Sunday, December 24, 2017

More Comfort & Joy

Too many recipes for just one post, so here we go again...



1.
So the Pioneer Woman totally inspired me. I like to watch her show while I fold laundry and I was totally drooling over her cinnamon rolls! However, once I started making them, I just couldn't add the amount of butter and sugar her recipe calls for. I am sure her cinnamon rolls are to die for (and I adore her and her blog) and some day I may try her actual recipe. But this time I decided to play one of my favorite cooking games - how much fat and sugar can I remove from this recipe and still make something delicious? And I was pretty pleased with how these turned out!

Serves 30
INGREDIENTS
2 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
1 cup sugar, divided
1 packet active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour, divided (plus more for rolling)
3/4 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. + 1 pinch of salt
2 sticks softened butter
Cinnamon
Cooking spray
2 cups powdered sugar
2 T. maple syrup
2 T. coffee (or milk)
DIRECTIONS
1. In a large pot, mix milk, canola oil and 1/2 cup sugar. Heat over medium until small bubbles start to form. Remove from heat and cool 45 minutes. Sprinkle yeast over the cooled mixture and let sit for 1 minute. Stir in 4 cups flour. Cover and let sit 1 hour. Add remaining 1/2 cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and 1/2 t. salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
2. On a floured baking surface, roll HALF of the dough into a 15"x 11"rectangle. Coat with 1 stick of softened butter and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sugar and a generous amount of cinnamon. Starting with the long end farthest away from you, roll the dough into a tight log. Pinch the seam together at the end. Spray a 9"x 13" baking pan with cooking spray. Cut the roll into fifteen 1-inch slices and place cut side up in the prepared baking dish. Repeat the process with the other half of dough. Cover and refrigerate up to 1 day or proceed with Step 3.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees while you let the rolls rise on the countertop. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.
4. Use an electric mixer to combine powdered sugar, maple syrup, coffee (or milk) and a pinch of salt. Drizzle over hot rolls.


2.
"Come on! It's like cornbread and corn together in one dish!" I said to my 3 year old. He eventually tried it and gave it a thumbs up - which is high praise in our household. This is a great potluck dish that goes well with just about any meaty main. We served this one with turkey and mashed potatoes and then again with pulled pork and green beans. And I could also totally eat this for breakfast...

Corn Casserole (adapted from my friend, Jess) - V
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
1 stick of butter
1 cup light sour cream
1 beaten egg
16 oz. can of corn, drained
16 oz. can of creamed corn, not drained
1 box Jiffy corn muffin mix
1 T. sugar
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and transfer to a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Bake 1 hour our into light golden brown.


3.
I make some version of this dish on a pretty regular basis. But this recipe is by far quicker and tastier than any I've made before! And all of the ingredients can be stocked in your freezer and pantry for whenever you need a quick meal! Win, win, win!

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
8 oz. penne pasta
2 T. butter
4 Italian sausages
12 oz. bag frozen peppers and onions
Salt & pepper
2 T. tomato paste
3/4 cup chicken broth
Parmesan cheese for serving.
DIRECTIONS
Cook pasta according to package instrucions. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pierce sausages with a fork and cook in skillet for 6 minutes, turning once halfway through. Remove from pan. Add frozen peppers and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook 4 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute. Return sausages to pan with chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and cook 2 more minutes until slightly thickened.


4.
I make these every year and I love them! However, I'm currently staying in a vacation house without my usual kitchen tools - most importantly, my electric griddle - and I am reminded of how much I stink at making pancakes without it! So please ignore the uneven browning under all of that whipped cream and I'll try to forget the spongy texture and remember how delicious they have been every other year I have made them! 😠
Makes 12 
INGREDIENTS
3 cups complete buttermilk pancake mix
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup water
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. nutmeg
Cooking spray
Whipped cream, sprinkles, and maple syrup for serving
DIRECTIONS
Heat an electric griddle to 375 degrees. Combine pancake mix, coffee, water, molasses and spices in a large bowl. Spray griddle with cooking spray. Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to ladle batter onto the griddle. Cook 1-2 minutes per side. Serve with whipped cream, sprinkles and maple syrup.

