The Weekly Adventures of Insightful Girl

Well, despite having to work all weekend, the blog must go on.  So here is my weekly update of adventures.

Unfortunately this week I was a bit under the weather, so my adventures have been horribly boring.  I did eat some delicious Thai food though, spicy basil chicken.  I have to say the spice definitely helped to clear up my sinuses (added bonus to filling my stomach).  I love spice, as I always say, “spice makes everything nice.”  I think I may have to come up with a Thai recipe to incorporate into the blog.  So, keep you eye out for that one.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.  Keep a look out for more delicious recipes to come this week.  And let the countdown to the Superbowl begin. 

You have to play this game like somebody just hit your mother with a two-by-four.
DAN BIRDWELL

The Weekly Adventures of Insightful Girl

Hello all.  I know, I know I have been a total slacker with my weekly adventures.  It seems from the time Thanksgiving rolls around to Christmas and New Years, time just flies.  Every spare moment seems to be packed with parties, family and to-do lists.  So I am hoping since the holidays are done, life will again slow down and my blog will get more attention. 

I do have a funny story.  I was at work the other day and had to give my patient a shot, and while I was drawing up the medication I asked him, “which arm do you want your shot in?”  My patient immediately answered, “your arm.”  I just had to stop and laugh.  Sometimes you get into such a rut in what you are doing, you forget to stop and take a look around.  I thought it was such a perfect response to get me to check back in.  So, thank you to my patient for the laugh. 

I have a new nightly ritual of vanilla chamomile tea, it has tricked me into thinking I am having dessert.  I first discovered this wonderful tea when my husband and I were having movie night.  We watched Safe House, which was an amazing movie if your looking for a good flick to rent.  Lots of action and Ryan Reynolds.  Need I say more.  He is a great actor whether it be comedy (The Proposal) or this action flick, he seems to do a great job.  Besides he is like dessert for your eyes.   Yummy!

Since the Broncos decided to loose last week, I am now forced to pick another team to win the Superbowl.  I guess there is always next year.  Sob, sob.  Ok, I’m over it and with that I leave you with this quote.

Recipe Review:
 
Coconut Poke Cake

                                        

Coconut Poke Cake

 

I decided to make this recipe for Christmas dinner.  I know I’m a bit behind in posting this, but hey better late than never.  We were having a low key Christmas, just my husband and I and we invited my best friend Melissa to join us.  She taught me to make dressing, gravy and turkey stock from scratch.  So, I let her choose dessert for the evening.  She said anything “coconut”!  So I went on the search for a coconut dessert and came across something called a poke cake.  I had never heard of such a thing.  Then I found a coconut poke cake and decided to give it a try.  I used fat free condensed milk and lite cool whip to lighten up the calorie content and it was plenty sweet.  It was amazing.  The cream of coconut and condensed milk make the cake extra moist and the added coconut extract I put in the batter and frosting, bumped the flavor into coconut heaven.  Even my husband who is a chocolate fanatic couldn’t stop eating it.  It was a hit.  I am excited to try other flavors and varieties of this new found “poke cake.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 package white cake mix (not one with pudding)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 (14oz) can cream of coconut
  • 7 oz fat free sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (16oz) container lite cool whip, thawed
  • 1 (14oz) package shredded sweetened coconut

Directions:
1.  Prepare and bake cake according to package directions, adding 1 teaspoon of coconut extract to batter before baking.
2.  Remove cake from oven and while still HOT, using the end of a wooden spoon poke holes all over the top of the cake.

 

3.  In a medium bowl, mix the cream of coconut and sweetened condensed milk.  Pour mixture evenly over hot cake.
4.  Allow cake to completely cool.  In a large bowl mix cool whip, 1/2 the bag of coconut and 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract together.

