Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Rao's: Best Marinara Sauce I've Tried

I bought my first bottle of Rao's Marinara from Whole Foods when we were poor first marrieds. At ten bucks a bottle, it was definitely the "special occasion" sauce. I think I was most intrigued by the price. Marinara sauce that costs that much has to be good. It was. It is the best. I've tried lots of different sauces, and this one is my favorite and has the purest ingredients.

I like pasta, and this sauce is great for those nights that you just don't want to make your own. No fillers, no paste, just good stuff.

Here are the ingredients:
Imported Italian tomatoes, Italian olive oil, sweet onions, fresh basil, fresh garlic, crushed black pepper, salt and fresh oregano.

This one is pricey, but very tasty and with $1 for pasta, I figure I am feeding my family for $6 (we can get about two meals worth). Not too bad. Cheaper than Del Taco anyway.

The Arrabiata sauce is also great. Too hot for the kids, but I love it. I've seen it on sale on occasion at Whole Foods (used to be Wild Oats around here.)


Coconut Curry in a Hurry

I just tried another simmer sauce by Seeds of Change. Wow. It is so good. It is the Korma coconut curry sauce. I sauteed some chicken, cut up some veggies and mushrooms and poured the sauce over. I cooked brown rice in the rice cooker to go with it. Very easy, very good.

And right now it is on sale at the Good Earth for $2.65/bottle. Go get some if I haven't cleared them all out!

We ate at a Thai restaurant last week, and this was almost as good. Ingredients aren't quite as good as the Jalfrezi sauce. But it is really tasty. It isn't very spicy, so add some red pepper flakes if you want to make it a little hotter.

Here is what is in it:

Water, heavy cream* (milk*), coconut*, onions*, evaporated cane sugar*, tapioca starch*, sunflower oil*, sea salt, lemon juice*, garlic*, cilantro*, ginger*, turmeric*, coriander*, cumin*, cayenne pepper*, paprika*, cardamon*, cinnamon*

140 calories per serving. With 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, 1/2 chicken breast, and veggies, mine was about 370 calories.


Sunday, September 6, 2009

It is possible! Non perishable HEALTHY fruit snacks

My husband likes to order new and interesting healthy stuff online. And a few months ago, he came home with something to add to our food storage that he tried at his sister's recommendation. Freeze dried fruit. It didn't last because we ate all of it within a couple of weeks. It was so delicious. This dried fruit is crunchy and sweet, and 100% fruit. You can rehydrate if you want for cooking.

The freeze dried process removes 97% of the moisture with a vacuum and a very low temperature. It is shelf stable for up to 15 years. I like that better than canning because it doesn't have to be packed in syrup, it is lightweight, and doesn't have to be refrigerated like our frozen foods.

My kids love it! We felt it was a perfect replacement for sugary, artificial fruit snacks. They are already diced and ready to go. It was really good in yogurt. I've been buying freeze dried apple slices for the kids lunches from Costco, but they were getting so expensive. These come in big cans and are much cheaper per oz.

We mainly eat fresh fruit, but we are trying to build our food storage with healthy non-perishable foods that we'll actually want to eat. I think these are the perfect solution.

Here is a link for the peaches. Those were my favorite. We bought raspberries, blueberries, peaches, strawberries and apples. Yum!



Monday, February 16, 2009

Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos

My camera is broken, and this is the last picture we were able to get out of the one my Sister in law graciously let us use before she needed it back. So this is dark, but you get the idea.

These were good and my kids liked them so I am sure we'll make them again soon.

I love fish tacos with cabbage. The cabbage makes everything crunchier. When we lived by the beach, our neighbor loved to go deep sea fishing, and hated seafood. So we were always feasting on Mahi Mahi and barracuda.

On our own little deep sea fishing excursion in Ensenada, we tried these yummy fish tacos at a taco shop. I love this with the lime and chili seasoning. I've really only found it at mexican food stores though or in mexico. It is really yummy on mangos too. Sounds weird, but it was my favorite thing to eat on the street in Mexico.

Here are the ingredients:

10 corn tortillas
5 mahi mahi steaks (these were about the size of my palm)
Lime and Chile seasoning (or lemon pepper would work fine too if you can't find the other)shredded cabbage--I try to shred this very fine
2 avocadoes mashed--salt to taste
lime wedges--1 for each taco
Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo:
3 tomatos diced
finely diced onions to taste

chopped cilantro
lime juice from 1-2 limes

Mix together and squeeze lime juice on top. You can add salt or garlic salt.

Optional:thin roasted salsa with plain yogurt (kinda has a sour cream flavor)

I used frozen fish filets, so I put them under a warm tap for a few minutes to thaw. Cut off the plastic, then rubbed lime and chili seasoning on both sides. I put these to cook on the indoor grill since it is freezing outside. They only take a few minutes to cook. I then cube the fish and set all the ingredients in bowls so each person can add what they like. I had six bowls: fish, avocado, pico de gallo, lime wedges, cabbage, roasted salsa mixed with plain yogurt.

Warm corn tortillas in a nonstick pan on the stove. Spread the tortilla with avocado, add the cabbage, fish, and pico de gallo, etc. I used the Ezekial Sprouted Corn tortillas that you find in the refrigerated section of the health food store. I like their texture, but regular ones work great too.
These are tasty! I think it has been too long since we've had this. You can use chicken in place of the fish, and for vegetarian, black beans work great.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Pampered Chef Food Chopper

This is another staple in my kitchen. I am kind of a minimalist when it comes to kitchen gadgets, but I love this thing! It is really quick, and doesn't require a ton of clean up or another appliance on my countertop. I have had three of these, and my favorite was the Pampered chef one--until I burned it on the stove. Oops. It had a more padded like top that didn't hurt my hand.

