Two Sisters, One Kitchen

Quick, healthy meals by a loving team. See what’s cooking in J & K's kitchen!

Taco Bar Party with Mole Pork Tacos, Saffron Rice and Beans, and Sangria November 30, 2014

Jamie says: So truth be told, I love the number 23. It’s my favorite number. I thought this was interesting because I really didn’t have a reason to love the number 23 (it’s not my birthday number or anything), but I liked it regardless. I get excited when it’s the 23rd of any month, too. Then, recently, I discovered my Baptism date- November 23rd. Answer delivered. I can now say I have a connection with the number 23 because it’s my birthday with the Catholic church. Done.

This year was the first year that I celebrated my Catholic birthday (since my actual Baptism in 1986). Hey, it’s a birthday and it’s a big deal. So why not celebrate it and everything worth celebrating. Makes me think of those Carvel commercials (you know, “I lost my tooth today, started my school play”… so catchy. Carvel cake to celebrate everything.) So to celebrate my Catholic birthday, I had a Taco Bar Party with Mole Pork Tacos, Saffron Rice and Beans, and Sangria and invited my friends over.

Let’s start with the sangria. I used a bottle of The Spanish Quarter wine my parents got me for my birthday. (We went to Spain this summer so it was totally reminiscent of a great trip.)

Spanish wine

Spanish wine

Then I added all the types of frozen fruit from my freezer. (For this dietitian, that would be 6 different types in case you were wondering. I know you were.)

Frozen fruit for the sangria

Frozen fruit for the sangria

Then came the mixing of the fruit and the wine- plus some (might I add, very good) bourbon. Then off to the refrigerator it went until party time.

Wine, bourbon, and frozen fruit- Ready for the club soda and the company

Wine, bourbon, and frozen fruit- Ready for the club soda and the company

Right before the company came, I added a the club soda and tossed in a wooden spoon to scoop out the fruit with. And there you have it, Berry Punch Sangria. Ok, so what’s next you ask?

Berry Punch Sangria

Berry Punch Sangria

I had cocoa-dusted almonds, popcorn, black bean chips (salsa came later from a friend), and maple bacon chocolate. I had fun setting up the appetizer table and using some cool hostess accessories from friends for my birthday.

Appetizer table

Appetizer table

And then then, the main course- a taco bar with mole pork, whole grain tortillas, and about 16 toppings.

The taco bar

The taco bar

I served the bell peppers and onions fajita style in an electric wok.

Fajita peppers and onions with black beans

Fajita peppers and onions with black beans

And what do you get when you put it all together! A tasty, stuffed taco with a side of saffron rice and beans. Oh, and a happy tummy and good times with friends.

Taco night dinner- mole pork tacos with fajita peppers and onions and a side of saffron rice and beans

Taco night dinner- mole pork tacos with fajita peppers and onions and a side of saffron rice and beans

There were definitely leftovers to be had. I packaged a jar up for work to heat in the microwave- a layer of beans, followed by fajita peppers and onions, and topped with mole pork. Yum!

Leftovers to-go!

Leftovers to-go!

Taco Bar Party with Mole Pork Tacos, Saffron Rice and Beans, and Sangria

Mole Pulled Pork

Ingredients:

  • 4 lbs Boston butt (pork)
  • 1/4 bottle mole sauce (Sky Valley)

Directions:

  1. Place Boston but in a slow cooker (Crock Pot) on low heat for 3 hours. Increase heat to high and heat an additional 2 hours.
  2. Shred pork using a fork. Add mole sauce and mix in. Enjoy (on tacos)!

Saffron Brown Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cup brown rice (organic)
  • 5 1/2 cup water
  • 0.25 g saffron (from Spain!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Pour rice and water in a large baking dish. Add saffron. Stir. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Enjoy (with black beans)!

Fajita Peppers and Onions

Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 5 small bell peppers (red, orange, green)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • dash salt
  • dash freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Slice onions and peppers. Place in an electric wok on medium-low heat with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Stir occasionally and place lid on in between. Cook for about 15 minutes or until soft. Reduce heat to low until ready to serve.

