Fiber Musings

Category: Recipes

Monday Meal Highlight – Autumn Beef Stew

Yes, yes, I know- It is Tuesday… but sometimes that is just how the cookie crumbles. However, we aren’t talking cookies today, we are talking stew. Warm, cozy, delicious, beef stew that is. Okay, so I have to admit I haven’t tried this one yet, but I did all my grocery shopping yesterday and I am ready to get cranking on it as soon as I press publish on this post.

Here in Chicago we avoided the early fall snow that some of you got on the east coast, however, just seeing those flurries on the weather map has me in the mood for some hearty winter stews. I am very excited to try the Autumn Beef Stew recipe by Fabtastic Life.

Since this is my first time trying this recipe I will stick close to the directions, however, I am going to make one major modification and try to cook this in my Cuisinart multicooker in lieu of the dutch oven. I will be sure to post updates to let you all know how it goes! Until then, happy cooking!


Monday Meal Highlight – Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash

There is a serious bite in the air today, which means that it is time for me to share one of my all time favorite winter meals. This tangine recipe from Cooking Light has become a staple in my household. I make this again and again all winter long and we never tire of it. This stew is rich and tasty but still a quick fix that requires relatively few dishes- Score!

Not only is this one of my favorite meals to dish up at home, but this is also something that I love to make over the open fire while camping. (See below for my easy camping prep suggestions). We have dined on tangine while winter camping in Yosemite and during a torrential downpour in Big Sur which nearly washed away our tent. Whatever the occasion, when you really need a heart warming, cozy meal this is a must!

Please refer to the above link for the full recipe. I occasionally get lazy and buy pre-cut stew meat in lieu of purchasing a roast and cutting it myself. If you have the time buy the roast, as it will yield a better result. In addition to serving with cilantro I also like to add a dollop of sour cream or plain greek yogurt.

Finally, when camping I make to following advance preparation which guarantees a good result in the great outdoors:

  1. Measure the first 6 ingredients (all of the spices), at home and mix them together in a zip lock baggie. This way you don’t need to be toting all of your spice jars and measuring spoons with you.
  2. Bring a large freezer bag and use it to toss the meat and spices.
  3. Occasionally, depending on camping conditions, I opt to chop my meat ahead of time. When doing very primitive camping I don’t like to mess with chopping the raw meat at the site as cleaning up and sanitizing a cutting board, knife, etc can be more challenging- (I can hear my husband correcting me now… “It’s fine, just stick the knife blade in the fire…”)
  4. Don’t forget your can opener or veggie peeler- (Again, I hear my husbands voice: “You don’t need a can opener… I have my axe”). None of us want to see a man open a can of tomatoes with an axe. Or do we?
Cooking at Yosemite

One of my best memories of our time living on the west coast was enjoying this tangine around the campfire with our dear friends.

Hope that you all enjoy this recipe, whether from the comfort of your home or the warmth of your campfire!

via Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash – Best Recipes for Winter Vegetables and Fruits – Cooking Light.

Monday Meal Highlight – Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika

When I quit my job to stay at home with my son I was blessed to be able to focus my attention on the things that matter most to me: My baby and my husband. I just left a fast paced, deadline driven job and surprisingly I now find myself structuring my day at home with similar deadlines. In my head there is a miniature checklist each day- On Monday’s for instance, we do the following:

  • Meal planning for the week
  • Take Baby E for a walk
  • Complete daily chore
  • Afternoon grocery shopping
  • Wash & fold laundry
  • Monday Meal Highlight blog post

Somewhere in there I also try to get Baby E down for 2 (or three) naps, feed myself, grab a cup of coffee, work on freelance work, change 5-6 diapers and shake a rattle with my left foot while sneakily eating pieces of dark chocolate. I wake at 6 a.m. to feed Baby E, but I consider my “work” day to start at 8 a.m. when my husband leaves and to wrap up at 6:30 p.m. when he gets home. I challenge myself to end each day with a clean house and dinner ready at 6:30pm. (Full disclosure: this only happens half the time….sometimes…. occasionally).

