Monday, August 29, 2011

Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies

I got this recipe out of a low-fat cookbook. I had never made it until today, when I was trying to find something to take to a friend with many dietary restrictions (including no eggs, dairy, or nuts). I wasn't expecting much out of them, but they're actually pretty good! The ingredient list is super simple.

Oatmeal Applesauce Cookies
Printable version here

1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg*
2 cups regular oats

1. Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Spray cookie sheet with non-fat cooking spray or line with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Stir together applesauce, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended in a medium-sized bowl. Gradually stir in oats until well blended.

3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheet. (I used my small (1 tbsp.) cookie scoop, and when I got a scoop of the oat mixture, I pressed it into the scoop with my finger to help pack it in. That made the cookies hold together better.)

4. Bake for 16 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 25 small cookies

** Freshly grated nutmeg is best, and really easy. I just buy a nutmeg from stores that have a bulk spice section (like Fred Meyer or WinCo), and one nutmeg lasts me a long time. It's amazing how much more fragrant it is freshly grated! I didn't measure how much I used in this recipe, I just estimated.

Why I love them? Well, the main reason I like this recipe is because it's very allergy-friendly. Even not counting that, they're just really good! It uses ingredients I always have, is really quick to make and is good for an easy snack for me & the kids. It's fat-free and has fiber (and sugar, so I wouldn't eat a whole batch of them).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Roasted Tomato Soup II

I made this for dinner last night, wanting to make use of some good summer tomatoes. (I wish I could say I grew them, but alas, my romas are taking forever to ripen.) It was utterly delicious!! I also threw in some roasted red pepper I had in the fridge. The recipe is from Tyler Florence of Food Network, originally found here.

The tomatoes, onions, and garlic ready to be roasted

The finished soup!

Roasted Tomato Soup
Printable version here

2 1/2 pounds fresh tomatoes (I used 10 oz. grape tomatoes & about 1 1/2 pounds vine tomatoes)
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 small yellow onions, sliced (or 1 medium)
1/2 cup olive oil (or less)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 quart chicken stock
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves, optional
3/4 cup heavy cream, optional (I used 1 cup whole milk)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Wash, core and cut the tomatoes into halves (leave small tomatoes, like grape or cherry tomatoes, whole). Spread the tomatoes, garlic cloves and onions onto a baking tray. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of olive oil (or enough to lightly cover all the food) and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized. (Mine took closer to 40 minutes)

Remove roasted tomatoes, garlic and onion from the oven and transfer to a large stock pot. (I added about 1 roasted red pepper to the pot as well.) Add 3/4 of the chicken stock, bay leaves, and butter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until liquid has reduced by a third. Remove bay leaves. I also removed some of the large pieces of tomato skin.

Wash and dry basil leaves, if using, and add to the pot. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth (or carefully pour into a regular blender & puree). Return soup to low heat, add cream or milk and adjust consistency with remaining chicken stock, if necessary. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Why I love it? Mainly because it's absolutely delicious!! I've never had a better tomato soup anywhere, especially not from a box/can. I served it with this cheese bread (coming soon!), and it was one of the best meals I've had in a long time. We enjoyed it even on a warm summer day; I'm sure it would be even more appreciated on a cold winter's night!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Poppyseed Dressing

I really like poppyseed dressing, and recently decided to try making it myself. It was a success! I had all the ingredients on hand, and it was really quick to throw together. You could make it with either a food processor or a blender. It's a little tart, which makes it good with sweet things (like fruit).

I've had this with a spinach strawberry salad, and with my version of an AWESOME salad from Panera (Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad: Grilled chicken, romaine, fresh strawberries, fresh blueberries, fresh pineapple, Mandarin oranges, pecans & fat-free poppyseed dressing). It didn't separate in the fridge for several days, and even after it did, all it takes is a quick stir and it's back together again. The batch I made 3 weeks ago is still good, so it'll keep for at least that long. (Update- my current batch is over a month old, and still doing just fine!)

Poppyseed Dressing
Printable version here

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar (I used 1/4 cup each white & apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard*
1 tsp. onion powder*
1 cup oil (such as canola)
1 tbsp. poppy seeds

In a blender or food processor, combine sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard and onion powder and process for 20 seconds. With blender or food processor on high, gradually add oil in a slow, steady stream. Stir in poppy seeds. Store in refrigerator.

*You can substitute 1 tbsp. prepared mustard for the dry mustard
*If you don't have onion powder, you could substitute a small amount of minced onion, or skip it

Recipe courtesy of

Why I love it? It's cheaper than store-bought dressing, and there's no preservatives or artificial colors. It's just a good, sweet/tangy dressing! :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Easy Red Beans & Rice

I made a new dinner tonight, and was really happy with how it turned out! When I was planning the week's meals, I was trying to figure out how to use ingredients I already had- including brown rice & dried red beans. A search on brought me to this one- Easy Red Beans & Rice. I cut the original recipe in half and it made just the right amount for my family (2 adults & 3 little kids).

It ended up tasting even better than I was expecting. I felt like the ingredients came together really well. One thing I added a little bit of is this creole seasoning (it's in the regular spice section of most grocery stores). It tastes good without it, but even better (and a little spicier) with it.

Update- I have made this several times now, and really like it! I mainly use red peppers now instead of the green one in the picture. I also sometimes add a small can of tomato sauce to give it a little more sauce. But what I like the most, is that I realized it works as a FREEZER MEAL! Hooray! I figured it's pretty similar to chili, which freezes well. I have frozen this meal in both dinner-sized and individual-sized portions. Then you just need to thaw it in the fridge, and reheat over medium heat. The peppers don't come out quite as crisp as they are before freezing, but it's not that noticeable. Enjoy!

I love it served over baked brown rice. Yum!!

Easy Red Beans & Rice
Printable version here

1/2 of a 16 ounce package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 to 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can kidney or red beans, drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1/4 tsp. dried oregano (or a few leaves of fresh)
Creole seasoning, salt & pepper to taste
Cooked rice

In a large skillet over low heat, cook sausage for 5 minutes. Stir in onion and green pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. (I added a little oil to the pan because it was a little dry & hard to saute). Add garlic, stir, and cook about 30 more seconds.

Pour in beans and tomatoes. (I used about half the tomatoes in the can, along with all the juice. You could use the whole can if you like more tomatoes.) Season with oregano, salt and pepper.

Simmer covered for 20 minutes. Serve over rice. Add creole seasoning if desired.

Why I love it? It has everything I look for in a recipe- it's healthy (it has a lot of fiber & protein, and is low in fat), easy (I made it while the brown rice was cooking), yummy, and cheap! The whole dinner was within $5. Enjoy!