White Cheddar Meatballs

20150124-DSC04214I don’t know of anything that says comfort food like meatballs.  There are so many different versions that I think they fit about any ethnic dish.  You can make them large for a main meal, medium as a side, or cocktail size for an appetizer.  Another benefit is that you can make a small number or a large number and freeze them.

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Mike’s Double Espresso Chocolate Martini

Mike's Double Espresso Chocolate Martini - HostessAtHeartToday we are starting our celebration of Angie’s @The Novice Gardener One Year Anniversary of Fiesta Friday.  To celebrate, her and her amazing co-hosts Hilda @Along The Grapevine and Julianna @Foodie On Board are throwing one huge block party. This party is going to span two weeks!  Now that is my kind of party! Well, that is when I’m not in bed by 9:30 anyway. Continue reading

Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oatmeal

Chai-Spiced Steel Cut Oats - HostessAtHeartIf you follow my blog very closely, you may think that this entire blog is on oatmeal. Maybe you are just thinking that I seriously need an intervention. Bear with me, I have one more for you.

I do love the stuff, but another reason that I am such a fan of oatmeal is because it is probably the single best way for me to watch my weight. How can a food that fills you up still allow you to loose or maintain weight? In my case, it fills me up and keeps me satisfied. If I start my day with a serving size of cold cereal, in many cases that is 2/3 to 3/4 cup, I am hungry within 2 hours and looking for a snack. Who wouldn’t be? Also, there isn’t any added sugar hiding in oatmeal. Not hidden meaning you control the way you eat it.

I’ve recently seen recipes that are flavored with tea bags. What an amazing idea! Flavor without calories. One of my favorite tea is Chai. Especially this time of year. The spices are warm and just like a big ole hug in my book. Oatmeal is kind of like that for me too. The combination of the two is a pretty big hug! I recently came across a similar recipe in the “Cuisine at home” magazine. This recipe uses banana. I like a fresh banana or banana bread, but don’t put it in my oatmeal or my smoothie. People say your can’t taste it. Phooey, I can too. I used unsweetened applesauce instead and adjusted the spices a little more to my liking.

One more benefit of this recipe is that it is cooked in the crockpot. Can you imagine waking up in the morning to the smell of warm spices? It makes you want to put on those bunny slippers and head for the breakfast table! I stored remaining oatmeal in the pyrex measuring cup used in the recipe, covered with plastic wrap. Each morning I just spoon a serving into a bowl, added a bit of almond milk, and warmed it in the microwave.20150109-DSC03567

Chai-Spiced Steel-Cut Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 7 to 8 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
2 cups water
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup steel-cut oats
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon each ground cardamom and cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon each ground cloves and ginger
1 Grey tea bag
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the vanilla into a 4 cup pyrex measuring cup.
  2. Press tea bag into liquid.
  3. Place measuring cup inside a 6 to 8 quart slow cooker. Add water to the slow cooker to come halfway up the side of the measuring cup.
  4. Cover slow cooker and cook oats on low setting, 7 to 8 hours.
  5. Discard tea bag and stir in vanilla.

Refrigerate unused servings in a covered container.

Crockpot Green Lentil Curry

Crockpot Green Lentil Curry - HostessAtHeartSo far, 2015 had been a year of firsts.  By that I mean that I am sticking to my resolutions.  My resolutions don’t include loosing weight or to quit smoking because I don’t need to do either.  I quit smoking 16 years ago, and lost 45 pounds over 2 years ago.  By maintaining a balance, I have kept it off in a healthy way.  If you aren’t familiar with my story, you can read about it here. Continue reading

Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Cheese

Potato Gnocchi with Butter and Cheese - HostessAtHeartSometimes I am responsible for erecting my own “road blocks”. I have wanted to make potato gnocchi for quite some time. I even put it on my goals for 2015. I have let the possibility of failure intimidate me from trying. Do you do this? Am I the only ding-a-ling? Continue reading

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup - HostessAtHeartMy husband John is generally a meat and potatoes kind of guy. When we married a few years ago (actually 35 in July), he wasn’t very adventurous. Beef and potatoes was his favorite menu.

Once in a while John has to go out of town on business. I always miss my honey bunny, but take advantage of the time to cook up dishes that he wouldn’t have much to do with. I have been wanting to put together this recipe for wild rice and mushroom soup. I had intended on adding some chicken to it so it would be a hearty dish that we would both enjoy. We bought a chicken that turned out to be so fatty. This bird must have lived a life of leisure because it was just horrible. I was so disappointed. I decided to make my soup without the chicken.

