When I am not busy taking care of my two energetic little boys, or working on an interior design project~ I play in the kitchen! For the last 15 years, I have been juxtaposing new flavors and ideas; it’s finally time to document my recipes...

I believe in fresh & affordable meals.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stuffed Peppers

Colorful Holiday
So....at the "rents" this week celebrating Christmas-but still cooking away. My mom spent about 20 years of her life in the kitchen (I credit her with most of my knowledge), but these days she is perfectly happy with a pre-made Costco meal. Well, not this foodie! If I have time & good ingredients, I wanna make my own fresh, yummy food without a microwave.
We had some peppers that were starting to look like they were gonna go bad, a box of 2-day old brown rice from left over Thai food, and a pantry full of canned goods. So, a new stuffed pepper recipe was born.

3 bell peppers (any color)
1 cup brown rice
1 can of kidney or black beans (or any kind of bean for that matter)
1 can of vegetarian tortilla soup (or mix together canned tomatoes, corn and cumin)
1 cup yogurt (we had jalapeno yogurt from Costco- which was perfect. Substitute sour cream, ranch dressing, or plain yogurt mixed with salsa, sass it up with blended avo and/or jalapenos)
A handful of Mexican cheese
Carni's- Add cooked ground turkey or beef to your mix. Spice up your meat with cumin and salt and pepper or salsa.

Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Put brown rice, beans, and soup mix in soup pot on stove top over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Cut bell peppers in half, take off top and de-gut. Fill contents of pot inside the peppers, top with cheese (white mexi cheese would be super yum), and cook for 15 minutes on 400 deg.

Top peppers with avocado, and Yogurt (or S. Cream mix) and fiesta forever...we going to party....

OOOhhhh...for the leftovers- the stove top mix (minus peppers) is a really good dip (be sure to add something a lil creamy, like sour cream, cream cheese, or yogurt). Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Left overs- If you don't eat all your stuffed peppers, save em, dice up everything, and scramble with eggs. If you like meat, add breakfast sausage or chorizo (Trader J's makes a nice vegan chorizo). Top with cheese and salsa. Need to disguise it from your hubby who hates veggies and hates leftovers even more- wrap the egg mixture up in a tortilla (and put some extra cheese in there). See, this is how you can save on groceries...dinner becomes breakfast!

It does good for the body....

First of all, bell peppers are considered highly nutritious. Just munching a mere 3.5 ounces of raw bell pepper can provide a body with significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, and folic acid. Furthermore, bell peppers provide important antioxidant action that can help reduce the number of dangerous free radicals roaming around the body.
While all-around nutrition is essential to maintain good health, healing and health benefits can also be derived from bell peppers. The vitamin C and beta-carotene content of these peppers has been shown to help protect against cataracts. The capsaicin and flavonoids of bell peppers have also been helpful for preventing blood clot formation, which, in turn, provides a lower likelihood for stroke or heart attack. While people with elevated levels of cholesterol have been encouraged to consume chili peppers which are also incredibly healthful, some people might prefer to consume the milder flavors of bell peppers which can also help lower cholesterol levels.
Interestingly, when it comes to bell peppers, color can actually make a difference to your health. Red bell peppers have been shown to offer better protection against heart disease and even cancer. Red bell peppers have higher concentrations of nutrients than the others. While any color bell pepper will provide healthful properties, the red variety packs the most healthful punch. Their intense color can also add a bright splash to any dish.

