Original and Practical Recipes. Inexpensive, Quick and Healthy.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Butternut Squash over Ravioli

If you don't have the time to make butternut squash ravioli, this is a quicker option that tastes just about the same.  I love the sweet and salty flavor combination.

You will need:
1 Butternut Squash
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 tablespoons Butter
3 tablespoons Brown Sugar
Store bought Ravioli or Tortelinni
Parmesan Cheese

Step 1:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Then cut in half the long way.  Scoop out the seeds.  Then dice the squash into 1 inch cubes, cutting off the peel as you go.  Then place in a glass pan, and toss with the olive oil.  Then bake until soft, it will take about 45 minutes.

Step 2:
After the squash has been in the oven for 35 minutes, cook the ravioli or tortelinni according to the directions.

Step 3:
Once the squash is fully cooked remove it from the oven.  Then in a skillet melt the butter and add the sugar.  Melt together and then add the squash.  Cook for 2 minutes stirring frequently.

Step 4:
Serve the ravioli with a scoop for the buttery brown sugar squash on top.  Then top with a little Parmesan.

10,000 Hits

I can't believe that the blog has received over 10,000 hits.  I am so flattered!  Thank you very much!  I promise a few more posts before I go offline for for a few weeks for the wedding & honeymoon.  (And I will share a few wedding photos).

Monday, June 18, 2012

Easy Chicken Chili

I have really gotten serious about making healthy meals.  The thing is, that I didn't tell my fiance that we were eating extra healthy meals.  And he didn't notice the difference.  And we have both lost a few pounds.  Recently Charles requested that I make chili.  I don't really have time to make traditional chili - too much chopping and too long of a cook time.  So I fudged things a little and came up with a way to make a delicious chili in under an hour!  Chili is such a healthy meal - it is packed with veggies, plus beans pack a lot of protein.  Feel free to add in your favorite veggies!

Serves 4
You will need:
1 large carton of Chicken Broth
1 pound chicken
1 large jar of Salsa
1 can of Black Beans
1 can of Diced Tomatoes
1 can of Kidney Beans
1 can of Corn
1 Pepper
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
Cheddar Cheese
Fat Free Sour Cream

Step 1:
Cook and shred the chicken.  You can boil the chicken, which only takes about 8 minutes, or you can bake it.

Step 2:
Chop the pepper and then saute it in olive oil until soft.  Then pour the tomatoes, beans, corn and chicken broth into a large pot.  Heat over medium heat until boiling slowly.  Then add in the salsa and the chicken.  Let it cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 3:
I like to serve chili with brown rice on the bottom and cheese and sour cream on top.  Some people think that serving chili over rice is weird - serve it however you want.  You could even omit the broth to make a thick chili and then serve it over chips for nachos.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Angel Food Cake with Whipped Chocolate Frosting

This cake is a family favorite.  Growing up my Mom would let us pick out our birthday cakes.  The options were unlimited, we could choose a cake from a bakery, or my Mom would make us whatever our hearts desired.  Usually we asked for this cake.  The recipe is an old recipe that my Mom has.  The cake and frosting are light and airy.  It slides right down even after a big meal.  My Mom said that once she made the cake for a dinner party with another couple, and that the four of them ended up eating the entire thing.

The cake, it has frosting in the middle!
Recently, my brother Jeff requested this cake for his birthday.  His birthday is right around Memorial Day, so my mom usually makes a cake Memorial Day weekend and we have a birthday dinner.  This is Jeff's favorite cake, and Jeff loves sweets.  I made the mistake of sitting next to him at dinner that night - something I never do anymore.  He distracted me by saying he saw a wild turkey in our yard and then stole my cake off my plate.  You have to guard your food around Jeff.  Lesson learned.  I always warn the people who sit next to him at family functions.

As you can tell, this cake is a Graham family tradition.  This past week my friend Caroline celebrated her birthday and I thought that this was the perfect time to introduce my Chicago family to this cake.  Our birthday gathering was extra special because Caroline's parents, Mal and Bobby were in from Boston and joined us for dinner.  They are two of the nicest people in the world and it is always such a treat to see them.  I also want to give a shout out to my friend Zinni who hosted dinner that night.  He had a great idea - we built our own kababs.  Zinni prepped chicken, steak, shrimp, potatoes, mushrooms, peppers and lots other great kabab add ons, and we went through the line building our kababs and then he threw them on the grill.  It worked out really well.  Ok back to the cake - here is a photo!

