Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My New Favorite Popcorn (that's healthy...)

Sometimes it's the simplest things that can change your life. Like popcorn. Seriously, who knew that popcorn could be so life changing, right? But believe me, it can be! Just finish reading this post and you'll find out how.

I've posted about popcorn before. And even taught you a quick microwave method of cooking it that I use a lot...well used to use a lot. I honestly don't think I'll use it very often in the future because this new method of cooking popped in my life (hahaha) the other day. It's easy and wonderful and delicious.

Wow. Hold on to your hats folks. Here it comes. The life changing method of cooking healthy popcorn.

All you need is a large, heavy bottom pan with a good lid (mine is 5 quart). Make sure the lid fits tightly - you'll thank me for this later.

Some coconut oil.

Popcorn (of course).

And salt (I use Real Salt or Himalayan salt). This one is Himalayan, that's why it's pink.

Place the pan on a burner over medium high heat (this is about an 8 out of 10 on my stove). Put in 1/3 cup coconut oil and 2 kernels of unpopped popcorn. And put the lid on.

The coconut oil will melt and heat up. While you are waiting, place 1/2 Cup of popcorn and 1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt in a bowl together and mix it.

After about 6 minutes of heating up. Surprise! A kernel will pop. I always jump a bit when this happens. Then a few seconds later the second one will pop.

At this point you will pour the mixture of popcorn and salt in the pan and shake it a little to distribute the kernels around the hot oil.

Then carefully replace the lid and watch the magic happen. This is when you are thanking me I told you to get a tight fitting lid.


During this process you want to pick up the pan carefully and shake it around a couple of times to redistribute the kernels evenly. The crazy popping lasts less than 2 minutes. When the popping has slowed considerably, carefully remove the pan from the burner, but don't remove the lid yet. It always surprises me with a few more pops. Finally when you're feeling brave, remove the lid and stir around the popcorn to mix it evenly.

And enjoy your healthy treat! Yum.

Printable Recipe

*Makes about 4-1/2 to 5 Quarts popped corn

1/2 Cup popcorn +2 kernels, divided
1/3 Cup Coconut oil
1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt

Place a large, heavy bottom pan with a good tight fitting lid (at least 5 quart) over medium high heat. Place 1/3 cup coconut oil in pan along with 2 kernels of unpopped popcorn. Replace the lid. Then place 1/2 Cup of popcorn and 1 scant tsp. Real or Himalayan salt in a bowl together and mix. Once both kernels have popped in the pan (takes about 6 minutes), add the popcorn and salt mixture to the pan. Carefully replace the lid and shake the pan a couple of times to redistribute the kernels evenly. As the kernels are popping, shake the pan a few more times. The popping should last less than 2 minutes. When the popping has slowed considerably, carefully remove the pan from the burner, but don't remove the lid yet. Finally when the popping has stopped completely, remove the lid and stir the popcorn to mix it well. Eat and enjoy.

Recipe Source: Adapted from the method shared by a good friend Marlou

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lasagna Soup

Do recipes with lots of ingredients scare you? I hope not! Cause this one has a lot, but it's really not hard and it's worth every one of those delicious little ingredients. I adapted the recipe from one I found on A Farm Girl's Dabbles a few years ago. We've made it several times and we love it. This last time I perfected it to my liking by reducing the Italian sausage and adding the black-eyed peas. Yum. I mean double or triple yum. It totally rocks my socks (even though I really don't know what that means).

I like to keep the pasta separate from the soup so the pasta stays a nice texture when you add it to the soup (otherwise it tends to just absorb and get soggy...ugh). Plus kids always seem to be happier when they see their bowls fill up with plain noodles first and then soup. Don't ask me why. It's a kid thing I guess. Don't leave out the cheesy topping. It's the best. I like to stir it in so the cheese gets all melty and delicious. Mmmh. I'm dreaming of eating a bowl of this soup right this very minute.

Lasagna Soup {Pressure Cooker Recipe}
Printable Recipe

*Serves 8-10

1 lb. Italian Sausage
3 Cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Cup dried black-eyed peas
1 28-oz can crushed or diced tomatoes (or use 1 Quart home canned tomatoes)
2 bay leaves
7 Cups chicken stock
16 oz. bow tie (or other flat) pasta
8 oz. ricotta cheese
1/2 Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of black pepper
2 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Heat pressure cooker on medium heat (or brown setting for electric pressure cookers). Add sausage, breaking up into bite sized pieces and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato paste and stir well. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the paste turns rusty brown. Add black-eyed peas, tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir well. Then lock pressure cooker lid in place and heat to high pressure, cooking for 15 minutes. Release the pressure naturally.

Meanwhile, while the soup is cooking, cook bow tie pasta in a separate pan according to package directions until al dente (being careful not to overcook).

