Tag Archives: healthy

How to reuse olive brine, oil from sundried tomatoes and more (and transform it into fabulous fare)

The next time you eat the last olive out of the jar and go to wash the brine down the sink, stop! You are about to pour flavor down the drain.

My kitchen motto is “think before I toss.” I can’t stand wasting food so I am constantly looking for ways to reuse ingredients and save items people normally throw away- like brine or the oil in sundried tomatoes. Those ingredients are incredibly flavorful.

Olive brine is great in marinades (just use it instead of vinegar in your recipe); mix a tablespoon into mayonnaise when making potato salad; mix brine, olive oil and Italian seasoning and use it to marinate vegetables; add a dash to a dirty martini or Bloody Mary; or make my Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes.

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I don’t eat potatoes very often because once you add all the flavorings like butter or cream, they are so fattening. This is a fat free recipe that uses olive brine, rosemary and chives to flavor the potatoes. I came up with it this week and considering it is fat free, I think it’s great.

As for the oil in a jar of sundried tomatoes- that’s my favorite leftover ingredient. You can mix it with balsamic vinegar for an instant salad dressing; use it to dress orzo or other pasta; use it as the oil when you make goat cheese omelets;  use it instead of olive oil when you make croutons or crostini; or make my Warm Bruschetta. This is my favorite recipe and it’s ready in less than 5 minutes. I simply slice grape or cherry tomatoes, warm some of the oil in a pan, toss the tomatoes in with basil and cook for 1 minute. Salt to taste and serve.

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You can also save the oil from artichokes and use that in marinades or salad dressings.

Pickle brine is another item you can reuse. It’s good in marinades, but I often refill the jar with other items like cucumbers or carrots and reuse the brine. I have a recipe below for Spicy Dill Carrots which is simply carrots, onions and jalapenos in dill pickle brine.

Brine from hot peppers is good in marinades, barbecue sauces, or add a touch to deviled eggs (but use sparingly).

Beer is another item I can’t stand to waste. A couple of days ago, I tried a new beer and I hated it. There was no way I could drink it, so I put it in the fridge to use in the future. The next day I made Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken.  You can also make beer bread, beer cheese dip, or use leftover beer to boil brats (add onions to the beer and finish the brats on the grill).

There are so many items we throw away every day that we can reuse. I hope this inspires you to think before you toss. Enjoy.

Fat Free Olive Brine Smashed Rosemary Potatoes

1 pound microwave in a bag red potatoes

¼ cup olive brine

¼ cup chopped chives

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook potatoes according to package directions. While the potatoes cook, chop the chives and rosemary.

When the potatoes are ready, empty the bag into a serving bowl and smash them down.

Pour the brine over potatoes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Then top with chives and rosemary. Toss and serve.

You can also substitute basil in this recipe if you don’t like rosemary.

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Warm Bruschetta

2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, assorted colors

1 ½ tablespoons oil left from the sundried tomato jar

10 basil leaves

Salt to taste

Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half. Set aside.

In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle with basil and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

This dish is delicious over couscous or with French bread, but I also like it alone as a side dish.

 

Leftover Beer BBQ Chicken

6 chicken thighs, legs, or breasts

1 tablespoon barbecue rub

1 ½ teaspoons Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon jerk seasoning

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Half an onion

2 cloves of garlic

1 almost full bottle of beer

1 bottle of KC style barbecue sauce

White rice for serving

Lay chicken in a 13 by 11 inch pan. Sprinkle with all the seasoning. Slice the onion and garlic and sprinkle both over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375. Pour beer in the side of the pan being careful not to wash off the seasonings. Pour half the bottle of barbecue sauce over the chicken and then stir about a fourth of the bottle into the beer. You will use about ¾ a bottle.

Bake for 1 hour (check it after 50 minutes because cooking times vary depending on the size of the piece of meat and what you cook. Breasts cook faster than thighs).

Serve over rice and spoon the sauce over rice before serving.

