Friday, September 27, 2013

Veggie-Packed Minestrone Soup


I love when the weather gets a little cooler, because I can bust out my soup recipes that have been gathering dust! This is a new recipe to us, but it is going to get used a lot this fall and winter...and spring (because that's how long we have some form of cooler weather in the Pacific Northwest!). Anyway, this has tons of vegetables and beans, and was also fantastic to feed our 11 month old, because she could pick up almost everything really easily! Our 2 year old and baby ate seconds and thirds! Plus, I really like hearty soups (I don't like to drink my dinner), and this is perfect!

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
4-5 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup frozen french cut green beans (I recommend cutting these in half or thirds; every other ingredient is
      bite-sized, so the green beans were kind of awkward to eat.)
2 15-oz cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 15-oz cans white beans
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I pulse them in a blender a few times so there aren't chunks)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
32 oz (4 cups) vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups hot water
1/2-1 cup ditalini or other small pasta
4 cups loosely packed spinach leaves
2-3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley, or 1 tablespoon dried parsley

Heat a large stock pot to medium high heat. Add olive oil to coat bottom of pan. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Saute 4-5 minutes, until onions start to look translucent. Add zucchini and garlic and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring until garlic is fragrant. Add green beans, kidney and white beans, tomatoes, and seasonings, and stir to combine. Add broth and water and bring soup to a simmer. Cover pot and simmer on low for 20-25 minutes, until carrots and celery are tender. Add pasta and cook until pasta is soft, 8-10 minutes. Add additional broth or water if you feel it is not your preferred consistency. Remove pot from heat and stir in spinach and parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 8 (1.5 cup) servings.

{Kudos to ourbestbites.com!}

Slow-Cooker Kalua Pork

Ahhhhh so yummy, and, with only three ingredients, it really couldn't be simpler! We ate it on Hawaiian rolls, as suggested on the website, and -Trust Me- it was fantastic!

1 2.5-3.5 lb boneless pork shoulder (butt) roast
1/2-1 tablespoon salt (the author recommends pink or smoked Hawaiian sea salt, but I don't know where to find it.)
1 Tablespoon Hickory-flavored liquid smoke

Rinse the roast and pat it dry. Pierce the entire roast with a fork. Sprinkle about 1 tablespoon liquid smoke over the whole roast, the sprinkle with 1/2-1 tablespoon salt. Rub the salt into the roast, then place the roast in the slow-cooker on low for 8-10 hours, or until it shreds easily with a fork. Shred roast, discarding any large pieces of fat. Reserve cooking liquid if desired to keep meat moist. (Ours was very moist without the extra liquid.)

Yield: About 16 roll sandwiches-worth.

{Kudos to ourbestbites.com!}

Brown Rice (Boiled)

It took a little while, but I have finally been successful switching our family over to whole grain pasta! I slowly upped the ratio of regular : whole grain pasta, and now I can do all whole grain and nobody flinches. Next on my list is switching to more brown rice, and this recipe is simple and delicious!

1 1/2 cups long grain brown rice
3 quarts water (NOT 3 cups!)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp vinegar or citrus juice

Fill a large pot with 3 quarts of water (again NOT 3 cups!) and add the salt. Bring to a boil. When the the water is boiling, add the rice and cook uncovered for 22-25 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer.
If you are adding it to a salad, stir fry, etc, you will want to dump the rice onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, drizzle with citrus juice, and toss to combine.

Yield: about 3 cups.

{Kudos to ourbestbites.com!}

Friday, September 20, 2013

Honey Dijon Pork Chops


Simple and delicious. What more could you want? My 4 yr old, 2 yr old, and 10 month old even ate this "chicken" right up! Oh, and we liked this enough I made it twice in one week, and still didn't get a picture the first eight or ten times I made it!

1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
4-6 boneless pork chops

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9 x 13' Pyrex dish.
2. Mix Dijon, honey, garlic, and pepper. Arrange pork in prepared dish and pour mustard mixture over pork.
3. Bake pork in preheated oven until pork is slightly pink in the center, about 45 minutes, or 145 degrees with a meat thermometer.

{Kudos allrecipes.com!}

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Energizing Granola



This is my new favorite breakfast! It's healthy, easy to change up, and simple to make!


2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower kernels
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1/4 cup toasted wheat germ
2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
2 Tablespoons ground flax-seed
1/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons molasses
1 Tablespoon canola oil
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup dried cranberries or blueberries
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried banana chips

1. In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. In a small saucepan, combine the water, honey, molasses, and oil. Heat for 3-4 minutes over medium heat until heated through. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla, salt, and cinnamon. Pour over oat mixture; stir to coat.
2. Transfer to a 15 x 10 x 1 in baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring every 10 mins. Cool completely. Stir in dried fruits. Store in an airtight container.

{Kudos to Taste of Home magazine!}