Comfort & Joy

This time of year, all I want to do is curl up under about a hundred blankets and eat lots of warm starchy food!



1.
Here's something hearty AND healthy! Bulgur wheat has a great chewy, nutty texture and is an awesome stand-in for oatmeal or breakfast quinoa. And the poached berries would also be delicious on ice cream or pound cake or whatever else you can think of!

Bulgur with Berries (adapted from Giada's Feel Good Food by Giada De Laurentiis) - DF, V
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2 cups unsweetened almond milk or water
1 cup quick-cooking bulgur wheat
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. salt
10 oz. bag frozen mixed berries
2 T. apple cider
1 T. agave
DIRECTIONS
In a medium saucepan, combine almond milk (or water), bulgur, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, covered, for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine remaining ingredients over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Serve berries over bulgur.


2.
Here's another great recipe from my friend, Jess! And no matter how many times I make this, mine never turns out quite as good as hers...

Baked Ziti (adapted from my friend Jess)
Serves 8-10
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. ziti or rigatoni 
1 lb. ground turkey
1 1/2 T. onion powder
2 24 oz. jars Prego Traditional Spaghetti Sauce
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups light sour cream
6 oz. shredded mozzarella
6 slices provolone
2 T. grated Parmesan
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet brown turkey over medium heat. Add onion powder and spaghetti sauce. Spray a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the pasta, provolone, sour cream, 1/2 of the sauce, remaining pasta, mozzarella, remaining sauce, and top with Parmesan. Bake 30 minutes or until cheeses are melted.


3.
Super quick and one of my favs! The boys prefer sausage to shrimp so I tend to go heavier on the sausage and lighter on the shrimp. 😉

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 cup grits
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Salt & pepper
2 T. olive oil
10 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
1 t. paprika (or prepared Creole seasoning if you have it!)
6 oz. fully cooked kielbasa* or andouille sausage*
3 garlic cloves
3 scallions, chopped with white and green parts separated
1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 t. dried thyme
1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth
2 T. butter
DIRECTIONS
1. Prepare grits according to package instructions. Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shrimp in a single layer and sprinkle with paprika or Creole seasoning and season with salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes or until shrimp start to brown and then remove them from the skillet and set aside.
3. Add sausage, garlic, scallion whites, red bell pepper and thyme to empty skillet. Cook 3 minutes until sausage starts to brown and vegetables soften. Add chicken broth and butter and cook about 3 minutes more until sauce starts to thicken.
3. Return shrimp to skillet. Serve over grits with scallion greens sprinkled on top.


4.
Nobody makes their own pie crust anymore and it makes me so sad! I don't even make great pie crust, but I still prefer it, hands down, to anything you buy in the store. Some day I'm going to take a class and learn how to make amazing pie crust, but in the meantime I will continue to make this yummy recipe and I encourage you to do the same! Granny Smith apples are a must - as is letting the pie cool so the filling has time to set (which is so very, very, hard to do!)