I am very glad that I did. This soup is hearty and so flavorful. John got home and we enjoyed a big bowl for lunch. He loved it and stated that it was so delicious that he didn’t even miss the chicken. Yee Haw! Home run for the Mrs.

Well, in all fairness, John has really expanded his horizons in the years that we have spent together. He knows if I say he’ll like something he generally will. There are still some things off the table, but we have time. Hopefully another 35?

I think I would rather give up meat than mushrooms. They have such a wholesome earthy flavor and are like little flavor sponges. You can combine the flavors that you enjoy with herbs, sauces or broths. I specifically love cremini (baby portebellas), shiitakes and some of the exotic blends. I don’t often use the white button mushrooms because they don’t have much flavor, but if that is all you can get, go for it.  One thing I have to pass along is that 1 teaspoon of lemon zest doesn’t sound like much, but it makes such a big difference in this soup.  Don’t leave it out.20150108-DSC03436

Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
1 cup wild rice (I used a wild rice blend)
1/4 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
4 1/4 cups water
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, plus 4 cloves, mined
Salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, chopped fine
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2/3 cup dry sherry
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarian)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (I use low sodium soy sauce)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 minced fresh chives (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.  Grind shiitake mushrooms in a spice grinder until finely ground (you should have about 3 tablespoons).
  2. Bring water, thyme, bay leaf, garlic clove, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and baking soda to boil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and return to a boil. Cover saucepan, transfer to oven, and bake until rice is tender, 35 to 50 minutes. Strain rice through a fine-mesh strainer set in a 4-cup liquid measuring cup; discard thyme, bay leaf, and garlic. Add enough water to reserved cooking liquid to measure 3 cups.
  3. Melt butter in Dutch oven over high heat.  Add cremini mushrooms, onion, minced garlic, tomato paste, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.  Cook stirring occasionally, until vegetables are browned and dark fond develops on bottom of pot, 15 minutes. Add sherry, scraping up any browned bits, and cook until reduced and pot is almost dry, about 2 minutes.  Add ground shiitake mushrooms, reserved rice cooking liquid, chicken broth, and soy sauce and bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until onion and mushroom are tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup water in small bowl.  Stir cornstarch slurry into soup, return to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and stir in cooked rice, cream, chives, and lemon zest.  Cover and let stand for 20 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.Recipe adapted from Cooks Illustrated January-February 2013 issue

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Quick Cocoa-Almond Oatmeal

Quick Cocoa_Almond OatmealI grew up in a small rural community. So small, we only had one fast-food place that primarily served ice cream and was only open during the summer months. There wasn’t any bakeries, pizza places or burger joints. We survived anyway. I know, I wonder how too.  If you wanted something you had to make it.

I was born with a primary chocolate gene I am convinced. Prior to my baking days, I remember when I discovered the unsweetened cocoa container in the cupboard. I thought I was really getting away with something in finding it. It smelled amazing. I got out a spoon and dipped in. What the heck? It was awful! What a huge disappointment!

This oatmeal sure wasn’t a disappointment. It’s a great way to get your chocolate fix and your antioxidants at the same time. You can control how much sweetness you want with a drizzle of maple or agave syrup, some roasted coconut, or heck get out the sugar bowl, I wont tell. I added some roasted almonds, and it was like dessert before dinner.

Another great thing about this oatmeal is that it makes 4 to 6 servings. I just cooked it all up and put it in separate bowls. I had breakfast for the week.20150105DSC03258_Quick_Cocoa_Almond_Oatmeal

Quick Cocoa-Almond Oatmeal

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Ingredients
4 cups almond milk
2 cups quick oats
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
4-6 tablespoons sliced roasted

Directions

Bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in oats, cocoa powder and salt. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls, garnish with almonds, and a drizzle of agave syrup.

Nutrition (per serving) 232 cal, 8.6 pro, 32 carb, 7.5 fiber, 9.7 fat, 1.2 g sat fat, 181 mg sodium

Now i’m headed over to wake up the Fiesta Friday parties with this wholesome breakfast hosted by the wonderful Angie at The Novice Gardner and co-hosted by the equally grand Selma @Selma’s Table and Sue @birgerbird.

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