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A Menu for Your Honey Bunny on Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Uh-oh.  Cupid struck you.  And he struck you good.  Looks like this Valentine’s Day,  “Romance” is your middle name.  That’s why you’re cooking from the heart to show your honey bunny just how much love you have to give with the most romantic Valentine’s Day menu.

SET THE MOOD WITH MUSIC

Download the ultimate romance playlist.  Some great ideas from Martha Stewart, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, and these KCRW DJ’s love song selections.

WINE

First and foremost, you need some good wine on hand.  Just make sure it goes with what you’re serving–and more importantly, it’s what your Valentine loves to drink.  Keep in mind you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg.  Find great deals at:

  • Whole Foods | Aside from their excellent selection of bottles priced under $10, they also have a handy-dandy wine tutorial on their website.
  • BevMo | It’s 5 cent sale is going on now which means you can really splurge on a good bottle because the second one is only five cents!
  • Trader Joe’s | If you’ve never perused their wine aisles, you’ve been missing out.  The store stocks  a fabulous selection and prices start at $1.00 (although you may have to spend more money on Gatorade the next morning to cure your hangover)!

FOOD

Lean Mean Meatballs with Mushroom Marinara Sauce

SAY ‘AMORE’ WITH AN ITALIAN SPREAD…

START | Follow The Hip & Urban Girls’ Guide to Cheese & Meat Board.

MAIN COURSE | Lean Mean Meatballs with Homemade Mushroom Marinara.

SIDE | Flash Roasted Green Beans.

SEAL THE DEAL WITH CASUAL GASTRO PUB FARE…

START | Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb Hot Pockets.

MAIN COURSE | Enlightened Shepard’s Pie.

SIDE | Spinach and Strawberry Salad via allrecipes.com

DESSERT | Milk & Oats, Orange & Oatmeal Cookies.

Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup

IMPRESS WITH CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN CUISINE…

START | Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup.

MAIN COURSE | Sunset Magazine’s Perfect Roasted Chicken.

SIDE | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter.

DESSERT | Hubba Hubba Brownies.

Veggie Cassoulet

NO TIME TO SLAVE AWAY IN THE KITCHEN?  MAKE VEGGIE CASSOULET, A SIMPLE ONE-POT MEAL, READY IN MINUTES. 

So, what do you have on your Valentine’s Day menu?  Share your love spun food selections by leaving a comment below.

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Have A Heart Smoothie

7 Feb

Heart Healthy Smoothie with Beet Juice, Organic Cherries

Serves 1

The juice craze has turned you into a closet smoothie snob.  If it doesn’t taste like grass, dirt or chlorophyll, you snub your nose at it.  Who are you kidding!?  You’ve resorted to the old “Plug and Chug” method to drink it down without having to suffer through the taste of it.  Drop the act and try the Have a Heart Smoothie, bursting with antioxidants and heart-healthy fruits and veggies to protect that love machine of yours.  You can still have your juice and actually love to drink it, too.

Ingredients:

¾ C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk

¼ C. beet juice

½ banana

1 Tbsp. Nutella

¼ C. organic cherries, frozen

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender in the order listed.  Blend until smooth.  For a great post-workout shake, add 2 Tbsp. unflavored whey or soy protein powder.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Beets, bananas and cherries protect your heart, lower blood pressure, boost your immune system and strengthen your bones.  Now that’s a trio of goodness!

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Flash Roasted Green Beans

2 Feb

healthy green bean recipeServes 6

You’ve been caught—red handed—cheating on green beans with the latest and greatest “it” veggies.  One week it’s brussels sprouts, the next kale, beets or rainbow chard.  You’re allowed to play the field (we are talking veggies here), but it’s like you’ve turned into some sort of vegetable gigolo tasting a different flavor every week.  What happened to sticking with the tried-and-true?  Perhaps Flash Roasted Green Beans will entice you to come home to mama.

Ingredients:

1 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed & tipped

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt & cracked pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place green beans into a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Use a spatula to make sure all green beans are coated.  Transfer to baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Serve warm.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Green beans have a little secret. Even though they’re rich and green, they’re bursting with beta-carotene and lutein, which makes them essential to maintaining beautiful, glowing skin and sparkling eyes.

Printer-friendly file: Flash_roasted_green_beans

So what do you say?  Will you give green beans another chance?  Leave a comment below.