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
Pie crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cold water
Filling:
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 lbs. Granny Smith apples (4-5 apples)
2 lbs. Gala or Golden Delicious apples (4-5 apples)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
2 T. butter, cut into small pieces
DIRECTIONS
1. In a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter and pulse a few times. Sprinkle water over the dough and pulse a few more times. Transfer half of crumbly dough to a gallon size resealable plastic bag and form into a disk. Repeat with other half of dough and refrigerate both bags.
2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Squeeze lemon juice into a large bowl. Peel and core apples. Cut into 1/4 inch slices and halve crosswise. Toss in bowl with lemon juice as you work to prevent browning. Add sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt and toss to combine.
3. Remove one pie dough bag from the refrigerator. Open the bag, and center the dough inside. Roll the pie dough, still in the bag, into a 12 inch circle. Seal the bag and return it to the refrigerator. Repeat with second bag of dough and then use kitchen shears to open the bag and carefully remove the dough circle. Without stretching the dough, place it into a pie plate so it hugs the bottom and sides. 
3. Fill the pie plate with apple mixture, gently packing apples and mounding slightly in the center. Dot with butter. Lightly brush rim of pie dough with water.
4. Use kitchen shears to open the first bag of pie dough and carefully remove the dough circle. Lay over apples, pressing along rim to seal. Fold edge of dough under itself to form a thick rim. Press your thumb all along the rim of dough into the pie plate. Cut 6 slits in the top of the pie radiating from the center.
5. Place pie plate on rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Carefully cover pie with foil and bake for 1 hour until crust is golden and juices are bubbling. Cool at least 6 hours before serving.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Cookie Time

It's the most wonderful time of the year! Here's how I spread holiday joy...


1.
These cookies (along with a peppermint milkshake) are what Christmas tastes like to me! My dad used to make these when we were little and they are so good and chewy and molasses-y! I make them every year!

Gingersnaps (adapted from Papa)
Makes 3 Dozen
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup molasses
1 egg
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. ginger
1/4 t. cloves
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Use a small cookie scoop to portion into 12 balls. Roll in sugar and place on prepared cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.


2.
Another quintessential taste of the season - mint and chocolate. I first fell in love with these cookies at a friend's Christmas party in Baltimore. After tracking down the baker, I scribbled the recipe on the back of a Target receipt - and it has lived in my recipe box and my heart ever since. 😍

Mint Chocolate Cookies 
Makes 56 cookies
INGREDIENTS
56 Andes mints, unwrapped
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
DIRECTIONS
In a large saucepan, melt butter, sugar, and 2 T. water over medium heat, while stirring, until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and let cool 10 minutes. With an electric mixer, beat in eggs at high speed. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a small cookie scoop to portion 12 dough balls onto a cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes, turning pan halfway through. Place 1 mint on top of each hot cookie and return to the oven for 1 minute. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread melted mint on top of each cookie. Repeat with remaining dough and mints.


3.
These last 2 recipes come from one of the best bakers I know - my friend, Jess! And since I can't seem to get enough cinnamon this year, snickerdoodles are a must!

Snickerdoodles (adapted from my friend, Jess)
Makes 12 cookies
INGREDIENTS
1 stick softened butter
3/4 cup sugar + 1 T. for rolling
1 egg
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. cream of tartar
Salt
1 t. cinnamon
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg. Add in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, and a dash of salt and mix well. In a small bowl, mix 1 T. sugar and cinnamon. Form dough into 1 inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar. Place on cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.


4.
And Jess's peanut butter cookies are legendary. :)

Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from my friend, Jess)
Makes 35 cookies
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
1 stick softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t. vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla. Then mix in peanut butter. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough onto prepared baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork, making a criss-cross shape on top (#). Bake for 8 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Gluten-Free Goodness

More and more people that I know are going gluten-free these days - either because of food allergies, autoimmune issues, or just from a desire to eat "cleaner." So, I've started adding GF (gluten-free), DF (dairy-free), and V (vegetarian) labels to my recipes in case that's of interest to you. I actually eat this way quite often because I find that cutting out wheat, dairy, and meat, usually forces me to make "healthier" choices and be more creative with what I eat! Enjoy!



1.
This is a great comfort food recipe! I cut the mushrooms super small so the boys (big and small) don't notice them, but feel free to slice them if you want more texture!

Shepherd's Pie (adapted from Martha Stewart) - GF, DF
Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
Salt & pepper
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 lb. 90% lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, diced fine
1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
2 t. corn starch
2 t. Dijon mustard
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large pot, cover sweet potatoes with 2 inches of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until tender, about 17 minutes. Drain, return to pot, and mash with 2 T. oil and 3/4 t. salt.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet brown beef over medium high breaking up large pieces with potato masher. Transfer to a large casserole dish with a slotted spoon and discard remaining fat in skillet.
3. Add 1 T. oil, mushrooms, and onions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally until browned, about 10 minutes. Whisk together broth, corn starch, mustard, 3/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper. Add to skillet and bring to a boil.
4. Stir mushroom mixture into beef in casserole dish. Spread mashed sweet potatoes over the top. Bake 25 minutes or until bubbling.