Sangria

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of frozen fruit (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple)
  • 1 bottle cabernet sauvignon (The Spanish Quarter)
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 L club soda (Seagram’s)

Directions:

  1. Place frozen fruit in a large pitcher. Pour wine and bourbon on top. Mix with a spoon. Refrigerate. Before serving add club soda and stir. Those 21 and over, enjoy!

Taco toppings:

  • Soft whole grain wraps, medium-sized (La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious White Whole Wheat Mini and Tam-x-icos Wrap-Itz Lo-Carb Wheat tortillas)
  • Limes, sliced
  • Fresh avocado slices with lime juice and freshly ground pepper
  • Romaine lettuce, cut into shreds
  • Fresh cilantro, snipped
  • Tomatoes, chopped
  • Scallions, chopped
  • Bell peppers (red, orange, and green) with onions sauteed in olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Steam-in-a-bag corn
  • Canned low sodium black beans, drained and microwaved
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa
  • Black olives
  • Matchstick carrots
  • Fat free Greek plain yogurt
  • Shredded cheese
  • Hot sauces

 

  • Nutrition note: A taco bar party can be great for a group where there may be different food preferences/intolerances. Everyone can make their own meal according to what they desire to or can have.
 

Baked Eggplant Parmesan November 29, 2014

Jamie says: I went to the farmers’ market in St Petersburg for the first time. I love food markets. They have this contagious and bustling energy about them. There’s food to eat now and food to make later. After a picnic lunch on the lawn watching a cooking demo, I strolled through the fresh produce and this misfit eggplant called my name. Funny-shaped food intrigues me. You could say I’m embracing nature’s bounty, but I’ve also always liked the weird M&M’s, too. You know, the lumpy ones with one and half peanuts in them. So here’s my eggplant…

Funky farmers' market eggplant

Funky farmers’ market eggplant

And so what did I do with my eggplant? I made Baked Eggplant Parmesan. And not just any eggplant Parmesan, but my best eggplant Parmesan yet! One that I had to show a picture of to my Italian Grandmother.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

I think the key to a great eggplant was a good sauce, light olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and fresh snips of basil.

Lightened up eggplant that's delish!

Lightened up eggplant that’s delish!

It went perfectly between two slices of whole wheat bread to make an eggplant parm sandwich. I froze the leftovers and brought them to work. What a treat to have during the work day.

Fit for a king. Perfect for a sandwich.

Fit for a king. Perfect for a sandwich.

Baked Eggplant Parmesan

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • spray extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • jar of favorite sauce
  • 1/2 fresh mozzarella ball
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • a dozen leaves of fresh basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Slice eggplant into disks. Spray both sides of sliced eggplant with spray extra virgin olive oil and top with freshly ground pepper.
  2. Place slices in one layer on a baking dish and pour half of sauce on top. Spread sauce evenly. Use remaining eggplant to a second layer and pour remaining sauce on top. Bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Slice mozzarella. Sprinkle baked eggplant with Parmesan cheese and distribute pieces of sliced mozzarella evenly on top. Heat an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is hot and melted.
  4. Remove eggplant from oven. Use kitchen sheers to cut fresh basil over cooked eggplant. Enjoy!

Serves: 6-8

Serving suggestion: Serve with whole wheat bread to make eggplant Parmesan sandwiches.

  • Nutrition note: Make baked eggplant instead of fried eggplant to reduce the calories while maintaining the delicious flavor. Using spray olive oil and a single layer of cheese helps reduce the calories even further. No sacrifice in taste here.
 

Pumpkin and Cranberry Oatmeal Bowl November 28, 2014

Jamie says: What a beautiful holiday Thanksgiving truly is. Each year I grow to appreciate it more and more. I guess you could say it’s a holiday I have a growing relationship with. And I’m not just talking about Thanksgiving dinner. For our Italian family, Thanksgiving goes beyond the dinner table. It’s the turkey bread baking with cousins at Grandma’s house the day before. It’s watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade until Santa crosses the finish line and using our Christmas Spode for breakfast. It’s 6 hours after Thanksgiving dinner when my family (Grandma, Aunts, Uncles, cousins…) are laying down talking about life and half-falling asleep. It’s going to the movies and gathering for the leftovers the next day. It’s Aunt Lavinia’s family auction where we all bring our give-aways and Aunt Lavin auctions them off one by one. That is Thanksgiving, my friends. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.

