Apr 30, 2012

Greek Salad

This is a family favorite and so fresh tasting. We just realized it wasn't on here, so I'm putting it on, but you can play with the amounts as desired. Just chop everything into bite-sized pieces.

Onions (love red onions best)
Peppers (colorful is best)
Olives (opt.)
Feta cheese!

splash apple cider vinegar
splash extra-virgin olive oil
small dash garlic powder
dash salt

Throw everything together. :) Best eaten sooner than later.

Apr 18, 2012

New Food Adventures: Barley

So, who has had barley before? In something other than a soup....?

Well, here's a simple breakdown of some nutritional information and then some basic ways to try adding it into your typical meals.

When it comes to choosing high-fiber grains, barley is a winner. Why? Because even if it is refined and processed (ie: pearl barley, barely flakes or barley flour), it is one grain that has fiber found in all parts of the grain, regardless of whether or not the bran layer is removed.

And fiber will help regulate all sorts of things to begin helping your body take care of itself better....

A 1/2-cup serving of pearl barley contains 3 grams of fiber. In comparison, a 1/2-cup serving of brown rice contains 1.75 grams of fiber, and a 1/2-cup serving of white rice contains less that one gram of fiber. Here is a Fiber chart comparison for you visual folk out there.
Food Fiber Content in Grams
Oatmeal, 1 cup 3.98
Whole wheat bread, 1 slice 2
Whole wheat spaghetti, 1 cup 6.3
Brown rice, 1 cup 3.5
Barley, 1 cup 13.6
Buckwheat, 1 cup 4.54
Rye, 1/3 cup 8.22
Corn, 1 cup 4.6
Apple, 1 medium with skin 5.0
Banana, 1 medium 4.0
Blueberries, 1 cup 3.92
Orange, 1 large 4.42
Pear, 1 large 5.02
Prunes, 1/4 cup 3.02
Strawberries, 1 cup 3.82
Raspberries, 1 cup 8.36

It's also a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese.
Eating/Cooking Barley:
Honestly, it's so versatile, you can substitute it for lots of things, but the best way for me is to cook it in chicken broth and add a touch of butter at the end (with parmesan is delicious too!). I pressure cook it because it does take a long time to cook and I forget to presoak it overnight (like you would dry beans).

To cook pearl barley: In medium saucepan with lid, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup pearl barley and return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook 45 minutes or until barley is tender and liquid is absorbed. Makes about 3 to 3-1/2 cups.
In a crock pot or slow cooker: Place 2-1/2 cups boiling water, 1 cup pearl barley and 1/2 teaspoon salt in crock pot or slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes.
To cook whole grain ("hulled"/"Hullless") barley kernels: In medium saucepan with lid, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup whole grain barley kernels and return to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 50 to 55 minutes. Makes about 3 cups. 

Note: Because whole grain barley retains most of the outer bran layer, the kernels tend to absorb less liquid during the cooking process. It may be necessary to pour off any remaining liquid after 50 to 55 minutes of cooking time. Compared to pearl barley, whole grain barley tends to be chewier in texture and produces a more robust flavor.

And, like other grains, it's best to store in the fridge or freeze to best maintain the grain's nutrients.

Other ideas:

• Cook up a batch of pearl barley and add to prepared soups, stews, casseroles and salads for an extra shot of flavor, texture and fiber.
• For a heart-healthy change of pace, serve your favorite stir-fry, stroganoff or curry over a bed of steaming hot pearl barley.

here's a website with tons of barley recipes to try: http://www.barleyfoods.org/recipes.html

Honey Lime Fruit Salad

Here is an easy way to just add a nice fresh "zing" to fruit without all the loaded down whip cream and other unnecessaries.... And really, any fruit will do, but this an example

The fresh kicker:
Zest from one lime, (about 1 T)
2 T honey
1 t. poppy seeds (opt.)

Add any fruit you like:
Combine the fruit in a medium-large serving bowl. Add the lime zest and poppy seeds, if using, and gently toss. Drizzle the honey over the fruit and again, gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the honey. Serve.

Similar to two of our favorites:
Charise's Fruit Salad
Coconut Cinnamon Fruit Salad

*Note: This fruit salad is best served right away (or at least within an hour of making) because the strawberries tend to stain the light colored fruit. It doesn’t affect the taste at all but is a slight bummer for presentation.  And this was adapted from www.sixsistersstuff.com.

Cinnamon Coconut Fruit Salad

Super simple salad, without extras...

a little orange juice (just squeeze a few slices)

That's it. Mix it all together. Nothing fantastically over-the-top, but a great healthy good variation to brighter your table and tastebuds.

Apr 6, 2012

Mac-Quinoa N' Cheese

This is a great base casserole recipe. I like it as it is, with peas and topped with taco sauce. Or with corn and beans with chili powder and stuff for a more Southwestern flare. The eggs and cheese really help, so don't omit those.

