Oat and Whole Wheat Waffles

This started as a recipe from Clean Eating for Oat and Whole Wheat pancakes, but I liked the flavor so much that I modified a family waffle recipe to include oats and whole wheat. I make a batch of these and freeze the extras for a quick breakfast on mornings I don't feel like eating cereal.

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cups rolled oats (not quick oats)
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tlbs applesauce

Mix all the ingredients and let sit for 10 minutes to allow oats to soften. Put 1/3 cup or so at a time into the waffle iron.

The original recipe, in addition to using white flour, also called for 2 Tlbs oil. I replaced the white flour with whole wheat, and replaced the oil with applesauce, which does the same job as the oil in this case. I also use a Belgian waffle maker, which I prefer to traditional 1/4" waffles, and it seems to work particularly well with this recipe. This is a relatively large recipe (at least for me), so I usually end up with 6-7 waffles, and I freeze all but 1-2 of them. To warm them up in the mornings, I put one in the microwave for 1 minute or so, then pop it in the toaster to get it crispy on the outside. Mmmm....delicious. And full of fiber, so it's a tasty and healthy breakfast!

Rating: 5/5
Why? They are easy to make, delicious, and full of fiber, so they fill me up until lunchtime, and I love how crisp they are on the outside.


Chicken Fajitas

This recipe is my go-to easy dinner recipe. I always have these ingredients on hand and it is fast and easy to make when I get home from a long day at work.
1-2 chicken breasts
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium sweet onion
whole wheat tortillas

Cut all the ingredients except the tortillas into thin strips. Start sauteing the chicken in a nonstick pan sprayed with olive oil. When the chicken is about halfway done, add the veggies and finish cooking until the vegetables are tender. Wrap some of the chicken-veggie mix in the tortilla and top with low-fat sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.

I make this recipe at least once a week. The original recipe called for about equal parts chicken and peppers, but I have added in more veggies until it is mostly veggies at this point. I don't season the chicken because I like the natural flavor, but you could add salt, pepper or whatever you wanted to flavor the chicken. I also warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds before wrapping everything up.

Rating: 5/5
Why? It is super fast, filling, and delicious, plus it's full of protein, fiber, and vitamins. An all around winner in my book!


Baked Mac & Cheese

Sorry for the lack of posting over the last week, it was Homecoming Week at school and I didn't cook so much as forage.

This recipe is one from Clean Eating that I make at least 2-3 times a month. It takes only slightly more prep time than traditional boxed mac and cheese, is super easy and is amazingly delicious. I will never make mac and cheese from a box again.
2 cupped handfuls of whole wheat pasta, something like shells, elbow macaroni, or spirals
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch of sea salt
1.5 cups milk
grated sharp cheddar
grated low-fat Swiss
1/8 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/8 cup grated parmesan

Cook the pasta, drain it and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 375 and spray olive oil in a medium size casserole dish. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, warm the milk, flour, and oil. When the milk mixture is warm, add the Swiss cheese and stir until smooth (1-2 minutes). When the Swiss is completely incorporated, add the cheddar cheese and stir until smooth (30 seconds-1 minute). It is really important to stir the sauce constantly, and it comes together really fast, so don't try and cook the pasta at the same time. When the sauce is done, add it to the pasta, and mix it together. Put it in the casserole dish, mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs together, and sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture on top of the pasta mixture. Bake it covered for 10 minutes, remove the top and bake uncovered for another 10 minutes.

In the original recipe it calls for panko breadcrumbs and brown rice flour, but I only had regular breadcrumbs and can't find brown rice flour, so I replaced them.

Rating - 5/5
Why? Once I tasted these, I will never eat boxed macaroni and cheese again. This is almost as easy to make, tastes better, has so many fewer calories and a tenth of the sodium, and no chemicals.


Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I have been waiting and waiting for tomatoes to ripen so I could make this recipe! It is based on a recipe from a friend, which evolved into me using the last of a lot of pieces of things in my refrigerator. It turned out pretty good!

