Monday, February 22, 2010

Pita Pizzas!

Because I primarily cook for one, that sometimes means a rush to finish a product before it goes bad. After making falafel, I'll typically only go through 2-3 pitas out of a package. The solution? Little pita pizzas! Not only were these delicious, they were so darn cute.

What You Need:
  • Pitas (whole wheat)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Tomato sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese (part skim)
  • Toppings
  • Italian seasoning and garlic powder
What You Do:
  • Brush the pita with a little extra virgin olive oil (it's the secret to the most delicious pizza crust, you know)
  • Add sauce and spread across top of pita.
  • Sprinkle a little dried Italian seasonings and garlic powder, especially if you are using a plain tomato sauce. It'll add a little bit of extra flavor.
  • Add your cheese and your toppings.
  • Cook at 350 degrees for about 15 - 20 minutes (for two pizzas).
Ready to go into the oven!

The perfect little pizza with a whole wheat crust!

My mom and I would occasionally have make-your-own-pizza nights and I always loved doing that. What was especially great about this meal, is that I was using lots of extras from other meals I'd prepared and letting nothing go to waste! The pitas were extras not being used for falafel night, the sauce was left over from making chili, and so was the bell pepper.

My best chili yet!

Ahh, I am getting so backed up on posts! I have several that I need to write and download pics for so that I can post them. Hopefully I can get them all up this week!

My last post was about all of the meals I'd planned to make after very carefully planning my grocery shopping list and what I'd be eating during the week. One of the best meals I made was a delicious batch of chili.

Prior to making the chili, I'd used about 1/3 of the 1-pound package of ground turkey to make burritos. I didn't want my chili to be less filling because I wasn't using the full pound of meat, so I was sure lots of "extras" were added. As it turned out, this was way better!

Here's what I used to make my chili:
  • tomato paste
  • petite diced tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • ~2/3 pound ground turkey
  • onions
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • frozen corn
  • bell peppers
  • dark red kidney beans
  • black beans
  • paprika and chili powder
  • served with brown rice and topped with shredded cheddar cheese
I think the extra beans and the corn really made the chili this time. I also added the bell pepper and carrots to the crock pot without any prior cooking, so they still kept a little of their crunchiness (I love that!). There were so many really good flavors that blended together and it was so, so good. To give the meat a little extra flavor, I browned it in the same pan I sauteed the onions and garlic in. One of my favorite things about making chili is that it never turns out the same! That being said, for basic cooking instructions, see my earlier post about cooking chili on the stove instead of in a crock pot.

After the chili cooled, I packaged two small containers to put in the freezer (Score! I almost forgot they were there!) and put the rest in the fridge to be taken to work for lunches. All I'll have to do when I thaw the small containers is make brown rice to go with them.

About the rice: I tried a new trick a friend of mine shared about cooking rice, and it worked great! I measured one cup of brown rice and poured it into the pot and let it heat for about 5 minutes, stirring so it didn't burn. After the rice grains were toasted a bit, I added the 2 cups of water, boiled about 5 minutes, put the lid on, and let it cook on a low temperature. The rice was fluffy and cooked to perfection!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A week of meals

I have been snowed in for too long and my eating supplies were reaching the slim pickin' level. The nature center where I work was closed Wednesday and Thursday due to this most recent blizzard that contributed more snow to our record-breaking winter. Before leaving work Friday to do some grocery shopping, I made a meal plan for the coming week. I chose many items that can be used for multiple meals in an effort to reduce leftover bits of veggies, etc.

Here's what's on the menu:
  • Falafel with tomato and avocado in a whole wheat pita
  • Ground turkey burritos and guacamole
  • Pita pizza topped with green pepper
  • Ground turkey chili
  • Cream of broccoli soup with potatoes
  • Grilled chicken and veggies
  • Frittata
I'm excited to get these meals cooking because the soup, falafe and chili will produce enough extra that I can package single servings to either freeze for later, or bring to work for lunches. I also just bought a food processor! Meal prep is about to get infinitely easier!

How did I cut down on purchasing? I am sharing the bell pepper and tomato sauce with the chili and the pizza. The pitas will be stuffed with falafel, and serve as the base of mini pizzas instead of using dough. I'm going to add potatoes and cheese to both the cream of broccoli soup and the frittata. I also am sharing onion and garlic in the frittata and chili, and black beans with the chili, frittata and burritos.

While I can always compost leftover pieces of vegetables, I'm also irritated with myself if I let something go to waste unnecessarily. My goal with shopping this week was to find multiple uses for a single produce item that wouldn't normally be totally used in one recipe. I feel pretty confident that I will achieve that with the meals I've planned.

I feel a little like a chump about doing my shopping for this week, because none of it was done at the co-op. An email was sent out earlier in the week that the deliveries would be slim, so there may be a lot of items out of stock. I didn't want to chance that (plus since Friday was the first day most people were out and about, everyone was restocking fridges and pantries), so I stopped at the grocery store and even Target to meet my shopping needs. Try as I might, I can't win 'em all.

P.S. I have a new (to me) product that I'm excited to try for the cream of broccoli soup!

Contest Alert: Amazing Grass products

The blog Honoring Health is having a giveaway sponsored by Amazing Grass. I just wrote about my experiences with Amazing Grass last week, and it's a great product!

