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Split Pea Soup and Irish Soda Bread

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So, in light of yesterday’s tell-all post, I woke up in a great mood. That is not to say we had a great day; first thing, I see blood on the floor, and I know it’s from the big girl, Lucy (one of the “Two Dogs”). This, of course, freaks me out, because for the past few days, her legs have been going out. I inspect her, and find that it’s a coming from a small sore, so nothing life threatening, but heartbreaking nonetheless. Then I try to get her back legs under her, since she is struggling to stand, and failing miserably.

This does not go as planned.

I put my hands under her hips and lift. I get her legs underneath her temporarily, but pushing on her abdomen before she has had a chance to do her business outside… and a log escapes. She is immediately panicked, because she knows she is not supposed to go in the house, and I have to reassure her that she is, in fact a good girl. I have her lay back down, and wonder what the hell to do next.

First, I call my walking buddy, who I know is on her way to my house. I ask if she’ll help me carry Lu outside once she gets here, and she automatically agrees. I get off the phone with her, and call Mr. Going-To-Ride-the-Height-of-Mt.-Everest. Lu was his dog before she was ours, so I make sure to keep him extra updated on her. I tell him what is going on, and he says, “Can you drag her out on her dog bed?”

Uh, dur. I should have thought of that. But it’s a brilliant idea, and I decide to go for it.

After a few very worried looks from both Lu and Cooper, who is prancing around us like, “Hey, what’s going on? Why are you doing that? Is this play? I am very skeptical of this whole affair”, we finally get Lucy outside.

So far, Lucy has been okay. Just okay, but hanging in there. She’s moving without assistance now that I gave her Tramadol and Glucosamine, but it’s slow, and frankly, I’m not rushing her. She’s almost 14, which is old for a lab, and unfortunately, this is a chronic condition that we have been to the vet for already. There is no cure, except to make her comfortable, and hope she bounces back. She did the last time, so we’ll see.

With all that being said, I am still in a really good mood. I think, in part, because my focus on eating has been twofold today: getting in the right amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals rather than looking at calories, and getting enough water. Seriously, look up how much water you should be drinking, I think you’ll be surprised.

Now, onto the recipe.

Like I just said, I have been focusing today on my nutritional intake rather than my caloric intake. I had already been planning on making Split Pea Soup, as I am trying out recipes for when Baking Baby gets here. I looked at vegetarian recipes, and found a few that looked promising, but I was after something simple and healthy. I prepped all the ingredients last night, popped them in the fridge, and dumped them into my slow cooker this morning. It really doesn’t get a lot easier than that. This soup is high in dietary fiber (about 19 grams), protein (again, about 19 grams), vitamin A, and Iron. As for the Irish Soda Bread, it seemed a sin to NOT serve this soup with a nice, crusty loaf of bread, and I wasn’t about to go to the store for a loaf, when I know just how dead easy it is to make this bread. Even the bread is high in protein (10 grams), and it is whole wheat.  One serving of both the bread (which is about a quarter of a loaf) and the soup (which serves 6) adds up to about 500 calories total, so you can feel good about having something that is filling and wholesome.

 

Split Pea Soup with Irish Soda Bread

For the Soup:

1 lb (aka 16 oz.) of dried split peas

6 cups water or vegetable broth (or be bad like me and use chicken broth)

Half a large yellow onion, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

3 ribs celery, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp Herbes de Provence

1 tbsp sea salt

1 ½ tsp. ground pepper

1 ½ tsp. chili powder or flakes

 

For The Bread:

4 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 ¾ cups buttermilk (or just under that plus 1 tbsp vinegar, allowed to curdle for 10 minutes)

1 egg

 

Method:

1. In a large crock pot or slow cooker over low heat, add in all the soup ingredients. Cover, and let cook for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve. No, you’re not missing any steps, it really is that easy. You don’t even have to stir it if you don’t want to.

2. About an hour before the soup is done, preheat your over to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a fork, cut in the butter, pressing it into the flour until it resembles a coarse crumb. In a separate bowl, add together the buttermilk and the egg, whisking to combine.

3. Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir until it forms a sticky dough. Dust with a handful of flour, and knead until it forms a soft, smooth dough, dusting with additional flour only if necessary.

4. Form the dough into two equal balls, and place both on a baking tray. Press an “X” into the top of each. This is not just for looks, trust me. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and the loaf sounds hollow if you “knock” on the bottom. Let cool slightly, and serve alongside the soup.

Cowboy Style Pizza

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So, now that I am posting…and eating again, I figured I would do a real update about how we are doing, as well as another recipe.

Monkeybear is growing like a weed (33 ½ inches tall and 27 lbs!), and has been in the process of getting 6 new teeth. Yes, 6; two canines, his bottom molars, and now his top molars. Insane, but he is taking it like a champ. He gets more verbal every day, and wants to explore and climb on everything. He’s currently sitting on a chair at the dining room table with me and trying to type the rest of this post, so I’m sorry if there are typos.

Mr. Parade is doing well; he has been getting ready for Vineman, which will be the last weekend of July, and Ironman Lake Tahoe, in September. Suffice it to say, almost every spare moment that he isn’t at work or with Monkeybear and me, he is training. Even tonight, we are going down to Lake Natoma so that he can get in some more open water swimming. I am always so amazed at his hard work and determination. Drives me up a wall sometimes, but it is amazing nonetheless.

I haven’t mentioned much of the two dogs, nor the cat, so I will take a moment for them, too. Cooper is still a puppy at almost 5, and has lately taken to sniping food from James. He’s also in super guard dog mode, I assume because I’m pregnant, so every sound from outside automatically calls for Code 3 barking. Lucy is…well, not great. She’s becoming more senile, more stressed about everything in general, and is slowing down a lot. It’s really sad to watch, but Monkeybear has been amazing with her. As he gets older, he is learning to be super gentle with her, and give her soft pats, and good cuddling. She is also learning to handle the fact that the Monkeybear is in fact touching her, and that it’s okay. Newt too is finally getting used to the fact that Monkeybear is touching him is not an entirely disgusting thing, and is letting the Monkeybear chase him all over the house.

As for me, I’m doing okay. Though I’m still nauseous quite a bit of the time, it isn’t as bad as it was, which is a plus. Baby-to-be is about 10 weeks now, and I am starting to show, but at this point, most of the “showing” is just my uterus pushing my belly flab into a more prominent position. But there is a definite bump. I’ve also been exercising almost every day, doing at least an hour of yoga, and walking about 4 miles a few days a week with my friend M. I’ve also become obsessed with calories, because while you have to eat about 100-300 more calories while pregnant than you normally would, I also don’t want to gain as much weight as I did with Monkeybear. We’ll see how that goes.

Now, onto the food!

You know those days when you know you need to actually make dinner, but have no idea what you have in the fridge? I was having one of those days just last week. All I could think of was “Crap. What can I make using ground turkey?”

I had tomatoes, which was something. I also had a half-used bag of pre-shredded cheese, and a few leftover green onions. Then I looked in the door of the fridge. You know the place; it’s where all the dressings and sauces get regulated, and often left to expire before you use the whole container. There, nestled between a bottle of Tapatio and a jar of pickles, was the Sweet Baby Ray’s Barbeque Sauce.

It was game on from there. I knew what I was making.

The dough recipe is incredibly versatile, and you can use it with a variety of sauce-based and sauce-less pizzas. If you’re good, I’ll post my recipe for Shrimp and Sage pizza, and it uses this same dough as well. It mainly comes from the food blog Kristin in Her Kitchen, and the link to her recipe is: http://kristininherkitchen.blogspot.com/2011/09/no-yeast-pizza-dough-with-whole-wheat.html. I add a few things to my method that she does not, like rolling out the dough and pricking with a fork. This keeps it super thin, which goes well with this style of pizza.