 

5.  Frost cake with mixture and sprinkle remaining coconut evenly over top of cake.

6.  Refrigerate cake for at least 1 hour before cutting.  Make sure to store cake in refrigerator.

Adapted from:  allrecipes

Noodle-Less Turkey/Veggie Lasagna

I came across this recipe on a vegetarian website.  It sounded delicious with the spaghetti squash.  I can honestly say that it never occurred to me to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles in a dish.  And I am a big fan of spaghetti squash.  I did make some alterations in this recipe by adding the lean ground turkey.  I thought it would be a great way to pack in some protein without adding a bunch of fat.  My husband even said he liked this lasagna better than traditional noodle lasagna.  He also decided it was okay to have 2  pieces of sourdough bread as he put it, “without the noodles, I don’t have to feel guilty about the extra piece of bread.”  After dishing our plates, we did spice things up with some red pepper flakes and dash of Parmesan cheese.  So whether you are a vegetarian and leave the turkey out or cook it with the turkey you will not be disappointed.  Italian night has now taken on a vegetable theme.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (24oz) jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 package lean ground turkey
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1 medium zucchini thinly sliced (I used the thin slice side of my cheese grater)
  • 3 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Italian Blend cheese
  • ground pepper
  • dried parsley flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 °.  Spray casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Place turkey in large skillet and cook until no pink remaining.  Add jar of spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning.  Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. In a casserole dish, begin layering 1/3 zucchini, top with 1 cup spaghetti squash, 1/4 cup ricotta cheese, sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese and then 1 cup of turkey/sauce mixture.   Repeat this process until all ingredients are gone. Mine ended up being 3 layers.  When doing top layer use all remaining turkey/sauce mixture and finally top with another 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

4.  I used my fingers to crumble the ricotta into small pieces.

5.  Sprinkle with parsley flakes and fresh ground pepper.

6.   Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.  There will be some water in the lasagna because of all the vegetables.  After it was done baking I just slightly tilted the pan to the side and used a spoon to scoop out most of the water.

Adapted from: greenlitebites

Sweet Potato Fries

I love sweet potato fries, but when I have made them in the past they never seemed to get crispy.  I ended up cooking them so long in attempt to get them to be crisp, that they ended up burnt.  I came across some recommendations that included soaking the potatoes before cooking them.  I decided I would give home-made sweet potato fries one more try.  With, this recipe I included a spicy dipping sauce to go along with it.  Sweet and spicy, delish.  Well, I have to say they turned out well.  Even my husband who usually is not a big fan of anything beside old white potato fries, ate them up.

Ingredients:

For Fries:

2 sweet potatoes, washed and peeled
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ziplock bag

For Sauce:
1/2 cup mayonnaise ( I use Nayonaise, it’s a low fat vegetarian version.  A bit healthier)
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper

Directions:
     1.  Wash and peel sweet potatoes.  Cut potatoes into medium sized fries.  Not shoestring and not   steak fries, somewhere in between.
     2.  Place sweet potatoes in bowl of water and allow to soak for 1 1/2 hours.
     3.  Preheat oven to 425°

     4.  Put a tablespoon of cornstarch into medium sized ziplock bag.  Put half of sweet potato fries into ziplock back and close (leave some air in bag, allowing for fries to freely be tossed around). 
     5.  Shake fries until lightly coated w/cornstarch. Place coated fries onto nonstick cookie sheet.  
     6.  Repeat process until all fries are coated and placed on cookie sheet.

     7.  Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over fries, using hands toss fries to make sure all are coated with oil.
          * you can use more oil, depending on how healthy you would like them to be. The more oil you use the more crisp they will get.  But using 2 tablespoons, I was able to get them pretty darn crispy.
     8.  Arrange fries on cookie sheet, making sure there is space between each fry.  If the fries are too close, they tend to steam instead of getting crispy. 
     9.  Place into preheated oven and cook for 15 minutes.
     10.  While fries are cooking, make the dipping sauce.  Mix mayonaise, Sriracha and cayenne pepper together in small bowl.  You can adjust the amount of Srirach and/or cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want it. 
     11.  After 15 minutes, check fries and flip over.  Cook another 5-10 minutes, watch closely so they don’t burn. 

Healthy Green Smoothie

After all my holiday eating and then having to getting ready for a fun New Years Eve party, I decided to come up with a healthy pre-party snack.  I wanted something quick, easy and good for me.  I hoped it would balance out the cocktails and food I would consume later in the night.  I came up with this smoothie on the fly.  So, hope you enjoy it and hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Years!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana chopped

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until thoroughly combined, about 2-3 minutes.  

