Carrot-Zucchini Bread, Two Ways

I purchased the CUTEST cake platter at Goodwill{!} for eight bucks last week. So, naturally, I’ve had to have something in it at all times. When the kids and I made the cake, it perfectly displayed it, but then the cake was gone.

I didn’t want to make another sugar-laden treat, so I decided on the best thing I know how to bake: bread.

During the fall and winter months, we have home made pumpkin bread aplenty, but since it’s summer {and I don’t have gobs of pumpkin puree}, carrot zucchini bread sounded light and refreshing.

Now, I wouldn’t consider this recipe necessarily healthy, rather healthier than it’s original. For breads, I usually swap all purpose flour for whole wheat, reduce the sugar by 1/4 and replace one egg for flax seed. That’s a little better, but the cup of oil and cup + of sugar make this a decadent treat to be had sparingly.

| Zucchini Carrot Bread

makes 2 loaves

3 C whole wheat flour

1 TSP cinnamon

1/2 TSP allspice

3 TSP baking powder

3/4 TSP salt

1 C peeled and grated carrots {about 4 large, whole carrots}

1 C zucchini {about 3/4 one large zucchini, not peeled}

1 C canola oil

3 eggs {or sub 1 egg for 1 TBS flax seed + 3 TBS water}

3/4 C white sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

2 TSP vanilla

Grease two 8 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch loaf pans and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix well the first 5 ingredients. In another large bowl, beat eggs until fluffy. Continue beating while you slowly drizzle in the oil. When the eggs and oil are well mixed, continue beating still, and slowly add the sugars, then vanilla. Fold in the veggies.

Mix in the dry ingredients to the wet until well incorporated. When thoroughly mixed, add half of the contents of the bowl to each loaf pan. Place in the oven for about 45 minutes, then check if they’re done by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s finished. If it doesn’t, let it cook another five minutes, then check again.

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Two Ways

Now, I don’t normally {ever} write recipes on using a food two ways, but I often do it in real life as leftovers are a wonderful thing.

When we ran out of eggs, and I asked Husband to get some, he remarked by saying that the reason we are always out of eggs is because “that’s all you make for breakfast.”  {Let me point out that I have made homemade pancakes, peanut butter toast, and even allowed them to have cereal in the last five days}. Hmph. Well, I’ll show him!

I still required eggs for this, but it was different than the norm fried egg with toast that they supposedly “always” have.

| Carrot Zucchini Bread French Toast

serves 4

4 slices of carrot zucchini bread

2 eggs

1/4 C milk

1 TBS sugar

Butter, as you need

In a shallow dish {or pie pan}, beat the eggs with the milk and sugar. Heat a skillet on medium heat and toss in a tablespoon of butter. As the butter is melting, dip the bread in the egg mixture, letting it soak for a couple minutes, then turn it over and repeat. Place the soggy break in the buttered pan and let cook about 1 minute, or until the side is fully golden brown. Flip and repeat with each slice.

Serve with a pat of butter and, if desired, syrup {this is delicious with pumpkin, raisin, or really, any other bread you like}.

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Enjoy!

Gazpacho and Spring Cleaning

That title is probably totally weird to you, but yesterday I did probably like my 10th spring cleaning of the year so far, and it always feels so great. Once I’m done, anyway. I tackled about 6 loads of laundry, deep cleaned both bathrooms, organized our closet and coat closet among other tasks {we are still going to clean the kids bedrooms out this weekend – they come home in 11 days!}.

All the spring cleaning, plus the 80+ degree weather {finally!} and our extremely well-behaved puppy at the park all made me think of those simple things that remind me of summer; lazing around on a hot summer day at the pool or a park, all the windows wide open letting in fresh air…

But one thing that’s not really my all-time favorite summer activity is cooking. If you recall, last summer I made a handful of different soups, which sounds crazy in hot weather. My logic is that you just throw everything in one pot, cover it and let it sit. No slaving over a hot stove or multiple burners heating up your house.