 

Cowboy-style Pizza

For the dough:

2 c. whole wheat flour

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

¾ c. water, plus 1-2 tbsp if necessary

¼ c. olive oil

 

Toppings

1 tsp. olive oil (regular, not extra virgin, if possible)

1 lb ground turkey

¼ c barbeque sauce

2 tomatoes, sliced thinly and seeded

1 onion, sliced thinly

2 cups grated cheese (I used a mix, but almost any cheese would work)

3 green onions, chopped

 

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place all the dough ingredients into a bowl, and knead until the mixture becomes a smooth dough, about 2 minutes. Place the dough onto a well floured surface, and roll with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4” thick. Place the dough onto a baking sheet and trim any excess. Prick the dough all over with a fork to prevent it from rising, and bake for 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

2.  While the crust is baking, prepare the toppings. In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat about 1 tsp olive oil. Add ground turkey, and cook until nicely browned all over. Make sure to break the pieces into bite sized chunks. Remove with a slotted spoon, and reserve.

3. On your prepared crust, spread a thin layer of barbeque sauce evenly over the top. You may not use the whole ¼ c., or you may use more. This is your pizza. Do what you want with it.

4. Layer the tomatoes, onions, and turkey all over the pizza evenly. Sprinkle with cheese, and top with green onions. Bake for 5-8 minutes, and serve.

Whole Wheat Gnocchi

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So, as a result of being pregnant, I find myself not wanting to eat… well, a whole lot of anything really. The other night, Mr. This is NOT a Parade and I were watching Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and Jabba’s Palace made my stomach turn.

I have watched countless drunk people vomit all sorts of fantastic colors. You’d think I’d be able to at least LOOK at Jabba. Nope. Not even for a little bit.

This was something I think I could eat any time. Gnocchi is a potato pasta-like dumpling, so its main purpose is to be awesome in some form of sauce. I chose an Alla Vodka sauce (that wasn’t very good, to be honest, but that’s what I get for buying it in a jar) and some peas, but the gnocchi really did end up being the star of the meal.

The first time I made gnocchi was an absolute disaster. I boiled and steamed the potatoes as instructed, and ended up having to add a ton of flour and at least 3 eggs to get it to turn out. I have, however, figured out the secret to non-soggy gnocchi dough: baking the potatoes. Or, you can use my cheat, which will make some of you cringe, but I have no shame in it whatsoever. I microwave my potatoes. The average potato will be perfectly cooked in the microwave by popping one in there for five minutes on each side, so ten minutes total. If you do two, increase the time per side to 7.5 minutes. And make sure you prick them all over with a fork, you don’t want them exploding. Microwaving the potatoes gets them done faster than my oven can (which oftentimes picks and chooses what it will or will not bake, and it will NOT bake potatoes even under threat of death), and they turn out perfectly fluffy and cooked on the inside.

I very much multi-tasked during this recipe. Once I had the potatoes cooked, I set my water boiling, and then made the dough. Once I had the dough made, I made the gnocchi, and put them into the water as they were ready, while continuing to roll out more of the awesome potato dumplings. The way I did it was much quicker than the traditional method of baking the potatoes, making the dough, making the gnocchi, boiling the water,  cooking the gnocchi in batches, then eating. Nope. Not going to happen.

I will say this: this recipe from start to finish took me about 2.5 hours. So this is not a quick weeknight meal. If you do it right, it can still be a weeknight meal, but don’t expect to put it on the table in 30 minutes.

 

Whole Wheat Gnocchi

2 lbs potatoes (choose a Russet or a Yukon; stay away from the waxy potatoes)

1 c. Whole Wheat flour

¼ tsp. salt

1 egg

 

Method:

1. Bake the potatoes; either on a baking sheet in the oven for 50 minutes or on a plate in the microwave for 10 minutes, five on each side. Once cooled, peel the skin off the potatoes, discarding the skins and placing the innards into a bowl. Using a potato ricer, process the potatoes in small amounts until all of them are “riced”.

2. Set a large pot filled with salted water on high heat. Bring to a boil while you do step 3.

3. Add the flour, salt, and egg to the bowl, and knead with clean hands until it forms a dough. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.

