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homemade vegetable broth

I absolutely love our CSA.  It helps out the farmers and we get freshly grown produce each week for a fraction of what I would be paying at the grocery store.  However, sometimes when we are away on the weekends, we end up with some extras!

I don’t want those extras (mostly carrots, celery and onions) to go to waste, so tonight I put the past 2 weeks of celery, carrots and onions together to make a homemade vegetable broth!

My plan is to make some soup this weekend, which I will be needing this broth for, so it was perfect timing.

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound celery
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 16 whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

Directions:

Start by washing and chopping your vegetables.

While chopping, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large stockpan over medium-low heat.  When each veggie is done being chopped, throw it in the pan and let it sizzle a bit.

Celery

Into the pot it goes…

Onion, very roughly chopped

Carrots, both orange and red

Did you know that red carrots are really orange on the inside?

Throw it all into the pot,

along with 3 cloves of galic (make sure you take off the peel),

16 peppercorns, give or take,

and 1 bay leaf.

Now, add 1 gallon of filtered water.

Turn up the heat and bring the water to a boil.  Then, cover and cook over medium-low heat for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, your broth will look more like this:

That means you did it right!!

Now, add your salt and soy sauce and any other seasonings you may want to add (taste it here to figure it out) and simmer for another 15-20 minutes so the flavors come out.

I cooked my veggie broth in a strainer pot, so that I could do this at the end instead of pouring the broth into a strainer.

It worked quite nicely.  I was left with a strainer full of veggies and a pot full of homemade broth!!

Discard, compost or blend your leftover veggies into a soup.  Unfortunately, mine went down the drain…

But, I was left with a delicious homemade veggie broth to add to my homemade soup this weekend.

Delicious!  And, very much worth the wait.

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stuffed acorn squash

I hope you all had a great Monday!  I love Monday holidays – it just makes the weekend so much better. 🙂

I got through my long run today in the mountains!  Lots and lots of hills, but I felt great through all 11.5 miles.  I kept an average pace of 9:20 per mile and took it nice and easy since it was a longer run.  The experts say that you should complete your long runs 60-90 seconds per mile slower than your race pace.  You don’t want to run them at an extremely hard effort because that will make you more tired and you won’t be able to complete the rest of your weekly runs at a good pace.  The point of a long run is to build stamina and muscle memory.  I think that my legs have no problem running for 1:45 minutes after all of that marathon training last summer and fall!

After my 11.5 mile run, I was starving, so I immediately dug into a snack to hold me over until lunch.

Amazing grass mixed with milk and a banana with Barney Butter.

I don’t think I have mentioned Barney Butter on here before.  It is an almond butter that is mentioned on numerous food blogs out there!  I do like it, because I love nut butters, however it is definitely not my favorite.  They add cane juice and oil to the almonds to create the almond butter, which I do not like.  It has a sweeter taste due to the cane juice.  I much prefer Trader Joe’s Raw Almond Butter – it is to die for!!  But, I bought the Barney Butter to try it out, so of course I will finish the jar!

It tastes okay spread on a super ripe banana!

This snack did the trick.  It contained lots of protein to fuel my tired muscles and held me over while I cleaned up.

We had some leftover pizza for lunch before heading back to boston.  Once again, I had a slice of the Pear, Caramelized Onion and Gorgonzola and a slice of the Tomato, Mozzarella and Broccoli.

On the way home, I drank some Coconut Water,

and snacked on a few dried kiwi’s, which are full of sugar. 😦  But, they were delicious and are more nutritious than eating candy!

We also stopped at Starbucks, where I got an Awake Tea Latte – love these and love the cups!

Once home, I unpacked and started on dinner – Stuffed Acorn Squash!

I popped 1.5 cups of brown rice into my rice cooker to get started, then I cut an acorn squash in half and baked it for 30 minutes.

This would have been a perfect Valentine’s Day meal, since they are shaped like hearts!!!

While the rice and squash cooked, I started on the stuffing.  I chopped up 2 cloves of garlic, 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks, then cooked them in a saute pan for about 5 minutes before adding 1 can of chickpeas and the cooked rice.

I seasoned the mix with paprika, salt, pepper, brown sugar and red pepper flakes.  Then added a handful of raisins at the end and cooked until warm.

You will know that the acorn squash is done, when you can puncture it easily with a fork.

I then added the stuffing to the squash.

And, topped the mix with shredded cheddar cheese and baked for another 7 minutes to melt the cheese!

Mmmm…they came out delicious!!!

