Friday, December 30, 2011

Cheesy Artichoke Dip

We always celebrate Christmas at my mom's with appetizers galore and this year was no different.  This is the dip I brought and everyone went crazy over it.  I think it would be a great addition to any of your New Year's parties and its super simple to make.  If I do it again, I am going to sprinke bread crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese for a crispy crust, but its just fine without it.  The leftovers did't last long in the fridge.  This recipe makes a huge au gratin pan of this as well as this smaller gratin dish of dip so its great for a large crowd.

2 bars of cream cheese softened
1 1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
4 green onions sliced thin (Whites and tops)
1- 8 oz jar of roasted red peppers chopped
2- 6 oz jars of marinated artichoke hearts drained.....I save the juice for marinating chicken etc....
2 cups motzarella cheese shredded
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tsp Franks Red Hot
3 tsp L&P Worchestershire sauce
Fresh Ground Pepper

Preheat oven to 350

In a large bowl with hand mixer mix cream cheese till fluffy and then add mayo and beat it till smooth, add cheeses, mix then add veggies and sauces.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Bake in 350 oven 30-40 minutes.   I added cheese on top which turned a nice golden brown in the oven.  Serve with crackers or crudites.  I have wasa crackers shown here.  Enjoy

Friday, December 23, 2011

Cranberry Orange Scones

I had never had a scone until my recent vacation to Hawaii in November.  While we were on Maui for my Friend Elaine's Wedding (see earlier post for her photo), she had a Royal Wedding themed Bridal shower.  We enjoyed pimm's cocktails, cucumber sandwiches and fresh blueberry scones.  Later on our trip she took us on an Upland Adventure to the Alii Kula Lavender farm.  I scarfed on a wonderful lavender scone and some lavender tea.  The aromas and views from the lavender farm were amazing and I highly recommend you stop here if you ever get the chance.  There are sweeping views of the moutains and you may even see a para glider, which we were fortunate enough to see.  The protea flowers are something to take note of, not to mention the 55000 lavender plants and 45 varieties.  They grow this all at an elevation of 4000 ft....which maybe why I can never grow lavendar worth a darn.  But I do love the smell off it!

So ever since we came back to the mainland, I dream about those scones and the ocean view we saw from their balcony.  Scones are so delicious.  I never thought much of them, never even tasted one but now I am a believer and I decided to make them for my boyfriend's cousin's morning Christmas party we are attending tomorrow.  I found this recipe in my Barefoot Contessa at Home Cookbook by Ina Garten.  (One of the few food network chefs I adore) The recipe calls for a cup of dried cranberries, but  I had abut a cup of fresh cranberries hanging out in the fridge and I think fresh is always better, don't you?

4 Cups All purpose flour + 1/4 cup
1/4 cup granulted sugar + extra for sprinkling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp orange zest
3 sticks cold unsalted butter diced
4 eggs beaten
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1 small orange juiced

400 degree oven

Mix 4 c flour and sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest in your mixer.  Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed.  In a separate bowl whisk the egg and cream, then slowly add to the dry ingredients until just blended.  In a food processor, pulse the cranberries to a rough chop and add the 1/4 cup of flour to the berries.  Add to mixer till combined.  Dump the dough ball on a well floured board and with your hands roll it out to about a 1" thickness.  I used a mason jar to punch out the biscuits.  If I made these again, I would get the bigger sugar crystals to sprinkle on the top, but I just used the granulated. Bake for 20 minutes.   Mix up the powdered sugar and juice of the orange and drizzle over the scones! Can't wait for these tomorrow morning!  Merry Christmas everyone and thanks for reading my blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cucumber Avocado Soup

So continuing on my journey of eating raw foods, I decided to give this soup a try.  I am still feeling good and having more energy and sneezing and wheezing a lot less.  Now I am just waiting for the weight loss they keep talking about.  Its so funny to hear people say being healthy costs so much.  I've actually reduced the grocery bill.  And if you are thinking about this, you will save much more by being healthy in the long run by reducing your healthcare bills.  Seriously people, a bag of carrots is $1.69.  Yes it takes a while to clean up after yourself, but its time you are disconnected from facebook, cell phone, internet and you can really just think about things while you clean up the juicer, food processor etc.  So this soup, it was really cheap.  The avocado was .99.  The cucumber was .39.  The lime was .39.  I added a clove of garlic to this and some salt. But seriously, I can spend over $7.00 on lunch at the cafeteria sometimes. 

