Foodie Blog Roll 2

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mango Salsa

I was trying to come up with a clever name for this mango salsa and for mango week on my Pregnancy Foodie Project, but I just couldn't think of anything. That's just what it is. The most fresh, zippy salsa you have ever tasted, but with mangos. And besides, what's in a name? Sometimes it's best to just let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Mango Salsa

I'm talking about these ingredients. Sweet, juicy mango, bright lime, crisp bell pepper, fresh tomato, sharp red onion, and kicky jalapeño. And cilantro, because I love it!

Before arrival at the grocery store, I only had the intention of getting either a red bell pepper or a tomato, but after seeing both, I just decided to add both. There is no wrong way to make something like this. Just grab what looks good at your store, chop it up, try it, try it again, try it again with a chip, and adjust from there. You could also use lemon juice instead of lime, but I'm really a lime girl when it comes to salsas. If you don't like heat, choose a different pepper, or just take the jalapeño out. Some people put a little sugar in salsas with fruit, but these mangos gave mine enough sweetness with out it.

Mango Salsa
2 mangos, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 roma tomato, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro leaves, torn or chopped
Sea salt to taste

Mix everything together in a bowl. Adjust to taste. The nice thing is that because you are using 1/2 of several things, you can always go back and add a little more of this or that if you want. Don't skip the pinch of salt either. If really brings out the sweetness of the mangos.

I just made one of those pre-marinated pork loins. The ones in the bag. Yeah, I was lazy that night. But hey, I would rather have something fresh like this homemade chopped salsa and meat from a package than marinating my own pork and using frozen vegetables. Yuck.

Just a little side note, this makes a lot of salsa and since Hunter Hann doesn't really like mangos, it left a lot for me. So with the leftovers, I drained and rinsed some black beans, added them to this and make a quick salad for the next day. I would like to experiment with other things in here also like corn or mint. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

If you love mangos and want another good recipe, try my Sweet and Spicy Mango Chutney!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Spaghetti Squash and Skillet Meatballs

For week 22 on my Pregnancy Foodie Project, baby is the size of a spaghetti squash. Cool! I've posted a few recipes featuring this veggie already, as well as a "how to" post about roasting it.

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

These are the best meatballs I've ever made and it kind of happened by accident. I didn't realize until part way through that I didn't have any Italian bead crumbs, but I did have Panko, so I improvised. They were so delicious! I just used my spice rack and added some dried herbs to make my own Italian mix. Also, I used part lean beef and part turnkey sausage, giving them wonderful flavor. Lastly, because I was roasting the spaghetti squash in the oven, I decided to saute the meatballs in a skillet. I've never done that before either, but they were awesome! They had a great char on the outside and the inside was moist and juicy. I'll show you how to cook them in the skillet, or you could also bake them at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

The recipe is also very easy to double. Just freeze what you don't use or eat them as leftovers.
Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs
     serves 4
2 prepared spaghetti squash 
Skillet Meatballs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 C Panko + 1/2 T dried basil + 1/2 T dried oregano + 1/2 T dried rosemary 
1/4 C minced onion
3 T Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb turkey sausage

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, panko and herbs, onion, Parmesan, garlic salt and pepper. Mixture will seem very wet. Fold in the beef and sausage and mix just until combined. Do not over mix. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls. Heat a large skillet {or two} over medium heat and spray with cook spray.
Drop meatballs in skillet but do not over crowd pan.
Adjust heat as needed. If the heat is too high, the meatballs will get browned on the outside but will not cook inside Cook on each "side" until there is a nice crust covering the meatballs.

Cook meatballs through and remove from pan. Continue in batches until they are all cooked. Place on a cutting board and chop into bite sized pieces. 

Fill cooked spaghetti squash boats with meatball pieces. Top with warmed spaghetti sauce and grated Parmesan.
I served the meal in the boats, but feel free to scoop the spaghetti squash "noodles" into a bowl and top with meat and sauce. This is a great, healthy, meal for those looking for a low carb option. It's filling and easy, and the spaghetti squash reheats well. It's also a fun meal to entertain with because of the presentation. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies

These little guys are as delicious as they are cute. I've combined a classic oatmeal cream pie and the always amazing carrot cake to come up with a creative carrot concoction for my Pregnancy Foodie Project.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies

I was going to do something healthy like a roasted carrot dish, but hello! Carrot cake is my favie so any excuse to do some version of that and I'm all over it. These are like a cross between an oatmeal cream pie and a carrot cake whoopie pie; a cookie and a cake, if you will. Instead of using marshmallow fluff like in traditional oatmeal cream pies, I used my cream cheese frosting recipe, because it pairs so nicely with carrot cake.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal Cream Pies
      adapted from Whoopie Pies, oatmeal whoopie
4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 C old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
3/4 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
2 grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet {or two} with parchment paper.
Use mixer with paddle attachment to beat together butter and both sugars on medium, until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the mixer several times to incorporate everything. Beat in one egg at a time, then add vanilla and beat until light and creamy, about 3 minutes.

In a food processor or blender, blend 3/4 C of the oats until it is very fine. Transfer ground oats to a medium bowl. Add the remaining oats, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt and stir.

Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and beat on low, just until combined. With a spatula, fold in the grated carrots. Use a spoon to drop 1 T of batter onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, and space the cookies at least 2 inches apart so they have room to spread. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Cream Cheese Frosting
8 oz cream cheese
1 stick butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla
2 C powdered sugar

Cream the butter and cream cheese together in mixer with flat paddle attachment, until smooth. Add in vanilla and mix. Add in powdered sugar, about a cup and a time {begin with mixer on low}. Mix until frosting is smooth and creamy. Add a scoop of frosting to one side of a completely cooled carrot cake oatmeal cream pie, and place a second pie on top, "smooshing" the frosting down. Repeat for all pies.