2.
This super-flavorful vegetarian main is a lighter version of a chile relleno.  If you're sensitive to the capsicum in chile peppers, you might want to wear gloves to prep these. And make sure to use a good de-greasing dish soap to clean your knife and cutting board afterwards!

Stuffed Poblanos with Salsa Rice (adapted from Sara Forte) - GF, V
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 T. canola oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
4 poblano chiles, halved lengthwise with stem, seeds, and ribs removed
1/2 cup reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 cup white rice
1 cup chunky salsa
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Cook onion and garlic about 6 minutes or until tender. Stir in beans, chili powder, cinnamon, and salt and cook until heated through. Arrange poblanos on a baking sheet and fill each half with about 2 tablespoons of bean mixture. Top each half with 1 T. of feta and 1 T. Mexican cheese blend. Squeeze lime juice over the stuffed halves. Bake for 30 minutes or until peppers are softened and cheese has melted. Meanwhile combine rice, salsa, and 1 cup of water in empty bean pot and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve with stuffed poblanos.


3.
This filling is delicious on its own, but use it to fill a soft and sweet acorn squash and you've got something truly special! Be sure to roast the squash until totally fork tender and the rest of the recipe comes together in a snap!

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS 
2 acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
2 T. olive oil, divided
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup reduced fat feta, crumbled
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 t. red wine vinegar
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush cut side of squash with 1 T. olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast cut side down on a baking sheet for 30 minutes. Turn over and roast another 15-20 minutes until very tender. Meanwhile, bring quinoa and 1 cup of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and stir in 1 T. oil and remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Divide filling among squash and serve.


4.
This is one of my all time favorite desserts! My dad has this down to a science - from popping his own corn and shaking out the un-popped kernels in a paper grocery bag to taste-testing his caramel in a mug of cool water. I am far less patient! I rely on store bought popcorn and a candy thermometer to approximate Papa's perfection. :)

Papa's Caramel Corn - GFV
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
6-8 quarts popped popcorn (or two 4.5 oz. bags)
2 cups brown sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup light corn syrup (such as Karo Syrup)
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Place popcorn in very large bowl. Mix sugar, butter, syrup, and salt in a heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Heat to 300 degrees F using a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Pour over popcorn and use 2 wooden spoons to evenly distribute caramel. Spread onto 2 baking sheets and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dinner Party

Truth be told, I did not actually throw a dinner party this week! My youngest son has been home sick with a cold and I've been home bored. So (thanks to Kroger Clicklist) I decided to recreate a Christmas Day dinner menu I made a few years ago that would be perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy!




1.
These potato cakes can be prepped ahead and then cooked the day of your event. You'll need one potato and 1 oz. of mozzarella per person. I used a potato ricer for these, but I totally wouldn't recommend buying one because I hardly ever use mine! And feel free to experiment with toppings. I'm actually getting kind of tired of pesto these days and I was thinking these would be great topped with marinara or even chimichurri or pico de gallo that could double as a steak accompaniment!

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
8 russet potatoes
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
8  oz. fresh mozzarella
Cooking spray
Pesto for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bake potatoes for 1 hour or until very soft. Let sit until cool enough to handle. 
2. Scoop out potato flesh and discard skins. Pass potato through a potato ricer or the large holes of a box grater (carefully!). Season with salt and pepper and form into 16 equal patties. Cut half of cheese into 8 equal slices and use box grater to shred the other half of cheese. Set shredded cheese aside. Place one slice of cheese in the center of one potato patty and place another patty on top. Shape into a smooth potato cake. Repeat to form 8 cakes. Cover and refrigerate if making ahead or proceed to step 3.
3. Preheat broiler with rack 3-4 inches from heat source. Heat an electric griddle to 325 degrees or heat a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and spray with cooking spray. Cook potato cakes for about 6 minutes per side until nicely browned. 
4. Arrange cakes on baking sheet and sprinkle with reserved shredded cheese. Broil a minute or two until cheese melts and starts to brown. Top with pesto.