Super Bowl Sunday Salad with Carrot Basil Vinaigrette

31 Jan

Sunday Funday Salad, Healthy Salad

Serves 4 as main course | Serves 12 as small side

Remember Sunday Funday?  You left it in college along with those shots of bad tequila and affection for anything greasy to cure your hangover.  And now, you read this and ponder, “Have I lost my fun luster?”  The answer is no—you are clearly more refined now.  So reinstate Sunday Fundays with a bit more class, like the Sunday Salad with Carrot Basil Vinaigrette.  And, consider pairing it with Sauv Blanc instead of cheap tequila, will you?

Ingredients:

Salad:

1 6 oz. bag organic spinach

½ lb. turkey deli meat, cubed

1 can kidney beans

½ C. grape tomatoes, halved

¼ C. dried cherries

Dressing:

¼ C. carrot juice

1/3 C. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. honey

½ tsp. pepper

pinch salt

1 C. extra virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. basil

Directions:

Rinse and lightly dry all ingredients.  Place into a large mixing bowl.  Just before serving, pour ¼ Cup dressing over salad to lightly coat and toss.  Add any additional dressing to taste.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Its no wonder Popeye loves him some spinach.  This all-over powerful veggie is packed with good-for-you vitamins and minerals that promote strong bone health, healthy eyes, clear skin and stellar brain function.  Spinach is also a great choice to ward off free radicals and diseases including some cancers, like prostate cancer.

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Pulled Pork Sliders

14 Dec

Makes 24

Pulled Pork Sliders

You’re a Sunday Funday fanatic.  That’s right—come Wednesday you’re already planning lunches, brunches and aperitifs to spare.  It’s all play and no work on Sundays.  Especially when it comes to not wanting to work on those dishes.  That’s why on Sundays you put the slow cooker to work and make Pulled Pork Sliders.

Ingredients:

3 lbs. pork shoulder

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. paprika

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Gala apple, whole but slit around center

1 onion, cubed

¼ C. spicy Dijon mustard

1 Tbsp. local honey

Hamburger pickles (dill, sweet or both)!

Your favorite slider buns (Hawaiian Rolls are delish)

Directions:

Create a dry rub in a small mixing bowl by combining brown sugar, paprika, sea salt and cayenne pepper.  Massage the dry ingredients into the pork.  Place pork into a freezer bag with olive oil.  Allow to marinate.  Tip: This is best done the night before to create the most flavor.

Place pork, apple and onion in a slow cooker on low and cook for 7 hours.  If you’re running low on time, you can crank the heat up to high, but cook for 4-5 hours only.  When done, pull the pork apart in the slow cooker using tongs (to secure) and a fork (to pull the meat).  Let it sit in the jus.

Just before serving, mix mustard and honey in a small bowl.  Spread honey mustard on inside top of roll and finish building out your sliders with a generous serving of pork and a pickle or two.  Secure with a toothpick.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  A good source of lean protein, pork is naturally low in sodium and is packed with several vitamins and minerals.  Pork is also a great source of iron, which makes it a great option for your monthly holiday…hint, hint!

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Thanksgiving 911 | Signature Cocktails and Delectable Desserts

23 Nov

The dining room table is set, pretty china and all.  The family arrives tomorrow.  The menu is…oh boy!  Procrastinated ‘till the very last minute, did ya?  That’s so you.  You’re experiencing a Thanksgiving 911!  But before you ring the alarm, here’s a secret: you don’t need to sweat over it sweetheart!

Make this Thanksgiving’s feast oh-so memorable.  Put some thought into it…what’s your food style?  Is it festive, savory, a modern twist on classics, comforting or seasonal?  Or, is it a fab combination of it all?

This Thanksgiving 911 is handled.  So, set the menu already!  Add some magic with signature cocktails and delectable desserts:

Campari Crush

SIGNATURE COCKTAILS – TIP: GIVE ‘EM A SIP OF SOMETHING SPECIAL RIGHT AS THEY ENTER 

Festive | Champagne or Bourbon with Cider Super simple, there’s no recipe required! Add a splash of apple cider to your favorite bubbly or bourbon for an instant holiday-in-a-glass cocktail.

Savory | Food and Wine’s 10 Top Thanksgiving Bottles Pair your meal with the perfect wines.  (Disclaimer: this may warrant you having to host all future Thanksgivings. You’ve been warned).