We really loved this meal.  I would cook this again in a second!  So delicious.

I loved the slight sweetness of the acorn squash paired with the sweet and spicy rice.  The cheddar cheese topped gave it a bit of tartness – yum!

Baked Stuffed Acorn Squash

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups brown rice, uncooked
  • 2 acorn squashes, cut in half
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

  1. Cook brown rice according to package directions.
  2. Cut 2 acorn squashes in half and bake at 350°F facedown for 30 minutes, or until tender.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the garlic, carrots and celery.
  4. Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Cook the garlic, carrots and celery for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chickpeas and cook until heated through, then add the rice.
  6. Mix in the rice and all seasonings.
  7. Add the raisins and cook for another few minutes, until warmed through.
  8. Take your squash from the oven and fill each center with the rice mixture.
  9. Top each squash with 1/8 cup cheddar cheese.
  10. Bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
  11. Serve immediately after removing from oven.
  12. Enjoy!

Time for the Olympics and Tea!

no snow?!

The weathermen predicted 10 inches of snow today, where is it?!  There isn’t more than a dusting and I am so happy!

This afternoon I snacked on some delicious homemade root vegetable chips.

And a coconut almond cookie.

Both of which would homemade by my mom!  She had a party last night and saved me some samples, which I just had to try!  They were great!

After my trek home on the T (my car is in the shop!), it was dinner time.

Salad with peppers, green apple, raisins and pomegranate vinaigrette.  This seems to be a staple salad lately.

And, Vegetable and Grain Torta – once again, made by mom!  The recipe is from Mark Bittman’s Food Matters.

It was pretty good!  The crust was quinoa and the torta was layered with zucchini and eggplant.  Something I would definitely eat again.

I made myself a cup of tea and ate a super charge cookie after dinner while watching The Hangover.

‘Night!

a day off!

Check out the post on A Better Bag of Groceries from today!  Melissa liked my post on NuVal last week, so she talks about some of my finds!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I decided to take the day off today since my in-laws were still up in NH with us.  We packed up this morning, since they would have a long ride home, but first we stopped for breakfast!

Flapjacks is a pancake house in downtown Lincoln, NH.  It was rated best pancakes a few years in a row!

It is really cute, but simple inside.  They have a gas fireplace which we sat next to and kept nice and toasty, despite the 8 degree weather outside!

The menu is also pretty simple.  Lots of famous pancakes and eggs.

I started with some tea with just a touch of half & half.

And then ordered the egg sandwich (1 egg and cheese on an oversized english muffin).  Of course, I spread a little bit of ketchup on my english muffin!

I’m not a big pancake or french toast fan, but I did try some of this delicious french toast from my husband.  It was great!  That is a blop of their signature maple butter on top.

After breakfast, we drove back to Boston.  Once home, I broke out some leftovers for lunch because I was starving!  It wasn’t the most nutritious lunch I could have had, but it was what I was craving, so I went with it!  I mean, it’s my “day off”, right?!  I needed it to be light, so that I could hit up the gym an hour after.

Leftover Israeli couscous and Chobani pineapple greek yogurt with granola.

I have missed greek yogurt so much!  I splurged and bought some of my favorite pineapple yogurt, even though I normally don’t.  It was just what I wanted.  Super thick, creamy and fruity!  Looks like veggies will need to be in my future for dinner.

I enjoyed my lunch while reading a new issue of Food that was waiting for me on my doorstep.

Not sure how I got this magazine, but it is great!

Hopefully some veggies will be on my menu for tonight!  Time to get back on track!  It is not that I ate completely unhealthy this weekend, but it wasn’t the most nutritious weekend on record.  Sometimes, it is hard when you are away from home.  I think that it is important to eat healthy, but I also think that it is important to make the best of what you have around you.  My mom graciously cooked for us all weekend, and made wonderful homemade and healthy options for us to eat.  Even though I had plenty of healthy options, sometimes I just want to eat junk food, like nachos, since I rarely ever eat them!

I never feel great after I do, but to me sometimes it is worth it.  If you don’t give into the cravings, you’ll just end up eating more junk later on!  Plus, the majority of my meals are pretty healthy, so a splurge every so often is not going to kill me!

If I am going to eat something unhealthy, like nachos or pizza, I find that the best time to do that is when they are homemade.  This way you can regulate the amount of cheese and toppings that go on them.  I watched Michael Pollen on Oprah the other day and one thing that he said stuck with me. (Well, everything that he said stuck with me, but this one thing really stuck out!)  He said that you can eat as much dessert or junk food as you want, as long as you cook it yourself.  The chances of you cooking fried chicken or a chocolate cake every night are very slim!

