Pre-Holiday meals

Ah, the year end holidays…. For many a gathering of “family”, and loved ones, for others a multi-generational “stress fest”.

Around Thanksgiving I especially miss my mom, and to beat the blues, I try to think of happy traditions that she created for us as a way to honor her memory.  I thought I would share a couple with you in the event you found yourself missing someone you love.

Go for a walk:  The fall colors, and cool air, digging out your favorite winter scarf.  The fresh air and exercise are really good for you, and a great time to reflect on happy times you share with others.  I promise you that you have friends that would also LOVE for a reason to go for a walk, Just ask someone!  and you can have a weekly walking buddy that helps keep you moving.

Make a favorite dish: My mom was always shipping me huge plastic bins filled with cookies, baked holiday cakes and bars during the holidays... Today, I don't miss all the sugar, however,   I look for our favorite holiday flavors and try healthier twists  on them to minimize or eliminate processed sugars, wheat flour. The really good recipes are shared as "hostess gifts" during holiday gatherings!

Call a Friend:   Forget Facebook, call someone you haven't talked to in awhile... there is someone you know that doesn't have a place to go for Thanksgiving, My NaNa said to always set a extra plate at your table for a friend, That place on Turkeyday always seems to be  filled with a smiling face and full tummy.

Here are a couple of menu idea’s  that you can make ahead and enjoy delicious left over meals  during the week.  Let me know what you think of the recipes they were such a hit in  our house, I think they will be in your house too!

  Quinoa is  another alternative to GMO’d rice,wheat and low caloric value potatoes that I LOVE. It is actually a seed not a grain, it is kosher, it digests gradually so it helps stay fuller longer, while regulating your blood sugar so you don’t feel “tired” after eating. A quick main or side dish that cooks in about 10 minutes, and refrigerates for up to a week for yummy left overs. If it isn’t already, quinoa will quickly be a favorite your family will love.

SHOPPING TIP:    Shop in your bulk section of the store for the best deal- Prepackaged you can find quinoa selling for $6-$7 a prepackaged box!! In the bulk section you are paying $3-$4 per lb. Here is where the huge savings really  is. Quinoa cooks up to three times it’s original volume.

Let me know your comments after you try out the recipes!  Buen Appitito!

Qunoa 365 the everyday superfood  Green & Hemming

Quinoa Veggie Bake- 

1 c (250ml) quiona                      1tsp (5 ml) Basil Pesto
2 c (500ml) H20)                          2 large eggs
2 tbs (30ml) butter                        1 1/4 c  jack cheese
1 c (250 ml) diced onion              1 c  cottage cheese
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt                     1/2 c (125 ml) greek yogurt
2 c (500 ml.) sliced button mushrooms 
1/4 tsp(1 ml) gr. black pepper/fennel*
1 c (250ml) chopped red  bell pepper    
·      Mix whole fennel seed in with your whole peppercorns to perk up your holiday pepper.
·      You can also shred bits of left over roasted chicken / turkey breast (store bought is fine) for an extra protein punch.

Preheat oven to 350 (180c)  Spray w/ cooking oil a 9x 13 “ (3.5 l) casserole dish
Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a small saucepan,.  Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave saucepan covered on the burner for another 6 minutes.
Melt butter in a large pot over a medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until softened and opaque 5-7minutes.  Stir in broccoli, salt, and 1-2 tsp of water to facilitate cooking if necessary.  Saute for 2 minutes, then, add mushrooms, red pepper, and pesto.  Cook until the mushrooms are just softened 4-5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the quinoa.
Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and stir in all but 1/4 c of jack cheese, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese, mix well, seasoning with salt and pepper/fennel seed combo. Fold into the vegetable - quinoa mixture.  Spread onto the prepared casserole dish and top with the remaining jack cheese if desired.  Bake on the cener oven rack for 30-35 minutes or until the center is hot. 
Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Serve with Tossed green salad w/ thinly sliced apples and pears
Salad Dressing: lightly add 1tbs total:  1/2tbs olive oil  and 1/2 tbsp Balsamic vinager & salt & pepper as your salad dressing

Inspired by Quiona 365 cookbook  Green & Hemming

Bolting out the door Burrito: 

This is how you rock the Quinoa veggie bake leftovers-
1 large grain tortilla
1 serving of left over Veggie quinoa bake
handful of grated cheese
1/2 avocado sliced
Handful of Arugula'
Sliced Heirloom tomatoe

Heat a piece of your Veggie quinoa bake in the microwave
Heat a tortilla on your stove top (heat up your burner and lay a tortilla on top, turning occasionally until the tortilla is warm but not toasted.