Modern Classic | Campari Crush This is a one-and-done kind of aperitif. A little palette cleanser preps your guests for the big meal.

Comforting | John Fibley of Jonoon’s Sprig Around the World Because maple syrup makes everyone feel like a kid again.

Seasonal | Martha Stewart’s Apple Ginger Sparklers This non-alcoholic spritzer puts a sparkle in everyone’s eye.  Super kid-friendly, too!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

DESSERTS – TIP: NON-PIE DESSERTS ADD A CLOSING ELEMENT OF THANKSGIVING SURPRISE

Festive | Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Oh-so creamy, who would’ve known it was dairy-free? Tastes best served with a warm brownie.

Savory | Oh How Posh’s Maple Pecan Sundaes with Candied Bacon Because bacon seriously tastes good on everything—most especially dessert.

Modern Classic | Bree Hester of bakedbree.com’s Mini Pumpkin Cheesecakes Like pumpkin pies in a new-and-improved form.

Comforting | Oats, Orange & Hazelnut Cookies Homemade cookies are comfort food at its best–and they smell darn good!

Seasonal | Cottage Gourmet’s Cranberry-Molasses Pudding with Vanilla Hard Sauce This tart dessert spells H-O-L-I-D-A-Y.

Thanksgiving 911 | Ten Simple Side Dishes to be Thankful For

22 Nov

The dining room table is set, pretty china and all.  The family arrives tomorrow.  The menu is…oh boy!  Procrastinated ‘till the very last minute, did ya?  That’s so you.  You’re experiencing a Thanksgiving 911!  But before you ring the alarm, here’s a secret: you don’t need to sweat over it sweetheart!

Make this Thanksgiving’s feast oh-so memorable.  Put some thought into it…what’s your food style?  Is it festive, savory, a modern twist on classics, comforting or seasonal?  Or, is it a fab combination of it alll?

This Thanksgiving 911 is handled.  So, set the menu already! Serve up fabulous side dishes:

Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter

SIDE DISHES – TIP: THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

Festive | Sweet Mashed Potatoes with Sage Apple Butter & Crème Fraiche It even smells like Thanksgiving!

Festive | Gluten-Free Girl’s Cranberry Chutney  Sweet, tart and rich.  Perfectly pairs with turkey and potatoes.

Savory | Spicy Sweet Potato Fries Because sometimes mashed is a little too predictable.

Savory | Smitten Kitchen’s Crispy Potato Roast Your non-traditional Thanksgiving feast just got crispier.

Modern Classic | Not Your Grandma’s Potato Salad An ode to Granny sans the mayo.

Modern Classic | Whole Foods’ Green Beans with Shallots and Almonds Simple, absolutely gorgeous and no need for Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom.

Comforting | Williams Sonoma’s Golden Broccoli Gratin Enough butter & cream to make Paula Deen proud!

Comforting | Giada’s Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta The Italians really know how to make a holiday dish that shouts “welcome to the family.”

Seasonal | Ina Garten’s Roasted Butternut Squash Throw it in to roast and let the caramelized flavors speak for themselves.

Seasonal | The Kitchn’s Roasted Brussel Sprouts Quick, easy and healthy. Save room for dessert!

Thanksgiving 911 | Gobble-Worthy Appetizers & First Course

21 Nov

The dining room table is set, pretty china and all.  The family arrives tomorrow.  The menu is…oh boy!  Procrastinated ‘till the very last minute, did ya?  That’s so you.  You’re experiencing a Thanksgiving 911!  But before you ring the alarm, here’s a secret: you don’t need to sweat over it sweetheart!

Make this Thanksgiving’s feast oh-so memorable.  Put some thought into it…what’s your food style?  Is it festive, savory, a modern twist on classics, comforting or seasonal?  Or, is it a fab combination of it all?

This Thanksgiving 911 is handled.  So, set the menu already!  Start with this list of mouthwatering recipes:

Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb Hot Pockets

APPETIZERS – TIP: SIMPLE YET ELEGANT WOWS THE CROWD

Festive | Turkey Tartlets A non-traditional meal with a bunch of fancy apps? Put the turkey in a tart. (HINT: Also delish recipe for Friday leftovers).

