Friday, December 28, 2012

One Pot Wonder Beef Stew

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Do you know what the one good thing about cold wintery day is?  Warm soup/stew.  When the weather keeps you inside (and when your house is as cold as the frozen tundra), there is no better way to warm up than making a big batch of fresh stew.  Plus it makes the house smell wonderful! 
I choose to make the beef stew out of the Comfort Foods Fix cookbook my aunt and uncle gave me for Christmas.  All the recipes in the book were already healthified versions of America's favorite comfort foods, but of course I had to add my own special touch to make this stew even better for you!  I don't even know how you could make this even healthier than it already is.  It is full of a variety of vegetables, is decently low in sodium for a stew, has high quality/local meat in it, has a good amount of my two favorite things (fiber and protein), can be make all in one pot leaving you limited dishes, and it doesn't even taste "healthy".   How much better can it get?!
The only thing better than sitting down to a big bowl of this stew on a cold day is doing so with your friends and family.  Sadly, my family is 4 hours away and most of my friends are home for winter break.  Luckily, one of my roommates is here taking a class over break, so I thought I would surprise her when she got home after a long day of class.  I even got all fancy and set the table with the new napkins and table runner my grandma cross-stitched for me.  :)  What a perfect dinner. 

1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Ground black pepper
1/4 tsp Paprika
1 lb Venison, cubed
2 medium Onions, chopped
1 medium Rutabaga, peeled and cubed
1 large Carrot, peeled and cut into coins
1/4 cup Water
1 cup Mushrooms, chopped
2 tbsp Tomato paste
4 cups Natural beef broth*
2 cups Green peas, frozen
 *Broths can contain a lot of scary ingredients so make sure you find a good one! Or you can always make your own if you are feeling ambitious.
1. In a pot large enough to hold about 10 cups, brown the venison with the salt, pepper, and paprika.  Cook over medium heat until all sides of the cubes are brown.
2. Meanwhile get all the vegetables cut up and set aside.
3. Once the meat is cooked scoop it out and set aside in a bowl leaving the juices in the pot.
4. Saute the onions in the same pot with the venison juices until tender and slightly golden.
5. Add the rutabaga and carrot to the pot and mix then in with the onions.  Add about a 1/4 cup of water to help create steam to cook the vegetables.  Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are starting to get tender.  Don't cook them all the way yet! 
6. Add the mushrooms and cook for a couple more minutes.
7. Before adding the broth, stir in the tomato paste to coat the vegetables.
8. Pour in the broth and stir everything together.
9. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 60-80 minutes stirring occasionally.
10.  Add the frozen peas and cook for another 5 minutes until peas are tender.
11. Grab a spoon and enjoy on a cold wintery day! 
Makes about 7 cups.

Nutrition Facts:
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories: 159
Total Fat: 2 g
     Sat. Fat: 0.5 g
Cholesterol: 12 mg
Sodium: 416 mg
Total Carbs: 16 g
     Dietary Fiber: 4 g
     Sugars: 7 g
Protein: 19 g
Vitamin A:8%
Vitamin C: 40%
Iron: 17%
Calcium: 5%

Thursday, December 27, 2012

You Can Have Your Cookie and EAT It Too!

Pin It Isn't being home for Christmas great?  I think it is.  You learn to especially appreciate it when you don't live at home anymore. What could possibly be better than spending time with family and friends and holiday baking?  Mmmm just thinking about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! I'm such a sap when it comes to Christmas.  Haha.

I was FINALLY reunited with my two partners in crime from high school while I was home.  Love those girls!  We decided to have a little fun together by decorating Christmas cookies.  Decorating Christmas cookies is one of my favorite childhood memories. My dad would always help us mix up the dough and cut a bunch of fun shapes out.  Then he would mix every color frosting under the sun for us and my sister and I would go to town decorating the dozens upon dozens of cookies.  As we got older we even started to get pretty detailed and creative in our decorations.  So much fun! 

I really wanted to blog about this tradition, but there was one minor problem... sugar cookies are not exactly the healthiest thing in the world and I mean this is technically a healthy food blog.  I tried to make a healthier whole wheat cookie last year, but they ended up looking like African America gingerbread men.  Not that that is a bad thing, but I have to be honest they tasted like cardboard...even with a thick layer of frosting on the top. 
This year I was ready to take the sugar cookie makeover challenge head on.  A little substitution here, a little less of this, a little more of that, a pinch of this here, and a blob of this there.  Perfection!  I was on a bit of a time crunch so I couldn't take the time to roll out the dough and cut out fun shapes, but this dough definitely could be rolled out if you so desire. 
Adapted from Enlightened Cooking
 Never mind the three frosted graham crackers... we were just trying to use up the frosting.
3/4 cup White whole wheat flour
3/4 cup Unbleached white flour
1 tsp Baking powder
1/4 tsp Salt
3 tbsp Unsalted butter (The real stuff! No chemicals please!)
1/2 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 large Egg
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Almond extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Sift together the first four ingredients (flours, baking powder, and salt).  If you don't have a sifter you can just use a whisk.
3. In a small pan brown the butter over low heat until golden.  Make sure to keep stirring to avoid burning the butter.
4. In a medium glass bowl combine the browned butter, sugar, and oil with an electric mixer. 
3. After about a minute, add the egg and vanilla and beat on medium-high for another two minutes.
4. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and slowly add the flour mixture until combined.
5. At this point you can either refrigerate the dough to make rolling it out easier or you can scoop small evenly sized balls onto a cookie sheet.  Make sure to flatten them out with the bottom of a cup before baking.  I made sure to dip the bottom of my cup in some flour before pressing on the dough to avoid sticking. 
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.  Be careful not to over bake! 
7. Let cool completely before frosting.
8. You can use whatever frosting and candy decorations you would like for these cookies.  We choose to make a simple frosting out of some milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. 
Makes about 15 cookies.
Isn't my little reindeer cute?  I used walnuts for the antlers. :)
Nutrition Facts:
*Does not include frosting or decorations
Calories: 100
Total Fat: 3.5g
     Sat. Fat: 1.5g
     Mono. Fat: 1g
Cholesterol: 18mg
Sodium: 47mg
Total Carbs: 24g
     Dietary Fiber: 1g
     Sugars: 6.5g
Protein: 2g
Vitamin A: 2%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 1%
Iron: 3%
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