2.
My aunt and uncle introduced me to this steak marinade and my family loves it! It's really flavorful and makes a nice crust on the steak.

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. flank steak
1/4 cup Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2 T. olive oil
1 1/2 T. balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
DIRECTIONS
Liberally poke flank steak with a fork on both sides. Combine Worchestershire sauce, olive oil, balsamc vinegar, and 1/8 t. salt and pour over steak in a a shallow baking dish or plastic bag. Marinade in refrigerator overnight. Let steak come to room temperature while you heat a grill pan (or outdoor grill) over medium high heat and spray with cooking spray. Discard marinade and generously season steak on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill about 4 minutes per side or to desired degree of doneness. Let rest 5 minutes before thinly slicing across the grain.


3.
This is a simple, tasty recipe that can easily be prepared while the potato cakes and steak cook.

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 baguette* cut into 1/4 inch slices
Cooking spray
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 oz. medium shrimp, thawed and drained if frozen
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, drained
14.5 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
Salt & pepper
1 cup basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
Juice of half a lemon
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat broiler with rack 3-4 inches from heat source. Arrange baguette slices on baking sheet and spray both sides with cooking spray. Broil 1 minute per side or until golden.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook 1-2 minutes or until just turning pink. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to skillet and cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes, beans, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Cook until heated through. Stir in basil and lemon juice. Serve with toasted baguette slices.

Friday, November 3, 2017

November Nosh


1.
This might be my all time favorite chili recipe! Make sure to cook the butternut squash until tender -and sour cream and pickled jalapenos are a must!

Chicken Butternut Squash Chili (adapted from Cooking Light) - GF*, DF*
Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
2 T. canola oil
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
1 t. cumin
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. black pepper
1 t. salt
3 cups unsalted chicken broth
14.5 oz. can of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups rotisserie chicken breast*, chopped
3 T. cilantro, chopped
Zest of 1/2 a lime
Light sour cream*, pickled jalapenos, and crushed red pepper, for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Add onion, red bell pepper, garlic, cumin, oregano, pepper and salt. Cook 6 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add chicken broth and scrape bottom of pot with a wooden spoon to loosen brown bits. Reduce heat to medium, add reserved squash and simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans and chicken and cook 5 minutes more or until squash is tender.
4. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and lime zest. Serve with sour cream, pickled jalapenos and crushed red pepper.


2.
This is my kind of comfort food! And with so many different varieties of kielbasa available you can tailor it to your family's needs. I chose a nitrate/nitrite free variety that adds enough flavor to the rice that I don't need to add any extra salt or pepper. Enjoy!

Kielbasa Rice (adapted from Everyday Food) - GF*, DF*
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
3 cups white rice, cooked according to package omitting fat and salt
1 T. olive oil
12 oz. kielbasa*, cut into small pieces
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 celery rib, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
Salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until crispy. Add onion, pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes or until celery is tender. Add tomatoes with their juices and cook 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Add rice and cook 2 minutes or until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


3.
My friend Holly first introduced me to this recipe that we lovingly refer to as "Pumpkin Seed Crack." I always make these on the day of a party so I can immediately share them with other people and not eat the entire batch myself! In fact, my youngest son and I both have burnt tongues right now because we couldn't wait for them to cool... Dangerously delicious!

