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13 posts categorized "food"

October 10, 2012

Speaking of Fall (a recipe share)


I wanted to share my chili recipe that I posted a photo of in my Rituals of Fall layout from Monday. This recipe is really simple, heavy on the protein and in my opinion, very tasty. It combines a few recipes I've used over the years, and now has become my go-to chili.

I eat this many days for lunch. I don't bother with any chili fixin's; it's tasty enough to stand on its own. Plus, it's full of protein and keeps me on the straight and narrow path of healthier eating. Note: Costco has these great organic ground beef three-packs that each have about 1.3 pounds of beef. I use one of those packs each time I make this.


I've included a printable PDF today, which I created using my new Simple Recipe Album set.

Here's the recipe for your downloadable pleasure:

Download EZCZChili

I know some of you are waiting on Fall's arrival, so if it's not quite chili weather where you are, just tuck it away until those degrees start to…Fall.

Note: those of you looking to make a more Paleo-esque version of the recipe can omit the bean, and add in more veggies. I have been doing half the amount of beans, as I strive for a less grain/legume-heavy diet.

You can find my Simple Recipe Album set by clicking here.


February 01, 2012

All Hail Auntie Coo


Let me clear something up first and foremost: Auntie Coo is not related to me.

Auntie Coo is my good friend and former colleague Amy Pampusch Olson's grandmother's sister. But I feel like she has given the world a gift in the form of dumpling soup and now I wish she was my auntie.

One night a few weeks ago, Amy posted on Facebook that she was making Auntie Coo's Dumpling Soup. The picture looked so good I begged her for the recipe. I never met a dumpling that I did not like. She obliged.

I have made this on consecutive Sundays and I am not going to lie: it is the greatest soup I have ever tasted, made or been a part of in any way, shape or form.

Yes, I love it that much.

I wanted to share this recipe with you today for those chilly winter nights when you want something homey, hearty and insanely comforting.

Salut! And all hail Auntie Coo.

Download Auntiecoosdumplingsoup

ABOUT AUNTIE COO: Auntie Coo was born Cleo Gravley in Windom, Minnesota. She worked for the telephone company her whole life and traveled around the world after retirement, bringing Amy gifts such as rocks from the Black Sea. She was essentially Amy's grandma. She got her nickname because someone couldn't pronounce her given name, Cleo.

Note: Auntie Coo's original recipe does not include chicken or celery. I have added those to my version. See PDF for complete recipe instructions.

And again, all hail Auntie Coo.

January 16, 2012

I'm no food blogger, but…

I want to share a very cherished recipe with you today, one I've been making since I was about 19 and the very first thing I learned to make (following a few disastrous forays into the lasagne realm when I was in high school.) Of course, there's a story behind this dish. Shall I?

In 1984, I graduated from Cascade High School in Everett, Washington. To mark the occasion, one of my closest friends invited us over to her parents' home for a celebratory dinner, grown-up style. We had amazing dinner music (This Mortal Coil), wine glasses—with no alcohol, of course—and the most delicious Italian dish I'd never before tasted: manicotti. Or, as the New Jersey Italians apparently called it, "Manigot."

I remember during this meal of really being aware that some form of adulthood was just around the corner. I'd spent the latter part of my senior year immersed in the new and exciting world of new wave and in just a few months, I'd be diving headlong into college and the Seattle scene. My friends would also be going off in their own directions. It was exciting if not a little bittersweet. 

After the meal, I begged my girlfriend's mother for the recipe. She explained that though she wasn't Italian in the least, her ex-husband was and that she had learned to make this years before in accordance with any Italian housewife worth her salt in the kitchen.

She shared the recipe with me and it has been one that I've trotted out over the years when I wanted a dish that would a) impress and b) taste amazing pretty much every single time.

It's funny, because years ago this seemed like such an undertaking to create. But I've recently brought it back into my repertoire, realizing how simple and basic this dish is. In a sense, I've demystified it in the past few months, and it's a good thing, too: my entire family eats it and likes it.

The other thing I love about this recipe is the ingredients are anything but extraordinary. They are simple and you can find them at any store. Yes, a little elbow grease is required to make the sauce and the pasta, but I promise you the results will be a melt in your mouth culinary delight.