Prepare the cheese mixture by combining in a small bowl the ricotta and Parmesan cheese, 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of black pepper. Set aside.

When the pressure has released completely, open lid carefully stir and taste. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

To serve, add a scoop of cooked pasta to each bowl and top with  a ladle or two of soup. Add a dollop of the ricotta cheese mixture and sprinkle some grated mozzarella on the very top. You can also sprinkle some chopped fresh basil on top of the cheese if you want, it makes it yummy if you happen to have some on hand.

Recipe Source: Adapted from A Farm Girl's Dabbles

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

I think I've been on a Mexican food kick lately cause I've been posting a lot of Mexican food recipes. Honestly, Mexican food is one of my favorite things to cook and eat. We have it every Monday and I love trying new recipes. My kids don't always love it so we try to stick with some good old favorites every few weeks to keep them happy too.

This is another healthy, delicious (and easy) recipe shared with me by my sister-in-law Lisa. I altered it a bit by adding more quinoa and less meat to make it even healthier. Also using the corn flour adds more nutrition as well. It's a very satisfying, delicious meal and makes yummy leftovers. Enjoy.

Quinoa Enchilada Casserole
Printable Recipe

*Serves 6-8

1/2 Cup quinoa (any color)
4-1/4 Cup water, divided
3/4 lb. ground beef or turkey
1 Cup chopped onion
1/4 tsp. oregano
2 Tbsp. chili powder
3/4 Cup flour (I use corn flour from freshly ground popcorn)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. salt + more to taste
1/2 tsp. pepper + more to taste
12 white corn tortillas
3/4 lbs. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour cream, diced avocados, lettuce and tomato, for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small sauce pan add the quinoa and 1-14 Cups of water. Heat to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for about 10 minutes or until water is completely absorbed and quinoa is tender and displays a curly white thread.

While quinoa is cooking, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef or turkey. Add the onions and saute for a 3-5 minutes or until onions are tender. Add the cooked quinoa, the oregano, chili powder, flour, tomato sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper and let heat to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 5-10 minutes or until sauce begins to thicken. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Prepare corn tortillas by tearing them into 2" pieces (they do not need to be uniform). In a 9x13 casserole dish, add about a third of the sauce mixture, then a third of the tortilla strips, then a third of the grated cheese. Repeat these layers in order two more times, making sure the top layer is cheese. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and diced avocados on top with a side of lettuce and tomato.

Recipe Source: Adapted from my sister-in-law Lisa's recipe

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chocolate Honey Cookies

This recipe has been in the works for a long time. Like more than a year. I kept running into problems with it, but I'm happy to say that it's now perfected and I'm so excited to share it with you. It is one of our FAVORITE kinds of cookies. They are absolutely divine straight out of the oven. Melt in your mouth deliciousness. They are totally amazing even without chocolate chips (and completely naturally sweetened). The chocolate chips add a little bit more ooey gooeyness to the mix. So you really should try them that way too. Yum. 

These cookies are strutting 100% whole grain flour, naturally sweetened, and butter (no fake fats). So who says cookies can't be healthy and still taste amazing? Well hopefully after trying these, it won't be you. 

And in case you're still not convinced. I'll tell you that they passed my pickiest kid's taste buds. The kid who can tell with one bite if something is sweetened with honey and not sugar (not kidding...). Well, guess what? I'm happy to report that I fooled him with this one! Ha! Mission accomplished.

Chocolate Honey Cookies
Printable Recipe

*Makes 2-3 dozen cookies

2-1/4 Cups Wonder Flour
2/3 Cup Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 Cup raw honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 Cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips, or homemade chocolate chips (Optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, whisk together the Wonder Flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, honey, and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Add chocolate chips, if desired. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Bake for 9-11 minutes until the edges are set but centers are still soft. Cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Refried Bean Tostadas

I've had this recipe on my list to try for a long time and I'm embarrassed how long it's taken me to try. I originally found the method at Kaylyn's Kitchen and I loved the idea of baking the tostada shells rather than frying them. I'm so pleased with the result (and kind of kicking myself that it took that long to try). This is a great recipe to add to your repertoire of healthy Mexican food-type recipes. The tostada shells came out crispy and delicious. I was pleased when I discovered I could make a big batch and seal them in a bag and eat them for my lunch during the week and they stayed crispy. So satisfying and yummy. This is a very simple recipe, more of a technique. It's easy, healthy, and very delicious.

Refried Bean Tostadas
Printable Recipe

*This recipe is adaptable for how many you are serving. Plan on making about 2-3 tostadas per adult.