Sugar & Spice Pumpkin Seeds (adapted from Allrecipes.com) - GF, DV, V
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
2 cups raw pumpkin seeds, rinsed and dried
1 T. canola oil
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. allspice
1/8 t. nutmeg
1/8 t. ground ginger
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Toss pumpkin seeds with oil and salt and spread in an even layer over a baking sheet. Bake 30-40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of sugar and all of the spices and set aside. Transfer seeds to a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon for a minute or two until sugar melts. Pour seeds into the bowl of spiced sugar and stir to coat. Allow to cool before serving.


4.
I tried a new chicken quesadilla recipe a few weeks ago for a football/baseball game watching party at my house and with every bite I was wishing I had made these instead...

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 T. canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
8 oz. white mushrooms, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cooked chicken breast, chopped
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1 t. oregano
2 cups baby spinach leaves, cut into ribbons
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
Cooking spray
8 8-inch whole wheat tortillas
1 cup reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salsa and light sour cream for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and mushrooms and cook 10-15 minutes until beginning to brown and mushroom water evaporates. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add chicken and spices and stir to incorporate. Add spinach, salt, and pepper and cook about 2 minutes until spinach wilts.
2. Heat an electric griddle to 325 degrees and spray with cooking spray. Place one tortilla on griddle. Top with 2 T. cheese, half of chicken mixture, another 2 T. cheese and another tortilla. Cook 3 minutes and then carefully flip over with a large spatula. Cook another 3 minutes until cheese melts. Repeat with remaining tortillas, cheese, and chicken mixture. Cut into quarters and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"C" is for...

I really don't know what's up with my letter themes lately! Maybe I'm spending too much time at my son's preschool...


1.
Every Halloween I get a craving for these soft, buttery, melt in your mouth cookies! This is my mom's recipe and as kids she used to make mountains of these at Christmastime for us to decorate and we whined and complained the way that only three sisters can. Now that I'm grown though, the recipe never seems to make enough... 

Cut-Out Cookies (adapted from Gigi 😘) - V
Makes 2 dozen
INGREDIENTS
Cookies:
1 1/2 sticks softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
2 T. milk
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 1/2 cups flour (plus more for rolling)
1 t. vanilla
Frosting:
1 stick softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
1 T. milk
Food coloring, if desired
Decorations, if desired (sprinkles, mini-chocolate chips, candy corn, etc.)
DIRECTIONS
1. Cream butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Beat in egg and milk. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low until combined. Cover and chill at least 2 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on floured surface with floured rolling pin to 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters and place on baking sheet leaving plenty of room around each cookie. Bake 8-9 minutes until golden. Let cool completely before frosting.
3. Combine frosting ingredients with an electric mixer. Add food coloring as desired and decorate cookies with anything you like.


2.
This recipe comes from my friend Iry (of Taco Casserole fame 😊). It's simple and the boys love it. 'Nuff said!

Chicken Fried Rice (adapted from Iry's Mom) - GF*, DF
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
3 cups rice, cooked according to package
1 cup cooked chicken, chopped
Cooking spray
4 eggs
Salt and pepper
1 T. canola oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 T. low-sodium soy sauce*, plus more for serving
DIRECTIONS
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat and coat with cooking spray. Season eggs with salt and pepper, then scramble and cook until just done. Remove from pan. Add oil and onion to skillet and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chicken and peas and cook until heated through. Add cooked eggs, half of rice and 1 T. soy sauce and stir until heated through. Add remaining rice and 1 T. soy sauce and stir until heated through. Serve with additional soy sauce.


3.
Whenever I buy more fruit than we can eat, I try to find a way to preserve it. And, it turns out I'm the only one who likes fresh cherries around here! This compote freezes well and is delicious on pancakes, oatmeal, ice cream, or anything else you can think of! I pulled some out of the freezer this week to top fried polenta for breakfast. Delish!

 Cherry Compote (adapted from Sarah Forte) - GF, DF, V

INGREDIENTS
1 lb. cherries, halved and pitted
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup honey
Pinch of salt
DIRECTIONS
Add all ingredients to medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 3 minutes until cherries just start to break down. Remove from heat and serve, or let cool and transfer to a freezer container.


