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Monday, April 25, 2011

richola granola

i traditionally really like granola, but i wouldn't say i've ever ever loved it.

well that changed.

i've mentioned that my dad is a fabulous cook. he found this fancy shmancy granola at whole foods about a year ago and decided he wasn't willing to pay $5 for a few ounces of it. so he experimented until he mastered it at home.

it's the perfect granola. i could eat it every day. with milk. over yogurt and berries. just a handful by itself. mmm...

it's a little pricey to make since it has nuts and agave, but definitely less expensive than buying even the cheapest bag/box of granola from the store. and way better for you.

and it's adorably named (by my dad) richola granola (his name is richard). love you dad! thanks for sharing!
richola granola
more than a gallon ziploc bag full
8 cups rolled oats (old fashioned, not quick)
1/2 cup almonds (whole or sliced, i like sliced)
1/2 cup walnuts, broken up
1/2 cup pecans, broken up
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (i omit - pumpkin seeds are pricey!)
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
3/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup dried fruit (raisins, craisins, cherries, whatever you can afford!)
2 teaspoons sea salt
11.5 oz agave nectar (just less than 1 1/2 cups)

1. mix all ingredients except agave nectar in huge bowl (i use my roasting pan). add agave nectar and mix thoroughly til everything is wet and evenly distributed.
2. you can eat it raw, this way (store in ziploc bags or large tupperware containers).
3. or you can toast it - spread on 2 cookie sheets and toast at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, stirring at 10 and 20 minutes. (my dad toasts it longer, but this works for my oven and my tastes.)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

creamy baked penne with sausage, red peppers and asparagus

okay, i didn't used to be an asparagus person, so if you aren't don't let this freak you out - use some chopped spinach instead! (especially if your asparagus is pricey - i found mine at the dollar store. and in it's defense asparagus is soooo good in this!)

it seems like everyone has their own version of this favorite. i really love baked pasta so i thought i'd bake mine. hubby gave it a good strong 9 so it was a hit at our house!

creamy baked penne with sausage, red peppers and asparagus
4 servings

8 ounces cooked penne pasta
olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped (don't pay more than 88c ish for it!)
1 heaping teaspoon chopped garlic
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces (mine was short of a pound i think) (don't forget you can use a few cups of chopped spinach here instead!)
salt and pepper
1/3 lb spicy sausage (spicy really is good here, but if you don't want it spicy, use what you like. and chicken sausage would be awesome! we just used leftovers from a work party!)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes (diced would be fine too, i was out!)
3/4 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese
a few handfuls of parmesan cheese

1. cook and drain your pasta! :)
2. heat a few teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add onion and bell pepper and cook until onion is translucent. add garlic. cook 1 minute, stirring. add sausage (if your sausage is raw i'd add it with the onions and peppers). heat 1-2 minutes.
3. add broth and tomatoes. bring to a boil. reduce to simmer until sauce begins to reduce. add asparagus (or spinach) and cover, letting asparagus get just crisp tender and letting sauce finish reducing, about 5 minutes (but watch closely - don't over cook your asparagus!).
4. stir in ricotta until melted (this makes a creamy sauce without having to use heavy cream)
5. stir in cooked pasta. mix well. pour into 13x9 baking dish. sprinkle evenly with mozzarella and parmesan. bake at 350 until cheese passes gooey and starts to get crispy - about 20-25 minutes.
6. serve immediately and don't bet on leftovers the next day. :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

honey lime fruit salad

i love plain fruit salad with nothing on it. i just can't get enough fruit.

but every now and then it's fun to change it up. i wanted a fruit salad a few sundays ago with dinner, but not one that added jello or cool whip or something crazy sugary.

i stumbled across this honey lime fruit salad on mel's kitchen cafe a while ago and have been going crazy waiting for strawberries to get to $1/lb so i could make it.

the stars aligned. the strawberries went on sale. and make it, i did!

oh my. we all couldn't get enough of it. so simple and so amazing. enjoy!

honey lime fruit salad
from mel's kitchen cafe (link above)
4-6 servingscute little 3 year old couldn't keep her fingers out of the salad!

1 (20 oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained well
1 can mandarin oranges, drained well
2-3 ripe kiwi, peeled and sliced into thick half moons
1 cup green grapes, halved
1 cup strawberries, quartered
Zest from one lime, about 1 tablespoon
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon poppy seeds (optional)

combine the fruit in a medium-large serving bowl. add the lime zest and poppy seeds, if using, and gently toss. drizzle the honey over the fruit and again, gently mix until the fruit is evenly coated with the honey. serve.

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!