Wednesday, January 22, 2014

store bought favorite: frontera garlicky carnitas slow cook sauce with lime + chipotle

I was confident we'd LOVE our carnitas after trying frontera's red chile barbacoa slow cook sauce.  These packets are amazing and make dinner a cinch PLUS they are all natural with no preservatives.  The ingredients are simple and the flavor enormous.  I picked my packet up at our new grocer in town- Natural Grocers for about $2.29.

store bought favorite: frontera garlicky carnitas slow cooker sauce with lime + chipotle
 2 pounds pork, sliced or cut into large chunks
1 pouch frontera garlicky carnitas slow cooker sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon oil

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Heat oil over high heat in a 4-quart Dutch oven.  Add pork; cook until browned on all sides.  Stir in sauce and 1 1/2 cups water.  Cover tightly; put in oven.  Bake until fork tender, usually 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Skim fat from pan juices.  Use a fork to pull meat into large shreds.  Mix meat with pan juices.  Season to taste with salt.  Serve in warm tortillas with chopped cilantro and guacamole or whatever your heart desires.

paprika, chicken and vegetable stew

This soup really packs a punch!  It wasn't until I ladled the soup over some warm brown basmati rice that I thoroughly enjoyed it and knew this recipe was a in my eyes this recipe is less a soup or stew as it is a glorified gravy- does that make sense?  Definitely healthy comfort food.

paprika, chicken and vegetable stew (adapted from Everybody Likes Sandwiches)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
1 cup fresh mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth (plus more water or broth to generously cover veggies)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 cup frozen peas

Sprinkle chicken on all sides with paprika, salt and pepper.  Heat oil in heavy large pot and add chicken.  Saute until brown, about 3 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate (I transferred to a slow cooker).  Add vegetables except for peas and saute for a few minutes.  Sprinkle vegetables with flour and stir to coat.  Stir in broth.  (This is where I added the veggies with broth to the slow cooker , added the mustard and sage and and cooked for most the day adding the peas during the last 10 minutes of cooking).
If you are not using a slow cooker, return the chicken and juices to the pot.  Add mustard and sage.  Stir to combine and reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Add frozen peas during last 10 minutes of cooking time.  Serve over rice with crusty bread.

Monday, January 13, 2014

store bought favorite: red chile barbacoa slow cook sauce with roasted tomato + chipotle

I picked up this little packet of deliciousness at the new store in town- Natural Grocers.  I have to say after trying two "frontera" products I am now a fan.  I will go out of my way to pick up a few more of these packets to have on hand when I want a quick, delicious meal.  You can serve it as a taco or in a salad or as a bowl- anything goes!  The packet cost me a mere $2.39 (actually it didn't because I had a $10 off coupon- score!).  All natural.  No preservatives.  No gluten ingredients used.

store bought favorite: red chile barbacoa slow cook sauce with roasted tomato+ chipotle

2 pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into chunks (I used sliced carne asada meat, sliced) 
1 medium red onion, thickly sliced (I used white)
1 pouch Frontera barbacoa slow cook sauce 
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil over high heat in 4-quart Dutch oven.  Add beef; cook until browned on all sides.  Stir in onion, sauce and 1 1/2 cups water.  Cover tightly.  Put into oven and bake until fork tender, usually 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

scandinavian almond bars

I love almond flavoring and it has been on my mind ever since my friend Julie asked if I've ever had a steamed milk with almond syrup (sugar free syrup of course, for me).  I haven't but I should!  These cookies are great- just ask my family.  They were eaten right up.  I made half with sliced almonds and half without which was a good idea.

scandinavian almond bars (5 star recipe at
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In a medium bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add egg and almond extract; mix until fluffy.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt; mix well.
Divide dough into 4 pieces; and roll each one into a log about 12 inches long.  Place 2 logs per cookie sheet 4 to 5 inches apart (but not too close to the side of the pan so you can get them out easily after they are baked).  Flatten each roll by hand (I used my palm) until it is about 3 inches wide.  Brush flattened roll with milk and sprinkle with sliced almonds.
Bake in a preheated oven 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  While the cookies are still warm, cut them crosswise at a diagonal, into slices about 1 inch wide.  When cool, drizzle with almond icing.

almond icing
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup milk

In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar, almond extract and milk until smooth.  Drizzle over the cookies.