Corn tortilla shells or taco sized flour tortillas
olive oil
Refried Beans (We love these homemade refried beans and make them all the time)
Guacamole (our favorite homemade recipe)
Grated Cheese
Diced fresh tomatoes
Sliced olives
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 450 F. Place large baking sheet in oven and let it get hot while oven is preheating. Carefully remove baking sheet and spread with a thin layer of olive oil. Lay out tortillas so they are flat on the hot baking sheet (I was able to bake 6 at a time on mine). Toast tortillas for about 3-4 minutes on each side in hot oven until they are crisp and barely starting to brown. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Repeat as needed until you have enough tostada shells. It's okay if you make too many. I've found that they will store well at room temperature in a sealed container for a couple of days a least. They are still nice and crispy. If you want to re-warm them just pop them back in a hot oven for a couple of minutes (I usually just reheat the refried beans and don't worry about reheating the tostada shells).

While tostada shells are cooking, prepare the toppings. I like the refried beans to be warm. When ready to serve I usually just have separate bowls with the toppings and let people assemble their own. This works best for a family because the kids often like to have everything separate anyway.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Kaylyn's Kitchen

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pressure Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

I know I've said this before but I'm always on the lookout for easy pressure cooker recipes that use healthy ingredients that I can make for my family. I love it when I can make dinner ahead of time and let it sit in the pressure cooker until I'm ready to serve it. That makes my job as a mom so much easier. I've been on the lookout for this recipe for a long time. I love taco soup, but I wanted to make a recipe that uses dry beans in my pressure cooker (rather than cans of stuff and you throw it in). I store mostly dry beans because I found they are for the most part, cheaper to buy that way. I finally decided since I couldn't find such a recipe that I would create it myself and the results were fabulous. I love the flavor and color that the different varieties of beans use in this recipe. You could branch out a bit and use different beans but make sure you read the note at the top of the recipe ahead of time first. The toppings are of course optional, but they sure add variety and make eating this chicken taco soup even more enjoyable, not to mention your bowl more colorful.

Heartwarming and delicious, not too spicy and not too boring. This chicken taco soup is perfect for serving your family or bringing to a potluck dinner.

Pressure Cooker Chicken Taco Soup
Printable Recipe

*Serves 8-10

*Note: I love the colors and flavors that come from using a variety of beans in this recipe. I listed some options of beans that I use. Make sure your beans are all relatively the same size (don't use great big beans or too small of beans or they will either be over or under cooked). 

2 Cups your choice of rinsed and sorted black beans, navy beans, pinto beans or adzuki beans (I like to use 1/2 Cup of each to add color, flavor and variety)
7 Cups water, divided
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 frozen chicken breasts (I usually buy fresh chicken breasts when they are on sale and freeze them in individual bags to use in recipes like this)
3 Tbsp. taco seasoning (I use this homemade seasoning mix)
1 4-oz. can green chilies
1 qt. crushed tomatoes (home canned or 2 16-oz. cans crushed tomatoes)
1 15-oz. can corn, drained (or 2 cups frozen corn, cooked and drained)
salt & pepper, to taste as desired
grated cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, tortilla chips, for serving, if desired

Combine beans and 6 Cups of water in electric pressure cooker and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes. Do a quick release of the pressure. Then use a strainer to drain the water from the beans. In the now empty pressure cooker pot add olive oil and heat on saute setting until hot and bubbly. Saute the onions an garlic in the oil for a couple of minutes until soft and flavorful. Then add the chicken breasts, the drained beans, the taco seasoning, the green chilies, the crushed tomatoes, and 1 Cup of water. Stir until combined. Then cook on high pressure for 21 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Then open the pressure cooker, remove the chicken breasts, chop and return to pot. Then add the drained corn. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Serve immediately or let keep on warm until ready to serve. This soup is also delicious made a day ahead of time or eaten as leftovers. Serve in bowls with your choice of grated cheese, sliced avocado, sour cream, and crushed tortilla chips on top.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Orange Kefir Breakfast Shake

Have you met my friend kefir yet? If not, you really need to! Kefir milk is full of wonderful probiotics that are bodies need to keep us well. I'm always on the lookout for more ways to incorporate kefir into my family's diet, especially in the winter time. We love smoothies, but sometimes they are too cold for my kids in the winter. This orange kefir breakfast shake is a great way to get your kefir in the morning without freezing your little toesies off in the process. Hope you enjoy!

Orange Kefir Breakfast Shake
Printable Recipe

*Makes 4-5 Cups

3 Cups Kefir Milk
2 fresh oranges, peeled
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 heaping Tbsp. honey + more to taste
1/2 ripe banana (I sometimes use a frozen one)

In a blender, combine the kefir milk, oranges, vanilla and honey and blend well (until honey is dissolved). Add ripe banana and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Recipe Source: healthyfamilycookin.blogspot.com

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