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 cup 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.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Baked Again

It's the end of August and my oven is still on and cranking out delicious treats. Enjoy!



1.
Man, do I love a good scone! And not the frosting-covered coffee shop kind either. I like them just slightly sweet and crumbly with a nice cup of coffee.

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup milk of choice
1 large egg
1 cup all purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
6 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup dried fruit (blueberries, cranberries, currants, etc.)
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Whisk together milk and egg. In a food processor, process flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until only a few pea sized pieces of butter remain. Add dried fruit and milk mixture and pulse until just combined. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 6 inch circle. Cut into 8 wedges and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 16 minutes or until golden, rotating sheet halfway through.


2,
I love this recipe so much and it KILLS me that no one else in my family does, too! The good news for you is that almost every time I make it, I give half of it away to someone. And someday that someone may be you! Until then, I highly encourage you to make this for yourself. You can always freeze half of it before baking and then thaw the frozen half overnight in the refrigerator when you're ready to eat the rest of it. :)

Veggie Lasagna (adapted from America's Test Kitchen) - V
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
Vegetable Filling
     1 large eggplant (1 1/2 lbs.), cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 7 cups)
     Salt
     Cooking spray
     1 medium zucchini (1 lb.), cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 4 cups)
     1 medium yellow squash (1 lb.), cut into 1/2 inch pieces (about 4 cups)
     5 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
     6 oz. baby spinach
     Pepper
     4 garlic cloves, minced
     1 t. dried thyme
     No-Cook Tomato Sauce
     28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
     1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
     2 T. extra virgin olive oil
     2 garlic cloves, minced
     1 t. salt
     1/4 t. red pepper flakes
No-Cook Cream Sauce
     1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
     1 cup cottage cheese
     1 cup heavy cream
     2 garlic cloves, minced
     1 t. corn starch
     1/2 t. salt
     1/2 t. pepper
12 no-boil lasagna noodles
24 kalamata olives, chopped
3 cups shredded mozzarella (12 oz.)
DIRECTIONS
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 375 degrees. Toss eggplant with 1 t. salt in a large bowl. Line surface of large plate with double layer of coffee filters and lightly coat with cooking spray. Evenly spread eggplant over filters. Microwave eggplant uncovered for 10 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until dry and slightly shriveled. Return to bowl and toss with zucchini and squash.
2. Heat 1 t. oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add spinach and stir frequently, about 3 minutes until wilted. Transfer to coffee filter lined plate.
3. Heat 2 T oil in skillet over medium high heat. Add half of eggplant mixture and 1/4 t. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 7 minutes until vegetables are lightly browned. Make a well in the center of the skillet and add 1 t. oil, half of the garlic and half of the dried thyme. Stir to combine garlic mixture with vegetables and transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat with remaining eggplant mixture, oil, garlic and thyme. Stir spinach into cooked vegetables, discard coffee filters, and mound vegetable mixture onto the large plate.
4. In the empty large bowl, whisk the tomato sauce ingredients together. In the other bowl, whisk the cream sauce ingredients together.
5.Coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup tomato sauce in bottom of dish. Shingle 4 noodles on top of sauce. Spread half of vegetable mixture over noodles, followed by half of the olives, half of the cream sauce, and 1 cup of mozzarella. Repeat layering with 4 more noodles, 1 cup tomato sauce, remaining vegetables, remaining olives, remaining cream sauce, and 1 cup mozzarella. Place remaining 4 noodles on top and remaining 1 cup tomato sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Lightly coat one side of a large sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake 35 minutes until bubbling.


3.
This was a recipe from my 2013 cleanse that I totally un-cleansed! The original recipe is great, but I wanted more coconut flavor... which led me down a slippery slope that ended in the drink mixers aisle of the grocery store. So now you can make up a pitcher or two of pina coladas with the leftover cream of coconut. You're welcome. :)


Coconut Salmon (adapted from Whole Living) - GF, DF
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
4 frozen salmon fillets
Salt
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
Zest of 1 lemon cut into wide strips with a vegetable peeler
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup cream of coconut (from the drink mixer aisle of the grocery store)
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1 sliced head baby bok choy
4 cups hot, cooked brown rice
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
DIRECTIONS
Bake salmon in oven according to package instructions. While salmon cooks, combine garlic, red pepper flakes, lemon zest, chicken broth, and cream of coconut in a small pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Strain and discard solids before serving. Season with salt. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, and bok choy. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Serve salmon and vegetables over rice. Ladle with coconut sauce and squeeze with lime.