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Spicy Dill Carrots

2 cups leftover juice from dill pickles

1 ¼ cups carrot slices (I buy the precut carrot chips)

2 jalapenos (or to taste), sliced in half

Half a red onion, thinly sliced.

When the jar of dill pickles is gone, simply fill it with carrots, jalapeno and onion. Refrigerate for 2 days before eating. Consume within 10 days.

If you add the jalapeno seeds, it will be significantly spicier.

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Healthy Chocolate Pudding- it’s dairy free, gluten free and still fabulous

A healthy chocolate pudding?

Yes. I wish I could take credit for this recipe, but I can’t. My husband is a teacher and one of his colleagues brought this to a meeting. He came home and told me I had to get the recipe for this rich, incredible chocolate pudding.

What makes it so special? Avocados.

The basis for the pudding is actually avocados but you cannot taste them because the flavor is disguised by cocoa powder. This recipe is easy to make- all you do is blend the ingredients.

You can serve this chocolate pudding for dessert or even breakfast (for those of you who must start your day with something sweet). This is a healthier alternative to cinnamon rolls or doughnuts. While the pudding is high in fat and calories, it’s an excellent source of fiber (16 grams), potassium (contains 36 percent of DRV), and contains 7 grams of protein and 24 percent of your daily vitamin C and iron needs.

If you compare that to a chocolate doughnut which is high in fat and calories too, the doughnut has virtually no redeeming properties- it’s high in sodium, has almost no fiber, no potassium and no vitamin C.

And if you eat it with sliced strawberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, or a banana, you boost the health benefits and already have one serving of fruits and one serving of vegetables for the day.

I adapted the original recipe, cut out some of the sugar and dairy (replaced it with almond milk), and came up with this version.

The key is it needs 8-12 hours to marinate so make it before you go to bed. It’s shockingly good. If you don’t want it for breakfast, it makes a great dessert.

 

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Chocolate  Pudding

2 ripe avocadoes

½ cup cocoa powder

¼ cup Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

4 to 6 tablespoons agave syrup

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Serving suggestions: serve with sliced banana, ¼ cup pomegranate seeds, ½ cup sliced strawberries or 1 teaspoon orange zest.

 

Slice avocados in half and remove pit. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh of the avocado. Place in a food processor with cocoa powder, almond milk, agave and vanilla extract. I start with 4 tablespoons and add more sweetener if needed.

Pulse until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 8-12 hours before serving.

Serve with fresh fruit.

 

Calories: 411; Fat: 23.7 g; Cholesterol 0; Potassium 1269 mg; Carbs 57g;  Fiber 16.3g; Sugar 1.5 g. Protein 6.8 g. Also contains 24 percent of DRV of vitamin C and iron.

Spooky Squash Stuffed with Roasted Garlic Hummus

My Halloween fun continues! I’ve mentioned before that I love hummus. I eat it all the time. And I didn’t even know that it has a low glycemic index. I just found that out this week.

One thing I don’t love in hummus though is an overwhelming amount of garlic. This hummus is mild but has a rich flavor because I roast the garlic first.

Roasted garlic adds so much depth of flavor and you can use the remaining garlic cloves to create a second easy dip for your party (see the instructions under my recipe).

You can make this a day in advance, just be sure to cover the hummus with plastic wrap. Happy Halloween

I served it to company last night and they loved it.

You can make a little sign on a toothpick so guests know what they are eating. I love doing that at parties.

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Spooky Squash Stuffed with Roasted Garlic Hummus

1 small Kabocha Squash

1 head of garlic (you will roast it all, but only use three cloves)

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

1 1/2 tablespoons of the chickpea liquid reserved from the can

3 tablespoons tahini

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 cloves of roasted garlic (see recipe below)

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon salt or to taste

To roast the garlic, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Take an entire head of garlic and cut off the white tops of the garlic and drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. You are not peeling the garlic, you just want to cut off the tops to expose all the cloves.

Wrap garlic in aluminum foil and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the head of garlic has caramelized (your house will smell incredible). Allow to cool and then squeeze out the garlic cloves.