4.
And  finally, with chili season in full swing, these corn muffins make the perfect accompaniment! I spent years searching for a Boston Market style corn bread recipe that didn't start with a box of yellow cake mix. 😝 Peas and Crayons hits the nail on the head! My only adjustment is making the muffins smaller to better accommodate little kid hands and smaller appetities.


Makes 36 mini-muffins
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
1/4 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 T. oil
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
2/3 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 T. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 mini-muffin tins with cooking spray. Cream butter and sugar with an electric hand mixer. Add milk, oil, and eggs and beat to combine. Add remaining ingredients and mix until just combined. Use a small cookie scoop to portion batter into prepared tins. Bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Pasta, Pork and Pumpkin

These are a few of my favorite things...



1.
This is super fast and easy! The whole thing comes together in the time it takes to cook the pasta. I love how the sausage makes its own sauce for the pasta and how the orecchiette holds the little bits of meat and vegetables like tiny bowls.

Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. orecchiette pasta or medium shell pasta
8 oz. ground mild or sweet Italian sausage
1 red bell pepper, diced
12 oz. package steam in bag corn kernels
Sour cream* and cilantro for serving
DIRECTIONS
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, brown sausage in large skillet over medium heat, breaking up meat with a potato masher or wooden spoon about 5 minutes or until cooked through. Add red pepper and cook about 3 minutes until softened. Microwave corn according to package instructions and stir into skillet. Add drained pasta and stir to combine. Serve with sour cream and cilantro.


2.
This recipe is a bit labor intensive, but you can make it ahead by freezing any uncooked pot stickers on a baking sheet and then cooking them from frozen. Be careful not to overfill the won tons or they will fall apart! And make sure to use a non-stick skillet - these are called "pot stickers" for a reason! Also, don't skip the dipping sauce! It totally makes this recipe!

INGREDIENTS
Pot Stickers:
   1 lb. ground pork
   4 T. chives, chopped
   2 T. low sodium soy sauce
   2 T. sherry
   1 t. ground ginger
   2 t. corn starch
   2 t. sesame oil
   12 oz. package won ton wrappers
   Canola oil for frying
Dipping Sauce:
   1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
   3 T. rice vinegar
   2 t. sugar
   3/4 t. ground ginger
   1/4 t. sesame oil
DIRECTIONS
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Combine pork, chives, soy sauce, sherry, ginger, corn starch and sesame oil in a boil. Spoon 1 heaping teaspoon of pork mixture in the center of a won ton wrapper. Lightly wet 2 edges of the wrapper and fold it over, pressing to seal. Repeat with remaining pork and won ton wrappers. Boil filled won tons, 6 at a time, for 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate using a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining filled wontons, adding more water to the pot as needed. Heat 1 T.
canola oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Cook won tons, 6 at a time, for about 90 seconds per side until browned.  Remove with a spatula and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining won tons, adding more oil as needed. In a small bowl, combine dipping sauce ingredients and serve with pot stickers.


3.
I always end up with leftover won ton wrappers, but I'm never sad about it because I can make these....

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
10 won ton wrappers
2 t. canola oil
Powdered sugar
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Make a neat stack of won ton wrappers and cut on the diagonal to make 20 triangles. In a bowl, toss triangles with canola oil until evenly coated. Arrange triangles in a single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes or until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.


4.
I made these muffins for the first time a week ago and I have made 4 more batches since then! I literally can't keep them in the house! I now have the recipe memorized and the cooking equipment has taken up permanent residence in my drying rack until I run out of canned pumpkin! :)

Makes 11 (Yeah, I know. Go ahead and make 12 if it bothers you that much! 😋) 
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. cloves
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a muffin tin with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, applesauce, and eggs. Whisk in pumpkin and water. Add all remaining ingredients except for chocolate chips and gently whisk together until just combined. Use a rubber spatula to stir in chocolate chips. Use a large cookie scoop to portion batter into prepared muffin tin. Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Bring on September

With summer coming to an end, I'm ready to trade in my smoothies and salads for some heartier fare.



