Sunday, February 16, 2014

I'm on Instagram!

Stopping by to say... come find me on Instagram!  Look me up under marymirise.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Crockpot Chicken & Butternut Squash Stew

To me, fall always means winter squash, stews and using my crockpot.  This recipe combines all three.  I really love a classic beef roast, but wanted to lighten things up a bit by using chicken.  I use both light and dark meat here as I wanted to get a more full-bodied flavor from the meat.  I also really liked the undertones of the white wine in this dish.  I could taste it in the chicken especially.  If you’re out of wine, just use an additional cup of broth.  I remember when I first heard the phrase “herbs de provence”, I was very intimidated.  I think the fancy name scared me off for the first few years I was cooking, but one day I picked up the little glass jar at the market and actually read the ingredients label.  It was just a mixture of dried herbs that you can find in the area of Provence.  No big deal at all.  In fact, the combinations of thyme, rosemary, basil, marjoram, sage, fennel and lavender sounded divine and I knew I’d found a new friend in the kitchen.  In this dish the spice provides a light herbaceousness to the thick tomatoey gravy that hits the tongue just right.  The best part about this stew is that there’s no precooking!  I love that.  Just chop it and toss it in the pot.  When I made it, I prepped all the veggies and meat the night before and stored it in Ziploc bags in the fridge.  In the morning I just dumped it all in, mixed and pressed go.  Simple as that.

What You Need:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 boneless skinless chicken breast with tender, cut into chunks
½ large butternut squash (or 1 small), peeled & cut into chunks
1 medium brown onion, diced
2 large carrots, cut into 1 inch segments
2 large stalks celery (green parts only), diced
3-6 cloves garlic, minced (to taste, I used 6)
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (or additional cup of broth)
6 oz can tomato paste
1 Tbs herbs de Provence
1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
½ tsp salt
¼ - ½ tsp pepper (to taste)

For later:
2 Tbs butter (I used unsalted)
2 Tbs flour (I used whole wheat)

What To Do:

Combine all ingredients except flour and butter in a large crockpot for 6 hours on the low setting.  It will seem like there's not enough liquid, but as the vegetables cook they will release liquid making a thick, gravy like sauce.  Don't add water or broth!  If using high setting, cut cook time in half, but I highly recommend slow cooking this. 

After 5 hours of cooking, melt butter and combine with flour.  Add the mixture to the stew and stir to combine. 

Makes about 8 - 1 heaping cup servings.

Print this recipe!

Nutritional Stats for 1 serving.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

I have been tweaking my banana bread recipe for the last year and I think I finally have it just right.  My recipe calls for whole wheat pastry flour.  When baking muffins, quick breads and cookies (ok, I don’t bake cookies) I always recommend reaching for this lighter, less nutty version of whole wheat flour.  You can find it at health food stores like Sprouts, Whole Foods and Mother’s Market here in California.  If you can’t find it, you could probably use half whole wheat and half all purpose flour.  I haven’t tried it, so don’t quote me on that one.  I wanted to “healthify” this bread a little bit by using only half of the normal one stick of butter that a recipe like this would call for.  In place of that butter, I used 2% plain Greek yogurt.  The result is a still rich tasting, moist bread.  I also decided that I definitely didn't want to use regular granulated sugar, but rather a smaller amount of honey to lightly sweeten.  Because I am using about two thirds less sweetener here, you’ll want to make sure you’re bananas are really over ripe.  The more over ripe, the sweeter they are.   The walnuts are definitely optional, but we always like that extra bit of crunch.  Enjoy with your morning coffee and a yogurt or if you’re feeling really decadent, make this loaf into a French toast casserole.

What You Need:

2 c whole wheat pastry flour
¼ c (2oz) unsalted butter, room temp
¼ c (2oz) plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)
1/3 c (about 3 oz) honey
4 very ripe bananas mashed (about 2 c)
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ - 1 tsp cinnamon (to taste – I used 1)
1-2 tsp vanilla extract (to taste – I used 2)

1 c walnuts, chopped (optional)

What To Do:

 Preheat oven to 350° and spray the inside of a 10” loaf pan.

Combine all dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well.  Set aside.

Cream butter, yogurt and honey together.  Once combined, add eggs and mashed banana.  Stir until just combined.

Adding ½ of the dry ingredients stir until just mixed and then add remaining, making sure the scrape the sides.  Stir until just incorporated.

Fold in nuts is using.

