Category: Healthy Living

Vegetable Lemon Garlic Quinoa!

Spring has Sprung!

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Here in Western PA we are looking at warmer temperatures and hopefully no more snow!!! I look forward to cooking with Spring vegetables and making beautiful, colorful, healthy dishes. I think this was the longest winer vegetable season ever!

Ready for the pool?
Bathing Suits in less than 2 months! What A great reason to fill our bellies with healthy foods!

Quinoa is a favorite superfood, protein-packed seed grown in the Andes Mountains in South America. Packed with essential amino acids, quinoa is essential to many vegetarian and vegan diets. I often substitute quinoa for rice or pasta for an extra healthy dish!

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Butternut Squash And Tomato Lemon Garlic Quinoa
Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
1-1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup parsley
1 lemon squeezed
salt/pepper

Directions:
Boil quinoa in water according to directions.

Meanwhile, Heat olive oil in a large pan.

Add garlic and cook until golden and softened (3-5mins)

Add butternut squash, tomatoes, garlic and cook until heated through.

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Add drained quinoa.

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Top with salt and pepper and stir.
Throw in parsley and squeezed lemon.
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Mix well and serve!

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Cook At Home! Easy Button Honey Mustard Parmesan Crusted Chicken!

“Cook at Home” …a resounding theme popping up everywhere. A command whose meaning encompasses healthy eating, a healthy lifestyle, and makes a mean case for family dinners. The theme at Pittsburgh’s Farm to Table Conference this year, Cook at Home -for some- is an anxiety ridden task chalked full of botched recipes, a race against time to get dinner on the table, and often a defeated conclusion when take out and drive thrus lessen the stress.

Fortunately, thanks to a growing interest in food preparation and origination, and an endless recipe box available on the Internet, people are finding easy, healthy recipes and cooking more. Food bloggers are popping up and want to share with others a lifestyle change that can and does save lives and families!

How about a sweet, savory, and totally simple family dinner recipe? Enjoy!!

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Honey Mustard Parmesan Crusted Chicken

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts, 8 thighs, 1-1/2 lb. chicken tenders
Marinade:
3 tbsp. butter, melted
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. brown mustard or yellow mustard
1 tsp Sriracha
Coating:
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. dried basil
2 cups Panko Breadcrumbs

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Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter, honey, balsamic vinegar, yellow mustard, and Sriracha.

Marinate the chicken in the above mixture overnight in the refrigerator OR Pour mixture into a Ziploc bag add chicken and move around until coated.

Mix the dry ingredients together and spoon into a pie plate. Press each piece of chicken into the mixture, flip to coat both sides, and place on a foil covered baking sheet.

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Sprinkle the coated chicken with extra parmesan cheese and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Farm to Table Pittsburgh 2015 Conference
David L. Lawrence Convention Center
March 27 -28th

Register Here !!

Meat Sauce featuring Clarion Farms Beef!

We would all love to meet the farmer that feeds and raises the cows that supply our beef, right?
You should and you can!!

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Photo Courtesy of Clarion Farms Beef. John and son John-Scott hanging out!

If you are in Pittsburgh, Clarion Farms Beef sells their family farm beef at the Pittsburgh Public Market on Saturdays. Shop local and buy fresh, no hormone, no antibiotic beef from a local family farm. True farm to table and focused on sustainability, Clarion Farms Beef sources local feed and mixed it fresh on the farm. Go see John-Scott! Bonus, the prices are incredible!

I paid $4 for the 80% ground beef (that yields about 2 tsp. of fat!! So technically its a grocery store’s 95% lean?)
And $5 for the most lean ground beef! (That yields about 1 tsp. of fat- which is 98% lean or almost no fat?)

The ox tail ($5) for a 1lb. package. Cook it all day for a tender finish!!

The steak? Amazing!! Just buy some, seriously, I have no words. (Imagine that!) Timmy Reynolds from Penn Avenue Fish Co. and I made Clarion Farms Beef filets and lobster live for Valentine’s Day at the Pittsburgh Public Market ‘s Ikea kitchen!

I bought some ground beef this weekend and put it to the test in a quick and classic bolognese sauce. Local, fresh, and delicious! This beef did not disappoint!!