Three of the best ladies I know: Hockema, Caroline, Dre, and Me
This cake is very easy to make!  You should definitely try it!

You will need:
1 Angel Food Cake
1 teaspoon Vanilla
3 cups Whipping Cream
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
3/4 cup Cocoa
1/4 teaspoon Salt
optional: 1/3 cup toasted Almonds

Step 1:
You can either make the angel food cake from a mix (you just add water), or purchase pre-made from a grocery store.  A few notes on making angel food cake: you need to let it cool completely in the pan and you need to let it cool upside-down or on its side.  My mother also told me not to use a silicone pan because the cake can't cool property in a silicone pan.

Step 2:
Make the frosting.  Combine the whipping cream, sugar, cocoa, salt, and vanilla.  Beat with a mixer until stiff.

Step 3:
Once the cake is completely cooled, remove it from the pan.  Then using a serrated knife, cut the top off of the cake, starting from about 1 inch down from the top of the cake.  See the photo below and this is make much more sense.  Then use the knife to cut out some of the inside of the cake.

Step 4:
Fill the scooped out section of the cake with frosting.

Step 5:
Place the top back on the cake.

Step 6:
Frost the cake!  Top with toasted almonds with you like.  Keep the cake chilled until you are ready to serve it.

Spaghetti Squash

Summer has started, which means life just got even busier.  Plus the wedding is just 3 1/2 weeks away.  I have never been busier.  There are lots of last minute wedding projects to tackle (seating arrangements, hunting down RSVPs, music selection, dance classes, confirming with vendors, etc...).  Plus I am trying to go to as many CircuitFit classes as I can.  (If anyone is trying to get into shape I very very highly recommend CircuitFit.)  Last night was a very busy night.  I have a long commute to work, so I don't get home until 6:30pm at the earliest.  Then I went to a CircuitFit class from 7-7:45 and Charles and I had to meet a friend for drinks at 8:30.  With lots to do and only 2 hours to do it, I decided to make Spaghetti Squash for dinner.  I am trying to cook all of my own meals if I can, I think that this is the best way to lose weight/not gain weight which is my goal.  You don't know how much butter, oil, etc... goes into your meal at a restaurant.  When you cook for yourself you are in complete control.

Spaghetti Squash is one of the easiest meals I make.  Charles and I LOVE squash of all varieties.  I think Spaghetti Squash is the most fun, because it is just like spaghetti.  Last night the first thing that I did when I got home was to start cooking the squash.  Then I went to CircuitFit.  When I got home from CircuitFit the squash was cooked, which meant that by 8:30 I had showered, changed, and eaten dinner.  I am pretty proud of myself for being so speedy!

Total Time: 1h 15minutes
You will need:
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 jar of your favorite Tomato Sauce
2 tablespoons Olive Oil

Step 1:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the squash in half the long way.  Scoop out the seeds.

Step 2:
Pour a little Olive Oil in the bottom of a baking dish.  Then brush the inside of the squash with Olive Oil.  Place in the dish and then into the oven.

Step 3:
After about 40 minutes flip the squash over.

Step 4:
After an 1 hour and 15 minutes the squash will be done.  I like to cook it extra long so that it isn't crunchy at all, and is more spaghetti like.  Once the squash is cooked, heat some spaghetti sauce.  As the sauce heats scoop out the squash with a fork.  The squash meat separates into strands just like spaghetti.  Then pour the sauce on top, and sprinkle with cheese.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Salad

With less than five weeks until the wedding I am trying to bring healthy lunches to work. This week I am bringing one of my favorite salads. My friend Dre makes this salad and I love it because I love strawberries and goat cheese. It might sound like an odd combination of ingredients but I enjoy the sweet strawberries, creamy cheese, and the crunchy almonds.

You will need:
Goat Cheese
Reduced Fat Poppy Seed Dressing

Step 1:
Mix ingredients together and add the salad dressing.