Yogurt can give you flat abs.
Eat 18 ounces a day and you can drop a jeans size. People who ate that much -- in conjunction with cutting their total calories -- lost 22 percent more weight and 81 percent more belly fat than dieters who skipped the snack, according to research from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They also retained one-third more calorie-torching lean muscle mass, which can help you maintain weight loss. "Fat around your waist produces the hormone cortisol, which tells your body to accumulate even more belly flab," says nutrition professor and lead study author Michael Zemel, PhD. When you eat yogurt, the calcium signals your fat cells to pump out less cortisol, making it easier for you to drop pounds, while the amino acids help burn fat.
2. Most brands of yogurt contain good-for-you bacteria.
The words "live and active cultures" on the container mean that your yogurt has probiotics, beneficial bugs that live in your digestive tract and help crowd out harmful microorganisms that can cause intestinal infections. (Only a very small number of companies put yogurt through a post-pasteurization process that kills off all bacteria.)
But many varieties now also contain special strains of probiotics meant to help regulate your digestion or strengthen your immune system. The research on them isn't conclusive, however. "If you suffer from a particular health problem, like bloating or diarrhea, it's worth trying one of these products for a couple of weeks to see if it helps," says FITNESS advisory board member Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD. Otherwise, save a few dollars and stick to conventional brands.
3. Yogurt is loaded with vitamins.
One serving is a significant source of potassium, phosphorous, riboflavin, iodine, zinc, and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Yogurt also contains B12, which maintains red blood cells and helps keep your nervous system functioning properly. "Vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, such as chicken and fish, so strict vegetarians can easily fall short," says Jackie Newgent, RD, a FITNESS advisory board member and author of Big Green Cookbook. Eating more yogurt can help close the nutrient gap: An eight-ounce serving contains 1.4 micrograms of the vitamin, about 60 percent of what adult women need daily.

This dish is packed with powerful health benefits. Your body will be happy you consumed!!!! Since I cook with Beans sooo much, I will include the benefits of beans on a later recipe...

Cheers to your HEALTH!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Basil and Spinach Salad


Hey (Trader) Jo, you do well with your product placement!
I fell prey to creative marketing today. You know that HUGE container of Basil, perched so perfectly next to the ruby red tomatoes? Well, I bought it. What was I thinking? Unless you are producing 500 Caprese salads, or making loads of Pesto- its way too much Basil for my family to eat in one week.
After I got home (with a little buyers remorse) I was determined to use each and every leaf before they wilted. Although I think the boys and I have a hint of green to our skin tone, not a one basil went a brownin'.

Here it goes....

Handful of Chopped Basil
Pinch or Handful of Grated Parmesan Cheese
Pinch or Handful of Pine nuts ( I add handfuls of the "fillers" cause I like lots of goodies on my salad)
1 chopped Yellow Bell Pepper
Croutons (I cube up old bread- mix it in olive oil, parm, salt & pepper and put under the broiler for 5 mins. Soooo much better tasting than those fake flavor tons at the grocery)
Creamy Balsamic Dressing
*** Tonight I made my dressing with mostly "follow your heart low-fat ranch" a lil balsamic, a lil dijon mustard, capers (i take them out after I toss cause the consistency is gross to me- but they add a good salty lemon flavor), and salt and pepper.

Toss all ingredients and enjoy!
I will add my pesto recipe soon. You know, pesto is REALLY easy to make and it freezes well. Its great on pasta, salads, and sandwiches. 


An array of flavonoids exist in basil, which help to protect cells and chromosomes from damage. Studies have shown that two of these flavonoids in particular, orientin and vicenin, are useful in protecting cell structures and chromosomes from damage by radiation and oxygen.
Essential oil of basil has been shown to inhibit the growth of several types of bacteria, many of which have become resistant to antibiotics. This essential oil has been found to inhibit growth of the widespread staphylococcus, enterococcus, pseudomonas, and e. coli bacteria, among others. Adding basil to your vinaigrette will both enhance the flavor, and ensure that the fresh salad greens are safe to eat.
Eugenol, which is found in essential oil of basil, provides an anti-inflammatory effect, by blocking an enzyme called cyclooxygenase. Aspirin and Ibuprofen work by blocking this same enzyme. So, basil can have healing benefits, and provide relief from the symptoms of inflammatory problems, like rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Basil is also a good source of vitamin A, which helps to prevent damage to the cells by free radicals. Vitamin A also prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, preventing the cholesterol from building up in the blood vessels.
Magnesium is also present in basil. This essential mineral helps the heart and blood vessels to relax, improving blood flow. Other nutrients found in basil include iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.
The fresh, spicy flavor and scent of basil will wake up any boring salad or soup. Use fresh basil whole, or shredded to add a burst of flavor to your dinner. If you are using fresh basil in a cooked dish, add it towards the end of cooking, so that the volatile oils will not be dissipated by the heat.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Scramble Ever

Quinoa Scramble            

I had some leftover Quinoa (from the blue cheese and kalamata recipe) so I threw that in a pan with some eggs and greenery...and whhhhallllllaaa!