Monday is one of my favorite days because I love planning out our meals, organizing my grocery list and hitting the local store. I feel that Baby E enjoys cruising through the grocery too- The colors, the smells, the music, the cheese samples…. Anyhow, I spent my first two months as a stay at home mom going bonkers in the kitchen before reality hit. I was spending WAY too much money on groceries. So, I have recently been trying to find healthy, flavorful meals that won’t break the bank. (Without relying solely on my mom’s Tuna Casserole recipe… Uck! Sorry mom)

Enter: Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika from Bon Appétit… (Can we get a longer recipe name? Please, anyone?). This little gem of a weeknight meal is the perfect example of a great meal that comes together quickly and wont cost you a fortune. The same ingredients are reused in different ways to create a meal that seems complicated but that doesn’t require a huge laundry list of items. I especially like this recipe because it utilizes many staples that I try to keep on hand anyways. The canned beans and tomatoes are excellent budget friendly fillers and it seems that there is almost always a sale on some variation of chicken breasts. (I’ve made this with boneless skinless, bone-in breasts and bone-in thighs. Note: your cook times will vary- See here for some chicken cooking basics) Not to mention this is a great make-ahead meal. Throw it together the night before or while baby is sleeping and pop it in the oven 20 minutes before you want to eat. The great thing about roasting your dinner is that you have the duration of the roasting time to set the table, clean dishes… etc!

I like to serve this with a box of pine nut couscous or if I’m really in a hurry 90-second microwaveable brown rice. (But seriously, it’s killer with the couscous).

I hope that this becomes a staple in your home just as it has in mine!

via Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika Recipe – Bon Appétit.

Spooky Spider Cake

I am not huge into Halloween decorations- I do the costumes… I eat the candy… I frequent the pumpkin patch but something about making my home look like Chuckie’s haunted play castle just doesn’t agree with me. (I know, I’m lame)…

A few years ago, however, I uncharacteristically concocted a Halloween cake that had even my husband squirming in his boots.


So here it is, the Spooky Spider Cake- Mmmm tasty! (Pardon the picture quality, at the time I didn’t plan to blog this!)


Here is how I pulled it off- Read the rest of this entry »

Monday Meal Highlight – Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese Recipe

I absolutely love this fresh and easy pasta dish. The simple, refreshing flavors combine to make a dynamite weeknight meal in no time at all.

My modifications are listed below:

  • I substitute Broccolini for Rapini (Rapini can sometimes be slightly too bitter for me and my husband)
  • I use whole wheat pasta
  • I use reduced-fat goat cheese crumbles (Although, I admittedly go full-fat cheese if I’m making this for company, ha ha!)

via Orecchiette with Rapini and Goat Cheese Recipe | SAVEUR.

You Say Potato, I say “pa-TAW-toh” – Sweet Potato Recipe Feature

My husband did a full autumn immersion trip to Trader Joe’s on his way home from work last night. In an effort to brighten up my evening- (mission accomplished), he came home with some of my favorite autumn items: a bouquet of beautiful orange mums, a box of TJ’s Pumpkin O’s cereal and  bag of sweet potatoes. (Quick side note: If you haven’t had Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s you need to go get them….now! nom nom nom nom…..)

Anyhow, my husband is the king of buying an ingredient but not thinking of what we will do with it. So I’ve been sifting through some of my favorite sweet potato recipes this morning. Below are a few old favorites, as well as a few new recipes that I am hoping to try this season. Just for kicks, since Baby E is officially eating solids now, I included a link to some great recipes for homemade baby food as well!


sweet potato 1

Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad with Cherries, Goat Cheese + Candied Walnuts, via Ambitious Kitchen

I LOVE this salad!
I made the following recipe modifications:
I used dried cherries in lieu of fresh, and we used honey roasted pecans in lieu of the walnuts. Also, I didn’t have fresh lemon juice at the time so I substituted orange juice- (the good stuff: high pulp, not from concentrate). Turned out great.