10 chopped Roma tomatoes
1 large heirloom tomato
1 cup chopped sweet yellow onion
1/8 cup salt
3/8 cup raw sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbls honey mustard
2 Tlbs red pepper flakes
4 chopped red bell peppers
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 chopped gypsy pepper
5 chopped tomatillos
3 very finely chopped super chilis
3 finely chopped jalapenos
1.5 cups corn
1.5 cups cooked black beans
1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients except cilantro in a large pot and simmer gently until peppers are soft (about 20 minutes, more or less). It will start out very chunky and gradually cook down until there is a pretty juicy tomato base. Stir it fairly often so it doesn't burn. When it is done, stir in the cilantro and turn off the burner. Let the salsa mix sit for 10 minutes or so before canning it.

This is a pretty organic recipe, you can add or subtract things pretty easily. I love corn and black bean salsa, so that is what I made, but those ingredients were not part of the original recipe. In addition, the only peppers that were originally part of the recipe were the bell peppers, the jalapenos, and the red pepper flakes. I added the rest because I had them and needed to use them and I think it tastes great. If you use super chilis, make sure you cut them while wearing gloves, or your fingers will burn for a couple of days. I also prefer chunky salsa, so I hand-cut the vegetables, but the friend I got the recipe from puts hers in the food processer for a smoother salsa. She also uses tomato paste as well as tomatoes and mustard seeds instead of honey mustard.

As you can tell from the ingredient list, this makes an enourmous amount of salsa. I ended up with 12 half pints and a quart of canned salsa (or a gallon, if you add it all up...) which is why I canned it. But it is also good fresh.

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? It was surprisingly satisfying making this from scratch, but it could be a bit more spicy. =) Next time, more jalapenos.


Shrimp Soft Tacos with Citrus Coleslaw

I love this recipe! It is especially good on a hot day, it is very refreshing and super easy to make. This recipe is from Real Simple.

1/8 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbls fresh lime juice
2 Tbls sour cream
salt and pepper if wanted
8 oz broccoli slaw mix (I use half a package)
1 cup corn
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped finely
1 pound peeled and deveined medium shrimp
whole wheat tortillas

In a bowl with a lid, mix the orange juice, lime juice, sour cream, salt and pepper. Add the slaw, corn and jalapeno, put the lid on it and shake well to combine. Let the slaw mix sit for at least ten minutes, but shake it up every now and then.

If desired, season the shrimp (I don't) and saute them over medium high heat until opaque (3 minutes or so), then warm up a tortilla, put 5-6 shrimp on it, and top with the slaw mixture. Mmmmmm.......so good......

Rating - 5/5
Why? I've made this recipe several times and really like it. The original recipe called for cabbage slaw, but because I don't really care for cabbage, I replaced it with broccoli slaw and love this recipe. The dressing on the broccoli slaw has a sharp bite that is totally refreshing on a warm day, and that, combined with the warm shrimp and tortilla, is a fantastic taste. The slaw mixture keeps really well and can be eaten alone as a salad. I will say that the dressing can be a bit runny in the tacos, but either increasing the sour cream or decreasing the orange juice will eliminate that problem.


Pepper Lime Chicken

I did not really care for this chicken recipe the first time around, but I had some leftover glaze and gave it another shot and it was better the second time. I don't remember where the original recipe is from.

4 chicken breasts
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tlbs oil
2 cloves garlic
8-10 fresh basil leaves
1/2 tsp black pepper

stir together all the ingredients and put chicken into marinade for about 30 minutes. Grill until center is no longer pink.

Served here with quinoa and fresh green beans

rating - 3.5/5
Why? The original recipe called for the chicken to be broiled, and I am not a huge fan of broiling as it uses a lot of energy for not much result, but I tried it to give the recipe a fair chance, and it was just not great. It was burned on the edges and I just didn't really care for it. I used the glaze as a marinade instead on the next piece of chicken and it was better. I still think this recipe sounds better than it tastes, but I am going to keep it in then recipe box and play with the proportions a little.