We start with the ingredients for the sauce:


1 can tomato sauce (32 ounce can)
1 can tomato puree (32 ounce can)
1 can crushed tomatoes (32 ounce can)
2 cans tomato paste
7-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 8-0z. packages mushrooms (finely chopped, baby bellas or buttons work well)
olive oil

This sauce is so simple! You chop up your mushrooms into a small dice. Then you heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat and toss 'em in. Sprinke in pepper and salt to taste (1/2 tsp of each), then throw in the garlic. Next, add in all of the cans of sauces and pastes. Stir and then I always add a cup and a half of water to thin it out a bit. I usually just fill the bigger cans with some water to help get all of the sauces out of the cans, then pour them into the pot.

Next, you cover the surface with a light coating of oregano, stir in it well, then cover with another thin layer of oregano, turn the heat to low, cover and simmer. All day long.

What if you or your kids don't like mushrooms? You can do what I do. I strain a little of the sauce to make a small pan of no-mushroom manigot. Or, you can just enjoy it because honestly, it doesn't come off as a mushroom-y sauce. Trust me.

Keep on low, stirring throughout the day. Enjoy how good your house smells during the process.


Next up, the manigot themselves. The shells are actually just crepes. Just flour, eggs, milk and oil. 

3 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1-1/2 cups flour
1-1/2 cups milk
2 T vegetable oil

Combine adding milk and flour alternately and beat until you have a smooth, thin creamy mixture. (I use a hand mixer.) Add a few tablespoons of water to ensure it is thin enough to easily spread out on a hot griddle. (I end up adding 4 to 6 tablespoons of water to make the consistency a bit thinner. Or even a few more tablespoons of milk.) If you have time, put the batter in the fridge to let it rest for up to an hour.

To make the crepes, use a griddle or crepe pan. Heat to medium/medium high to start. Oil the pan and pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan, tilting the pan to create a large, thin crepe. The thinner the better. The goal is to create a 6-inch or so crepe, and not to overcook it. Trim off any excess of the crepes that come from the pouring and pan tilting motion. Lightly grease the pan before making each crepe. Store them between sheets of wax paper so they won't dry out while cooking. Make as many as your batter allows for. Mine usually makes between 20 and 25, which is more than you will need.

part skim milk ricotta cheese (two small containers or one large)
2 - 3 teaspoons dried parsley (I omit this for my picky kids)
 2 cups shredded mozerrella
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (freshly grated)

Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl, and mix well. I usually include around 1/4 cup of the freshly grated parmesan in the mixture, saving more for sprinkling on top once the pans are assembled. 
Take one of the crepes and about 3 to 4 spoonfuls of the ricotta mixture into the center of the crepe and roll up like a burrito. Repeat.


I use two 9 x 13 glass Pyrex casserole pans to assemble the dish. Ladle a generous amount of sauce in the pans. Lay in the manigot. Cover with more sauce and spread around to cover the exposed pasta areas. Sprinkle with parmesan, cover with foil and place into a 375 degree oven. 

Cook for 25 minutes covered, then take off the foil and cook for another 15 for a total of around 40 minutes. The pans should be bubbling.

Now this is a horrible shot, taken after the sun set in my incandescently lit kitchen, but you get the idea.


The surprising thing is that each manigot comes out to about 150 calories, and a scoop of the sauce around 50. It's not as high calorie as you'd think. That's just a bonus.

I love this dish for its taste and the memories it evokes each time I smell the sauce and with each bite that melts in my mouth.

It reminds me adulthood is just around the corner.

Happy cooking.

Here is a downloadable PDF of the recipe:

Download Manigot

March 16, 2011

I've needed this like, forever.


No, not the cookbook (although it's a totally awesome cookbook), but the cookbook stand.

Seriously. My whole life I have needed this. Or at least the percentage of years spent cooking.


Form meets function. Booya! And get this…it folds flat.


Marry me, NOW!


This is hands down the single best purchase of 2011 and quite possibly of 2010 as well. (Although my chartruese Columbia jacket runs an awfully close second.)

Now when I make my most favorite Golden Tofu and Warm Asian Slaw wraps I can easily see the recipe I'm cooking and refrain from either a) splashing it with cooking oil, or b) soaking it with drool.



And speaking of drool, just a quick peek at our remodel which is getting closer and closer to being a done deal.


And what's behind the big maple doors over the fire place?


Hot damn! The Zielskes done got themselves a giant, fancy TV.

I had never seen HD TV in action until last night. I flipped on The Biggest Loser, turned to Dan after recovering from the shock and awe of seeing the trainers' pores and said, "We have arrived, good sir. We have arrived."

I mean, I knew Bob Harper was a beautiful man, but until I saw him in glorious 1080 High Definition, I knew that I had only just begun to truly live.