If you want a traditional oatmeal cream pie recipe, sans carrot cake, try this one by my friend, Steph, at Macaroni and Cheesecake! And make a few extra, and then mail me one. Ok, thanks! If you would like to try the most delicious carrot cake you've had in your whole life, try my pineapple carrot cake recipe!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Banana Hazelnut Bread

Baby Hann is on "length of a banana" for my Pregnancy Foodie Project. How is she already SO big? I can't believe it! I was in Dallas talking with my sis about what I should do for banana week and we decided on banana bread. Mmmmm.

I have had banana bread several times, but this was my first time making it. I asked my sister if she had a good banana bread recipe and she said she always used the William-Sonoma one, the one with the buttermilk. "Hmmm, buttermilk?" I thought. "I'll give a whirl."
I did make some changes, of course. I added the two things every good quick bread needs, ground cinnamon and good vanilla extract. I also "healthified" it up by swapping 1/2 the flour for whole wheat and using low fat buttermilk.

Banana Hazelnut Bread

The only thing I did not like about this recipe is that it just made too much batter for one loaf of bread. I know it said to fill loaf pan "no more than-two thirds full," but come on! I want every last bit of those ripe, sweet bananas in that one loaf of bread. I was never good with following instructions anyway! ;) The problem with scraping every last bit of that delicious batter into one loaf pan is that it has to cook for a lot longer {I have never been very patient either}, and your bread ends up with a big split down the middle and crazy edges, like mine did! But looks aren't everything. Next time, I promise to only fill that bad boy two-thirds full. And to make a few muffins with the extra batter. OR....maybe I'll make it again and fix the proportions for you. Ok, that's what I'll do.

Banana Hazelnut Bread
    makes one loaf + about 2 muffins
    adapted from Williams-Sonoma
6 T butter (3/4 C), at room temperature
1 C sugar
3 very ripe bananas
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 C low fat buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C whole wheat flour
1 C all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C chopped hazelnuts {or pecans/walnuts}

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9X5 loaf pan with Baker's Joy {or grease and lightly flour}.
Beat the butter and sugar on medium speed in a mixer {with flat paddle attachment} until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the bananas, eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add buttermilk; mix on low just until combined. 

In a separate large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder and soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just to combine. Fold in the chopped hazelnuts, do not over mix. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan {and muffin tin}, bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

How have I been eating this, you ask? I've been cutting a thick slice, slathering it with peanut butter, and heating it up for about 15 seconds. Mmmmm, pregnant woman's perfect breakfast! {Just call me Elivs!}

Need another delicious quick bread recipe? Try this Zucchini Walnut Poppy Seed Bread, or my Cranberry Orange Bread with Oat Streusel Topping.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Quinoa Tabouli with Heirloom Tomatoes

Tabouli {tabbouleh, tabouleh, taboula} is one of those dishes that you can make small changes to and make it your own. The few staples are bulgur wheat, tomatoes, parsley, and a lemon juice and olive oil dressing. I decided to go way outside the box and use quinoa instead of bulgur {bulgar} wheat in this recipe for the "grain." I also used huge heirloom tomatoes for my Pregnancy Foodie Project.

There are several variations you can use when making tabouli. You can add in some chopped mint, onion, garlic or cucumber. I added cucumber but left the others out. This dish is fun to personalize! I got the original recipe {with cracked wheat} from my mother-in-law, Toni. She is half Lebanese, and this recipe has been passed down from her family. I will be the 4th generation to have it. Isn't that cool?!

Quinoa Tabouli with Heirloom Tomatoes

Quinoa Tabouli with Heirloom Tomatoes
     adapted from Momma Hann's Taboula recipe
1 C quinoa
1 1/2 C cold water
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
2-3 heirloom tomatoes, finely chopped
2 bunches parsley, finely chopped (no stems)
1/2 head lettuce, finely chopped
1/2 large cucumber, finely chopped
3/4 C freshly squeezed lemon juice
3/4 C olive oil
Salt to taste

Rinse quinoa in a bowl and drain off in a mesh strainer. In a large pot, add the rinsed quinoa and cold water and bring to a boil. Cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa has soaked up the water. Stir occasionally so the quinoa does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Remove pot from stove and allow quinoa to cool completely before adding it to the rest of the ingredients.

Meanwhile, chop the veggies. Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil for the dressing. In a large bowl, add the veggies and gently fold in the quinoa. Mix together the lemon juice and olive oil. Pour some dressing over the tabouli and add salt to taste. Add more dressing if needed. If you need more dressing, just mix equal parts oil and lemon juice together. Serve chilled.

If you are preparing this dish ahead of time, do not pour the dressing over the salad until you are ready to serve so that the parsley stays fresh. Also, keep it in the refrigerator, covered until served. 

Try this recipe-remix or use bulgur wheat. Or try something else entirely!  This is such a lovely dish for summer because it's light and served cold. A great appetizer to serve with this dish is my Classic Hummus, and for the main dish I have two healthy, delicious ideas. You can't go wrong with my Spinach and Feta Chicken, or my Lemon and Herb Chicken Skewers with Cucumber Yogurt Sauce

Lastly, it's fun to serve a salad like this in a hollowed out tomato. Just remove seeds and juice and fill with tabouli for an easy, inexpensive presentation that your guests will love!
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