It chops and rotates quickly so you can easily dice onions, garlic, herbs, nuts, etc very fast and have nice uniformly shaped pieces. I also like that I have more control with the sizes than with the food processor.

Here is my garlic with the chopper:

It saves the nuts from flying all over the kitchen, my fingers from being chopped off, and I don't smell like garlic. Good things!

The one from Pampered Chef is around $30, and I've other brands at most kitchen supply stores, and even TJ Maxx and Ross for around $10.


How to Cook Brown Rice

I am always amazed at all the Minute Rice I see at the store. I am thinking that people must not know how easy brown rice really is. It is one of those things that is kinda like beans--it seems hard until you actually try it. It is very easy.

White rice isn't good for you, Minute Rice is worse. Rice is so cheap, there is no good reason to compromise your nutrition and eat the white stuff. If you have white rice, it is great for food storage because it lasts so long. But feed your family the good stuff. Brown rice is relatively cheap and tastes great when it is cooked right and kids love it. Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice because it has four times the fiber. It also has more nutrients.

Here is a good explanation of the differences between white and brown rice:

I cook it a few times per week. We make a lot, and what doesn't get eaten for dinner is breakfast the next morning with some cinnamon, agave nectar and milk. You can use almond milk if you don't do dairy. My kids love it and it is just as easy as Fruit Loops.

Here is the super easy way:

2 cups water for every cup of rice, plug it in and turn it on. Perfect fluffy rice in about 40 minutes. No pots to watch, nothing getting burned (very good thing in my house!).


Panasonic is a great brand to get. I've had my National (Panasonic used to be sold as National Brand) Rice Cooker for 8 years and it is still going strong. Aside from my blender, it gets the most use of any of my kitchen appliances.

Here are the stovetop instructions:

Put brown rice and water together in a pot with a lid. Use the ratio of 1.5-2.0 cups water to 1 cup rice, just depends on how fluffy vs. chewy you like it. I generally use closer to 2.0 cups.

Set the heat to maximum, and bring the rice/water to a boil uncovered. Then put the lid on the pot, and reduce the heat to low/simmer. If your lid has a steam valve, keep it closed. Let the rice simmer for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat, and let the rice sit in the covered pot for another 10 minutes. It’s okay if you let the rice sit longer than 10 minutes (20 or 30 minutes is fine too), but don’t let it go any less.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Broccoli Garlic Pasta

Yeah, I know my titles are original!

This is another really easy one. It is one of my favorites, and came from my mom's friend that is Italian. I get my whole wheat spaghetti at Costco. This has tons of garlic in it, and I think that is why I like it so much.

1.5 lbs broccoli florets
1 pkg Whole Wheat Spaghetti
1 head of garlic
2T olive oil
Salt to taste

Steam the broccoli in 3 cups water until bright green. Remove the broccoli from the cooking water and set aside. Keep the bright green cooking water in the pot and add water as needed to cook spaghetti. Cook spaghetti until tender (mine is 11 minutes)
While spaghetti is cooking, dice garlic and add to 2T olive oil. Saute. Add garlic to broccoli and toss. Then as the spaghetti is done, toss broccoli mixture with spaghetti.


Easy Taco Salad

This is a vegetarian taco salad that is very fast. I like to do it buffet style so each of my kids can add what they like. It is super easy. I usually have some cooked rice on hand since we use the rice cooker a lot.

Basically, it is:
One can of kidney beans
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 can sliced black olives
grated cheese
shredded romaine lettuce

the dressing is just ranch with a bunch of cilantro, lime, and garlic blended in.


White Chicken Chili

This recipe is from my friend Melodee. I love this soup, and the whole family does too, which is always a good thing. You can easily make this vegan by omitting the chicken and using a vegetable base.

Here it is:

4 skinless chicken breasts (I just toss in the frozen ones)
1 large onion diced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
4 cups chicken broth (I usually add more as needed)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp red pepper sauce
3 cups great northern beans OR two cans
1 can or 1 3/4 cups white corn
3 T lime juice
4 T chopped fresh cilantro

Mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper sauce in pot. Add chicken. Cook on medium for 30 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and dice then add it back into soup. Stir in beans, corn, lime juice and cilantro. Cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until corn and beans are hot.


Cranberry Lime Salsa

I loved this recipe! My cousin Joy made this for one of our recent family parties, and it was so tangy and delicious. She is an amazing cook and published a cookbook recently called Bliss. She was even featured on Good Things Utah a couple of times.

Anyway, this is a raw salsa, is very tangy, and is something totally different than the normal salsa. She served it over a brick of cream cheese, which of course is delicious, but it is great plain as well.

Isn't it beautiful? I love the colors.

Here is the recipe:

1 bag cranberries
1 handful cilantro
1 or 2 serrano or jalepeno peppers
1/2 red onion
1 clove garlic
1 T grated lime peel
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup agave nectar (she uses sugar, I use agave because it has a lower glycemic index and doesn't spike your blood sugar levels)
2 T lime juice

Wash and remove the seeds of the peppers. In a food processor finely chop the cranberries, cilantro, peppers and red onion.

Stir in agave and lime juice, then cover and refrigerate for four hours or more to allow the flavors to mix.

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