**If you want a thicker smoothy either add more banana, which makes it a bit sweeter or you can add a few ice cubes.

Curried Red Lentil Soup

 
Now that Christmas has come and gone another year and I am totally “turkied” out, I was craving some type of vegetarian soup for dinner. Something easy to make, full of flavor and healthy.  I settled on this recipe since I had never made a red lentil soup before.  It was a perfect cold winter night dinner.  I have to admit it wasn’t the prettiest soup to take pictures of, but believe me it was delicious.  I will definitely be making this one again.  

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 (32-oz) container vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 lb. red lentils, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup raw barley, rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. In large soup pot heat olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, saute over medium heat until onions transparent, about 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except for salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to a rapid boil, then decrease heat.  Cover and simmer until lentils are mushy, about 1 1/2 hours.  Stirring occasionally
  4. When lentils are done, remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper.
  5. This soup thickens as it sits.  If you want a thinner soup, add more water as needed.

Adapted from:  VegKitchen

White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

I decided to make these when I signed up for a cookie exchange at work.  I wanted something different than your everyday chocolate chip and I thought the cranberries and white chocolate seemed so Christmas.  They ended up being such pretty little cookies and they tasted delicious.  I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday.  A time to enjoy family and friends, give thanks and eat good food.  So, go ahead put on your elastic band sweat pants and savor every bite. 

Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 °.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars together until combined.  Add in egg and vanilla and mix well.
  3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda in separate bowl, mix until combined.
  4. Slowly add flour mixture into sugar mixture.  Stir well.
  5. Fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips. 
  6. Drop a heaping tablespoon of dough onto baking sheet.  Space cookies evenly to fit 12 cookies per sheet.
7.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.  Allow cookies to sit on cookie sheet for 1 minute, then transfer to a wire rack.   Allow to cool completely.
 
Adapted from:  taste of home

Quinoa “Veggie” Fried Rice

 Hello, delicious.  This recipe takes an old traditional recipe like fried rice and amps up the vegetables and substitutes the rice for quinoa.  It’s a great vegetarian dish that even my husband could love.  Also, this is one of the only times I will eat mushrooms in a meal.  For whatever reason mushrooms always taste a bit like dirt.  Sorry mushroom lovers of the world, they just do.  I’ve tried them fried, baked in butter, you name it and I have tried it in attempts to learn to tolerate mushrooms.  I decided when making this dish I would not omit them, realizing most of the world does not share my views.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this dish, including the mushrooms.  Maybe I will become a converted mushroom lover.  You never know stranger things have happened. 

Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated
  • 3 cups quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Bragg’s liquid aminos, it’s much better for you)
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • sesame seeds for garnish
  • Sriracha sauce if desired

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in small skillet over medium heat.  Add beaten eggs and fry until cooked through.  Flipping only one time.  Allow eggs to cool before dicing into small pieces.
  2. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add remaining olive oil.  Add onion and garlic, saute for 4 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini.  Saute vegetables until tender, about 4 minutes.  Stirring constantly.
  4. Add corn, peas, carrot and quinoa.  Cook until heated through, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add ginger and soy sauce, stir to combine.  Next add green onions and eggs, cook for 2 more minutes.
  6. Garnish with sesame seeds and/or Sriracha if desired and serve immediately.

Adapted from: damndelicious

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Well let me tell you I have attempted mashed cauliflower in the past and it did not turn out so well.  It was gritty, not creamy and lacked much of a flavor.  So, when I came across this recipe I was a little hesitant to attempt this side dish again.  But, considering cauliflower is my favorite vegetable,  I was determined to give it another chance.  This recipe was a hit.  It had a smooth texture and was loaded with delicious flavor.  So, if your looking for a healthy mashed potato alternative, give this a try.  Let me know if you think it was a good as my husband and I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into smaller pieces (florets only)
  • 1 (6 oz) container nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 small shallot, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring water to boil.  Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook for 10 minutes or until florets are soft.
  2. Remove cauliflower from heat and drain in colander.  Place cauliflower in food processor, add Greek yogurt, butter, garlic and shallots.  Blend until creamy.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste or any seasoning of your choice and blend again. 
  4. Transfer mixture into serving bowl and mix in Parmesan cheese while still hot.  Garnish with scallions. 

Adapted from: sproutandpea