Before making hummus, reserve some of the liquid from the chickpeas and drain the rest of the can.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, chickpea liquid, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, roasted garlic, cumin and salt and pulse until smooth. Adjust salt, if desired.

Cut off the top of the Kabocha squash and remove the seeds and any stringy flesh. Use a knife to cut thin slits around the outside of the squash top and even the base, if desired. Stuff plastic spider rings in these crevices or any other creepy ring. Fill the center of the squash with hummus. Serve with pita chips and vegetables.

Tip: Serve the rest of the roasted garlic as a dip. Chop the cloves and add it to ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil. Warm it slightly (just slightly) on the stove top and add ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, ¼ teaspoon rosemary and 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese, a dash of salt, and serve it with French bread.

I couldn’t decide which way I wanted to style my photos this week. Black background or orange? Spider web or no spider web? Which do you prefer?

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Easy Acorn Squash Stuffed with Circle B Ranch Italian Sausage and Trio of Peppers

What a week. I had planned this for dinner Monday but didn’t get a chance to make it until lunch on Friday. This easy dish comes together in 20 minutes or less (that tells you how busy my week was when I couldn’t even fit this in).

I used sweet Italian sausage from Circle B Ranch, a small hog farm in Seymour, Mo., that is certified Humanely Raised and has great products. I’ve been to the farm and the hogs are healthy and roam freely.

For this dish, I simply microwaved the squash, sautéed all my other ingredients and then stuffed them into the cooked squash. I drizzled it all with 18-year-old balsamic vinegar. An excellent quality balsamic vinegar is a must in this dish which has a lot of sweet accents from the sausage and squash and the vinegar just pulls them all together.

Serves 2

1 acorn squash

1 Italian sausage links

1 small red onion

Half a red bell pepper

Half a green bell pepper

Half a yellow bell pepper

1 small garlic clove

Excellent quality aged balsamic vinegar for drizzling

Directions:

Cut acorn squash in half and scrape out the seeds. Stab the flesh several times with a sharp knife. Season with salt and pepper and place 1 teaspoon of butter or olive oil in the cavity of each half. Place in a microwave safe dish with 1/2 cup of water on the bottom. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 12-15 minutes, or until tender.

As that cooks, chop red onion, red, yellow and green bell peppers; and garlic.

In a nonstick pan, sauté the onion and sausage (remove the casing first) together until almost done. When the sausage is about a minute away from being cooked through, add the bell peppers and onions and cook 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

By now, the squash will be done. Carefully remove the plastic wrap and don’t put your hand in front of the steam.

Stuff filling into the cavity of each. Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar and serve.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad with Figs, Grapes and Moscato Dressing: “Ode to Wine Country”

Ode to Wine Country

Serves 2

I call this “Ode to Wine Country” because it’s a beautiful salad of arugula and spinach, figs poached in Moscato, globe grapes, walnuts, chicken and a Moscato dressing with a hint of rosemary.  These are the some of the flavors found in wine country.

This salad comes together in about 10 minutes but tastes like a salad you’d get in an upscale restaurant. It is healthy and practically effortless.

My husband and I have both been losing weight recently- he’s down 20 pounds and I’ve shed 10- so we’re eating a lot of salads!,

Salad can get boring after awhile, but this one will keep us coming back for more.

Tip: If you don’t regularly drink Moscato, buy one of the airplane-size bottles for the recipe.

2/3 cup inexpensive Moscato (you’re using it to poach, so it doesn’t need to be an expensive bottle)

6 dried figs

4 cups mixed arugula and spinach mix (you can also substitute a spring mix of greens)

12 globe grapes

12 walnut halves

1 1/2 tablespoons minced red onion

2/3 cup chopped rotisserie chicken

2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

6 teaspoons Moscato liquid reserved from poaching

1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

¼ teaspoon honey

Goat cheese crumbles (optional)

Place Moscato in a small pot and turn the heat on to medium. While it heats, slice figs in half and set aside.