Oat and Whole Wheat Pancakes

I love this recipe! I have to get up really early to get to school, but I  make a batch of these on weekends, put the extras in the freezer, and warm one in the toaster for breakfast instead of having cereal. Yum!

1.25 cups rolled oats (not quick oats!)
1.25 cups skim milk (I have also used buttermilk, see below)
1 large egg
1 Tlbs canola oil
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder

In a bowl, combine the rolled oats and the milk and let it sit for 5 minutes or so to allow the oats to soften. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until just blended. Getting them golden brown is a bit tricky, I use a nonstick pan sprayed with olive oil over medium to medium low heat. It takes several minutes to cook each side, but I hate burned and raw pancakes, so I do it slow. Side one is cooked when bubbles start appearing in the batter you can see and the sides look a little dry. Flip it and side two will take just a hair less time than side one.

I top my pancakes with peanut butter and a tiny bit of honey, but you can top them with whatever you want. One pancake is pretty filling, and this recipe makes about six 5" pancakes, which is why I freeze them. To freeze them, cook each pancake and let it cool completely on a baking rack. Then stack them up, put them in a plastic freezer bag, get as much air as you can out of it, and toss it in the freezer. To use one from frozen, grab one, put it in the microwave for 1 minute or so, then pop it in the toaster. It comes out hot all the way through and with that awesome crust on the outside.

I have also made buttermilk pancakes by replacing the milk with buttermilk. To do that, just add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to your milk. I have also developed a corresponding oat and whole wheat waffle recipe from this which I will post soon.

Rating - 5/5
Why? I like dense pancakes and these fit the bill. I am a huge fan of rolled oats, and because of this recipe I learned how to add them to many different types of breads. I like that they are easy to freeze and eat on your way out of the door.


Oat and Whole Wheat Bread

Due to a broken arm and subsequent installation of a plate in my right elbow, I don't have the right arm strength to mix bread doughs, so I use a bread maker on the dough setting to do the various doughs that I use. I used to make the entire bread process in it, but I don't like the hard crust that results, so I just use the dough setting and then let it rise again and bake it in a pan in the oven. This is my favorite recipe, I use it once a week to make a loaf of bread, since it is close to impossible to find bread in the store that doesn't have preservatives and high fructose corn syrup in it unless you are willing to spend around $5 a loaf. This recipe is based on one from the All New Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook by Tom Lacalamita, although I have changed it up a bit. This will make one large loaf.

2/3 cup warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
3 Tbls unsalted butter, room temperature
1.5 tsp sea salt
3 Tbls raw honey
1/2 cup rolled oats (not quick oats!)
4 cups whole wheat flour
2.5 tsp yeast

Add ingredients to the breadmaker in the order specified. Put it on the dough setting and turn it on. When it is finished (mine takes 1.5 hours), take the dough out and knead it for a few minutes. Form it into a loaf shape and put into a bread pan sprayed with olive oil. Cover the loaf and pan with a non-linty towel (like a flour sack kitchen towel) and let it rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot (I put a glass of water in the microwave for 3 minutes or so, then let the bread rise in the warm microwave). After 30 minutes, put the loaf in a 375 oven for 20-25 minutes, depending on how dark you want the crust. After removing it from the oven, LET THE BREAD COOL COMPLETELY, no matter how much you want to tear into it. It is extremely difficult to cut when it is even slightly warm and will make the center of your bread all doughy. It needs to be completely cool before you slice it.

I have talked to many people that say they love the taste of homemade bread, but don't have the time to make it. I completely understand, but let me say that having this machine makes it quite a lot easier, and the hands on time to make fresh bread once a week is never more than 10 minutes total for me. I would highly recommend investing in one if you have been debating about making your own bread. My mom picked this up for me at a garage sale for just a few dollars and my cost to make a loaf of bread is literally pennies, so it has saved me quite a lot of money over the last year.