So cheers to Thanksgiving. Here’s a recipe you can use before, after, or for the holiday- a Pumpkin and Cranberry Oatmeal Bowl. You can use your leftover canned pumpkin and cranberry sauce to make your breakfast a little more festive. (Credit goes to my creative Mother for her idea on this one.)

Pumpkin and Cranberry Oatmeal Bowl

Pumpkin and Cranberry Oatmeal Bowl

I was reflecting on my family’s front porch about the many blessings in my life which I am so thankful for (including delicious food).

Celebrate the little things in life

Celebrate the little things in life

It’s super easy to make and looks oh-so-festive. The orange color is super fun. Plus, how often do we eat a vegetable for breakfast?

It's a breakfast that's like a sneak peak of Thanksgiving dinner

It’s a breakfast that’s like a sneak peak of Thanksgiving dinner

I love milk in my oatmeal. If you do, too, add a splash. And enjoy your quick, holiday breakfast.

A splash of milk for a little creaminess

A splash of milk for a little creaminess

Pumpkin and Cranberry Oatmeal Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup plain quick cooking oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup 100% pure pumpkin (canned)
  • 1 tsp apple pie spice (cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, mace, and cardamon)
  • 2 Tbsp cranberry sauce (homemade)
  • 6 walnut halves
  • 6 pecan pieces
  • 1/4 cup fat free milk (if desired)

Directions:

  1. Combine oats and water in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1 minute in the microwave.
  2. Stir, add pumpkin and apple pie spice, stir, and heat for an additional minute in the microwave.
  3. Scoop cranberry sauce in the center. Place walnut halves and pecan pieces on top. If desired, top with a splash of fat free milk. Enjoy!

Servings: 1

  • Nutrition note: Enjoy holiday flavors (such as pumpkin) throughout the season and in lighter recipes to prevent overeating at holiday events. By having some pumpkin oats, you may feel more satisfied and less likely to eat as much pumpkin pie.
 

Parsnip Sampler November 15, 2014

Jamie says: “Variety is the spice of life,” so why not get a little adventurous and creative with the herbs- and spices- in your pantry? Let’s be real, unless you’re feeding a family, it can get a little boring to eat four servings of the same parsnips- so why not make a Parsnip Sampler and jazz each serving up with a burst of different seasonings.

Oh, and please be careful cutting them. I have flashbacks of my trip to urgent care from cutting parsnips in my college days. Just ask Kathryn and my sweet neighbor (at the time) Patty…

Parsnip Sampler

Parsnip Sampler

How do you jazz these root vegetables up? I’m talking chili and cumin; dill and lemon peel; thyme and rosemary; and curry. A different flavor for each day. (Or you can freeze them. You can freeze almost anything…)

Curry, and dill, and chili, and rosemary, oh my!

Curry, and dill, and chili, and rosemary, oh my!

Parsnip Sampler

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of fresh parsnips
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chili
  • dash cumin
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp dill
  • dash lemon peel
  • 1/8 tsp thyme
  • 1/8 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp curry

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash parsnips. Cut off and discard ends. Cut parsnips into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Cut large slices (from the top part of the parsnip) in half to make half circles. Place cut pieces in a pile on a large baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and mix in with clean hands. Put one-fourth of the parsnips in the corner of the baking pan and sprinkle with chili and cumin. Mix well.
  2. Add salt on top of the remaining three-fourths. Mix well. Divide salted parnsips into three separate piles in the remaining corners of the baking pan.
  3. To one pile, add dill and lemon peel; to the third, add thyme and rosemary; and to the fourth, add curry. Mix each pile separately with clean hands and spread out so pieces are not piled.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork and golden brown. Serve each variety separately. Enjoy!