Pour batter into loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the top has browned.  I like to under bake slightly as it cooks just a bit more as it cools in the hot pan and we like the top/ middle to be ever so slightly under done.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and cool completely on a wire rack before wrapping in a double layer of foil.

Makes 1 loaf – 16 slices - Print this recipe !

Nutritional Stats with Nuts for 1 Slice

Bon App├ętit!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How To Make A Stir Fry

Making a stir fry is just about the fastest, easiest way to prepare dinner using just one pan.  I always include a protein along with a couple vegetables and sauce.  This is what a stir fry is at its core.  A "real" stir fry would be made over extremely high heat in a wok, but for our purposes, we'll call it the same thing.

If you happened to be looking for a great way to introduce tofu to your family, this is the perfect way.  By browning the tofu before throwing it in with any veggies or sauce, you give it a crunchy exterior and slightly chewy center.  This really helps in the texture factor which I think is a huge reservation a lot of people have about it.

I like to have a bottle of Trader Joe's (teriyaki) Soyaki sauce on hand for times when I want to just throw something ready made on for a quick dinner.

My favorite combination right now is asparagus, cremini mushrooms, green onion, garlic and crispy tofu topped with Soyaki sauce, sriracha hot sauce, thinly sliced green onion and a sprinkle of slivered almonds.

I'll usually make a double batch and slightly under cook the vegetables so that I can reheat it later in the week and still have crisp tender veggies.  This would be great made on Sunday and portioned out for weekday lunches.

Step One:  Choose Your Protein


  • Tofu
  • Chicken
  • Steak
  • Pork
  • Shrimp
  • Ground meat will also work here (turkey, beef)
  • Beans (black, northern, garbanzo, pinto)
  • Lentils (brown, green, yellow)

Step Two: Choose Your Vegetables


  • Bell pepper
  • Green beans
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Snow peas
  • Spinach or other greens (kale, chard)
  • Mushrooms (button, cremini, shitake)
  • Carrots
  • Onion (brown, sweet, green, red)
  • Garlic

Step Three: Choose Your Sauce


  • Teriyaki
  • Hoisin (Asian BBQ sauce)
  • Chile Garlic Sauce
  • Peanut Sauce
  • Make Your Own (1 Tbs low sodium soy sauce, 1 Tbs maple syrup, sriracha, ginger and garlic)

Step Four: Choose What You Serve It On


  • Rice (basmati, jasmine, brown)
  • Quinoa
  • Soba Noodles
  • Rice Noodles

Now you're ready to get down to business.  Each protein is going to have a different cook time and you're going to need to adjust accordingly.  I like to prepare my protein first so that it can be added back at the very end to avoid over cooking.  No one likes dry or rubbery meat.

If I were going to use the shrimp or chicken, I would rinse, dry and cut into one inch pieces.  If I were to use steak, pork or tofu I would skip the rinse and go straight for the knife.  Obviously the other protein types don't need any prepping.

If using chicken, pork, steak or ground meat, saute over medium high heat in a teaspoon or two of oil for about 5 minutes or until barely cooked through, stirring occasionally.  If your protein is a bit "rare", not to worry, it will cook a bit more once added back to the pan during the last few minutes of cooking.  If using shrimp, you will only need to saute 2-3 minutes as it will cook extremely quickly.  The only protein that will need some extended time in the pan will be the tofu as it will take about 8-10 minutes to brown on all sides.  If using beans or lentils, use a teaspoon or two of oil and saute 2-3 minutes or until warmed.  

After your protein is ready, set aside while you cook the veggies in the same pan.  Start veggies that take longer such as broccoli, mushrooms and carrots before veggies that cook faster like snow peas, asparagus and spinach.  I start the veggies with a longer cook time about five minutes before the more delicate veggies that will only need two to three minutes.  Go ahead and toss your protein of choice in here to bring it back up to temperature as the delicate veggies saute.  Top with your sauce of choice, warm before removing pan from heat and serve over noodles or grains.

If you're looking for a more precise instruction set, you can check out my Mirepoix Tofu Stir Fry.