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20 Minute Meat Sauce
Ingredients:
1 32oz. can Ciao San Marzano tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 lb. Clarion Farms Beef ground beef
1 lb. of your favorite pasta, boiled until al dente and drained
1 tbsp. chopped basil
1 tbsp. chopped rosemary
1 tsp. olive oil
salt/pepper
parsley for garnish

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Directions:

In your largest, deepest frying pan, heat olive oil and golden the chopped garlic.

Add onion and cook until softened and light.

In a separate pan, brown beef and drain.

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Add beef, tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper to garlic and onion mixture. apart

Break apart whole tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Cook for 8-10 minutes until heated through and bubbling.

Spoon sauce onto your favorite pasta.

Always top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and Enjoy!

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Ciao!

Clarion Farms Beef
On Farm Store The Beef Barn
82 Port Farm Lane
Clarion, PA 16214
814-764-5811
Hours: Tuesday -Friday 10-5
Saturday 8-5
Pittsburgh Public Market
Saturdays 9-5

Visit on Facebook

Winter Warm Up: Butternut Squash Soup!

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More often than not, the winter days in Pittsburgh are gloomy, cold, and dark. However, we are lucky to have the beauty of all four seasons and even more lucky to have all of the beautiful seasonal food varieties that go along with them!

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In the winter our menus consist of comfortable, warm-bellied foods like casseroles, pastas, and my favorite, hot soups! Some soups are a beautiful meal accompaniment and some are simply dinner!

Never a fan of thick, blended soups, I found a wintery, flavorful combination that I love and I hope you do, too!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

Ingredients:

1- medium Butternut squash
1 cup chopped kale
1/2 cup chopped carrots
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cups of whole milk
1/2 tbsp. Cumin
1/2 tbsp. Onion powder
Salt/pepper

Garnish:
Pistachios
Pinenuts

Directions:

Cut butternut squash in half vertically and scoop out the seeds.

Roast cut side down for 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees until softened. Check it with a fork ūüėČ

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Using a spoon scoop roasted squash from skin.

Blend all ingredients except the milk and Parmesan cheese in a food processor or Ninja. (I used my Ninja)

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Heat the mixture in a medium sauce pan on low/medium heat.

Stir continuously and be careful not to burn it, just heat it.

Slowly add the milk 1/4 cup at a time or until the soup reaches the desired consistency.

Continue to stir while heating and add the Parmesan cheese a little at a time until melted and blended.
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Remove pistachios from their shells and crush with pinenuts for a beautiful garnish!

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Garnish, grab a spoon, and enjoy! Keep Warm!
Ciao!

Quinoa and BlackEyed Pea Tacos!

Quinoa and BlackEyed Pea Tacos!
Quinoa and BlackEyed Pea Tacos!

Because our Sunday dinners are usually packed with pasta, sausage and meatballs, and desserts, a healthy Meatless Monday is always welcomed by all. Very often it comes in the form of Mexican cuisine.

Beans, vegetables, quinoa or rice, seasoned, cooked, and wrapped in a small tortilla. The tortilla is portion control at its finest. The ingredients are a healthy start to the week ahead.

The Quinoa and BlackEyed pea tacos can be filled with black beans, a rice, or any of your favorite taco veggies. Experiment! Use the recipe as a guide and make a healthy and delicious meal! Enjoy!

Quinoa and BlackEyed Pea Tacos
Makes 10 tacos
Ingredients:

1/2 cup uncooked rinsed quinoa
1 cup water
1 tbsp. Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 small onion finely chopped
1 cup corn
1 cup blackeyed peas
2 tbsp. Taco seasoning
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 cup curly kale, chopped
Salt/ Pepper to taste
Sriracha (optional)
10 tortilla shells

Directions:

Warm oil in a medium deep frying pan.

Add garlic and onions and cook until softened.

Meanwhile add 1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup water to a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook on low until water is absorbed.

Add all ingredients to frying pan except kale and tomato and stir.

Don't you just love all of the colors! Add bell peppers, jalape√Īos, habaneros,  black beans, or any of your favorites!
Don’t you just love all of the colors! Add bell peppers, jalape√Īos, habaneros, black beans, or any of your favorites!

Cook until heated through approximately 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and kale and stir.

Serve in warmed tortilla shells. For a spicy kick add Sriracha!

Enjoy!
Enjoy!

Ciao!

Fall Back: Homestyle Chicken and Biscuits!

Comfort Food!
Comfort Food!

Daylight savings should be call fall back into a dark, cold tundra here in Pittsburgh.

This was 5:05pm yesterday!
This was 5:05pm yesterday!