Something that {I honestly have no idea why or where I got it from} I have been wanting to make for the past week or two is Gazpacho. I did some reading up on this cold soup, and it’s just my kind of dish. I like foods that don’t always have an exact recipe, rather a backbone that you build off of to fit your palette/fridge/budget.

It was so refreshing and surprisingly FILLING. I couldn’t eat my entire bowl {I think maybe because the water content is so high} but I wish I could have. This recipe makes a huge pot and could probably serve 6 comfortably as a side dish. Possibly the best part is that there’s no heat required.

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| Gazpacho

Serves approx. 6

5 Roma tomatoes

1 red/purple onion

1 large cucumber

1 red bell pepper

4 celery stalks

3 cloves garlic

1/2 jalapeno

a handful of cilantro

3 TBS tomato juice

3 TBS olive oil

3 TBS white wine vinegar

1/2 TSP salt

avocado to garnish {optional}

1/2 TBS agave

Finely dice the first eight ingredients. Put half of all the vegetables in a blender plus the last 4 ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour out the blended mix into a large bowl and set aside. Add the other half of the vegetables to the blender/food processor and pulse until they become minced, but not pureed. Add in the minced vegetables into the blended vegetables and stir well.

It is best if this soup sits in the fridge for 8+ hours.

Garnish with slices of avocado and a couple sprigs of cilantro, if desired.

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Enjoy on a hot day!

Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

Normally, when I think of salad, I definitely don’t think of warmth on my plate. I think of cool, crisp leaves with sweet tomatoes, creamy avocado and crunchy onions with some sort of a tangy dressing.

Warm Cabbage and Fennel Soup3

But, when April is almost over and it’s still snowing, thinking of a summer salad sort of depresses you. Monday and Tuesday it snowed about 5 inches, but today I am not complaining. Almost all of the snow melted late afternoon yesterday, and with this 50 degree weather today and my 10 day forecast, I believe we’re in the clear {knock on wood, cross my fingers, say a little prayer}.

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So when I’m craving a salad, but the weather isn’t cooperating {don’t get me wrong – it’s possible to have a cold salad when the weather’s cold – just doesn’t feel right to me}, a warm salad is the way to go.

I have been eating a lot of cabbage over the last week. For one, it’s cheap as dirt, and two, read this.

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|Warm Cabbage & Fennel Salad

serves 4

1 head white cabbage

2 fennel bulbs

1/2 red onion, roughly chopped

1/2 TSP minced lemongrass

a TSP olive oil

a pinch of S&P

Cut the fronds off the fennel, then quarter and cut 1/4 inch slices. Begin to saute the fennel and onions in olive oil on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the fennel and onions are cooking, quarter the cabbage and slice into ribbons. When the fennel and onions begin to caramelize, toss in the cabbage and lemongrass with a few TSP water. Cover, raise heat one or two notches, and stir every few minutes for a total of about 10-15, or until cabbage has wilted and begins to brown {add a TBS of water at a time if the veggies are sticking to the pan}.

Remove from heat, add S&P, tossing to coat.

Warm Cabbage and Fennel Soup6

Enjoy!

Quinoa with Greens & Beans

Over the last few years, I have really stayed away from carbohydrates. Even getting as far as being overly obsessive about not eating fruit or even veggies that had over a few grams in them before my wedding. I thought this was “healthy” because, yeah, I lost a lot of weight. But I gained it all back pretty much immediately after our honeymoon. I hadn’t even introduced carbs back into my diet yet, but I made up for it because when I had a cheat day, I really had a cheat day.

I have discovered over countless diets and trial and error that all your body really needs is balance. If it doesn’t get this balance, your body gets cravings and sooner or later you will indulge those cravings. I have only recently {like 2 weeks ago} come to terms with the fact that eating carbs not on the weekend is actually okay {gasp!}. And I don’t mean white sugar and white flour. I mean whole grain seed carbohydrates {notice I didn’t say whole wheat}. Carbs are still a little scary to me, but I have read The Kind Diet before and recently picked it up again, and it details so well why we need these little seedlings in our life and what they do for our insides and overall well-being.

