Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Drunk Beef Stew

Who doesn't love to come home to the smell of dinner already prepared?  You don't need a personal chef to do that, instead opt for a Crockpot!  I am in the midst of my graduate finals for the semester, and the last thing I have time to do is whip up a fancy dinner for one.  I have two sizes of CrockPots--1 small and 1 large.  This allows me to tailor my size based on my recipe and my personal needs.  For this recipe I went with my large recipe, because I love the way the flavors meld into delicious leftovers! 

Beef Stew (Simplified)
  • 6 lbs beef round roast (1 lb per person)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1 pkg beef stew packet (McCormick)
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 1 lb baby carrots
  • 12 new potatoes
  • 1 cup red wine (doesn't have to be an expensive bottle, but something you would drink!)
  • water
Cube meat and toss with flour.  Heat a skillet with 1 tbsp of oil and brown meat on all sides (create a crust on the meat to keep the moisture locked in).  Remove beef and place in crockpot.  To the pan add the wine and beef stew packet.  Bring to a simmer and scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom. Pour over top of the meat.  Layer onions, potatoes and carrots then barely cover with water.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6-10 hours.  Serve with crusty bread or corn bread for a complete meal!  If you want a pop of color before it hits the table add it 1/4cup of chopped fresh parsley to the stew.  If you crave a kick add in 1 Tbsp of horseradish!  Enjoy!  Don't forget to pour yourself a glass of the red wine to sip with your meal--you deserve it!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Easiest (3 Ingredient) Holiday Cake!

During the holidays simplicity is a must!  It's so easy to get caught out shopping and fail to get to the grocery store to buy the necessary ingredients for your upcoming potlluck!  Don't you hate it when that happens?  I do!  So, I tend to keep this 3 ingredients on hand to whip up a healthy delight and create a crowd pleaser!  Hope you find success with it, too!

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 package Spice Cake Mix (Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines)
1 egg
1 (14.5oz) can Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie!)

Directions (Are you ready?):
Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray. Preheat your oven according to box directions. Mix all three ingredients and pour into pan.  Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes, invert onto a plate and remove bundt pan once you hear a "thud." Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with a flavored icing (orange or vanilla are both fabulous).  Enjoy! 

Now wasn't that easy? Love it!  Keep these ingredients on hand for your next dessert emergency! This cake is moist, high in fiber, low in fat, and a delightful holiday addition to your next holiday party!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Savory Butternut Squash Soup--Perfect for the Holidays!

Creamy soups don't always require cream to give them that velvety texture.  My favorite fall squash is butternut.  Butternut squashes are packed with beta-carotene, fiber, and has only 80 Calories per cup!  This soup makes for a great addition to any potluck or as a starter for your next dinner party!  I always enjoy it for lunch the next day! 
Main Course

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup


2 tsp Olive Oil

1 Onion, chopped

1 stalk Celery, chopped

2 bags Frozen Butternut Squash

1 box Chicken or Vegetable Broth

1/4—1/2tsp Dried Sage

1—2Tbsp Butter, unsalted

Sea Salt to taste


In a stock pot, sauté onion and celery in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add butternut squash and sauté for 5 minutes. Season with sage and add chicken broth. Bring soup to a boil and then drop to a simmer for 20-30 minutes. Blend with a blending stick or in a blender. Stir in butter to the soup and season with salt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"German" Style Dark Chocolate Cake

This cake is so moist and delicious it almost seems decadent...almost!  I love the secret ways to kick up the nutrition in desserts.  You can increase fiber, vitamins and minerals, and decrease saturated fats and sugar all with a little help from fruits and vegetables! If you are craving something dark and chocolately don't let the secret ingredient in this recipe stop you!  Curious? 
Yes, that is right--SAUERKRAUT!  Don't snub your nose just yet.  Give this probiotic and fiber packed cake a whirl and you will have your guests raving--without knowing the secret ingredient!  I made two cakes with 1 can.  First, I dusted with powdered sugar and the second I drizzled with a chocolate sauce and sprinkled with pecans.  You can also dress this up with orange zest!  Trust me and give this a try!
"German" Dark Chocolate Cake

2 cups Flour, All-Purpose

1 1/3 cup Sugar

1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda

2/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1/2 tsp Instant Coffee Granules (OPTIONAL)

1/2 cup Butter, melted

1 1/2 cup Hot Water

1 tsp Vanilla

1 cup Sauerkraut, blended until smooth

Cooking Spray and Cocoa for dusting pan


Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a bundt pan with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa powder instead of flour.

In a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and 2/3 cup of cocoa, and coffee granules. Add melted butter, hot water and vanilla extract; mix well. Add sauerkraut and blend thoroughly.

Pour batter into prepared bundt pan; bake in center of oven until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Cool cake in pan for about 20 minutes and then turn out onto a baking rack to cool completely. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder before slicing into 14 pieces. Yields 1 slice per serving.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Make Your Holiday Potlucks a Little Skinnier!

A great way to lighten up your caloric intake over the holidays is to bring a light dish to your next potluck party.  I generally opt to bring a vegetable of some sort, because I know that is the one thing that is often missing from the table.  Yes, I am partial to vegetables for numerous reasons: health benefits, often lower in calories, fiber, and yes, tasty! Over the next 4 days you'll find out about 4 easy and healthy recipes to consider for your next party or even enjoy at home!  All four are packed with vegetables: one appetizer, one main dish, and 2 desserts!  Enjoy!

Let's get started with an appetizer. Every time I see a vegetable tray I always cringe at the sight of Ranch Dressing--yes, it has flavor, but is it the only thing people like to dip their vegetables in? Let's change that! Bring this dip next time, and don't tell anyone that it is fat free!  They'll never know!
Chipotle Stuffed Celery Bites


16 oz container Fat Free Cream Cheese

2 tsp - 1 Tbsp Chipotle Peppers, chopped (more if you like it spicy!)

1/4 cup Roasted Bell Peppers, pat dry and chop

1/2 cup Green Onions, thinly slice

1/4 cup Cilantro, chop

Celery for dipping or stuffing


Mix cream cheese, peppers, green onions, and cilantro until smooth. Stuff celery or serve as a dip!
Don't stop with just celery--I chose it because of how inexpensive celery is.  You can try this with with endive leaves, bell peppers, carrots, asparagus, or even roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes!  Spice up the party next time with this dip!