March 14, 2011

Vegetarianism is the new Amish


Meatless March is in full swing, and aside from a swift and decided detour into a meat-free but highly sugared crap food fest last week in honor of my 45th birthday (Blue Raspberry Icee's are of the Devil), I've been enjoying finding new meals to feed my family that don't feature an animal protein at the center of the plate.

(And by feed my family, it should really read: feed me, Dan, and possibly Aidan if the meal isn't too freaky, while Cole looks on in disgust, happily eating his millionth PB&J for dinner.)


I've had some emails and comments about Meatless March. You know, what does it all mean? You're not getting enough protein! Why do you despise meat eaters? For the love of pepperoni, why are you doing this?

My answer is two-fold. First, I wanted to find ways to eat more plant-based whole grains and foods for the potential overall health benefit. Second, I want to see how my body responds to this way of eating.

And for now, that's pretty much it. Don't get me wrong, I have very fond memories of the Outback, mates. But there's no rule that says you can't revisit your food eating philosophies from time to time. Which is exactly what I'm doing.

And so far, so yummy.

I love to cook and I love new cookbooks, and during the past few weeks I've picked up a few, including this one:


(The Spicy Quinoa and Potato Croquettes were tasty and filling, served with a simple side salad.)

And I picked up this one:


(I have yet to crack the cover on this bad boy.)

And for my birthday, Dan gave me this one:


(I hope to make something from it this week.)

This reminds me a little story about how I roll, according to my better half. It goes something like this:

"Let's say I see the movie "Witness" and I decide I'd like to learn more about the Amish. I might go to the library, check out a few books, bring them home and maybe, just maybe crack the cover and read a few chapters. But very likely, not. You? You become Amish."

So right now vegetarianism is my new Amish.

I actually dropped the meat from our menus in mid February. I think I just wanted to make sure I could get back into this non-meat groove.

So far, the challenge has been interesting and tasty.

The only drawback to some of the meals I've been making? They require too many different pans, and the house smells of garlic and cumin for hours on end.

But when Dan gives me his very Midwestern response of, "Wow. This is great! This would go great with a burger," then I know I'm on the right track. More or less.

January 31, 2011

Chicken soup for the stomach


Today on my stove there will be a pot simmering that looks much like this photo above. Mmmm. Chicken soup. Does it get any better? (Save for those who are vegetarians, of course.)

My neighbor Angela made this delicious soup over Christmas, and having had a bowl or three of it, I had to come home and recreate. I've done so twice, and I will be honest with you: I could live on this. Just ask Dan when we hit Day 4 of leftovers.

The kids won't touch it. The girl is a vegetarian. The boy is selective. But me? I could swim laps in the stuff.

It's very, very basic and you can zooch it up any way you like, but here's my favorite (and pretty dang healthy) chicken soup recipe.

Sheldon Street Chicken Soup

1 whole chicken + one chicken breast (I get mine from Whole Foods)

4-5 stalks of celery, cut up, tops included

4 carrots, cut up

1 large yellow onion, cut up, with skins on

4-5 cloves garlic, smashed

8 to 10 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Put everything in an 8-quart stock pot, cover with water, bring to boil and then down to a simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Skim off fat if you like (I generally don't.) Remove the chicken, pull off all the white meat and shred. Shred extra breast meat as well. Set shredded chicken aside.

Return as many bones as possible to the pot, and simmer another 30 minutes to an hour. Note: I discard the dark meat but if you're a fan, by all means, use it. However, it will add a little to the calorie/point content.

Strain broth and set aside. You can place the broth in the fridge to let the fat harden on the surface and skim off. I leave it as is and set it on the counter while prepping the other ingredients for the soup.

2 cups chopped yellow onion

2 cups chopped celery

1 cup diced carrots

2 T butter

3 cups shredded chicken breast

2 to 3 cups of cooked wild rice (I used the Broken Bits rice from Whole Foods, from the bulk section)

10 cups of chicken stock

chopped fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS: Heat butter in a large dutch oven or stock pot and sauté onions and celery until wilted, then add carrots and sauté another 3 to 5 minutes until softened. Add chicken stock, chicken, wild rice, thyme and season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Enjoy this simple goodness!

1 cup of the soup equals 5 points on the new Weight Watchers Points Plus system.

And if you have a cold, it just might make you feel better.


Thanks again to Angela, my neighborhood food muse and running partner extraordinaire for the recipe.

October 28, 2010

Is it just me, or is this sidewalk made for us?


You're seeing this, right? I mean, I'm not just imagining that I have a giant letter 'Z' in my front yard, right?