Quinoa with Greens and Beans

So here’s to carbs! {Wow, never thought I’d say that}

 

| Quinoa with Greens & Beans

Serves 2

1 C quinoa

1 TSP oil {I used coconut}

4 or 5 baby bella mushrooms

1/2 C chopped onion

1 C spinach

1 C kale, torn into pieces

1 TSP soy sauce

1/2 C canned great northern beans, or any white bean

Cook the quinoa as package directs {you will have extra}.

In a skillet on medium-high heat, lightly saute the mushrooms and onions in coconut oil until soft. Add the kale and spinach plus soy sauce and 1 TSP water. Cover and stir every few minutes until the greens have wilted.

Start your plate with about a quarter of the quinoa in the pan {or however much you want}, then make a little bed of half of the vegetables and sprinkle 1/2 the beans over the top.

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Enjoy!

Roasted Fennel and Carrots

I have a love/hate relationship with meat. I love the way it tastes {like, love. Mmmm…. bacon} but every once in awhile, my tender heart gets rocked when I think about what I’m eating and how it got on my plate.

That being said, this is not a political post whatsoever, just a little announcement that I’m not eating meat at the moment. Or longer, I’m hoping. But don’t freak! Husband is still a caveman, so I will post what I make him, and you will have to go by his word whether or not it’s delicious {and lucky for you, he’s particular}.

So here’s a little veggie dish that is just delightful. Yep, I said it. Delightful. It causes you to be full of delight. Plus, it really is light. I’ve talked about fennel before, but it is such a uniquely flavored plant that goes extremely well with the sweetness of carrots. Add in a burst of extra flavor from the fennel seeds, and you have yourself a masterpiece of a meal.

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| Roasted Fennel and Carrots

12 large carrots

3 fennel bulbs

2 TSP olive oil

1 TSP lemon juice

1/2 TSP fennel seeds

1/8 TSP salt

a dash of cayenne pepper

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Peel the outer layer of the carrots, and cut them in half. Cut off the greens from the fennel bulbs and wash. Slice the fennel bulb in 1/2 inch slices, then in half again going the opposite directions. In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, fennel seeds, salt and cayenne. Drizzle the mixture over the carrots and fennel in a large baking dish and toss to coat.

Pop the dish in the oven for 35 minutes or so, stirring about every 10 to 15. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

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Enjoy!

Lemony Brussels Sprout Quinoa with Baked Salmon

I have been so bored of cooking the same things over and over again. Do you ever get in that rut? I have a few staples that I come to every time I’m tired, not feeling creative, or lacking of time and resources to make something spectacular. Those three meals are chicken fajitas with black beans and brown Spanish rice, oven baked chicken with brussels sprouts and brown rice, and red chicken chili. While all those things are pretty freaking delicious, they become quite monotonous day in and day out. I would love it if I could pepper in lots of meals in between so that those delightful dishes don’t become a Debby-Downer meal. Sometimes, however, that just isn’t realistic.

I’m making a goal that for the next couple of weeks I will dedicate some time everyday to research and create. Whether that be browsing through food magazines, perusing the grocery store aisles for unusual ingredients, or {maybe the best idea} going to my Mom.

I used to tell her I would never not like cooking. She always told me, just you wait until it’s a daily task, becomes mundane and then you’re sucked dry of all creativity. Well, Mother, you were right. {Don’t they say that’s something every daughter eventually comes to terms with? “Mom, you were right.”}

Anyways, I am a little flabbergasted with myself, but I’m gonna be real here for a sec.

I’m sick of vegetables.

There, I said it.

Maybe that’s why I’m in this funk. I feel like this is what mother’s have to do with their children who shudder at the sight of green on their plates – I have been sneaking veggies in my meals. Doesn’t that sound silly? Because I know they’re there. I guess it’s just the gesture of adding a veggie to something not so… veggie.