If you are starting from ground zero...

Cooked Red Quinoa (or regular Quinoa)
Eggs or Egg whites
Sun dried tomatoes (handful)
Kalamata olivers (half a handful)
Frozen Peas (handful)
Hummus (dollop)

Throw all ingredients (minus eggs) in pan and fry em up for a bit on medium heat. The oil from the Tomatoes will coat the pan so you will not need any spray or butter or other oil.
Add eggs. Cook everything for another minute or so.

I topped mine with some plain hummus (and salt, cause i always add it to everything). So yummy! The pea's make it a lil sweet and the Mediterranean additions add a bit of savory flavor. Great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It would be great in a burrito at breakfast, atop spinach (with a light balsamic dressing) for lunch, or accompanied with a protein at dinner. I just ate mine plain for lunch...
P.S. My quinoa had some blue cheese in it cause it was left over. If you made the Quinoa recipe- just add some peas, eggs, and quinoa! Dunzo!

Health Benefits Of Eating Quinoa 
  • Quinoa is rich in protein content. In fact, it is a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids, especially lysine, which is required by the body to grow and repair tissues.
  • It has high content of manganese in it, which acts as antioxidant in the body and helps it get rid of dangerous cancer cells and other diseases.
  • The seed proved to be a good source of magnesium, which provides relief from migraine headaches, relaxes blood vessels, and decreases the risk of hypertension.
  • Riboflavin present in quinoa reduces the frequency of migraine attacks, by producing energy metabolism within brain and muscle cells.
  • The presence of potassium and magnesium in quinoa prevents clogging of arteries and hence, relieves stress on the heart.
  • Quinoa has low content of saturated fats and cholesterol, making it an ideal food for every health conscious consumer.
  • It is a good source of calcium, which is extremely important for the growth of healthy teeth, bones and skin.
  • The grain is a boon for people who are allergic to wheat and are suffering from Celiac disease, as it is gluten free.
  • Quinoa is a wonderful source of fiber for the body, which aids easy elimination and toning of colon.
  • The food is rich in carbohydrates, an efficient fuel for energy production required by children and athletes.
  • It is a good source of insoluble fiber that helps avoid gallstones, especially in women who are more prone to them.
  • The high content of copper present in it helps in oxidizing glucose, produces skin coloring agent melanin and acts as catalyst in the formation of hemoglobin. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Red Quinoa with Blue Cheese and Olives

This recipe is great to serve as an App with some red wine, or eat by the spoonful as a side dish. Simple, but packed with interesting flavors.

2 cups Cooked Quinoa
3 tablespoons Blue Cheese
1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix and EAT. This recipe is great warm or cold.

Make it a bigger meal (or use day #2) by adding the Quinoa mixture inside of a pepper and cooking for 15 min on 375.
Meat eaters- cut a chicken breast in half- put quinoa mix inside- cover with olive oil and bake for 20 min on 350.

Health Benefits of Kalamata Olives

1. Olives are one of the two fresh fruits (the other one is avocados) that have high content of monounsaturated fats (MUFA), which are heart-healthy.
2. The monounsaturated fatty acids, especially oleic acid, lowers the LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in blood and raises the HDL cholesterol.
3. Alpha-linolenic acid, the omega-3 fatty acid in olive oil, promotes a healthy heart, reduces hypertension, reduces the risk of autoimmune diseases and cancers, acts as a blood thinner and prevents the formation of clots and improves depression.
4. MUFA are also believed to be beneficial in the prevention of gallstones.
5. Good source of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights against the free radicals in the body and protects our cells from the damage (oxidation) caused by them, thus reducing the risk of heart diseases, cancers and other inflammatory diseases.
6. The anti-inflammatory actions of monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E in olives may also help reduce the severity of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
7. The phytonutrient compounds found in the olives like the polyphenols and flavonoids have been found to have significant anti-inflammatory properties.
8. Regular consumption of olive oil reduces the risk of hypertension.
9. Good source of ‘beta carotene’, a precursor of Vitamin A, which also acts as an antioxidant along with Vitamin E.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Twist on Greek

Romaine can get boring...and does not have many nutrients~ so I try and substitute with something "greener" when I can. So, I just made this Greek Salad with Broccoli instead of lettuce- and loved it. Its Raw...Crunchy...Savory...and a little spicy!