Next, divide the greens between two plates.  Rinse the grapes off and slice in half.  Divide the grapes and walnuts evenly between the plates. Next, chop the onion and chicken and divide that between the plates.

By now, your Moscato should be bubbling. Add the figs and poach for 3 minutes. Remove figs immediately, but reserve the Moscato liquid.

In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 6 tablespoons of the Moscato liquid, rosemary and honey. Pour over salad and toss thoroughly. If desired, add goat cheese.

Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Basil Hummus

I love just about every type of hummus. When I was 9, I never thought I’d eat it again. My family lived in Sudan for about 8 months and the first two months we lived in a hotel. The hotel had the most limited menu so we eat hummus twice a day. I hated it by the end of that stay. I swore off hummus. It was so strong, too, incredibly heavy on the tahini.

Well, I started eating it again in college and now I can’t get enough. Right now, I literally have homemade basil hummus, olive tapenade hummus, black bean hummus and a regular hummus in the fridge. I am not kidding. My husband eats it like crazy.

Anyway, I came up with this hummus earlier this summer.

This homemade hummus is always popular when I take it to a party. I don’t add fresh garlic to this hummus because I want the basil to shine. If you really love garlic, add one chopped, small clove.

I serve it with warmed garlic Naan, instead of pita bread to add a kick of garlic (but pita works fine, too). It takes minutes to whip this up in the food processor and it keeps for several days, so you can make it ahead of time (which is great when entertaining).

It’s even better the next day. Look how quick and easy this recipe is.

Basil Hummus

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons tahini

¾ teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)

1 ½ teaspoons basil paste (in a tube in the produce section)

½ teaspoon garlic salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Serve with warm pita or garlic Naan, and sliced vegetables.

Mango, Pineapple Salsa (serve it as an appetizer first and leftovers on pork, chicken or fish)

I love salsa. Fruit salsa. Smokey salsa. Charred salsa. Jarred salsa. Green salsa. You name it, I love it.

But I particularly love this Mango, Pineapple Salsa. One of my best friends makes a similar salsa and this is my version. My salsa won “Best Overall Salsa” at a friendly competition and it was up against an array of excellent salsas.

Aside from being delicious served on its own, this salsa is great on grilled fish or pork. I recently marinated pork chops for 24 hours in Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki sauce (online) http://www.soyvay.com/flavors/veri-veri-teriyaki) and then pan fried the pork and topped it with the leftover salsa. It was fantastic!

 Pork with Mango, Pineapple Salsa

If you don’t have that sauce, use soy sauce, ginger, 1 teaspoon canola oil, 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar  and 1/2 a garlic clove for 3-4 pork chops. That makes a nice marinade. A pork loin marinated in Asian sauce, grilled and then served with this salsa would be spectacular.

This would also be great on chicken or fish tacos.

The key to this salsa is ripe, sweet fruit. Mangoes are hardly ever ripe when you buy them, so I buy them 3-4 days before I need to make this salsa. I also buy extras in case some are not sweet. Whenever I have to use avocados or mangoes I buy extra because you’ll often get a disappointing one in the batch. I bought 5 mangoes to be safe. There were all sweet, so I ate the others for breakfast.

Let this marinate for 2 hours or more before serving. You can adapt this recipe and add 2/3 cup drained black beans to this and it’s delicious, too. In that case, I also add 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

If you can’t find ripe mangoes, you can use the jarred refrigerated type, but fresh is always best!

I like to serve it in a margarita or martini glass for nice presentation. It’s such a refreshing salsa for summer. I adore it!

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Mango, Pineapple Salsa

2 1/2 very ripe mangoes, chopped fine

2 ½ cups finely chopped fresh pineapple

¾ of a medium red onion, chopped

2/3 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped

1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine

1 teaspoon cumin seed

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Sea salt to taste

.Directions:

Chop all the ingredients and place in a medium bowl. Add salt to taste. Toss and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.