So what do we do? We eat comfort foods, fill our bellies, and hibernate on the couch until bed. Hearty chilis, stews, and pastas filled with pumpkin, squash, and potatoes hit our menus. The food is a welcomed change! The weather is totally not! The holidays will get us through!

Here is one of our favorite comfort food dinners:

Homestyle Chicken and Biscuits
Serves 12 (Lots of Leftovers!)

Ingredients:

1 32oz. Fat free sodium free chicken stock

3/4 cup flour

6 boneless skinless whole chicken breasts – cubed or whole for shredding

4 carrots, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tbsp. chopped rosemary

Salt/pepper to taste

Add peas, corn, asparagus, or any of your favorite vegetables!
Add peas, corn, asparagus, or any of your favorite vegetables!

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a stock pot on medium -high heat combine garlic, chicken stock, carrot, celery, onion, and spices.

Stir every 10-15 minutes for a few minutes and don’t be afraid to let it boil. It will help the thickening process of the flour.

Meanwhile, rub chicken breasts with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Bake chicken for 35-45 minutes or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.

Let chicken stand and cool for 10 mins.

Dice chicken to desired size or shred with a fork.

Add to stockpot and stir.

Cook an additional 20 minutes.
(If the gravy is not as thick as you would like, temper some flour or cornstarch and water. Add the mixture to the pot while stirring. Let it cook to thicken.)

Serve over your favorite biscuits or waffles!

I bought a tray of Pillsbury biscuits at SAMs Club! They are delicious!
I bought a tray of Pillsbury biscuits at SAMs Club! They are delicious!

Diners, Drive- Ins and Dives has a fabulous biscuit recipe from The Counter Cafe in Austin, TX. If you are feeling adventurous here it is!

Enjoy!
Ciao!

Gondola Veggie Snacks : For Adults and Kids!

These gondolas are adorable and the perfect colors- red, white, and green!

Dreaming of a romantic gondola ride in Venice ? Prepping your bod for the pool at the Venetian in Las Vegas? Either way- these snacks are fun and healthy!
Dreaming of a romantic gondola ride in Venice ? Need a healthy after school snack for the kiddos? Either way- these snacks are fun and healthy!

Having a pizza themed party? Wouldn’t these be a great veggie side?

Use this snack opportunity to explain the significance of a gondola to the kids! Here is a very brief description…

A gondola is a flat boat with a lifted stern that carries people along the canals in Venice, Italy. The person who rows is called a gondolier.

Photo Courtesy of http://www.ItalyTravel.com
Photo Courtesy of http://www.ItalyTravel.com

For centuries gondolas were the primary means of transportation in Venice. Today, gondolas are used to give tourists rides along the canals. Lovers kiss under every bridge for good luck in love during the romantic rides.

Enjoy this fun snack!
Enjoy this fun snack!

Gondola Veggie Snack:

Ingredients:
1 avocado
1 red pepper
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
6 spinach leaves

Directions:

Wash and take the seeds out of the pepper.

Slice horizontally in half and then 4 more times to create 6 gondolas.

Cut and scoop out the green avocado. Mix the fresh avocado with a spoon until smooth and spread a layer on each gondola.

Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper.

Lean a spinach leaf against the gondola as the oar.

Chill and Serve!
Chill and Serve!

Enjoy!
Ciao!

Stuffed Cabbage Three Ways: No Time? No Problem!

Stuffed cabbage rolls, Halupki or Pigs in the Blanket –¬†for many Western Pennsylvanians- remind us of church festivals, fairs, neighbors from our childhood, and grandparents. I’m not going to lie, the little old Polish ladies make them the best! Halupki can¬†easily be made¬†as a soup, a casserole, or the traditional stuffed cabbage rolls! How much time do you have? With the same ingredients, you can make stuffed cabbage three ways! The only variable is the additon of whole tomatoes. Leave them out for the rolls!

Enjoy!

The cabbage rolls are the most work because of the cabbage leaf boil step. You pick how much time you have! No time- soup let it cook all day! Same taste!
The cabbage rolls are the most work because of the cabbage leaf boiling step.

Stuffed Cabbage
Ingredients:

1 head cabbage
1lb. lean ground beef and/or ground pork mix
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 28oz. can tomato sauce (keep 1 cup for a sauce for the casserole and the rolls)
1 35oz. can whole tomatoes (except for the rolls)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sauerkraut and extra 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (kept aside for casserole)
Salt/pepper

Directions:
For Soup:

Shred or chop with a knife. I draw blood every time I use my box grater.
Shred or chop with a knife. I draw blood every time I use my box grater.