Friday, January 10, 2014

cottage cheese chicken enchiladas

These were absolutely fantastic and very welcome in my home especially since the last two recipes I've tried were disgusting (no exaggeration here, folks).  And no, you won't find those recipes on this blog. These enchiladas were a hit and my husband who never takes a lunch to work took one this morning while I had one for breakfast.  The next time I make enchiladas I am going straight to this recipe.

cottage cheese chicken enchiladas (adapted from
3 frozen chicken breasts (see how to prepare below)
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix or 1/4 cup if you buy bulk
1/2 cup fat free sour cream
2 cups low fat cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
10 to 12 flour tortillas (I used whole wheat)
couple handfuls shredded Mozzarella cheese
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce (I actually opened up another can and used 1 1/2 cans)

The morning you want to make these, place 3 frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker and cook on high until they are mostly done then turn down to low.
When you are ready to make your enchiladas, take the chicken out of the slow cooker and shred in a large bowl.  Add green chiles and taco seasoning and combine well.
To make the cheese mixture, combine sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
To assemble enchiladas, in each tortilla place about 1/2 cup of meat mixture, 1/4 cup of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese.  Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray and has been coated with enchilada sauce.  Top enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

store bought favorite: frontera jalapeno cilantro salsa

I got a $10 off coupon in the mail for a new "natural grocery store" that recently opened.  I was glad take a look around.  Although ultimately I was underwhelmed I did grab a few things that looked promising and this was one of them.  This salsa is very delicious and was fantastic smothered on top of the enchiladas we had last night.  I may have to go back for another jar or two...

frontera jalapeno cilantro salsa 
-from the kitchen of chef rick bayless
-all natural
-gourmet mexican salsa
-roasted tomato + garlic
-all natural, no preservatives, gluten-free
ingredients: tomatoes, filtered water, tomato juice, tomato paste, jalapeno, onion, salt, garlic, cilantro, distilled white vinegar, xanthan, apple cider vinegar, calcium chloride, citric acid.

Monday, January 6, 2014

mexican confetti rice

I made diego chicken last night, one of our favorites and needed some rice to go with it so made this and it was fantastic (my husband asked if it was called dora rice).  Now I have two favorite Mexican rices- cilantro lime and this confetti rice.

mexican confetti rice (pass the peas, please)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup dry brown basmati rice (yes basmati- I buy it in bulk so I use it for everything- love the flavor)
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced green bell pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh tomatoes
1/2 cup minced carrots
1/2 cup tomato sauce

In a large saucepan with a lid, heat olive oil.  Add onion, bell peppers, tomatoes and carrots until tender.  Add salt, cumin, garlic, rice and broth.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and let simmer until rice is done (depends on the kind of rice you use).  Should you choose to use a different kind of rice, use the amount of rice and water the recipe calls for.  When rice is done, stir in tomato sauce and serve.  It's delicious with a dallop of fat free sour cream on top.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

potato cheese soup

No need for me to go looking for a better potato cheese soup recipe- this soup was a hit for lunch today.  I think the best part of winter is how good soup tastes going down.  I was sure glad I doubled this recipe so there's enough for a few more bowls later on in the day.

potato cheese soup ( slightly adapted from
4 potatoes, peeled and diced (I used red potatoes)
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/2 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

In a large saucepan, bring potatoes, carrots, celery, onion, broth and salt to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer until potatoes are just tender.  Do not rinse; mash mixture slightly.  Stir in milk.
In a small mixing bowl, blend butter, flour, parsley and pepper; stir into potato mixture.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.
Remove from heat; add cheese and stir until cheese is almost melted.  Let soup stand for 5 minutes.

