Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dessert - Don't be afraid!

I had a client ask me for a sweet treat idea, and so I needed to get creative on this one.  Part of eating healthy is keeping an open mind and exploring new options, so here goes:

Vegan Black Bean Brownies (I combined a couple of recipes to make this one.  Others had too much fat or sugar)
Servings: 9

These brownies are a great alternative to traditional brownies!

Warning: Because there isn't any flour they come out pretty dense in case you are looking for a cake brownie.

Note: Rolled oats may substituted for the instant oats. Put the rolled oats in the food processor.  Use optional sugar if your bananas are still green and not very ripe. (I used ripe bananas that were a perfect sweetener!)

•15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed
•2 whole bananas
•⅓ cup honey or for a rich taste maple syrup or molasses
•¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
•1 tbsp cinnamon
•1 tsp vanilla extract
•¼ cup raw sugar (optional)
•¼ cup instant oats (you can definitely use Gluten Free Oats!)


Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an 8x8" pan and set aside. Combine all ingredients, except oats, in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth, scrapping sides as needed. Stir in the oats and pour batter into the pan. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before slicing.

If you find these brownies are too soft, add another 1/4 cup oats or flour.

If you give the recipe a try, let me know what you think!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Super Simple Sloppy Joes

In taking advantage of our beautiful venison meat, I decided to make sloppy joes this past week.  As I told Paul what was on the menu, he asked if I was going to buy, "Manwich?"  After spending a moment trying to figure out what Manwich was, I realized that I might not actually know what a "real" sloppy joe tastes like.  The only ones I have had are either homemade from scratch or from Mother's, a Veggie Restaurant in Austin.  So, please, be the judge and let me know if these are real...either way they sure were tasty!

Super Simple Sloppy Joe's
1lb Ground Venison, Turkey Breast, or Veggie Crumbles
1 diced medium white onion
1 diced small green pepper
1 large can pure tomato paste, no salt
1 can diced tomatoes, no salt
cajun seasoning or spicy seasoning of your choice

In a large sauce pan on medium/high heat, saute onion and green pepper until softened.  Add ground protein source until cooked through.  Add diced tomatoes and seasoning.  Season to taste.  Add tomato paste, 2 T at a time and mix in.  Let cook over medium/low heat continuing to stir for about 5 minutes more, and serve!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lots of Cooking!

Or should I say, "lots of photo downloading."  We aren't going hungry here that's for sure.  I just haven't been on top of the photo downloading game.  Like with any new routine, it just takes some time.

Last week we ran into our friend, Derick, who said, "when are we having gnocchi again?"  No better time than the present so I was excited to present a lovely meal for our wonderful friends Saturday night. 

On the menu:
Spinach and Fig salad
Gnocchi with Hot Italian Beef Sausage and Mild Turkey Sausage - with sundried tomatoes (if you want to keep this meal vegetarian you can replace the sausage with chopped fresh peppers and some hot italian seasoning)
A new spin on Boston Cream Pie

The Spinach and Fig Salad was a super easy hit.

Figs (sliced)
Parmesan Shaved (optional)
2 slices of Fresh Sourdough Bread cut and toasted for croutons
Balsamic Vinegar

To make the dressing, I reduced balsamic vinegar with about 6 figs and mashed the figs as the vinegar thickened.  I then strained it.  It was a thick and rich dressing.

Gnocchi with Sausage and Sundried Tomatoes
3 lbs Gnocchi (I can give you the recipe if you would like to make it from scratch or you can buy it at Central Market or Mandolas Italian Market)
4 Hot Italian Beef Sausages (Fresh not Packaged)
2 Mild Turkey Sausages
1 jar sundried tomatoes packed in olive oil
20 Sundried tomatoes rehydrated and not packed in oil
1 28 oz can chopped tomatoes (high quality italian)
large bunch of fresh basil

1) Cut up the sundried tomatoes not in oil and put them in a container.  I like using my kitchen sheers to do this.  Then open the jar of sundried tomatoes in oil, cut them, and add the tomatoes and oil to the container.  This saves about $5+ in sundried tomatoes and gives plenty of olive oil flavor to all of them. (Extras keep beautifully in your fridge, so don't be afraid to make will note that I used the remainder to roast chicken yesterday!)

2) In a large suace pan, cook the sausage to just done.  Strain out the juice or any excess oil, wipe the pan and put the sausage back in on low/med heat.  Add both sets of tomatoes and about 1T of the reserved olive oil (this is the only oil in the dish).  Again, with the sheers, cut the cleaned fresh basil in strips directly into the pan.

3) Let simmer until all the flavors are on spot.  The hot sausage will add a nice kick

4) Cook the Gnocchi al dente (do not over cook or it will be mush), and mix the gnocchi into the sausage meal.  We got 4 servings + 2 large bonus servings for the men + 2 meals of leftovers from the above!!  Makes lots of food

Boston Cream

Paul's favorite part of a Boston Cream Pie is the Cream which is a Bavarian Cream.  Mine was always a big hit until we went to Tartine in San Francisco.  (An absolute MUST if you are there).  The two Eclairs he has had have been stamped in his memory.  The Cream filling is a vanilla bean filling.  So to honor this, I created a vanilla bean bavarian cream.  Since I didn't want it to get lost in the heaviness of cake, I created layers of pastry, cream, and then chocolate ganache.  Here is the finished product.

I took the extra cream, and pastry, and made my first Napolean for a party on Sunday night.  It didn't stand a chance, so I am hoping it was a hit!

Happy Bellies!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Back to Cooking!

No time like the present to get back on track with my entries. 

Last week I made one of my easiest flavorful meals: Enchiladas and Re "Fried" Black Beans.  Paul loves this meal, but don't know if he knows just how easy it is :)

Old Pic of Same Dish (will add another tomorrow)



1 bag frozen fajita mix peppers (no seasoning or sauce)
1 can no salt added black beans, strained and rinsed

1 container pre-made Pico de Gallo from the produce section of the grocery
¾ cup low fat Mexican Blend Cheese (I often skip the cheese)
10 Fresh Corn Tortillas
1 Jar of your favorite low sodium salsa


Preheat oven to 375. On the stove top, pour the pepper mix in large pan over medium/high heat. Once heated through, add in Pico de Gallo and black beans. Once heated through, add in ¼ cup of cheese and let it melt. In an oven proof pan, coat the bottom with salsa. Place a large spoonful of mixture into tortillas and wrap and place seem side down in pan. When complete, top with remainder salsa and cheese and place in oven for 10-15 until cheese is melted.

Tip: can be prepped and stored overnight. Prior to serving heat in oven for 20 min or until heated through.

Nutrition for 2 Enchiladas:
Calories: 215cal, Fat: 4g, Protein: 15g, Carbohydrates: 44g

Re"fried" Black Beans


1 tsp vegetable oil
1 ½ cup chopped green onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ tsp cumin
2 (15-oz) cans black beans, no salt added, undrained
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until tender. Stir in cumin and beans, and partially mash mixture. Cook until thick, stirring frequently. Finally, stir in cilantro.

Nutrition for ½ cup servings:

Calories: 167kcal, Fat: 2g, Protein: 9g, Carbohydrates: 28g

Meals from my weekend dinner company to come tomorrow!