Off to the gym!

cross country skiing

It was chilly up here in New Hampshire yesterday, so we started with a hearty breakfast!

My mom made a delicious breakfast with broccoli quiche, sour cream coffee cake and fresh cut cantaloupe.  It was a great start to the day.

And, my plate!

After breakfast we headed out to cross country ski with my in-laws.  I haven’t been cross country skiing in a really long time, so it took a little while to get the hang of it, but once I did it was fun!

We went to the rental place to pick up our stuff.

After what seemed like forever to get our gear, we headed out to the slopes!

We made it 2 laps around these cross country trails.  It felt like a great total body workout!  I am exhausted. 🙂  Some pics of our day!

It was mostly flat or uphill, until we came to the hills – yikes!

We made it down and stopped by the river for some photo ops!

It was a gorgeous day!  After we finished skiing, I snacked on my new favorite bar for some protein before lunch.

Once home, we had panini’s and homemade soup for lunch!

I enjoyed a grilled cheese with cheddar and some roasted root vegetable soup from Barefoot Contessa made by mom!

After lunch we took a scenic drive up to the Mount Washington Inn!  The sky was a gorgeous blue and so clear that we had a perfect view of Mount Washington from the Inn.

We decided to sit in the gorgeous lobby overlooking the enormous fireplace and enjoy an afternoon cocktail!

I enjoyed a hot apple grog (cider and brandy) along with my mom and father-in-law, while Brant and his mom enjoyed an Irish Coffee.

With a cinnamon stick!

And, some snacks.

Once home from our lovely and relaxing afternoon, we started preparing for the dinner party!

A fun cheese platter!  I have a major cheese weakness…I love the Apricot Stilton, yum!!

And, the whole appetizer spread.

Lots of yummy choices, but I stuck with the cheese and crackers.  They went better with my cosmopolitan!

Dinner was chicken marsala, israeli couscous salad, spinach pie, and salad.  Here is some of the spread.

My favorite was the couscous!  YUM!

And, it is so simple!  Just israeli couscous, toasted pinenuts, raisins and some herbs.  Delicious.  I made a plate up of green salad and the couscous with added mushrooms from the chicken marsala (minus the chicken)!  Along with a glass of red wine.  Perfect!

freshly made yogurt

Another one of my Christmas toys was a yogurt maker!  As I’ve said before, I really try and prefer to eat healthy foods without any additives or preservatives.  Unfortunately, most of the yogurt that we see in the dairy aisle today all contain additives, and most importantly, loads of sugar!  I love yogurt, so I have continued to eat all of the added sugar, but recently I have been trying to stick to the basics by eating greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt (if you get the plain kind) does not contain any added sugar.  I love greek yogurt as a snack with a little honey or jam – YUM!

Even though I aim to eat more natural foods, I still 100% believe that you can eat anything that you want, as long as it is in moderation.  No one is perfect (I certainty am not!), but personally I feel better when I eat healthy the majority of the time and still allow myself to have treats every so often!  If you deprive yourself, you will just want that chocolate bar or donut even more.  I definitely eat some kind of chocolate everyday!

My yogurt maker will allow me to avoid buying yogurt all together and make my own!  The maker that I received comes with individual jars to cook the yogurt in, which is perfect for grabbing when I am running out the door to work.  You can cook it plain, add a flavor to the mix, or add flavors to the individual jars to come out with 7 different types!  I’ll most likely be keeping mine plain.

All you need to make yogurt is pasteurized milk (of your choice) and a starter, which can be a container of a plain yogurt that you enjoy (or from your last batch of freshly made yogurt) or starter cultures that you buy.  You then heat the milk on the stovetop (this will ultimately create a creamier yogurt), add the starter once it cools to room temp and pour the mixture into each jar in the yogurt ‘oven’.  The yogurt will ‘cook’ for 8-12 hours depending on the type of milk you use.  Sounds easy, right?  Well, here goes my first shot:

My Very Own Homemade Yogurt

1.  Thoroughly clean each of the yogurt jars and allow to dry.

2.  Heat 42 ounces (specific to my yogurt maker) on the stovetop until it boils.  I am using 1% milk this time because it is what I have in my fridge!  Next time, I will definitely use a creamier milk, like 2%.