Shred cabbage and throw all ingredients in the crockpot!

Cook 8 hours on high!

The Stuffed Cabbage Soup is amazing and takes no time to prep! Let it cook all day! No babysitting required!
The Stuffed Cabbage Soup is amazing and takes no time to prep! Let it cook all day! No babysitting required!

For casserole:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook rice according to the package.

Brown beef and/or pork in a pan with the onions.

Mix sauerkraut, and cabbage together in a bowl.

Mix tomato sauce and tomatoes in a bowl.

In a 9×13 pan-“lasagna style” -layer ingredients, starting with tomato sauce.

Cover sauce with shreded cabbage mixture, a layer of meat and top with tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Repeat layers until pan is 3/4 full. End with 1/2 cup cabbage on top.(2-3 times)

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.

Serve with a spoon or a fork! The casserole can go either way!  Don't add too much tomato sauce. Remember, you can and should serve the stuffed cabbage casserole with sauce on the side!
Serve with a spoon or a fork! The casserole can go either way! Don’t add too much tomato sauce. Remember, you can and should serve the stuffed cabbage casserole with sauce on the side!

For cabbage rolls:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Boil 12-15 cabbage leaves until wilted and softened.

When cool, cut leafy sides from hard stem .

Cook rice according to the package.

Brown beef and/or pork in a pan with the onions.

Mix sauerkraut, and cabbage together in a bowl.

Line a 9X13 baking dish with tomto sauce, 1/2 cup shredded cabbage and 1/2 cup sauerkraut.

Set up an assembly line and spoon rice meat mixtures on leaf.

Salt and pepper.

Roll away from you, fold over the right side, then the left, creating an envelope roll.

Line them in the pan and top with tomato mixture.

Salt and pepper again.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes-1 hour or until sauce is bubbling and rolls are cooked through.

I do top mine with fresh grated Parmesan! I don't think it's Polish ; )
I always serve stuffed cabbage¬†dinners with fresh grated Parmesan and a beautiful loaf of ciabatta. ¬†I don’t think that’s Polish ; )

Enjoy!
Ciao!

Don’t Fumble Your Game Day Menu! Let’s Go Steelers!

Here we go. A chill is in the air for the start of football season. Friends and family gather to watch football and your menu is in the game!

Here We Go!  Image by Rant Sports
Here We Go!
Image by Rant Sports

Play good defense and block those polyunsaturated fats, hydrogenated oils, and hefty calories! Football food does not have to be unhealthy!

Football Favorites Healthy Plays:

Snacks:

Vegetable tray– The crunch eases game time nerves! Tackle the dip. Lower calories by opting for a light avocado or bean based dip.

Warmed, flavored Chex MixРinstead of potato chips, run a healthier option. There are many flavor comninations!
Garlic Parmesan Chex Mix via Julie’s eats and treats

Photo by Julie's Eats and Treats
Photo by Julie’s Eats and Treats

Fresh Guacamole or a hummus bean dip is always a touchdown. Serve with vegetables, tortilla chips, or cucumber chips!
Fresh Guacamole By Parmesan Princess

The halftime lineup:

Instead of pizza, wings, french fries and fried chicken, how about pulled chicken/pork, grilled skewers, turkey burgers, and a big salad!

Crockpot Pulled Chicken By Dashing Dish

Serve with BBQ sauce and avocado spread to give variety! Photo by Dashing Dish
Serve with BBQ sauce and avocado spread to give variety! Photo by Dashing Dish

 

Grilled Shrimp Skewers By Parmesan Princess

Mexican, turkey chili or grilled skewers are always a healthy and easy play!
Mexican, turkey chili or grilled skewers are always a healthy and easy play!

Pesto Turkey BurgersBy Parmesan Princess

Serve on wheat buns or without bread! Leaf lettuce is a great burger wrap!
Serve on wheat buns or without bread! Leaf lettuce is a great burger wrap!

Play clean. Eat clean!
Let’s go Steelers!!
Ciao!

The Nomad Cook’s Ground Beef and Tomatoes: Cookbook Review and Recipe from “Healthy Venezuelan Cooking”

Organic, Gluten Free, Paleo, Vegetarian, Pesatarian…Ok, Ok, but does it taste good? The Nomad Cook says, “yes.” Traditional recipes meet modern health and wellness in the 1st healthy Venezuelan cookbook.