In this contest you can win:
  • Various flavors of Amazing Grass Green SuperFood
  • A couple types of Amazing Grass Amazing Meal
To enter, just do one or more of the following:
  • Tweet about the contest
  • Leave a comment on the Honoring Health Amazing Grass giveaway blog entry
  • Add Honoring Health to your blog roll
  • Post an entry in your own blog

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Contest Alert: $500 "messiest recipe" from Mixing Bowl

From the Mixing Bowl website:


Contest ends on 02/14/2010

Got a delish but messy recipe that you think twice about making? Bring it! Roll up your sleeves and break out the Bounty because we're looking for your best, most perilously-messy recipe -- definitely not for the faint of heart. From sloppy Joes to saucy ribs and chicken wings, we want to see your most creative original recipe. The prize: $500. But remember, photos must be of the actual recipe submitted, and the recipe must be original. Entries that don’t follow these guidelines are ineligible to win.

Enter here. (Must create a membership log-in for Mixing Bowl)

Blizzard Brunch

We had another big snowstorm on the east coast, and in typical fashion, the neighbor friends gathered for brunch to enjoy all sorts of homemade foods.

Here's what was on the menu:
  • Frittata - eggs from the backyard chickens, parmesan and white cheddar cheeses, potatoes, onions, garlic, asparagus and cayenne pepper
  • Bread - my banana walnut bread
  • Soup - cream of broccoli soup with potatoes and bacon
  • Rice pudding - a version with almonds raisins and several spices
  • Fruit - pineapple and avocado
  • Drinks - French press coffee and home brewed apple cider

Monday, February 8, 2010

Contest Alert: Equal Exchange coffee and chocolates from Mambo Sprouts

Mambo Sprouts is giving away a yummy gift basket with fair trade, organic chocolates and coffee supplied by Equal Exchange! While I have not had EE chocolate, I do purchase their coffee from my co-op and all types I've tried have been excellent. I strongly advocate supporting companies that are socially responsible while providing a quality product. Check out all the ways you can enter to win this great prize! Be sure to enter by February 14; winners will be emailed on/around February 17.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I'm not really into football, but my neighbor invited a few of us over to watch the Super Bowl. I've been wanting an excuse to make cupcakes lately, so I took advantage of this get-together.

For the cupcakes, I used a boxed French vanilla cake mix - with my own touch, of course. The instructions call for water, eggs and oil added to the mix. Anyone who eats my baked goods knows I never use oil. In its place, I added a single serving container of organic, low-fat vanilla yogurt and also added a bit of vanilla extract.

Browsing the frosting options, I saw that even the cream cheese frosting is artificially flavored. What the heck? I'll make my own, thanks. I halved the recipe and used 3 cups powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of softened butter and 1/2 a stick of reduced fat cream cheese. Giving it a taste test, I thought the frosting was too sweet. To knock the sweetness down a bit, I added some fresh half-and-half from a local dairy farm. Perfection. It cut the intensity of the powdered sugar and still left the frosting nice and creamy. Yum!

Amazing Grass

No...not that kind of grass. My cousin commented on my last blog post, mentioning the Amazing Grass product Green SuperFood we've both been using lately...which reminded me I forgot to post about it!

This product is pretty amazing, having many health benefits. It balances the pH level of your body, which can help your immune system stay strong. There is an energizing benefit as well, which is something Christina and I both love. I do hesitate to promote these energy claims, because it's not something that jolts through you and then leaves you to crash. I've just felt more awake and better functioning, skipping that daily afternoon workday crash I used to experience nearly every day.

My typical use of the product (I use the berry version) is to mix one scoop into about a cup of organic, fat-free, French vanilla yogurt and eat it in the morning or the early afternoon. It is marketed as a drink mix, but because it is actually very finely ground grass products (wheat grass, etc.), it does not dissolve because it isn't really a powder. If you read reviews on the site, you'll read many happy claims from prolonged use. Whether or not all claims are legit or are experienced 100% by all users, I do notice what it does to my own body and am happy that I've found and use this product. If you have a Whole Foods near you, look for the individual serving packets and give it a try!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow Day Brunch

Overnight and into today, Philly topped off another record snowstorm at 28.5 inches! This is the second biggest snowstorm on record for the city, bumping our December record storm down to the #3 spot. How crazy is that?! Since December, we've had over 50 inches of snow from just two storms. I really love it. If we're getting snow, I want snow.

My neighbors and an extended group of friends have a tradition of Thursday brunch. Since I work during the week, I've only been lucky enough to make it to brunch once last summer. Knowing the storm was coming and we'd all probably be snowed into the neighborhood, L put out a call for a Saturday brunch. On my way home from work on Friday, I stopped at the co-op hoping to pick up some scones or fruit. Not a chance! Every.single.bin. for all of the bagels and pastries was empty, as was the bread shelf. The bananas were green. The avocados hard as rocks. I settled on fresh apple cider from a local orchard and some healthy looking grapefruits.

The spread was delicious! We had red potatoes roasted with rosemary, garlic, onions and olive oil; a quiche made with goat cheese, bacon and kale; homemade pecan-cranberry bread; bacon; grapefruit and bananas; delicious coffee from a local shop and the cider. We finished the meal with a shot of Kombucha. "What," you are probably asking, "is Kombucha?" Glad you asked! It is a probiotic tea that begins with a "mother culture." It is then mixed with water, tea and sugar to make a liquid that smells about as harsh as apple cider vinegar but a taste much sweeter. This drink is known for medicinal and other health benefits, and would typically be swallowed after a meal as we did this morning.