Rating 5/5 - when I contain my impatience and wait to slice it
Why? There is just a hint of sweetness with the honey (and I have actually cut the amount down slightly from the original recipe) and the oats make it hearty and filling. Toast made from this bread is so good that I eat it plain on a regular basis. It has a lot of fiber too, because of the whole wheat flour and the oats, so that makes it more healthy than the original recipe.


Mashed Potato Leek Soup

I love thick soups. I have never really liked broth based soups, but I really like thick soups, especially on a rainy day. It hasn't been raining, but it has been cool and cloudy, so it counts as soup weather. This recipe originally came from Real Simple, but I have changed it quite a bit.

olive oil
3 leeks, cut into 1/4" pieces
salt and pepper
3 cups mashed potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
1 bulb fennel, cut into 1/4" pieces
1 cup chicken broth
1.5 cups milk
1 cup water
2 cups corn
grated cheddar

Saute the leeks and fennel in a pan with a little olive oil until soft (about 5-6 minutes)

Put all the ingredients into a large pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1-2 hours (or as long as you want). Puree in the pot using a blender and serve with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese on top.

rating - 4/5
Why? I liked the use of the fennel and the leeks and the simplicity of the ingredients, but I think there are unnecessary steps in this recipe. If I were to make it again, I would not mash the potatoes first, but just put them into the pot as is and simmer for several hours. I do like the smoothness of the soup, but the original recipe called for more liquid and I may add a little more to make it just a bit smoother.


Penne with Chicken in Lemon-Cheese Sauce

Holy Moley, I want to put this sauce on EVERYTHING. I don't remember where this recipe came from, I got it from a roommate's cookbook in college I think.
3/4 cup low-fat cottage cheese
1/8 cup non fat sour cream
1/8 cup grated parmesan
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
3/4 tsp dill
a little pepper
olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cupped hands of penne
1 chicken breast cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 small yellow squash, sliced about 1/4" thick
2 cups green beans (original recipe called for asparagus, but I didn't have any)
1/4 cup chicken broth

In a food processor (or blender), blend the cottage cheese until smooth. Add the sour cream, parmesan, lemon juice (then pick out all the lemon seeds your dropped in it....oh....that's just me?), lemon zest, dill and black pepper and process again until it's smooth.

In a saute pan, saute the onion on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the chicken and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Then add the vegetables and chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender (5 minutes or to taste).

Add the pasta and lemon cheese sauce to the chicken and vegetable mixture and toss to coat.

rating - 4.5/5
Why? only because I think it would have been better with asparagus rather than green beans. The sauce is like 18 stars out of 5. Holy cow,  I want to put it on everything. Seriously, I may be putting it on my cereal in the morning.


Sweet and Sour Chicken

I have been wanting to try this for a while but finally got around to it today. It calls for fresh pineapple, but I used canned chunked pineapple instead. This is from Clean Eating

1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce (I used tamari because that is what I had)
2 Tlbs raw honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into 1" pieces
1 medium red bell pepper (I also used a red pimiento just because) cut into 1" chunks
1 medium green bell pepper (I also used a green Anaheim - I think), cut into 1" chunks
1 small white onion, chopped
1/2 fresh pineapple, cut into 1" cubes (I used a can of chopped pineapple instead)
12 sprigs fresh cilantro, chopped (I forgot this...oops, but I bet it would be good)
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice (optional, but I used it)

Put the chicken, soy sauce, honey, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes in a ziploc bag (or sealable bowl) and let it marinate at least half an hour. I let mine marinate for about 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Spray some olive oil into a nonstick pan and heat over medium to medium-high heat. Add the chicken and marinade and saute for 5 minutes or so, then add the peppers and onions and cook for another 5 minutes or so until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Toss in the pineapple and cook for another couple of minutes.

Top with chopped cilantro and serve over cooked brown rice.

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? It's my own fault, I forgot to add the cilantro to the top, which would have added that little something that was missing. I am not a huge fan of pineapple, but I did really like this. I will make this again. I liked the marinade a lot.