Seriously so cool. Here's a wider shot to give you some context.


Our house is wrapped with a giant letter 'Z'. (Dan also pointed out it could be also be seen as a giant letter 'N', but I'm pretending he didn't really say that.)

We're—or rather, our contractor—is making steady progress our home improvement project. I will continue to share a few shots here and there as it progresses. Renovating nearly 100-year-old homes isn't without its surprises, and especially the ones that will cost more money than you planned to initially spend. Ay yi yi.

But at least we have insulation in our walls and a porch that won't sink into the ground. Soon to come? Front stairs and new siding.

Exciting stuff. Almost as exciting as sex muffins, but I think we can all agree that's gonna be a hard one to top.


Nevertheless, I share with you my revised and updated sex banana muffin recipe, which isn't mine at all, but I make it with an awful lot of love. Enjoy!

Jean Otteson's Banana Bread (or muffins!)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
8 oz (1 package) Philadelphia Cream Cheese (softened at room temp)
2 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups of sugar
2-1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix oil, sugar, bananas, cream cheese, eggs, vanilla until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 18 muffins.

Each muffin is roughly 180 calories of deliciousness.

Option: sprinkle a little sugar on each muffin before baking to give it a nice little sugar crust.

Option two: Bake two loaves of bread in a greased, floured pan for 40 minutes.

Best eaten warm and often.



October 26, 2010

When I speak of muffins


This past Sunday, I was in a muffin sort of mood, so thanks to a suggestion from my friend Ali, I made these babies from Martha Stewart.

I like the idea of baking. I like the image of pulling out warm, tasty goodness from my oven and presenting this home-baked bounty to my family. Measuring, mixing and baking with love ensures at least one entry into a possible Mother of the Year contest, doesn't it?

The problem with any and all of my forays into baked goods is that I can't handle being in the same room with a freshly baked anything. I can't have just one muffin. Or two. Sometimes, not even three.

I fool myself though, into thinking I can handle baking. With muffins, it usually goes like this: I'll have one at 1 p.m.. The second at 2. The third at 3. And in between those hours, I'll drink a glass of water which as we all know counteracts the sugar and lessens the cumulative calorie count.

So by the end of the day, I'd eaten 7 muffins. Seven. Count 'em. Seven cuplets of delicious banana bready nirvana.

Dan had gone out for the evening (church function, mind you…he ain't out partying like it's 1999 on a Sunday night), and when he returned, I was feeling bloated and disappointed in my food choices that day. It's not that I have to answer to Dan with food. We who are trying to slim down know the hard and fast truth here: you answer to yourself alone, and possibly the scale. Still, I like to pull the 'woe is me' routine when I feel lousy about my nutritional choices for the day. So when I gave him the report, I rounded down.

"I ate six muffins today," I said, sounding weary and beaten down, complete with a heavy sigh on the delivery.

His reply?

"Sex muffins? I want some!"

Thanks, babe, for knowing the right thing to say 99 percent of the time. I'm never not going to be grateful for your sense of humor.

May 26, 2010

Smores. Step-by-step.

First, you need to get yourself a Christmas tree. Preferably, one that has been drying out in your back yard since January. Don't worry if the neighbors think it's an eyesore. It's a Zielske family tradition!


Next, you need fire. Hey Scarecrow, how's about a little fire?


Then, once the kindling is lit, you need to cut up the tree.


Sometimes, you need a bit more man power.


Now you're talking. Hey hot stuff, wanna light my fire?


Next, prepare your ingredients.


Then, take a self portrait on wide angle from a slightly elevated vantage point because it will make you look really chinless.


Next, begin the marshmallow toasting, preferably using tallish teens.


Once maximum toastage is achieved, assemble the delicacy.


Drool appropriately for about 15 seconds.


And never, ever record the Weight Watcher's points on a summer tradition.


May 04, 2010

I want to marry this salad. I'm serious.


My neighbor, who is really healthy and eats amazing food, recently passed along a recipe for cabbage slaw, slated to accompany fish tacos.

I decided to tweak the recipe a bit, adding a few extra calories, but created a flavor profile that I'm sorry, I would like to marry. Right now.

Featuring a subtle Asian flair, this salad went just as easily with shredded chicken tacos as it did with chicken satay we had last night (with Trader Joe's Satay Sauce in lieu of the one given by the recipe).  This salad recipe makes 4 huge servings, at 2 points a pop.

If you break down the salad into smaller servings, then you'll eat fewer points. I like to load up on this, and it's all I can do to not eat it every single night.


Download Asian Cabbage Slaw