Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Man, I want this!

Kim at The Nourishing Gourmet often induces cravings for healthy delicious foods in me, but today... it's all I can do to stop myself from running to the store to get the ingredients for this now. Since I haven't made it (I just REALLY want to) I'm not going to say much about it. I'll let her post do all the talking.

Here is her original post (but don't forget to visit her blog. It's wonderful!)

Rich, Dark Hot Cocoa (Dairy and Refined Sugar Free)

by KimiHarris on January 18, 2010

I’ve had a sudden fixation on dark chocolate. Long time readers here will know that I’ve always loved chocolate but I’ve been going weeks on end without having chocolate. Well, no longer. To satisfy my chocolate tooth, I started turning to hot cocoa. This version is dark, creamy, and delicious. I find it a perfect treat to have mid-afternoon (or an almost mid-night snack, which we did last night). And it’s pretty guilt free too, sweetened with a drizzle of maple syrup, full of the healthy fats from the coconut milk and unsweetened cocoa powder too.

Chocolate (without all of the yucky other ingredients added to it in most candy bars) is actually considered a very healthy food by many. Like cranberries, apples, onions, tea and red wine, chocolate is loaded with flavonoids. According to The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden, the particular flaonoids called flavanols found in chocolate “prevent fatlike stubstances in the bloodstream from clogging the arteries. When you reduce the blood’s ability to clot, you also reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.” The author also mentions that chocolate is high in magnesium (which, by the way, is why many crave chocolate when they are low in magnesium). I’ve also read of several studies connecting chocolate to a healthy blood pressure.

Because I use coconut milk powder (I ordered mine from Wilderness Family Naturals), this is dairy free, though you could easily use whole milk instead. I’ve sweetened it with maple syrup, but honey would work too. I wanted to use a liquid sweetener because it would dissolve more easily, but use rapadura or coconut sugar if you are willing to do a little mixing. Feel free to use canned coconut milk too. Maybe half full fat coconut milk with an equal amount of water for a rich taste, or more water for a less rich taste.

Rich, Dark Hot Cocoa

See notes above for ingredient substitutions.
    2/3 cup of coconut milk powder (see notes above)
    1/4 cup of full fat cocoa powder
    Scant 1/4 cup of maple syrup or honey
    4 cups of water
    1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

French Press Method: While water is being brought to a boil, add the coconut milk powder, cocoa powder and sweetener to the french press. Add the boiling water and with a gentle motion, use the press to help mix everything together (I use an up and down motion in the top half of the french press). Add the vanilla and serve.

Regular Method: Place the coconut milk powder, cocoa powder and sweetener in a four glass pyrex measuring cup. Add just enough boiling water to moisten this mixture and whisk to form a smooth paste. Add more water to a bit over the four cup mark. Add the vanilla and serve.

*I’ve labeled this recipe vegan and dairy free, but do note that their are trace amounts of milk in the coconut milk powder. To be completely vegan and dairy free, use canned coconut milk.

Smothered Pork chops

This is a delicious meal. I really enjoy mushrooms, and I especially enjoy creamy noodle dishes, so this dish is a win-win for me. I got the original recipe from eatbetteramerica.com and altered it, and I'm pleased with the final product.

1 lb. thinly sliced boneless pork chops
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 10 3/4 oz. can of condensed cream of mushroom soup with roasted garlic
1 c water
1/2 teaspoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
8-12 oz. egg noodles, cooked

Cook chops in large skillet on medium high heat for 4 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Heat canola oil in pan and add onions and mushrooms. Stirring constantly, cook until onions start to get tender and mushrooms start to get lightly brown. Deglaze the pan with the water, being sure to get all the tasty 'bits' from the bottom. Add soup, soy sauce, sage, thyme, and pepper and stir well. Return chops to the pan, and bring to a boil, uncovered. Allow to simmer until pork chops are cooked through and the sauce has reduced. Add sour cream, mixing well. Serve mixture over egg noddles.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nacho Bake

My mother-in-law makes a fast Nacho Bake that I really enjoy. When my husband requested it a few days ago, I asked her for her recipe and made it last night. I used lean ground turkey instead of ground beef. (If you've never used lean ground turkey, I really would like to encourage you to try it. Where I buy meat, ground turkey is usually cheaper than ground beef, especially the very lean ground beef. Besides being very economical, lean ground turkey is lower in fat and calories than ground beef . It requires a bit more seasoning than ground beef, so it is perfect in dishes that are heavily seasoned, like chili or tacos. Anyway, I digress.) My mother-in-law seasons the meat with chili seasoning (in the packet, which you can find with the gravy mixes and taco seasonings) and taco sauce. It is very good this way. The chili powder adds a great depth to the meat. With the chili seasoning and the taco sauce, I think the dish has a more mid-west flavor, as opposed to a neo-mexican taco flavor, which I tend to gravitate towards. Next time I make this dish, I am going to replace the chili seasoning with taco seasoning, and the taco sauce with chunky salsa. I think it will be wonderful! Oh, and I'll use ground turkey again. I promise: if you don't tell your family that it's not ground beef, they will never know!

Nacho Bake
1 lb. ground turkey (or very lean ground beef)
1 packet chili (or taco) seasoning
12 ounces taco sauce (or chunky salsa)
1 12 ounce bag of nacho cheese flavored chips (I use Doritos, but using a store brand doesn't change the taste of the dish much)
8 ounces mexican cheese
Sour cream

Brown the ground meat (if using turkey, use a tablespoon of two of canola oil; this is not needed for fatty ground beef), drain if needed, add the entire packet of seasoning and the taco sauce. Allow the meat to simmer for a couple minutes so that the sauce is absorbed. Crunch up all your chips and put a little less than half in the bottom of a 13x9" baking dish. Spread half the meat evenly in a layer, top with half the cheese, and repeat the layers. I like to top the dish with a little bit of chips (instead of just cheese) and it comes out looking cute. Bake for 8 minutes at 350 degrees, or until cheese is melted. Top with sour cream and enjoy! I hope you try this!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm making a quilt!

A couple years ago, I bought some beautiful fabric to make myself a costume for a renaissance fair. In pure 'Debbie' fashion, I never got around to it. (To be fair, one of the reasons I never finished it is that I messed up a cut, and would have had to buy another yard.) So for a couple of years, I've had this large bundle of beautiful dark rose corduroy and a light rose silky fabric. I decided a few months ago to make a quilt out of it and actually started to, but soon found out that I NEEDED a rotary cutter and mat to make everything even. Well, I finally have them, and I have been cutting out my squares. I'm going to make a lap quilt and a pillow or two. Here are my plans, and a picture of the actual fabric. Each little block is 4" by 4" so the final lap quilt will be 3' by 5'. I'm going to keep a large part of the blanket simple, and just put the corduroy in large blocks. I'd like to do the whole thing patchwork, but I know I'd never finish that! =D So, I'll make it a little easier on myself, and it'll still be stunning. I'm going to make the back of the blanket entirely out of the silky fabric. It'll be so cozy and wonderful, like a large child's blanket. I love it! Here's a (poor quality) picture of the actual fabric:
I can't wait to get sewing!