Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beefy Kale and Mushroom Ragu

Serving a simple Ragù can warm any belly. What's great about this recipe is that you can serve it as is or you can use it to top pasta, fresh greens, crusty bread, or rice. I decided to use it over gnocchi since that's what I was craving at the time. This Ragù isn't very saucy, it's mostly meat and veg. If you prefer to have a more saucy sauce, just add an additional 1/2 cup or cup of tomato sauce. I made my own sauce by simply combining fresh herbs to plain tomato sauce. It's tastes so much better when there is fresh basil in it :) . 

I used a fresh gnocchi that was sold at my local store, took about 4 minutes to cook. Very easy stuff. If you don't want to make your own tomato sauce, then use whatever type of prepared tomato sauce you enjoy.  

Beefy Kale and Mushroom Ragù 

Cook Time: < 25 minutes
Prep Time: < 10 minutes
Serves: 4 

  • 2 cups organic tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh oregano, minced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • 4-5 large Kale leaves, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 6oz cremini mushrooms, cleans and sliced 
  • 3/4 lb lean ground grass-fed beef
  • 1- 17.5oz package of gnocchi
  • freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • fresh minced parsley

In a small pot, heat the tomato sauce, basil, parley and oregano over medium-low heat. Salt and pepper to taste. Stirring occasionally. Allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 3 minutes, then add the garlic. Saute for another 3 minutes, or until the onions are soft and the garlic is fragrant. Salt and pepper, to taste (lightly)

Add the chopped kale and mushrooms into the pan. Mix well into the onion mixture. The kale leaves will gradually decrease in size. Cook for about 4 minutes or so. Remove the mixture from the pan and set aside. 

In the same large skillet, add the ground beef, still at medium heat. Crumble and brown until completely cooked through (5-8minutes). Salt and pepper, to taste if you'd like. Drain the excess fat. 

Add the kale mixture to the ground beef and toss well. Pour the tomato sauce over and allow the mixture to cook for 5 minutes. Taste and check seasoning. Adjust if necessary. 

Serve the Ragù piping hot. Enjoy it over whatever you'd like or as it. 

Nutritional Info for 1/4 recipe (not including optional ingredients): 
Calories: 220 ; Fat: 7g ; Carbohydrates: 19g ; Fiber: 5g ; Sugar: 5g ; Protein: 22g

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal!

This was my 1st month participating in the Foodie Pen Pal Program and it was an absolute delight. What is a Foodie Pen Pal you ask? It's a pen pal program in which you send a package of foodie goodies out to your pen pal and receive one from another pen pal. It's an awesome way to meet other bloggers/readers and try different product you may have not tried or are local to their area. I love the idea of sharing my favorite products with others! My pen pal was Nina, a reader. I sent her some awesome snacks, granola, and aloe juice.

This month I got an awesome package from Sharlene from Main Stream Solar Cooking! Thanks so much for the great basket!! Here's a picture of some of the goodies I received...

  • 2 Oven Mitts
  • A Pot Holder
  • Dried Beef (and some recipes on how to use it from Sharlene)
  • Sesame Oil
  • French Dip Au Jus
  • Anna's Almond Thins
  • Got Milk Cookies n' Cream Straws
  • A Straw Basket

I'm so happy with my basket of goodies! It was packaged nicely in a straw basket with a few recipes on how to use some of the ingredients. I'm glad I got some sesame oil, as I was running pretty low on mine. My husband already called dibs on the Cookies n' Cream Straws - which he has really enjoyed. I'm really looking forward to using the dried beef and Au Jus. I've never cooked with either. Also I've been in need of some more oven mitts but always put off buying some - well ta-da! I've got new oven mitts!! Excellent package - can't wait to use everything. I'm going to go snack on those almond thins...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Whole Wheat Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

My husband's favorite go-to brunch item is the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes from Cheesecake Factory. We will go there Sunday mornings just for those (or the Baja Hash, but that's a different story...). They are light, airy and simply delicious. I had never tried ricotta pancakes before those, and I think they are absolutely the best.  Instead of going out for these yummy pancakes, I decided to make them myself (since having a newborn can make things a bit difficult). The lemon has a very clean taste and the pancakes are slightly sweet. I used wheat flour, rather than the typical white flour to bump up some of the nutrition and fiber. I also used a light amount of oil, sweetener and light versions of dairy. This recipe makes 5 good sized pancakes. Adding a bit of fruit on top can help bulk up with meal a bit more. I adapted this recipe from one I found on Eating Well's website and I'm VERY pleased with the out come. My husband agreed, these are some of the best pancakes I've ever made. I can't wait to experiment more with other flavors. 

Using Whole Wheat Pastry Flour vs. Whole Wheat Flour is what makes this lighter than it would normally be. Also by sifting the flour, you are aerating it, allowing a more fluffy texture. If you prefer a sweeter pancake, I would bump up the honey to 1-2 tbsp. I highly recommend spreading out the batter when you place it on the hot pan. I smoothed mine out fairly thin, and found they were perfect in the middle (and it made the pancake look huge!).

Whole Wheat Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

Cook Time: < 20 minutes
Prep Time: < 5 minutes
Serves: 5 (1/3 cup) pancakes (approx. 6in diameter)


Dry: (sifted)

  • 3/4 cup organic whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp organic nutmeg 
  • 1/8 tsp salt


  • 3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp honey 
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice 

  • 1 tsp organic coconut oil (divided - for the pan)


  • powdered sugar
  • pure maple syrup

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. 

In a small side bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the wet ingredients together until well combined. (Do not use the coconut oil, it is for greasing the pan).

Gradually incorporate the dry ingredients into the wet, until combined. Try to not over mix. The batter will be a bit thick.

Take a 1/4 tsp of coconut oil and place it in the center of the hot skillet. Then place a 1/3 cup of the pancake batter over top and smooth out slightly. Allow the pancake to cook about 3-5 minutes. These pancakes don't really bubble on top like other recipes do, so just pay close attention to not overcook. 

Then flip the pancake and allow to cook a few more minutes, until cooked through. Repeat these steps until all of the batter is used.

Serve the pancakes warmed. Top with whatever you'd like or enjoy as is. 

Nutritional Info per Pancake:
Calories: 155 ; Fat: 5g ; Carbohydrate: 19g ; Fiber: 2.5g ; Sugar: 3g ; Protein: 8g 

This recipe is adapt from: Eating Well