1 1/2 c quinoa, rinsed and drained
Veggies of your choice (optional)
good pinch of salt
a few grinds of seasoning salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large eggs
1 c milk
1 1/2 c grated Cheddar cheese (more for MAc-type, less for simple casserole)
Optional- Crushed Red Pepper, Panko Bread crumbs for topping
Toppings (optional)- salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, scallions
1. Lightly saute any veggies you would like in this dish. (unless throwing in corn or peas, etc.)
2.Cook quinoa to packaged instructions until fully cooked (in chicken broth if desired, but not essential).
3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Coat 13x9 inch dish( or 8 individual ramekins) with cooking spray.Whisk together eggs and milk in large bowl. Fold in quinoa mixture and cheese. Stir very well and let some of the cheese melt. Transfer to prepared baking dish and if using Panko Crumbs or Bread crumbs add now and bake 30-35 mins, until bread crumbs are browned.

I normally like to do it in my cast iron skillet.

The two most basic variations I like...
Southwestern: 1 c cheese only. Black beans, corn, cumin or chili powder and topped with salsa or sour cream
Mac N' Cheese: full amt of cheese plus more for top if desired with peas (or other veggie). Topped with taco sauce.

Gyro Pita Sandwiches

So this is a family favorite and I'm sure we may do slight things differently, but I realize it's not on here, so I'm typing the basic idea up. You play with portions, because it's a sandwich and isn't picky when it comes to that.

Pita Pockets
Lamb (I use pork semi-thawed so I can slice into super thin strips before it gets too difficult to do that)
colorful peppers, chopped
tomatoes, diced
onions, chopped (white, purple, green, w/e your preference)
English Cumcumbers (or the cheap kind, but those you for sure have to peel first)
plain yourt and/or sour cream (I do hald and half)
olive oil
greek seasoning (we use the yellow cylinder and it's a great meat flavoring for other things, so you'll use it. Or you can try homemade if you want--I haven't yet)

1. Slice up meat and cook it in some oil with lots of greek seasoning, until done.
2. Make Tzatziki Sauce: Cut cumcumbers in half and deseed. Then shred and squeeze out excess water. Add salt and let sit for at least a half hour to keep getting the excess water out. Frequently squeeze and drain. Then add sour cream/yogurt and a dash of garlic powder. I usually do about 2 cups with about 1 cucumber per cup (so 2 total). But more or less if fine. Add a dash or olive oil if desired.
3. Cut up other veggies and place them in seperate bowls so people can compile their own sandwiches as desired.
4. Warm up pita pockets right before stuffing. My mom puts a little oil in a pan and warms them up in it with some extra greek seasoning--heavenly, but a little more work if you're up to it.
5. Stuff to heart's content. Typically meat first, then veggies, then tzatziki sauce--plenty (that makes it!).

Typical Greek Flavors: oregano, mint, thyme, basil, marjoram, onion, garlic
see post of ethnic flavors: http://2nourishyourbody.blogspot.com/2010/11/list-of-ethnic-flavors-which-herbs-are.html

Perfect Pocket Pitas--with little effort!

Holy Cow! I cannot tell you how awesomely these pitas puffed up into a pocket! I mean look...this is my photo.... Wow! I can't say it's the best flavor to eat the next day, because it's not super soft and pliable like most store-bought white flour things would be--but it's not bad, not bad at all!

After I made these I just had to call someone over to share it with. But alas, hubby at work late and neighbor MIA (busy away from home). So...I ate this--no, savored it as a gyro. Soooo yummy, I finally think I made it like my Mom (but with homemade pitas this time).

So it's super easy! Just use the no-knead recipe! If you're familiar with it, just use this summary from that post I pasted here:
Fist size, 1/8”
keep cooked pitas in towel
Here's the post: http://2nourishyourbody.blogspot.com/2011/06/simple-artisan-bread-in-five-minutes.html

If you're not, you should read the post anyway, but here's a summary of the basic idea:

Base Recipe (I'd 1/4 or 1/2 the recipe if you just want to make a few)
3 c. warm water
1 1/2 T yeast (I only use 1 T, which is fine for longer dough raising)
1 1/2 T salt (not needed: I only use 1 T)
6 1/2 c. flour (I use half white, half wheat and 1T of vital wheat gluten per cup wheat flour)
opt. flax seeds, ground (I used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup and maybe took out a tid bit of flour)

Mix it all together in large glass or ceramic bowl and cover with towel. Let sit for up to 12 hours. Then preheat oven to 500 and take out fist sizes of dough and roll 1/8th in. thin circles. Place on hot stone and cook 5-7 minutes until puffed to perfection. When you take them out, leave them in a towel in the microwave, to keep them moist and soft and warm. Then cut and stuff!

Now try our gyros recipe!

Apr 4, 2012

Garlic Parmesan Kale Salad

This salad sounds super simple and nothing great, but everyone has loved it. And it's a great way to get in a powerhouse of a veggie like kale, and to change things up a bit with your salad routine.

1 bunch fresh kale (sliced in super small tiny strips)
2 slices country bread toasted & fine crumbs in blender
1 garlic clove minced      1/4 salt     3 T olive oil
1/4 fresh parmesan cheese grated
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
black pepper & red pepper flakes to taste

Put thinly sliced kale in a bowl.
Combine ingredients, except crumbs, and mix into kale thoroughly.
Let that sit for few minutes and then add crumbs at last minute on top.

yes...those are chex from the bottom of the cereal box,
because I was out of breadcrumbs and it still tasted great.

*Mom loves this salad and said she got it from our cousin Lindsay.