 

| Lemony Brussels Sprout Quinoa

2 C rinsed and shredded sprouts, stem removed

1/2 C roughly chopped onion of any color

1 TBS coconut oil

1 C frozen peas

1 C Quinoa, rinsed and drained

3 C water

1/4 TSP salt

1/8 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1/4 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 lemon

In a bowl, squeeze half of the lemon over the shredded sprouts and onions, and add the lemon pepper and cayenne. Stir to coat. In a pot on medium heat, melt the coconut oil and saute the vegetable mix for 5-7 minutes, or until tender. Set aside in a bowl.

In the same pot, mix the quinoa, water, salt and squeeze in the juice of the other half of the lemon. Place both lemon halves in the pot, and bring to a boil. Cover, and let simmer for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is finished cooking, add the veggies and frozen peas {the heat will thaw them} to the pan, letting cook for another few minutes while stirring.

Set Aside

Lemony Brussels Quinoa Salmon

| Baked Salmon

1 LB total salmon fillets

2 TSP spicy brown mustard

3 TBS lemon juice

3 TBS soy sauce

1/8 TSP salt

1/4 TSP lemon pepper

1/8 TSP cayenne pepper

1 TBS coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 375 and in a small bowl melt the coconut oil in your microwave, about 1 minute. When it’s completely melted, mix in the mustard, lemon juice, soy sauce, salt, lemon pepper and cayenne.

Place your fish in a foiled and greased baking dish, pouring the marinade over the top. You may let them marinade for up to a day, but it really isn’t required. Place in your oven for 11-14 minutes.

When your fish look about done, set your oven on broil for 2-3 minutes.

Serve your salmon over the quinoa.

Lemony Brussels Quinoa Salmon1

Enjoy!

Curry Glazed Carrots with Tofu and Basmati Rice

I always love when someone ask me to cook something. Especially something that husband is a food snob about. There are few things that he doesn’t actually like {i.e. Thai peanut sauce & worcestershire sauce}, so when my boss asked me use the tofu she had in the fridge, I gladly obliged.

It’s obviously not my first go around with tofu, so I needed to do something creative. There were carrots in the fridge, and it’s a seldom thing that I cook with carrots. For some reason, those veggies are not a staple in my house {although, just about every other veggie is}.

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Everyone knows carrots are good for your eyes. Did you also know that because of their high beta-carotene content, they slow the aging of cells, which may help prevent the look of aging, also*. Not only that, but in a 10 year study conducted in the Netherlands, when vegetables were sorted by color, dark orange and yellow veggies were considered the most protective against cancer.**

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Get your carrots on!

| Curry Glazed Carrots with Tofu and Basmati Rice

1 package firm tofu in water

1/2 LB carrots, sliced 1/4 in. thick

4 TBS butter

1 TSP olive oil

1/2 TSP salt, plus a dash

1/2 TSP lemon pepper

1 1/2 TBS curry powder

2 TSP brown sugar

1 C Basmati Rice

Prepare tofu by letting as much water drain out as possible, then wrap it in several paper towels with a heavy object placed on top. Replace paper towels with fresh ones after about 1/2 hour, then let it sit an additional hour. Cube tofu, and dry fry it with a dash of salt on medium heat in a non stick pan, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Set aside.

Prepare Basmati rice according to package directions.

Meanwhile, set carrots in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, about medium heat. At 10 minutes, stick with a fork to see if the carrots are tender. If they are, drain and set aside. If not, continue cooking, checking every 5 minutes until tender.

In the same pan, melt the butter with oil. Bring to medium-low heat and add the lime juice, salt, lemon pepper, curry powder and brown sugar, continually stirring. When all of the spices are well mixed with the butter and lime juice, add the carrots, tossing to coat. Continue cooking until the sauce has reduced somewhat and sticks to the carrots.

Serve with rice as a base, then tofu, then curried carrots.

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Enjoy!

*According to Care2 Make a Difference**According to The Worlds Healthiest Foods

 

Roasted Eggplant

The other evening, Husband and I had a delicious meal of rice, pork chops {recipe for those to follow – best marinade ever} and roasted eggplant. I just love eggplant – they are so adaptable and usually most dishes that consist of them are quite easy.