3.  Remove saucepan from heat and let sit until the milk reaches room temperature.

4.  Once milk has cooled, pour it into a pitcher.

5.  Add yogurt starter to the milk and stir until it dissolves.

6.  Pour the room temp mixture into the 7 glass jars of the yogurt maker.

7.  Place the jars (without lids) into the yogurt maker and place the cover on top.

8.  Plug in the unit and switch the ‘ON’ button.  Set the unit to the desired length of time (most likely 10-11 hours for 1% milk).  My 1% milk took 10 hours!

9.  Once the 10 hours is up (add actual length of time here), check the yogurt to make sure the yogurt is set.  It may take a few tries at making your yogurt until you receive the consistency and tartness that you desire.

10. After the yogurt is set, add the lids and place the individual jars in the fridge for 2-3 hours until chilled.

11. Once chilled, enjoy!

YUM!  It seems like a long process, but the steps of the process are very easy.  I think that it is important to make sure the yogurt is really at room temperature before adding the starter, and the mixture into the yogurt maker.  I read some reviews from people who did not have good results their first time.  But, I seemed to have a lot of luck my first time!

My yogurt was a little tart, which plain yogurt usually is, but it was also a little thinner than I prefer.  I enjoy greek yogurt over regular yogurt, so next time I will use different milk and I think it will help!

I’ve been enjoying my little jars of homemade yogurt all week!

I love it for breakfast with fresh blueberries, granola and a squeeze of honey.

But, I also love it for dessert with raspberry jam, shredded coconut and cacao nibs!

Next up, I’m going to try making some tzatziki for a more savory way to use yogurt.

breakfast cookies & nut butter

Just another Sunday over here in Boston!  Lots of time spent in the kitchen trying out new things!

My first creation of the day was a breakfast cookie that I had been dying to try.  They are all the rage with food bloggers out there, so I decided to try it out.  I kind of did a combination of the cookies I have seen on my favorite blogs, so here is goes.

The cookie is actually a perfect breakfast with ample fat, protein and carbs in the mix.  You mix all of the ingredients together, put the mixture onto a plate to form a cookie shape, and pop it in the microwave.

Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie


Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup oatmeal (I used rolled oats)
  • 1 tablespoon nut butter of choice (I used banana raisin!)
  • 1 scoop Amazing Grass Chocolate Mix (or protein powder)
  • 1/8 cup Almond Milk (regular milk would work as well)
  • 1/2 mashed banana
  • small handful raisins

Directions:

  1. Mix oatmeal, protein powder and nut butter of choice together in a small bowl until it creates a clumpy mix.
  2. Stir in almond butter and mashed banana until well combined.
  3. Add in mix-ins of choice! I chose raisins here to work with the banana raisin PB that I chose, but other great mix-ins would work as well.
  4. Put mixture onto small plate and form into cookie shape.
  5. Pop in microwave for 4 minutes, or until it springs back like a fresh baked cookie! 🙂
  6. Top with whatever you want: more nut butter, banana, jam, etc.
  7. Enjoy!

This process didn’t take any longer than a regular bowl of oats!  It was a nice change to my normal breakfast.  I felt like I was eating something completely sinful, but it wasn’t!

Cookie formed before cooking

And, after being cooked!

And, with my toppings of choice – scoop of banana PB, 1/2 banana and sprinkle of raisins!

Next up, I whipped up another batch of nut butter.

While eating my chocolate almond butter this week, I found it to become drier as the week went on.  I was not sure if this was just due to it being more natural or not, but today I figured out that it was due to the fact that I had used my small food processor!  The large one is much more powerful, and turned my hazelnuts and pecans into a smooth and creamy nut butter!

Nut butter is so easy to make!  Just throw all of your ingredients into the food processor and blend.  Keep blending until they become smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.

Today, I used hazelnuts and pecans.  I roasted them for 2 minutes, and then let them cool before blending because I had read that they blend easier this way.  They definitely did, but by toasting them you do lose some of the nutrients.

Chocolate Cinnamon Pecan Hazelnut Butter


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder
  • 1 tablespoon cacao nibs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Directions:

  • Toast hazelnuts and pecans for 2 minutes, let cool.

  • Add nuts to food processor and blend until all chopped.

  • Add cacao powder, nibs, honey and cinnamon and blend.

  • Blend until creates a smooth and creamy nut butter.

This came out much better than my almond butter!  It tastes great, with just a hint of spice from the cinnamon!

I have my yogurt maker going right now…it should take about 9-10 hours!  I’ll be back with a post for that once it is done and I can try some. 🙂