Bon Appetite!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mom's Spinach Casserole

My most favorite meal my Mom would make us when we were growing up was this spinach casserole.  I have to admit, at first, I thought it was a super gross pile of green mess.  Sorry Mom.  Once I got over the fact that this dish was called a casserole (which in my kid mind meant goopy mess) and that it was green (my how times have changed), I realized that it was really tasty and couldn’t get enough of it.  As in… if Mom didn't hurry, she wasn’t getting more than a spoonful or two with all of us kids going to town.  Mom almost always made baked potatoes to accompany this dish topped with butter, sour cream, salt and pepper.  This casserole hails from a church cookbook called 53 Sabbath Menus, written in 1969.  Oldie, but goodie.  To update this recipe a bit, I slightly reduced the amount of butter (it could probably be reduced to 2 tablespoons even), upped the amount of spinach to one pound, used nonfat cottage cheese and whole wheat flour.  With six ingredients you probably have on hand, you too can enjoy this high protein, low carb deliciousness that reminds me of my childhood.  You literally mix all the ingredients and bake.  That’s it.  I have even tried freezing the recipe with pretty good results.  I would definitely prefer to eat it right out of the oven, but freezing does work.  It can also be made a day ahead of time if you’re in a pinch and reheated in the microwave.  Also, I haven’t ever tested it out, but have been thinking about adding brown rice or quinoa to incorporate some whole grains to round out the micro-nutrients.  This casserole is best served out of an authentic 1970’s casserole dish, but any kind will do.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

What's Cookin': Weekly Menu

**Taps the mic**


I'm still here !  I've had some time to reflect on the blog a lot during the break I took and I can truly say that I feel like I'm excited about blogging again.  B and I recently shuffled a few things around in the house and I now have a large space inside the house with (hopefully) tons of excellent natural afternoon sunlight.  I have been waiting so long to have a better place to snap pictures and am so very excited to finally test it out !

Kitchen lighting of my dreams.  source

I thought I'd fill you in on what's been going on behind the scenes these past few months...

Recipe testing!

I came up with a pasta (or grain) salad recipe over the holiday weekend that takes under 30 minutes to prep with 10 ingredients.  Not 10 plus salt and pepper, but 10.  This salad would be perfect prepped on Sunday and portioned out for weekday lunches.  Where I live, it's common to have an Indian summer, so for us here in SoCal, it has really been feeling like summer these past few weeks and I wanted to incorporate that in this dish.  I hate to see summer go and this salad makes me feel like it's not quite over yet.  I'll be making this again soon and will share the recipe after I get it just right.

In the mean time, try out Orzo Salad with Creamy Dill Dressing with your grilled salmon this weekend.

Or you could also use your left over grilled vegetables in Spicy Greek Grilled Vegetable Orzo Salad.

I just love a good make ahead salad.  If your salad appears a bit dry the next day, let it come to room temperature and if it's still dry add a splash of olive oil to get things moving.  Also, there's no reason why you have to use orzo.  I've made both of these dishes with quinoa and am pretty sure it would work with any pasta or grain you have on hand.

The Flop Report:  I'm also trying to come up with a healthified version of my 1 stick of butter banana nut bread.  Attempt 1 was a fail.  I think changing two variables at once was probably not the best idea.  Back to the drawing board.  I'm shooting for something with a good amount of protein and fiber that I would slather with peanut butter before a morning workout with coffee.


Now for the weekly menu!  I planned three meals for next week and will eat leftovers on the remaining nights.  I like to prep all the veggies I can on Sunday evening.  How does the saying go?  If you don't plan, you plan to fail?  Definitely a little corny, but so true.  Having healthy snacks and salad ingredients ready to go make life a whole lot easier.

Dinner Option 1: Make Your Own Chipotle Bowls (chicken, cilantro lime rice, beans + toppings)

Dinner Option 2: My Mom's Spinach Casserole, Roasted Zucchini & Baked Potatoes

Dinner Option 3: My Slow Cooker Chili

Grocery List (Print List Here)

  • 1 lb chicken breast
  • 1 - 1.3 lbs ground turkey
  • 1 can chipotle chiles in adobo (or two chilies with adobo sauce)
  • 1 can black or pinto beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 avocado
  • 2 red or sweet onions
  • head of garlic
  • 3 sweet peppers
  • 1 large bunch cilantro or 2 small
  • favorite fresh salsa
  • garlic powder
  • cumin
  • smoked paprika
  • chili powder
  • 1 lb frozen spinach
  • 2 cups frozen (roasted) corn
  • 1 16 oz container cottage cheese
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • eggs
  • extra sharp cheddar
  • zucchini
  • baking potatoes
  • 12 oz beer (Sam Adams)
  • olive oil

Bon appetite!