A Healthy Dinner (during a season of goodies!)

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Has you kitchen become cookie baking central?  Attending lots of holiday parties?  No time to cook dinner?

A healthy chili, full of vegetables, is the perfect answer for dinner after a day/week of goodies.  This is a one-pot recipe. It is quick and easy too.

Serve this chili with a salad and you have a balanced meal that will give you the energy you need if you are one of the those “shoppers rush(ing) home with their presents.” (Silver Bells).

Healthy Chili

(adapted from a Daphne Oz recipe in Fitness Magazine/Nov-Dec 2014)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound hamburger/bulk sausage

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 bag frozen corn

1 Tablespoon tomato paste

1 16-ounce can chopped tomatoes plus the juice

2 – 3 Tablespoons cumin

2 Tablespoons oregano

salt and pepper

1 – 2 chipotle peppers (they are in a can in the Mexican asile), chopped

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup beef or vegetable stock

In a large heavy pot, heat the oil and add the onion, garlic and hamburger or sausage (I used sausage from the Penn State Meat Lab). Saute until the meat is no longer pink.

Add the zucchini and frozen corn, stirring occasionally.  Add the tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, cumin and oregano, salt and pepper.  Add the beans. Stir.  Add the broth.  Stir again and make sure the stock is enough to cover the vegetables.

Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally

Serve this chili with sour cream, sliced avocados, shredded cheddar cheese and/or lime juice.

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Holiday Cookies

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We are heading in to the happy season!! The season of giving and getting treats. Did you know that studies show that “scratch desserts are better for your waistline than ho-hum packaged versions.” By baking cookies, cakes and other goodies yourself, you can eliminate the artificial ingredients and all the extra sugar that goes in to commercially processed food.

AND, your home smells awesome.

AND, the effort put into those baked goods cannot be bought.  Baking treats for friends and family = LOVE!!

Holly’s Ginger Molasses Cookies

(makes about 72 cookies!!)

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup shortening

2 cups brown sugar

1/2 cup molasses

2 eggs

4 1/4 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ginger

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon cloves

Preheat oven to 375. Cream butter and shortening together in a mixer until light yellow in color.  Add the brown sugar and mix.  Then add the molasses and eggs–mix well.  Mix the remaining ingredients (the dry ingredients) in a separate bowl.  Add to the creamed mixture.  Mix well. Roll into small balls and roll in sugar. Bake for 8 minutes.

Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies

(adapted from Sixsistersstuff.com)

applesauce cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 cup applesauce

2 cups flour

1 cup oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1 cup walnuts, toasted

First, toast the walnuts.  Place the walnuts on a baking sheet.  Bake the walnuts (pictured here are walnut pieces that are halves and wholes–not chopped) in a 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until you can see that they are turning a bit brown OR you can smell them.   Let them cool then chop.

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(in this picture they are toasted, and I am getting ready to chop)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Cream the butter in a mixer until it is light yellow in color.  Add the brown sugar and cream together.  Then add the egg and applesauce and mix well.  Mix all the dry ingredient together in a bowl (don’t include the walnuts) and stir to incorporate.  Then slowly add the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.  The dough should be a bit firm, so if you are using very “runny” applesauce (like I did) you might have to add 1/4 cup more flour.

Fold in the toasted walnuts.  Place tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto a greased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12 – 14 minutes.  This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies.

 

 

“Food Prices.. largest gain in nearly two and a half years”

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“Food prices gained 0.3 percent in September and were up 3.0 percent from a year ago, the largest gain in nearly two and a half years.”  — New York Times October 22, 2014

I usually don’t follow economic reports, but this article caught my attention.  The article concentrated on some US prices “barely rising,” commenting on gas prices that, thankfully, are dropping.  But this fact, how much food prices have risen, was startling!  Has your salary risen that much in the past year?

What to do?  We have to eat!  We still have to buy food, but we can be savvy purchasers.  AND…we can cook our own meals!!

With the holidays coming, many grocery stores are having great sales.

Currently on sale through Dec 27, 2014 at Wegmans:

Baking supplies
–Flour sale price $0.99 for 5 lbs.(regular price: $1.99)–expiration date is about one year
–White sugar, 5 lbs., sale price: $1.99 (regular price: $2.59)–expiration date one year
–Brown sugar, dark brown sugar and powdered sugar, 2 lb bag, sale price: $0.99 (regular price: $1.49)
–Nestle Chocolate chips, 36 ounce bag, $5.49 (regular $6.99)–the sale price makes these chips $3.11/lb.
I buy these items every year in bulk, store them in my basement and they last for one entire year!!  The flour needs to be stored somewhere cool (like a basement),  or you can store it in the freezer.
Canned Tomatoes
Wegmans’ brand of 28 ounce cans of tomatoes (crushed, puree, and sauce) are now $0.79 a can. These cans are marked with a March 2016 expiration date!  With cans of tomatoes in your pantry, you can always make a dinner!
A quick pasta sauce that never fails to makes happy eaters:
Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
adapted from Marcella Hazan’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in two pieces
5 tablespoons butter
In a saucepan, put all the ingredients in and let it simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you see pools of butter rising on top of the tomatoes.  You can season it with salt and pepper and add your own herbs to “spice” it up: basil, oregano, etc.  Add hamburger or sausage to add protein.  Serve over spaghetti, penne pasta, etc.
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You can make lasagna out of it also, or any time you need tomato sauce in a recipe.
Despite what you might think about butter, this is a light pasta sauce with NO sugar, like many jarred pasta sauces. It is inexpensive with a very fresh taste.

 

 

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