Monday, August 4, 2008

Mexican Brown Rice and Pinto Beans

One of my new favorite cookbooks is Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair. This is a great book because it includes recipes that both children and adults will like. The recipes are natural and nutritionally sound. Ms. Lair has a way of putting together all of the ingredients that I like to use in one recipe. This makes it nice for me as I have most of the ingredients in my kitchen already. This rice recipe is similar to one that I made this past winter as a casserole for a friend who is a vegetarian. I really like this recipe and kids like it too. If you want to add a little heat to your aown adult plate, add your favorite hot sauce.

Check out Cynthia's website to purchase her book. This is a must buy if you have children or if you are planning to have a family. My son Max picks up her book now and says, "Mom let's go cook." He knows it's the good one. Purchase the book.

  1. Heat oil in a 2-quart pot.
  2. Add cumin and chili powder and sauté for a few seconds.
  3. Add onion and salt and continue cooking until onion is soft.
  4. Add rice and stir well to coat.
  5. Add water and tomato paste and bring to a boil.
  6. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until all of the water is absorbed (about 40 minutes).
  7. Serve warm, alongside the cooked pinto beans.
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice, rinsed and drained
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste or sauce
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans

Garnish this dish with salsa, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and lime. Serve with warmed tortillas if you like.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Candy can be good and bad

Watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the other day, I couldn't help but get hungry for candy. I normally do not crave candy, but this day that is just about all I wanted. I am not one for the Everlasting Gobstopper or the Gum that tastes like a four course meal. What I crave is chocolate, caramel and nuts (or peanutbutter).

Growing up I loved the Reeces Peanut Butter Cups as well as Snickers. I couldn't get enough. But, they were a treat in my house. I couldn't believe the other day when a friend of mine mentioned that they had these tasty treats in their house all of the time. Wow! I couldn't even imagine it. How could something be special when you eat it all of the time.

Then I went to the store and checked out the ingredients. artificial flavors, emulsifiers, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup....YUCK!

So, here is what I think. Eat these yummy treats, but purchase them from your local candy maker, and eat them as a special treat. It will mean a lot more and it will be better for your body.

Oompa local, eat natural, eat some good candy! Let's keep the purity of Willy Wonka alive!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rocco, Oh how I Love You...

You can use a great tomato sauce for just about anything-To make spaghetti, lasagna, simmer vegetables, add to ground meat, use on pizza. The ideas are endless. When I found this tomato sauce recipe, I knew it was the one. Plus, I love Rocco DiSpirito’s recipes. His five minute meals cook book has saved my life. Although sometimes he uses ingredients that I have to substitute for others, but I still love him. Did I mention that he is very easy on the eyes as well?

Here is his recipe, untouched, exactly the way I found it. And, this is exactly the way I make it (except, I use organic tomato products…sorry Rocco)

Go to

Mamas Marinara
© Spirit Media 2004-2008 All Rights Reserved
My Mom's sauce is my favorite--we call it the Mama sauce, and once you make it you will understand how it can become the backbone for so many dishes. Of course, you'll need it to make her famous meatballs, but it is also a great sauce to braise meat in, serve with eggs, or turn into a creamy tomato sauce.

3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 yellow onion, peeled and chopped fine
3 tbsp olive oil
chili flakes to taste
2 28-ounce cans tomato puree, Red Pack brand if possible
1 28-ounce. can crushed tomatoes, Red Pack brand if possible
1 tbsp tomato paste, Red Pack brand if possible
1 tsp sugar
1 cup chicken stock
red pepper flakes to taste
salt to taste

1. Cook the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a sauce pot over a medium-low flame, about 10 minutes or until garlic is tender and onions translucent, not brown (this is called "sweating" because it will draw out a lot of moisture and flavor). Add the chili flakes to taste.

2. Add all the tomato products. Pour the chicken stock into one of the 28-oz cans. Fill it the rest of the way with water and add that and the sugar to the pot. Stir and bring to a simmer. Taste and season with salt and cover. Simmer the sauce for about 1 hour. The sauce should be fairly thin, but not watery and very smooth. Uncover and simmer for 3 minutes if it is too thin for your taste; add a little water if it seems thick.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Oatmeal is good. Yes it works.

