immediately!

Eat as is or top off with as much mozzarella, parmesan, and ricotta as you would like.  So yummy!!!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week 47 - rediscovering leftovers

Thanksgiving is this week!  I LOVE thanksgiving, not just because all the food is so yummy, but because of all that it stands for.  I'm sure Thanksgiving means something different for each person, but for me if means family and giving thanks.  It means taking the time out of our super busy lives to be thankful for all the things in our life that you may not otherwise take the time to be thankful for on a daily basis.

This year, my immediate family (mom, dad, brother, and sister-in-law) are coming to stay with us for Thanksgiving.  We'll all be in the kitchen, making our family favorite side dishes and helping each other along the way.   Since they will all be driving in on Thanksgiving day, we will most likely make our big meal on Friday this year.  Kinda strange, but totally worth the wait for all that family fun time in the kitchen together.  Yes, I could cook it all myself and have it ready for them when they arrive on Thursday - but it wouldn't be the same - we all really do enjoy cooking together.  It is what makes Thanksgiving special for us.  

There is a lot of prepping and cooking for this great feast.  To give myself a break on the other days this week, I am cooking meals around things I have to use up in the freezer (such as previous meals I've frozen and some things I've bought pre-made from the freezer section of Trader Joe's).  So I'm getting creative on how to use some of my leftovers, re-creating things to look like something totally new.  I hope that I give you some ideas.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!  Enjoy your week and your turkey day celebration!

Happy Cooking!

Week 47 - November 24, 2013

Sunday:  date night

Monday:   BBQ Chicken pizza with grilled red onion, smoked gouda, mozzerella, arugula (using leftover shredded Beer BBQ chicken that I froze)

Tuesday:   Nachos with chili and a southwest salad (using leftover chili that I froze)

Wednesday:   Kung Pao Chicken, Vegetable Lo Mein, and Shu Mai (frozen from Trader Joe's)

Thursday:   (dinner the day before our thanksgiving feast)  I'm gonna roast a turkey breast for Turkey Breast sandwiches served with a few homemade soups that I have froze over the last few weeks, such as my minestrone and my kale and kielbasa soups

Friday:  Roasted Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, sausage and mushroom stuffing, roasted butternut squash and brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, garlicky kale & collard greens, mac n cheese, apple pie, pumpkin oreo mini cheesecakes

Saturday:  leftovers

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Steak Fajitas

These are AMAZING!!!!  If you like fajitas, especially those served at some chain-restaurants, then you must try these.  They are so easy to make and SOOOOOO much better tasting.  You will be impressed by the complex flavors and the massive amount that this recipe makes.  This can easily serve for 6-8 people.  The leftovers make an amazing fajita salad too.  Delicious!  If you own a cast-iron pan, then definitely use it.  Otherwise, use the heaviest pan you have or a grill pan (often heavy duty).  I hope that your fajita loving family enjoys this recipe as much as we do!

Happy Cooking!
Steak Fajitas
based on the recipe from  http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2013/03/beef-fajitas/
2 lbs of beef flank steak
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T cumin
1 T chili powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 T sugar
2-3 cups of assorted bell peppers, sliced (I used 1 red, 1 orange, and some yellowish green peppers I had frozen from the summer)
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
olive oil for frying peppers and onions
flour tortillas, warmed (I used whole wheat tortillas)
assorted toppings, such as shredded cheese, sliced avocado, cilantro, salsa, and/or sour cream
    In a bowl or large liquid measuring cup, mix together olive oil, worcestershire, lime juice, garlic, cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and sugar until combined.

    You will use half the marinade for the steak, the other half for the vegetables. In one large dish, place the flank steak and cover it with half the marinade, turning it over to coat.

    In a second dish or bowl, place all the veggies and the rest of the marinade, turning to coat. Cover the dishes with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

    Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in some oil. Add the veggies and cook them for 15-30 minutes, until they're cooked through, nicely caramelized and have nice black/brown pieces.  This will make your house smell heavenly!  I couldn't wait for dinner to be ready!!!

    In the meantime, you can begin grilling your steak.  Grill the steak on your outdoor grill over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes on each side for medium rare, depending on how thick your steak is.  (If you would like to cook it indoors, you can heat the same same skillet (or a grill pan if you have it) over high heat and drizzle some oil. Cook the meat for about 2 minutes per side until medium rare).  Remove the steak from the heat and allow it to rest on a cutting board for 10 minutes.

    Slice the meat right before serving - be sure to cut the meat against the grain, as I tried to demonstrate in the first picture below.  I actually cut each piece of steak in half, then turned it and cut against the grain.  Cutting against the grain insures a tender piece of meat.

    Serve on a tortilla (I used whole wheat) with all your favorite fixings.  Enjoy!!!

    Friday, November 22, 2013

    Minestrone Soup with Pesto Cheesy Bread

    This is the perfect cold day comfort food for me - a bowl of hearty, healthy, warm soup with something cheesy and decadent to dip into it.  Love this combination!  The pesto is the perfect compliment to the rich tomato base of the soup.   It was a hit with the family too. 

    If you've been following my weekly meal plans, then you would have seen that I'm starting to make a soup almost every week.  I love it!  Soup is not only amazing that night, but so good as leftovers for lunch or easy to freeze for future dates. 

    So next time you are looking for a new soup recipe, give this one a try - with or without the bread! 

    Happy Cooking!

    Minestrone Soup with Pesto Cheesy Bread
    my recipe based on some original ideas and the recipe found at http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/winter-minestrone-recipe/index.html
    2 T olive oil
    1 onion, chopped
    2 carrots, peeled, chopped
    2 celery stalks, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 bag baby spinach
    1 potato, peeled, cubed
    1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes, with the juices
    1 fresh rosemary sprig
    2 (14-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth (I used the broth leftover from the short rib recipe I made...it already had herbs in it, so I skipped the rosemary too)
    1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained, rinsed
    1/4 cup water
    salt and pepper to taste
    parmesan cheese for serving

    for the bread:
    1 (6 inch) piece of french bread, cut in half length wise (I like to use the mini-loaves my grocery store sells, but you can double or triple the recipe if you want)
    3 T pre-made pesto
    1/3 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese

    Heat a large pot over medium heat.  Add the olive oil, carrots, celery and onion and saute until translucent (about 5-7 minutes), stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and stir just until it becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). 

    Add the the beef stock, tomatoes and rosemary (optional).  Stir and allow the soup to come to a slow rolling boil over medium heat.
    In a food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans with 1/4 cup of water and puree until smooth.  This adds richness to the soup and thickens it up as well.  (set the remaining beans aside - we will add these later).

    Add this to the soup and stir until well combined. 
    Now add the potato and baby spinach.  Allow this to continue to simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. 

    Lastly, add the beans and cook an additional 5 minutes, just until the beans are warmed through.

    Serve immediately with some parmesan cheese on the side or keep it over low until you make the delicious cheesy bread...

    For the bread...
    preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spread the pesto evenly over both sides.

    Sprinkle evenly with the cheese.

    Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown around the edges.

    Serve immediately with the soup...a perfect dipper!  Enjoy!!!