Servings: 4

  • Nutrition note: Parsnips are a good source of vitamin C, folate, and fiber. They also provide carbohydrates for energy.
 

Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Strips November 11, 2014

Jamie says: I love fall. The weather, the celebrating (my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving), and let’s be real, the food- pumpkin and spice and everything nice! And so, I was inspired to make these Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Strips, and I hope you are, too…

Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Strips

Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Strips

Kid-friendly, dietitian-approved.

Not your average side of fries...

Not your average side of fries…

They’re sweet and salty and a little spicy/zesty from the blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves. Yum!

Sweet and salty with a taste of autumn

Sweet and salty with a taste of autumn

Cinnamon Spice Sweet Potato Strips

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz mixed sweet potatoes (Natural Beauty organic)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • dash ground cloves
  • dash ground nutmeg
  • dash salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into strip and place in a large glass baking dish (Pyrex).
  3. Drizzle with canola oil and sprinkle with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and sugar. Bake for 35 minutes until soft.
  4. Top with a dash of salt and sugar. Serve hot. Enjoy!

Servings: 2

Nutrition note: Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, which is great for night vision (tell the kids they will have superhero see-in-the-dark powers). Leave the skin on for extra fiber for fullness.

 

Chocolate Chia Pudding November 3, 2014

Jamie says: I did it! I made chia pudding. And it was epic. Well, maybe epic is a little strong of a word, but it was delicious and epic for the moment.

 

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Chocolate Chia Pudding

It tasted much like traditional pudding, but more filling and, to me, even better. So satisfied.

Just like "real" pudding- but even better!

Just like “real” pudding- but even better!

Ready to dig in? Give it a try.

The chia seeds are blended, leaving a gel-like chocolaty treat

The chia seeds are blended, leaving a gel-like chocolaty treat

Chocolate Chia Pudding

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup prepared chia gel
  • 1/3 cup fat free milk (organic)
  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (Publix GreenWise)
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa (Hershey’s)
  • dairy whipped topping (ReddiWip Original)

Directions:

  1. In a mini blender (i.e. Bullet-style), add chia gel, milk, protein powder and unsweetened cocoa. Blend until all ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Serve in a small bowl with whipped cream on top. Enjoy!

Servings: 1

  • Nutrition note: This pudding has more protein and omega 3s and less saturated fat and sugar than your traditional pudding.
 

Pumpkin Fro Yo ‘n’ Pear Chia Sunrise Waffles November 2, 2014

Jamie says: Wow, it’s cold! This South Florida girl is not used to this arctic-like weather. Gets me every time. (I’m in Florida by the way.) Call me crazy, but for some reason, I like frozen yogurt when it gets cold out. (Is anyone else the same way?) And so, I woke up freezing, and what did I want for breakfast? Frozen yogurt…and chia gel. (Told ya I’m obsessed with this chia gel stuff.) I put the two together and made Pumpkin Fro Yo ‘n’ Pear Chia Sunrise Waffles!

Pumpkin Fro Yo 'n' Pear Chia Sunrise Waffles

Pumpkin Fro Yo ‘n’ Pear Chia Sunrise Waffles

I have to say, they turned out quite beautiful- like flowers or suns…

They look so pretty! Like flowers or a sun with rays.

They look so pretty! Like flowers or a sun with rays.

There’s a nice contrast in the colors, textures, and flavors. It tasted awesome, too. I bet kids would love these…

Fun for everyone

Fun for everyone

Pumpkin Fro Yo ‘n’ Pear Chia Sunrise Waffles

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Heat waffles in toaster until they’re golden brown.
  2. Chop a pear. Spread chia gel on toasted waffles. Place a 1/4 cup scoop of frozen yogurt in the center of each waffle. Divide chopped pear on top of both waffles, around the frozen yogurt scoops. Enjoy!

Servings: 1

  • Nutrition note: Recipe makeover- Make waffles and ice cream healthier by using whole grain waffles and a portion-controlled amount of fat free frozen yogurt; top with fresh fruit fruit for fiber and vitamins; chia gel adds fiber, omega 3s, and calcium.
 

 
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