Check out these gorgeous eggs from my friend's chickens! I secretly want her to adopt me - her house is a wonderland of native plants and animals. :)



1.
And one of my absolute favorite things to do with fresh eggs is...

Breakfast Hash - GF, DF
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 package frozen sweet potato fries
8 breakfast sausage patties
8 eggs
2 avocados
Hot sauce and cilantro for serving
DIRECTIONS
Cook sweet potatoes and sausage according to package instructions. Cook eggs any way you like them. Top fries with sausage, eggs, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce.


2.
Creamy and deliciously "dill"-y, this potato salad is a Labor Day essential!

Holly's Potato Salad (courtesy of Holly Redmond's Mom 😊) - GF, V
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
3 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice
8 oz. light sour cream
8 oz. olive oil mayonnaise
2 t. seasoned salt
2 t. dried dill weed
1 1/2 T. dried parsley flakes
1/2 T. onion flakes
DIRECTIONS
In a large pot, cover potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork. Drain. Combine remaining ingredients in a large bowl and add cooked potatoes. Chill several hours before serving.


3.
Sauteed Cauliflower + Cheesy Pasta = Get in my belly now!

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. medium shell pasta
3 T. olive oil, divided
1 large head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets (about 2 1/2 lb.)
3 T. fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 T. capers, drained
3 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
2 c. grated Fontina (~10 oz. with rind)
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
6 T. grated Parmesan cheese
2 T. fresh parsley, minced
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain.
2. Heat 1 T. olive oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add half of cauliflower and cook until lightly brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Repeat with 1 T. olive oil and remaining cauliflower.
3. In a large bowl, combine sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes, 1 t. salt and 1 t. pepper. Add cauliflower and pasta. Stir in Fontina.
4. Transfer half of pasta mixture to large baking dish. Spoon rounded tablespoons of Neufchatel evenly on top and cover with remaining pasta.
5. In now empty large bowl, combine remaining 1 T. oil, panko, Parmesan, and parsley. Sprinkle on top of pasta. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.


4.
After living in Maryland for 16 years of my life, I get some MAJOR crab cake cravings! These aren't nearly as good as G&M Restaurant (which ships nationwide, BTW). But, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
8 oz. small size fresh crabmeat (special or claw)
8 oz. large size fresh crabmeat (jumbo lump or backfin)
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1 egg
1/2 T. Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 T. Dijon mustard
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
15 whole wheat saltine crackers, processed to fine crumbs
2 T. cold butter cut into 8 cubes
Tartar sauce for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat broiler with rack 4 inches from heat. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat lightly with cooking spray. Keeping the two types separate, turn crabmeat out onto 2 paper towel lined plates and pick through for pieces of shell or cartilage.
2. In a large bowl, combine parsley, mayonnaise, lemon juice, egg, Old Bay, Dijon, salt, and pepper. Add small size crabmeat and cracker crumbs. Gently fold in large size crabmeat.
3. Use a large cookie scoop to evenly portion into 8 small crab cakes on the prepared baking sheet. Gently press one cube of butter into the top of each cake. Broil 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.


5.
This easy, yummy soup is a great way to use up an excess of tomatoes. It also freezes well (just leave out the milk or cream) so you can enjoy its bright summery flavor anytime of year.

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2 lb. tomatoes
1 small yellow onion
1 T. olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 T. chopped parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (I like Pacific brand)
2 T. tomato paste
1/2 cup milk of choice or cream
Large croutons and shredded Parmesan for serving
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tomatoes and onions into wedges. Spread onto rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 t. pepper, and parsley. Tuck garlic cloves inside the tomatoes so they don't burn. Roast for 30 minutes, let cool slightly, and then puree in a blender. Warm broth and tomato paste in a large pot. Add pureed vegetables and milk. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with croutons and shredded Parmesan.