Friday, January 3, 2014

TGIF Broccoli Cheese Soup

Whenever I buy a veggie tray we always seem to have leftover broccoli so I thought I should make some soup.  I chose this recipe then thought myself very clever as I realized while I chopped the broccoli that today is Friday!  We even had exactly 8 slices of Velveeta singles in the meat drawer from when we made McMuffins the other day.  It was meant to be.

TGIF Broccoli Cheese Soup (from my Hershey Ward cookbook, Sheri Lyn C.)
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup half and half (I used milk)
8 slices Kraft or Velveeta singles
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried minced onion (I used 1/2 small onion)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups broccoli florets, bite size

Combine chicken broth, water, half and half, flour, onion and pepper in a saucepan.  Wisk really well.  Turn heat to medium high.  Bring soup to boil then reduce heat to low.  Add crumbled up cheese slices then broccoli and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes until broccoli is tender.  Pour into bowls and serve with shredded cheddar cheese.

What I have to say- the soup was very smooth and I love that it doesn't use a stick of butter.  I looked at a lot of recipes to find one I wanted to make and most used at least 1 stick of butter and/or heavy cream.

pryaniki (russian gingerbread cookie)

My husband lived in St. Petersburg for two years so he figures he's half Russian.  He can speak it and looks it so he may as well be!  He works with a Russian gal who made this pryaniki (gingerbread cookie) for us for Christmas.  We'd never tried one before (my husband had of course) but we all loved it.  The filling added just the right about of sweetness.  I requested the recipe- here it is!

pryaniki (my husband's Russian friend)
100 grams butter, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
2 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
thick fruit preserves (they used Trader Joe's low-sugar apricot preserves but they also like ewhole berry thick cranberry sauce)
1 egg beaten with a few drops of water for the egg wash

Prepare a pot with a few inches of slowly boiling water and a large mixing bowl that will fit over the water. Mix and melt all of the ingredients (except for the flour and fruit preserves) in a bowl over slowly boiling water until it will form a fine white foam on the surface, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the heat and add flour, mixing until incorporated.  Gently knead the dough in a bowl or on a lightly floured surface and add more flour until it's not sticky but shiny.
Divide in half, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about 1 hour.
Roll the dough to the desired thickness and cut the shape.  Put fruit jam in the center, 1/2 inch away from the edge.  Brush the edge with an egg wash and put on the top layer.  Push the edges with the fork.  Lightly brush the top with the egg wash.
Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees at mid level for 25 to 30 minutes.  Glaze if desired.
Note: traditional pryaniki were elaborately decorated.

becky's quinoa and sprouted wheat curry

Sometimes I can be so nosy like when I ask what a friend is having for dinner (it was on her table ready to be served when I picked up my kiddo).  I love to know what friends eat- it inspires me and it's the best way to collect awesome recipes.  Not only did she tell me what she was having for dinner, her husband dished some up for me to take home and try.  This curry is awesome and it contains a quinoa/sprouted wheat combo which I hadn't ever tried before (you can get it at Costco).  Easy to make, HEALTHY and simple to the taste yet the curry, nuts and dried fruit make it interesting.  I can't wait to get to Costco and grab me some quinoa/sprouted wheat.  She says they also sell a farrow and black rice combo which I haven't tried either which I'll add to my list of things to try.

becky's quinoa and sprouted wheat curry (my friend Becky)

1 clove garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa/sprouted what blend from Costco (cook according to package directions)
dried fruit
nuts (Becky used cashews)

Saute a clove of garlic in a few tablespoons olive oil with a teaspoon of curry powdder.  Mix in the grain.  Mix in some dried fruit and nuts, whatever you have around.

What I have to say- I'll likely serve this with some grilled chicken or else throw it in this dish!