sweet potato 2

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Wedges, via Creme de la Crumb

sweet potato 3

Roasted grape, goat cheese + honey stuffed sweet potatoes, via How sweet it is

sweet potato 4

Collection of great age appropriate sweet potato baby food recipes & nutritional info, via

Monday Meal Highlight – Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs

Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs Photograph by Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs
Photograph by Hirsheimer & Hamilton

Well, last week it was feeling pretty autumnal, but we are back up into the high 70’s & 80’s this week, so I felt like I should break out one of my favorite summer meals. This recipe is easy enough to become a weeknight staple but tasty enough to serve to guests. I have found it to be a great make ahead meal- We often have this for dinner when I know we have a busy evening ahead. I make up the marinade in the morning and leave the chicken thighs in the fridge soaking up the awesome flavors all day. When Kyle and I are ready to sit down to dinner  they cook up quickly and beautifully.

This week I threw together a cauliflower side that was a great complement, and again, extremely easy:

  • Steam cauliflower, drain.
  • Add juice from half a lime, a small handful of chopped cilantro, salt and pepper to taste.

This was a great alternative to a heavier or starchier side such as a rice dish. I let some of the extra marinade run into the cauliflower and together with the chicken it made a great healthy meal.

I’ve also done this recipes with chicken breasts, in which case I roast them in the oven in lieu of using the broiler. I imagine that this would also be GREAT on the grill. Let’s soak up the rest of these beautiful summer evenings!

via Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs Recipe – Bon Appétit.

Monday Meal Highlight – Mushroom Stroganoff

One thing that I loved about the 9 to 5 grind was that at force me to have a fairly regimented schedule. I find that for me schedules provide the backbone to an organized life. I’ve also found that Baby E hates firm schedules but likes routines. So, I have tried to recreate some semblance of a routine in our new life. One thing that has been consistent is that on Monday’s I create a meal plan and do the grocery shopping for the week.

Therefore, each Monday I will be sharing one of the recipes from our meal plan on the Monday Meal Highlight.

Southern Living Magazine's Mushroom Stroganoff

Southern Living Magazine’s Mushroom Stroganoff

This week I am excited to try a new recipe from the pages of Southern Living Magazine. I am not from the South and have never lived there, however, my husband hails from Charleston, South Carolina and I purchased a subscription to the magazine in hopes of recreating some of the meals and traditions that remind him of home. This week their Mushroom Stroganoff jumped off the page at me and I am anxious to give it a try. I have included a link to the original recipe as well as some modifications that I intend to make to create a healthier well rounded meal.

I intend to follow the directions with slight alterations to the ingredients as follows, (my edits in italic):

1 (8-oz.) package egg noodles (I plan to use whole wheat pasta or quinoa pasta)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter (I may omit half or all of the butter opting instead to cook the mushrooms in olive oil)
2 (8-oz.) packages sliced cremini mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream (I will use non-fat or low-fat)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 handfuls spinach (I love to add spinach to dishes like this for an extra nutritional punch)

via Mushroom Stroganoff – September 2015 Recipes – Southern Living.

**Recipe Update**

I cooked up the Mushroom Stroganoff this evening with the recipe modifications outlined above and initially I wasn’t terribly thrilled with the outcome. The meal felt very rich and it seemed to need a little something to cut through the cream. (Maybe I’m crazy, smooth creamy stroganoff is the goal right….?) Well, in our house, heat rules. So after serving up the stroganoff I added a dash of cayenne pepper to my dish and felt that it was definitely a game changer- Kyle agreed.

Lastly, for a dish named Mushroom Stroganoff, I felt that there was a shortage of mushrooms. Next time I will double the mushrooms.

Anybody have any other suggestions or riffs on this dish? Leave your comments!


Mushrooms smelled amazing browning in the smoked paprika!


After bringing the broth to a broil I added in my spinach.


Spinach cooked down brilliantly in the broth mixture.


Come and get it!