For these, all I did was slice the eggplant into 1/2 inch discs, placed them in one even layer on a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, cayenne, Italian seasoning, lemon pepper and a little Parmesan cheese powder. Bake them in a 400 degree reheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the center is soft. Then, broil on high for 2 minutes – this gives the eggplant a nice little crunch.

This is perfect for a light snack, an addition to a meal, or just to add more vegetables to your diet.

Oh, please pardon my paper plate.

Enjoy!

The Raw Regime

Recently, I had been fascinated by the craze that is Raw Foods. The dishes the “raw foodies” create are just pure art and I wanted in on a little of the action, so I decided to try and make my own raw foods dish.

Turns out, it was pretty good! Although, I do have to admit that it wasn’t 100% raw foods because it contained mustard and garbanzo beans, which both have to go through a process that requires heat of over 116 degrees {the official temperature that these foodists consider to be “cooked”}.

The diet is supposed to closely resemble what us humans would have eaten during the primitive era. Also known as the “Caveman Diet”, raw foods does have a lot of health benefits, and possibly the largest one is that no nutrient is lost during the preparation of your raw foods meal. Heating food has been proven to destroy these nutrients that are so vital to our health. Also, there is no calorie/carb/fat counting. You can eat as much as you want, when you want because of the freshness and lack of processing. A couple more perks is that it is better for the earth, and can clear up skin.

I did a bit of research on the subject, and turns out this diet is extremely strict {which we all could have guessed}, and more so than I ever thought. Raw Food dieters cannot eat honey, sugar, soy sauce, nuts {unless they have not been treated, which can be dangerous because many nuts contain a poisonous oil that dissipates when roasted}, soy milk, anything canned and much, much more. If you want beans, you have to sprout them yourself.

In my dish, I added raw fish {sushi grade}, which is a debate amongst raw foodists, because although technically raw, most say any animal products are a no no. However, there is a diet that they say is similar to the raw foods, where you can add raw meats {dairy is still not allowed} called the Paleolithic or Paleo diet.

After learning so much about this lifestyle {which is truly what it is} I commend these people who have this amazing self-discipline. If you can do it, more power to ya! I’m not saying I couldn’t – maybe someday I’ll try it – but for now, I’ll leave it to the experts.

So I suppose, if enough research is done, I didn’t actually create a raw foods dish, but it was my attempt and a pretty darn good one.

I started with a bed of zucchini and carrot strips.

I then added spicy sprouts and sugar snap peas.

Then comes the sushi grade salmon, skinned and deboned.

I tossed over the dish some chickpeas.

I made a dressing out of a little extra virgin olive oil, spicy brown mustard and soy sauce.

Enjoy!

Kohlrabi

I have been trying to be more adventurous with cooking. I made the trek to Whole Foods last week in pursuit of interesting looking vegetables – maybe ones that I have eaten before, maybe not.

I strolled by bunches of absolutely beautiful rainbow carrots, perused through octopi-shaped mushrooms and finally decided on this little purple ball of Kohlrabi.

I had no idea what it was, but it looked like we could have fun together, so I bought a small bushel.

From the purple, almost scaly exterior of the little alien root to the richly green leaves growing out of the top, every aspect of Kohlrabi is intriguing. And what I made with it was just as fascinating as Kohlrabi its’ self, but that’s for later…

I researched the humble plant, and found out that it tastes like a radish-brocolli fusion {Kohlrabi is of German descent, and is actually translated to “Cabbage Turnip”).

According to 3 Fat Chicks, the German root is a “nutrient dense” food – this means that the nutrient per calorie level is extremely high, in turn making it a better for you vegetable.

Another benefactor? Zero fat and zero cholesterol, 5 grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. Plus, it has 140% of your DVs of vitamin C – all this for less than 30 calories per serving.

LiveStrong tells us that “Kohlrabi is particularly rich in arginine, which can be helpful for dieting. Research from the July 2010 issue of “Amino Acids” indicates that arginine supplementation can reduce fat mass and encourage the burning of stored energy, which aids in weight loss.”

A deceiving little vegetable, she is, but definitely worth a try. Stay tuned to find out what creative concoction I made with Kohlrabi!

Enjoy!