When something works, it just works and that is how I am starting to feel about food. It doesn’t have to be complicated, it doesn’t have to be earth shattering, it just has to work (for you).

I came to this realization the other day while going through a cookbook. There were some recipes that were very simple and I thought to myself, “Well, duh, of course, who wouldn’t think of that…” but then I realized that this is a recipe that works, it isn’t crazy, it doesn’t have to be complicated, it just works. The flavors, textures and tastes all work together quite nicely and then I thought, “Why, yes, this recipe works.”

So, here it is, a nice simple recipe that works. I am sure I am not the first person to put these things together and I hopefully won’t be the last. I love the flavor and I am sure you will too.

Apple Peanut Protein Punch Oatmeal

Directions (serves 2):
1. Add water and Oatmeal to small saucepan and bring to a boil
2. Simmer at medium/low heat for 3 minutes
3. Add diced apples
4. Add Apple Pie Spice
5. Simmer for another 3 minutes
6. Remove from heat
7. Stir in peanut butter
8. Serve with a splash of cream or milk

1. 1 cup old fashioned oats (organic preferred)
2. 1 ¾ cup water
3. ½ cup diced apples (organic, I leave the peal on for extra fiber)
4. 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice (a blend of cinnamon and nutmeg)
5. 2 table spoons natural peanut butter (organic)

…told you it was easy…but it works!

Friday, May 23, 2008

So excited!

I just received a new book and I started reading it tonight. I put it down for a moment to start this post and I plan to pick it right back up when I am finished. I am excited because this is a GREAT book, I am just upset that I didn't find it sooner. It is called, Feeding the Whole Family, Recipes, for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents, by Cynthia Lair. This book not only speaks to me in the way of food, but also as a mother. The book takes your on the bumpy food ride with children, from breastfeeding to young adult palates and smooths out the ride to make it more enjoyable and tasty for the whole family!

Since I haven't finished the book yet, this isn't the final review, but I was so excited when I received it that I had to jot something down right away!

More on this book to come. In the meantime, if you want to check out Cynthia's talents, check out her website,

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Fire Up the Grill!

Roasting vegetables is one of my favorite things to do. And, now that it is summertime I am so excited that I get to do it on the grill. I bought a pan awhile back for the barbecue, it looks like a regular pan that you would use on the stove but there are holes throughout just big enough to let the flames in, but the food will not fall out. It is great! I used it for the first time the other day for a melange of vegetables. Oh, they were so good! Here is a little recipe for the roasting the vegetables on the grill as well as a few yummy things to add to them. ENJOY!

Roasted Veggies on the Grill
3 small eggplant (I used white eggplant)-chopped
3 small zucchini-chopped
1 large red/yellow pepper-chopped
20 artichoke hearts (we bought these frozen, they were awesome, we found them at Trader Joe's, you can thaw them and toss them in anything
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning (a blend of Italian spices, including oregano, basil, and garlic)
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
10 fresh cherry or grape tomatoes (I added those to the mix after the grilling)

Toss all of the above ingredients together in a large bowl
Let sit for about 10 minutes
Pour into a barbecue skillet or a wire barbecue rack
Grill and toss for about 20 minutes on high heat

Eat as is or...
Toss with some olive oil and Parmesan cheese and orzo or basmati rice
Add to a pasta dish

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eggplant Fries

That is what I called pan fried eggplant to my children to get them to try a new vegetable. I have a 50% success rate at the moment as my almost 2 year old at them up and my almost 4 year old said...yuck, no way. I thought it was a good idea anyway and my husband and I ate them all up.

Eggplant, I LOVE it and tend to forget about it all the time. It is so good and tender. It almost reminds me of a piece of meat (vegetable meat...)

Anyway, I cut the eggplant small wedge-like fry shapes, dipped them in egg, then in whole wheat flour and then pan fried them in olive oil. One thing that I SHOULD have done but didn't, was to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese before serving...ahhh, well, next time. (I did however put a bit of sea salt on them)

Hope this gives you just one more easy, tasty idea for dinner or a snack. Prep-time is about 10 minutes and cook time is about 5-8 minutes a batch.