February 21, 2011

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

This sweet smoothie has been my daily breakfast choice for months now.  It took some trying to find the perfect ingredient combo, and now that I have, I won’t give this smoothie up—even in the cold winter months.  It’s perfect if you are on-the-go—and even if you aren’t, it’s good for bringing a little sunshine to your morning!  You can vary these ingredients in so many ways, but this is my favorite fail-proof smoothie recipe.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
An Angie Original

What You Need:

8 oz. Vanilla Lite Soy Milk
2 – 3 frozen strawberries
1 medium banana

What You Do:

1.    Blend until smooth
2.    Enjoy!

I use THIS wonderful personal blender from Hamilton Beach. It makes this process as simple as can be, since it doubles as a to-go cup with lid. If pouring into a different glass, these ingredients make a perfect 16 oz. smoothie!  Clearly you could substitute any berry, add protein powder, use regular milk, etc.  I prefer the Vanilla Lite Soy, because it adds a subtle sweetness and helps create a nice creamy consistency.  For something with so few ingredients, I always feel pleasantly satisfied after having this sippable breakfast alongside my morning coffee.

February 17, 2011

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

This is one of the best and absolutely the EASIEST soup I have attempted. Even a novice, like myself couldn't mess this one up!  The only thing easier would be opening a can of Campbell’s… but not close to as yummy.  The husband and I have always been big fans of Panera’s black bean soup, and this one actually comes pretty close!  I vow to keep a couple cans of black beans on hand at all times, so that I can throw this one together when I am tight on time.

Black Bean and Salsa Soup
Serves 4

What You Need:

2 cans black beans (15 oz.), drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Chives/Green Onions to garnish as you prefer

What You Do:

1.    In an electric food processor or blender, combine beans, broth, salsa, and cumin.
2.    Blend until fairly smooth.
3.    Heat the bean mixture in a saucepan over medium heat until thoroughly heated.
4.    Garnish and serve.

What I Learned:

1.    Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be impressively good!
2.    This recipe is perfect for doubling (even tripling if you blend in batches).  Next time, I will definitely make enough so that there some left to heat up for lunch the next day.

The Verdict: This one will surely become a repeat offender in my kitchen!

Recipe from allrecipes.


February 15, 2011

A Sweet Surprise

In honor of Valentine’s Day this year, I decided to send a little sugar-filled love to a handful of special ladies in my life.  These recipes might go against my greater attempts at healthfulness, but what fun is life without the sweet stuff now and again?!

These cookie recipes are all you need for the perfect roll-out cookie!

The Best Rolled Sugar Cookies

What You Need:

1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 t salt

What You Do:
  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. 
  2. Beat in eggs and vanilla. 
  3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  4. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 
  5. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Cake Mix Sugar Cookies
What You Need:

1 package cake mix (I used Chocolate and Strawberry)
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 t. vanilla, almond, or lemon extract
1 egg
White or colored granulated sugar, optional

What You Do: 
  1. Preheat oven to 375F degrees. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat half of the dry cake mix, the shortening, the butter, vanilla, and egg with an electric mixer on medium high speed until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary to make sure everything is well blended. 
  3. Stir in the remaining cake mix just until incorporated. 
  4. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. 
  5. Roll each portion of dough 1/8-inch thick on a lightly floured cloth-covered surface with a cloth-covered rolling pin, getting it as even as you can. 
  6. Cut into desired shapes with your favorite cookie cutters. 
  7. Place cookies 2-inches apart on prepared cookie sheets. 
  8. Bake 5 to 7 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges

Angie's Final Steps for a Sweet Surprise:
  1. Ice with a mixture of powdered sugar, milk and a touch of almond OR lemon extract
  2. Sprinkle with any edible cuteness you can find
  3. Toss into a mason jar
  4. Seal with a fabric square
  5. Ribbon and tag your jars for a personal touch

Finally, pack and ship with LOVE!

I hope everyone had a SWEET Valentine's Day!

Recipes from All Recipes and Best Ever Cookie Collection

    February 5, 2011

    Ratatouille Wanna-Be

    My first time making ratatouille is my first time actually eating ratatouille.  So while I can give myself points for trying something new, I worry that if this dish went completely haywire, I wouldn’t even know the difference.  You can’t go that wrong with a big skillet of veggies though, right?!   

    This dish is titled “wanna-be” because the source from where I pulled the recipe notes that this version doesn’t follow some of the more classic, French varieties, omitting eggplant and a mixture of herbs.  After a few adaptations, my ratatouille is even more of a pretender, but I think it still makes the cut!

    Ratatouille Wanna-Be 
    Serves 6

    What You Need:

    2 zucchini, chopped medium
    2 yellow squash, chopped medium
    1/2 red onion, chopped small
    6 large cloves garlic, chopped small
    6 red or yellow tomatoes, chopped medium
    1 yellow pepper, chopped medium
    1 red pepper, chopped medium
    3 T. chopped fresh parsley
    3 T. chopped fresh savory
    (you could use any fresh herbs that appeal to you)
    1 t. sugar
    1 t. dried oregano
    1 T. olive oil, plus more for sautéing
    1/2 cup chopped basil

     What You Do:

    1.    Heat a small amount of olive oil in large, heavy pan
    2.    Add zucchini and yellow squash and sauté 5 minutes
    3.    Remove and set aside
    4.    Add a bit more olive oil, then add peppers, onions, and garlic
    5.    Sauté 3-4 minutes
    6.    Add tomatoes to pan, gently combine vegetables, and sauté 5 minutes more.
    7.    Add zucchini and yellow squash back into pan with herbs, sugar, olive oil, dried oregano, and season with salt and pepper
    8.    Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered one hour
    9.    After an hour, add chopped fresh basil, season with sea salt and cook 5-10 minutes more
    10.  Serve hot or room temperature

    What I Learned:
    1. Unfortunately, I had to augment this recipe a bit: 
      1. I have no clue what savory is, or where I would find it, so I didn’t use any.
      2. With none on hand, I actually had to omit the fresh basil as well
    2. One more dramatic deviation from this recipe is that I only let it cook up for 30 minutes as opposed to the full hour noted above.  I simply ran out of time… but it sure looked done to me!
    3.  What I did NOT learn: I had no clue what to pair with this dish!  I thought that it would be a dish sufficient as an entrée, and while we did eat it as such, it did feel a little bit lacking.
     The Verdict: Ratatouille tastes so much better than it looks!  I really surprised myself on this one… After seeing this dish cook up, and I had pretty much given up on it—looked pretty mushy and not appealing, but I was so wrong!  The husband LOVED it too, and was even quick to request the leftovers for lunch the next day.

    Recipe adapted from Kayln's Kitchen.