Savory | Spiced Party Nuts This tailgate-friendly snack gets fancy! Set by the bar in fancy dishes.

Modern Classic | Baked Kale Chips Veggie chips prevent that “too stuffed before the stuffing” feeling.

Comforting | Cranberry Goat Cheese & Herb “Hot Pockets” Creamy, flavorful and bite-sized!

Seasonal | Omega-3 Pumpkin, Carrot & Raisin Quick Bread Serve it warm with soft butter or pumpkin butter nearby.

Butternut Squash Soup with Apples

FIRST COURSE – TIP: START WITH SOUP FOR INSTANT ELEGANCE

Festive | Butternut Squash Soup with Apples & Bacon Two words: simply divine!

Savory | Smoky Spinach Soup Totally healthy and light—the perfect starter to a marathon dinner.

Modern Classic | Cream of Mushroom & Eggplant Soup Mmm Mmm, Good sans the Campbell’s can and preservatives.

Comforting | Spicy Tomato Basil Soup Nothing says “home for the holidays” more than tomato soup.

Seasonal | Vegan Sweet Potato Soup with Crisped Sweet Potato Skins Because who wants the yams with marshmallows anyway?  Ok, maybe you do but why not try sweet potatoes in liquid form?

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

24 Oct

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Serves 6

Your affinity for pumpkin-flavored everything has an obvious upside—its delicious.  But the high-caloric pies and lattes, well, they add up.  So not cool.  Good news!  The Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream is rich, creamy, low in calories and chalk full of all the pumpkin deliciousness you desire.

Ingredients:

3 C. unsweetened vanilla almond milk, chilled

1 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. pumpkin pie spices

1 C. pumpkin puree

1 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Bring ½ C. almond milk, honey and pumpkin spice to a simmer on stove until honey dissolves.  Remove from heat and cool.  Place remaining almond milk and pumpkin puree in a blender and blend until smooth.  Add spiced almond milk and blend again.  Place into ice cream maker and prepare according to manufacturer directions.

Serve with a warm brownie, cheesecake or your favorite fall dessert.

Freezes well, lasts one week.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO: Rich in beta-carotene, pumpkin brightens skin and boosts mood.  This low-calorie fruit is also a great moisturizer from the inside out.

Printer-friendly file: Vegan Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream 

NUTRITIONAL FACTS (SERVING SIZE – 6): Calories: 48; Total Fat 1.8g; Saturated Fat 0g; Sugar: 4g; Sodium 90mg; Fiber 1.8g

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

10 Oct

Vegan Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 6-8

Achoo!  Baby, it’s cold outside!  And according to that forecast, it’ll be chilly all week.  Fabulous.  Absolutely fabulous.  What to do?  Set the salad to the side and warm up with Sweet Potato Soup instead.  Packed with immune-boosting ingredients, this hearty, healthy and oh-so-savory recipe will last you all week long.  Just in time for another cold spell.

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 brown onion, cubed

8 C. low-sodium vegetable broth

2 lbs. organic sweet potatoes, skinned & cubed

1 C. unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. coarse sea salt

1 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 sprig rosemary

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 425.

Peel and cube sweet potatoes, reserve potato peels.

In a stockpot, sauté garlic and onion on low heat with two tablespoons olive oil.  Add vegetable broth, sweet potatoes, applesauce and cinnamon.  Let simmer on low heat for one hour.

In 3 batches, with a reserve bowl handy, transfer stockpot contents to a blender and puree until fully smooth.  Pour first batch into reserve bowl and repeat for batches 2 and 3.  Pour soup into stockpot.  Add balsamic, brown sugar, salt and pepper and let simmer on low heat for another hour, stirring occasionally.

Place potato peels on baking sheet with remaining olive oil and rosemary sprig and bake for 10 minutes.  Use as garnish.

Freezes well.  Feel like cooking for just you and your honey?  Quarter the recipe.

FOOD THAT LOVES YOU, TOO:  Rich in antioxidants like beta-carotene and high in fiber, sweet potatoes are an excellent boost (especially during flu season) for your immune system and digestion.   When it’s flu season, do whatever you can to fit sweet potatoes into your diet. 

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NUTRITIONAL FACTS (SERVING SIZE – 8): Calories: 177; Total Fat 5g; Saturated Fat .7g; Sodium 427.5mg; Fiber 5g