So I threw the avocado and seeded cucumber in the food processor along with the zest of the lime, a minced clove of garlic and a dash of salt.  The cilantro garnish is optional, but it gave it a little punch of flavor I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Healthy Smoothie

Next year is going to be a banner year for me!!! Once again, I have resolved to get healthy!  As I mentioned in my last post, I have been using my juicer and trying aspects of the raw diet.  Today I whipped up this smoothie with things I pulled out of the fridge, trying to use it up before it dies in my fridge!!  If you are up for trying new things, this blog is for you!

I've never tried flax seeds before but there are a myriad of health benefits from these little babies....including fighting cholesteral, diabetes, cancer, constipation, inflammation, menapausal symptoms, heart disease and atypical depression!!  I added a tablespoon to this smoothie.  I have continued to have more energy, not have those 3pm crashes and still have not had to take an allergy pill for almost 2 weeks and have had a lot less congestion. 
I also added about 3 tbsp almond butter which I haven't made before.  Super easy!!!

1 cup almonds, 2 tbsp olive oil and pulse to desired consistency in the food processor!


8oz plain yogurt
2 spears pineapple
1/3 cup mango pieces...just now realized I left the frozen strawberries in the microwave!!!! oops!
1/2 cup spinach leaves
1/4 cup almond butter
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp flaxseed.

I did this in the food processor also because its pretty thick and my blender couldn't take it.  Its more of a meal than a shake anyway!!! If you want to thin it out, add more almond milk, a couple ice cubes or some pure water.  Yummy!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup

Its always this time of year when the weather is cold, I want something to warm me up.  I love soups!  When I was in college, I bought Campbell's condensed soups like they were going out of style.  Who knew you could make your own for a fraction of the price?  The more I got into cooking, I made the basics, Chicken noodle, vegetable....My Grandma always made cream of broccoli, but I could never master the milk and butter part till later in life.  I've honed my soup making abilities and here is a great soup for anyone. 

I haven't been blogging because I was on vacation for 2 weeks and I am still trying to catch up.  Today was one of the first days I have had to just relax and I admit, I am still in my pajamas and it is after 1 pm.  While on vacation, I met a girl who was telling me all about detoxing and how she has so much energy now because she is eating raw foods and smoothies and she lost 25 pounds to boot.  She suggested I read Clean by Alejandro Junger.  When I got home I immediately bought it off Amazon and read it in 2 days.  I can't go into it whole hog.  I cheat, I eat candy, dairy and tacos....its the holidays and my will power has left me...

So I got out my Jack Lalanne and started juicing for my morning meal, have tried a couple of the recipes for the lunches and tried to stick to salad for the most part.  It is surprising to me that just after a week of doing this, I have not struggled to get up for work last week, I am notorious for snoozing through my alarm.  In fact I woke before the alarm went off, I have not had to take an allergy pill this week for sinus pain, headache, constant sneezing and runny nose.  And I haven't had the 3pm crash where I feel like I am going to fall asleep at my desk.   

I feel good, and supposably the rewards keep on coming, but like I say, I cheat at this but, give me a break, its the holidays!  I do want to see what other benefits I can reap from eating fresh greens, fruits and less wheat and gluten.  Today I tried my own version of Butternut Squash soup which I still had hanging around the kitchen from the tail end of the farmer's market.  I read several recipes on online blogs and the 2 in the Clean book but synthesized my own recipe.

1 large butternut squash peeled and chopped and cooked for about an 50 minutes at 450 degrees
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large red onion chopped
4 stalks celery diced
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 lite coconut milk
salt and pepper and the tiniest of pinches of nutmeg (optional)
small dollop of plain greek yogurt for garnish and 1 leaf of cilantro

In a dutch oven or stockpot, drizzle oil till warm add celery and onion cook till almost tender and add the garlic.  Pour in chicken (or vegetable broth) 2 cups at a time till you reach desired consistency and bring to a boil. Turn off heat.  With an immersion blender puree the veggies in the pot or use your blender/food processor....I prefer the tiny chunks in mine, seems a bit more rustic!  Stir in coconut milk and add garnish. Yum.  And remember kids, Butternut Squash has a whole host of health benefits, such as being high in fiber, low in fat to aid in weight loss, potassium, folate, omega 3s to prevent strokes, Vitamin B6, Beta Carotene/Vitamin A and Magnesium.  Be sure to check out the book Clean by Alejandro Junger, some reviews say your body's natural healing abilities will be restored, insulin levels regulated, and your liver detoxified, and we don't have to suffer any longer, nor feel tired, sick and weighed down with the sludge of modern life.

Don't forget this is DELICIOUS!