I bake the empanadas on
Healthy and delicious!

Like most Mediterranean cooking, the overuse of oils containing polyunsaturated fats and refined sugars, have been proven to cause chronic illnesses such as heart disease, coronary artery disease, and diabetes. The Nomad Cook’s “Healthy Venezuelan Cooking” suggests healthier alternative ingredients, without sacrificing the delicious traditional tastes.

The cumin, rosemary , onion combination creates the best aroma!
The cumin, oregano, and garlic combination creates a mouthwatering aroma!

After being asked to review this new cookbook with Nicky D Cooks, food writer, cooking instructor, baker, and foodie friend of mine, we decided to make the same recipe two different ways. An excuse to eat, drink and be merry!

Wre fun, but very serious about our food!
Nicky D Cooks (left) and I are fun, but very serious about our food!

We chose The Nomad Cook’s ground beef and tomatoes recipe.

The Nomad Cook's Beef and Tomatoes recipe two ways- in empanadas and over rice!
The Nomad Cook’s Beef and Tomatoes recipe two ways- in empanadas and over rice!

Like many recipes in “Healthy Venezuelan Cooking,” the ground beef and tomatoes recipe can be an empanada filling, served with arepas, or simply served over rice. Since I make Sicilian empanadas, I decided to use The Nomad Cook’s ground beef and tomatoes recipe as an empanada filling. Nicky D Cooks prepared the dish over a delicious rice pilaf.

Here is the recipe:

Ground Beef and Tomatoes
by The Nomad Cook from “Helathy Venezuelan Cooking”

The Nomad Cook’s notes:
“This recipe is a Latin version of the Italian Bolognese sauce. It is used as a filling for arepas, empanadas, and as a main course with rice. The empanada filling should be on the dry side to avoid the empanada from breaking apart while being cooked.”

Cooking time 30 minutes- Serves 2 cups

Ingredients:
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 lb. grass fed ground beef
1 tbsp. organic Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. ground cumin
iodized salt
1 tsp. oregano
1 organic tomato, chopped
1/2 cup organic beef broth
pinch of tobasco sauce

Directions:
Rinse the ground beef with water in a colander before cooking. Beef will lose somew of its color, turning pinkish. Heat olive oil over medium heat, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.

Lightly brown the ground beef with the onion for 10 min. Add Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salt, and oregano. Stir to combine and add the tomato, beef broth and tobasco. Stir and simmer on medium-high heat until sauce thickens, about 15 more minutes.

Here is my empanada recipe! I did not use the rosemary for these empanadas. A basic pizza/Stromboli dough.
http://www.parmesanprincess.com/2014/03/25/my-nunis-sicilian-empanadas-broccoli-pies-a-quick-and-easy-rosemary-pizza-dough-with-a-broccoli-filling/

Notes from the cooks!

-I used 93/7 ground beef and Nicky used an organic ground beef that was 80/20. Her beef and tomatoes contained more liquid that could easily be strained with a slotted spoon.

– I doubled the recipe but less than doubled the beef broth. I was scared of a runny empanada filling. Nicky quadrupled the recipe with no differences in taste.

The liquid cooked off and left a beautiful empanada filling. Just fold dough over and pinch and tuck to seal!
The liquid cooked off and left a beautiful empanada filling. Just fold dough over and pinch and tuck to seal!

– I used fresh oregano and she used dried. We saw no difference.

The Final taste!

Both recipes were delicious! I would say the majority of the taste testers liked the beef and tomatoes in the empanadas more than over rice.

You can easily add a spicy kick to this recipe by adding more tabasco or Sriracha. (My husband dipped his empanadas in a mound of Sriracha – we are a spicy family!)

I stopped myself from adding shredded cheese!! Oooh this would be so good! Next time!

If you like healthy, delicious, authentic recipes grab this cookbook! Thank you to the Nomad Cook for your contribution to the food world. Your concern for the healthy while keep the delicious is contagious! “Healthy Venezuelan Cooking” is wonderful! Congrats!

Enjoy!
Ciao!

The Nomad Cook’s “Healthy Venezuelan Cooking” is available on Amazon!
http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1500441317/ref=mp_s_a_1_5?qid=1409766303&sr=8-5&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70