New Flavors!


Christmas has come and gone; we had ample opportunity to spend quality time with our loved family and friends!  Our memories are what we will take in to this New Year.  One generous gift, thanks mama Diane and Mike, was an assortment of olive oils and balsamic vinegar from the Olive Gallery in Yorkville, Illinois.  These flavorful treats will provide us with ample opportunities to be more creative with our recipes.  So far we have tasted them in their original state, with fresh crusty bread of course, and they are all divine!  Here’s what we have:

     Jalapeno White BalsamicVinegar

     Cilantro and Roasted Onion Olive Oil ( used in our Roasted Tomato and Black Bean soup recipe!)

     Blood Orange Olive Oil

     Meyer Lemon Olive Oil

     Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar

     Oregano White Balsamic Vinegar

We’ll have more recipes using the others… stay tuned!


Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

Roasted Tomato and Black Bean Soup Ingredients
7 medium tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, cut into large pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp Cilantro and Roasted Onion Olive Oil or regular olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 (15.5-oz) cans black beans (preferably low sodium), drained and rinsed
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 ripe avocado, mashed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Preheat the oven to 375 deg F. Toss the tomatoes, onion and garlic with the oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then transfer to baking sheet. Roast until the garlic cloves have softened, the edges of the onions are browned, and the tomatoes have collapsed, 35-40 minutes, stirring once after the first 20 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetable mixture to a 4-quart saucepan. Add the borth, beans, cumin, chili powder and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp of pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and blend until smooth with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. Stir in the hot sauce.  Mix the avocado and sour cream in a small bowl. Divide soup among 4 bowls and garnish with a dollop of avocado cream and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Fig Bran Muffins

Finding a great recipe for healthy muffins isn’t easy.  So when we found these, in an Ellie Krieger cookbook, we gave it a try.  Figs are such a wonderful tasting fruit ( see our fresh figs and goat cheese recipe!) and putting them in a muffin gives it a lot of great flavor, not to mention added health benefits: Figs are a fantastic source of vitamin B6 which is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin, lowering cholesterol and preventing water retention, they are also high in dietary fiber, calcium, magnese and potassium!  Plus these muffins are very moist, thanks to homemade applesauce.  Make these muffins on the weekend, then wrap them individually and freeze them in a sealable plastic bag. Then in the morning pop one in the microwave for a minute and you’ll have a warm, healthy muffin to eat on the go. Enjoy with your morning coffee or lowfat milk for a great start to a busy day.
Makes 12 muffins
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped dried figs, plus 3 whole dried figs
1 1/2 cups bran cereal (recommended: All-Bran)
1 cup lowfat milk
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup natural applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
1 large egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray. Thinly slice the whole figs.
In a large bowl, combine the cereal and milk. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Add the applesauce, honey, oil, molasses, and egg to the cereal mixture and stir until combined. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Gently stir in the chopped figs. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and top each muffin with a fig slice. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. If necessary, run a knife around the muffins to loosen. Unmold and cool completely on a rack.
Nutritional analysis per serving (Serving size: 1 muffin)
Calories 230; Total Fat 8 g; (Sat Fat 1 g, Mono Fat 4 g, Poly Fat 2 g) ; Protein 5 g; Carb 42 g; Fiber 6 g; Cholesterol 20 mg; Sodium 135 mg
Excellent source of: Fiber, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Folate, Manganese, Phosphorus
Good source of: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Selenium, Zinc

Christmas Cookies!!!!

Merry Christmas!  We made some holiday favorites this weekend, Gingersnaps, Pecan Cups, and Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark- all taste tested and approved, so rest easy, if you make these cookies Santa will surely give you what you asked for this year! 
Pecan Cup Cookies
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1 egg
3/4 C. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 pinch salt
1/4 C. butter
1-3 oz. pkg. cream cheese
1 C. flour

– Spray 24 count mini muffin pan with Pam or the like.

– Cream butter and cheese, add flour, and blend well.
– Divide into quarters. Then divide each half into quarters.
– Make a small ball and drop into pan, fit each ball to cup.
– Fill each cup w/ filling, do not overfill, you should see the crust
– Then bake at 350 F for 17 minutes. Then at 250 F for 10 minutes.
– Knock pan to loosen, do not cool in pan.
– Place on cooling rack and sprinkle with powdered sugar
yeild: 24 Cups
1 C. sugar
3/4 C. margarine, softened (you can use butter)
1/4 C. molasses
1 egg
2 C. flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves


– Lightly grease cookie sheets
– Combine first 4 ingredients; blend well
– Stir in remaining ingredients
– Chill dough
– Heat oven to 375 F
– Shape dough into 1″ balls, roll in sugar
– Place 2″ apart on cookie sheet
– Bake 8-10 minutes; cool 1-2 minutes
 Yeild: 6 dozen cookies
Double Chocolate Peppermint Bark
1 pound Dark Chocolate
1 pound White Chocolate
1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract (divided)
6 Candy Canes, crushed
– Line a jelly roll pan ( or 12 1/2 x 17 1/2 x 1 edge) with parchment paper
– Place candy canes in a plastic bag, crush in to 1/4-inch chunks or smaller
– Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler, stir in ½ tsp. peppermint extract
– Pour mixture evenly onto prepared pan and place in the freezer to harden
– Melt the white chocolate in a double boiler, stir in 1 tsp. peppermint extract
– Pour mixture onto dark chocolate layer in cookie sheet, spread evenly quickly and top with candy canes
– Place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes or until firm
– Remove from cookie sheet and break into pieces (like peanut brittle)
Yeild: 2 pounds of candy