4. Taking one of the eight portions of dough, roll it out on a clean surface until it forms a rope about ¾ of an inch in diameter. Cut the rope into segments approximately 1 inch in length. Roll each individual segment into a ball. Taking a fork, roll each segment along the back of the fork, so that there are ridges from the fork on one side of the dumpling, and an indentation from your thumb on the other. Place the dumplings into the boiling water as you make them. Continue this process on the remaining 7 portions of dough until they are all done.

5. Take the gnocchi out of the boiling water using a slotted spoon or spider once they pop up to the surface, about 2-3 mintues. Shake off any excess water, and reserve until needed.

Yogurt Zucchini Brownies

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So far, I have only received one recipe request: my Zucchini Brownies. The person who requested it thought they were awesome, but the truth is, I feel terrible about what I’m going to tell you.

One evening, Mr. Ironman tells me that he is having some of our friends, Amy and Karen, over to our house for a bike fitting. He implies that I will probably need to make dinner for them as well, which I am ecstatic about. I’m not very good at it, but I do like entertaining people over here.

So, as part of this I-have-an-hour-to-plan-a-menu whirlwind, I decide to make zucchini brownies for dessert. I look at the recipe I’ve made before, and sadly, I don’t have any yogurt. So I look for a different recipe, find one, and set to work.

I pop the ensuing batter into the oven to let it bake, but to my mounting dismay, they are only cooking on the top; the bottom is still gooey. I am horrified. I do my best, and try to get them as cooked through as possible, but soon my guests have to leave, and could not stay for dinner. So I package up a few slightly gooey brownies, and send them home with people I really like.

Then I realize my oven was set to “Broil”, not “Bake”.

I automatically feel like a schmuck.

I also feel terrible because I know how amazing zucchini brownies can be, and the ones I gave them were mediocre at best.

This brings us to today. I finally got my hands on some yogurt, and can now share the real recipe for this wonderful dessert. It has quite a few ingredients, and I will make some notes before getting into the list and procedure, but if you aren’t impressed by these… well, you are clearly lacking taste buds.

First, you can use any oil you wish; vegetable oil and coconut oil are what the original recipe called for. I, however, like to use unsweetened applesauce, because it keeps the brownies super moist (and when I say this, I mean that these puppies stay moist for days) and very dense. It also is another serving of fruit, so there’s hardly any arguing with that.

Next, I use whole wheat flour, but I am sure you could use regular all purpose flour, or even a non-wheat flour blend. I personally have never worked with non wheat flours, so I am only speculating on that. Do not take that as Gospel truth.

Finally, as far as the yogurt is concerned, I have found a great deal of success with Greek yogurt, both plain and honey flavored, but you can use regular yogurt as well. If so, I would suggest a plain, vanilla, or honey flavored yogurt, as anything else would probably taste odd.

Now go make this. I am sure you have at least one friend who has… um, “generously” given you more zucchini than you know what to do with. And yes, I made sure my oven was set to “Bake” this time.

By the way, I made these today just to make sure I was giving you all a quality recipe. I still have some left over. Just sayin’.

 

Yogurt Zucchini Brownies

Recipe inspired by www.theyummylife.com/Zucchini_Brownies

Ingredients

2 c. zucchini, chopped

¼ c. unsweetened applesauce

½ c. Greek or regular yogurt, plain, vanilla, or honey flavored

1 ¼ c. sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

2 c. whole wheat flour

½ c. dark or regular cocoa powder

1 ½ tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9×13 inch pan, and set aside for later use.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine zucchini, applesauce, yogurt, sugar and vanilla. Blend until zucchini is completely smooth. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well incorporated. Make a well in the center. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and then fold in until the mixture is just combined and completely wet.

4. Pour mixture into the prepared pan, making sure it is even. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.

Let cool slightly, and enjoy!

 

Also, the website where I got the recipe for this includes a frosting recipe as well, which you are more than welcome to try. I honestly don’t think these brownies need it, but head on over to The Yummy Life and check it out if you are interested!