Place shredded cheese,a serving of your warm Veggie Quinoa bake, avocado, tomatoe, and arugula into the tortilla spreading mixture to fill your tortilla  wrap up tortilla  in foil for a hot healthy  breakfast, lunch or dinner to go!
2012© Tamra Engle

Cranberry Crumble bars:

( Screw pumpkin pie! this is going to be your families new favorite dessert,  from our friend Martha Stewart! Filled with antioxidant rich cranberry's for flavor power punch.  Pass the vanilla ice cream please!)

FILLING 1 can (14 ounces) whole-berry cranberry sauce
OR  1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (7 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 cup cold water
6 tablespoons cranberry juice

DOUGH 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan (Use gluten free quinoa flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (3 ounces)
Filling: If making your own, pulse dried cranberries and granulated sugar in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Transfer to a saucepan. Whisk cornstarch into cold water, then add to cranberry mixture, whisking to combine. Stir in juice. Simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens and sugar dissolves, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat; let cool completely.   OR You can also open a can of cranberry sauce heat up with a couple of handfuls of dried cranberries tossed in.

Dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan, and line with parchment, letting 2 long sides overhang edges. Butter parchment, then flour parchment and sides of pan.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add brown sugar and butter, and stir until well combined. Mix in egg and vanilla, then oats and walnuts.
Press half the dough into pan. Spread the filling evenly over the dough, then crumble remaining dough on top of filling. Bake until golden and cooked through, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack, about 1 hour, then lift out using parchment. Cut into 2-inch squares.

Modified from:

Seasonal cooking tip:

Baking your own pumpkin is fun, and you get the bonus of having fresh baked pumpkin seeds on hand as a snack!   I like to cook 3-4 of these then I have several bags of cooked pumpkin on hand in the freezer for soups, breads, cookies, and other goodies for the next 6 months.
You can ALWAYS just go buy a 28oz can of pumpkin (read the label to insure that PUMPKIN is the only ingredient!) but this is a easy way to preserve food that your family will enjoy months from now.

 Bake your own pumpkin:

Time saver tip:  Buy a 28 oz can of pumpkin, read the label, look for Pumpkin to be the only ingredient  (Bummer, no fresh pumpkin seeds to roast!)

Fresh Pumpkin Total time: 1 hr
Pick 2-3 smaller sweet  pie pumpkins which are excellent to bake with since they cook quickly and have a naturally sweeter taste. (larger than a softball, but smaller than a volleyball, ).
Preheat oven to 400
Cut the top stem and top 1/3 of pumpkin (creating a flat surface)
Set your pumpkin upside down on it’s newly flat top.
Slice the pumpkin in 1/2, scooping out seeds (which you can save to roast later)
Cut 1/2 pumpkins in 1/2 leaving 4 slices per pumpkin.

Place slices of pumpkin  on a cookie sheet  skin side down
Drizzle pumpkin slices with olive oil and lightly salt.
Roast in oven for :30-45 minutes or until pieces are soft when you stick a fork into them. 
Using a fork, you can peel away the skin from the cooled-cooked pumpkin. Place the cooked pieces into your food processor.
Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon, nutmeg and blend together until smooth.
You can pack 1 cup portions of smooth pumpkin  in zip lock bags and freeze for up to 6  months to use in muffins, breads, smoothies, or other favorite recipes.
Benefits:  low in Saturated Fat, and very low in Cholesterol and Sodium. Pumpkin is also a good source of Vitamin E Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus, good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Read More about items in this blog here:
Nutritional info on quinoa vs chicken
Qunoa 365 the everyday superfood  Green & Hemming
cranberry crumble bars- Thank you Martha Stewart for letting us be naughty and nice!

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