Small pieces of Broccoli
Diced Pepperoncini
Kalamata Olives
Pita Chips (crush into small pieces)
Sunflower Seeds
Feta Cheese
Fresh Chopped Basil
Fresh Chopped Oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. I like to use a lil of the juice from the pepperoncinis as my dressing- and then add a some balsamic vinegar for an extra "bite". This recipe will not taste nearly as yummy if you do not use fresh herbs. If you prefer a less sour dressing- make your own...a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of oilve oil.

Health Benefits Of Broccoli
Broccoli provides a high amount of vitamin C, which aids iron absorption in the body, prevents the development of cataracts, and also eases the symptoms of the common cold.

The folic acid in broccoli helps women sustain normal tissue growth and is often used as a supplement when taking birth control pills and during pregnancies.
The potassium in broccoli aids those battling high blood pressure, while a large amount of calcium helps combat osteoporosis.
The vegetable is also fiber-rich, which enhances the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, as well as aims to reduce blood cholesterol levels.
In recent years, broccoli has made the headlines regarding three components found in the vegetable. For instance, indole-3-carbinol has captured the attention of those looking to prevent hormone-related cancers, such as breast- and prostate cancer.
I3C promotes "good" hormones, while working against destructive ones. The sulforaphane in broccoli also helps to increase the level of enzymes that block cancer, while the beta-carotene in broccoli transforms into vitamin A within the body, providing an effective antioxidant that destroys free radicals (responsible for weakening the defense of cells).

Additionally, the health benefits of broccoli have been linked to preventing and controlling the following medical concerns: Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, calcium deficiencies, stomach and colon cancer, malignant tumors, lung cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and even the aging process. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Sunday Curry

My usual Sunday fridge view...a few wilty veggies that need to be tossed but I am too cheap to throw them out- some old crusty brown rice from last week- and a belly full of hunger, so yet another random dish. I call it Sweet Sunday Curry.

1 Cup Cooked Brown Rice (you can get this at Trader Joe's in the frozen section)

Handful of Broccoli

Handful of Diced Carrots or Baby Carrots

1/2 Diced Onion

Handful of Raisins

1 Diced Green Pepper

Few Pinches of Yellow Curry powder

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of Pepper

Pinch of Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon Honey (optional, for extra sweetness- kids LOVE it!)

Olive Oil Spray

1 cup Water

2 Tablespoons Sour Cream

Handful of Your choice of protein- Tofu, Chicken, Eggs, Nuts...

Turn your pan on Med/High. Coat it with olive oil spray. Add diced onions (white is better, but I only had red). Let onions cook for 2 minutes. Add Carrots. Let carrots and onions cook for about 1-2 minutes. Then add the rest of the veggies, plus about a cup of water. Sprinkle in a few pinches of yellow curry powder- depending how strong you want the flavor. Cover, and let steam for about 2-4 minutes depending how crunchy you like your veggies. I prefer crunchy, but my kids prefer soft veggies- so I usually take some out for myself after a short steam. Take cover off and reduce temperature to low. Add a handful of raisins (for extra sweetness add honey- a few squeezes- this makes the dish extra yummy and the kids love it). Add cooked brown rice, a few shakes of the cinnamon jar and mix about. If the dish needs a bit of creaminess, add some sour cream. I find that my kids always eat veggie dishes if I add some sort of cream (1 or 2 scoops) or Vegenaise (a mayo sub sold at health food stores). Now taste it. If it needs pepper and salt, add them. I personally almost always add salt- seems to enhance whatever flavors are in the dish. Add your choice protein. All I had was nuts- so I added Almonds, which actually gave the dish a nice crunch.

I love to cook with cinnamon, not only for the taste, but health benefits too....

Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.

Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.

In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.

In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation ofleukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.

It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.

In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.

When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.

One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.

Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.

10. It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.