4.
This recipe is perfection and further solidifies my adoration of all things Martha Stewart. I also know that not everyone shares that sentiment. :(  I just love that all of her recipes, no matter how complicated, actually work! The boys made these with me and my husband and I could not stop eating them. Soooo good!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies (from Martha Stewart Living) - V
Makes 16 large brownies
INGREDIENTS
Cookie Dough:
     Cooking spray
     1 3/4 cups flour
     3/4 t. salt  
     1/2 t. baking soda
     1/2 t. baking powder
     1 stick soft, unsalted butter
     1/2 cup sugar
     1/2 cup brown sugar
     1 large egg
     1 t. vanilla
     1 cup chocolate chips (6 oz.)
Brownie Batter:
     1 cup chocolate chips (6 oz.)
     1 stick soft, unsalted butter
     1 1/2 cups sugar
     3 large eggs
     1/4 cup cocoa powder
     1/2 t. salt
     1/2 cup + 2 T. flour
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper leaving a slight overhang.
2. Cookie Dough: In a large microwaveable bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, beat butter with both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy. Then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
3. Brownie Batter: In empty large bowl, microwave chocolate chips according to package instructions. Whisk in butter and sugar until smooth. Whisk in eggs until combined. Whisk in cocoa and salt. Fold in flour with a rubber spatula until combined.
4. Pour brownie batter into prepared pan, smoothing top with spatula. Crumble cookie dough evenly over batter. Cover with foil and bake until just set, 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking until golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs, about 27 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Lift brownies from pan using parchment. Cut into 16 squares.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Baked

Despite the warm weather, I've been using my oven a lot lately and baking up some comfort food!



1.
These. Are. Not. Healthy. :) But they are really, really yummy and fun to make with the gorgeous cherries and peaches in season right now! I used to make them for my husband's softball team back before we had kids and they were a big hit! They also make a nice grab and go breakfast - although, you should probably re-read the first sentence before making that decision. :)

 Serves 12
INGREDIENTS
Dough:
3 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 t. sugar
2 1/2 t. salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cold water
Filling:
4 cups stone fruit (peaches, cherries, etc.)
1 T. sugar
1 lemon
Salt
1 T. corn starch
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cinnamon sugar (1 part cinnamon to 4 parts sugar)
DIRECTIONS
1. For the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, and salt to combine. Add butter and pulse about 10 times until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Slowly add cold water through the feed tube with machine running until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Evenly divide into 2 gallon size resealable bags and form into flattened rectangles. Seal bags and refrigerate.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. Pit fruit and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. In a large bowl mix together fruit, sugar, zest and juice of the lemon, a pinch of salt, and cornstarch until well combined. Set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll 1 piece of dough into a 15x10-in. rectangle. Cut into six 5-in. squares. Working with 1 square at a time, place a scant 1/4 cup of fruit mixture in the center of each square. Brush 2 outside edges with egg and fold each square on the diagonal over the filling, pressing to seal. Repeat process with remaining dough and filling. Place hand pies on baking sheets. Brush with remaining egg and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Cut a small slit in the center of each pie with kitchen shears. Bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm.


2.
I looooove eggplant parmesan - my family, not so much. But it was my birthday week, so they humored me. :) This time I made cute little stacks for grown-ups out of the largest slices and I kept the smaller slices sauce-less and cheese-less for the boys to dip in some ketchup. And there is something about tomato sauce and mashed potatoes together that makes me very, very happy -so they are my side dish of choice here. :)

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 large eggplants (about 1 lb) cut into 1/4 in. slices
1 T olive oil
Salt & pepper
28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil for frying
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
DIRECTIONS
1. Toss eggplant slices with 1 t. salt in a colander and let stand 30 min. Meanwhile, stir 1 T olive oil, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper into crushed tomatoes. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture into the bottom of a 9-x-9 in. baking dish. Then pour flour, eggs and breadcrumbs separately into 3 shallow dishes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 1/4 in. of vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat over medium-high until a pinch of breadcrumbs dropped in skillet sizzles.
3. Press eggplant slices between a double layer of paper towels to dry. Then dredge in flour (shaking off excess), eggs (shaking off excess) and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs. In batches, fry eggplant until golden, 2-3 minutes per side.
4. Layer 1/2 of eggplant over sauce in baking dish. Sprinkle with 2 T. Parmesan. Top with half of remaining tomato mixture. Repeat with remaining eggplant, Parmesan, and tomato mixture. Sprinkle mozzarella on top and bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 40 minutes.


3.
When we came back from vacation, the cupboard was pretty bare. Luckily, I always have the ingredients on hand to make these yummy cookies. So we had something to snack on the next morning on route to the grocery store. :) 

Makes 15 cookies
INGREDIENTS
1/3 cup softened butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1//2 t. salt
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar and then beat in eggs. Add oats, flours, baking soda and salt and mix to combine.Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.


4.
This is technically a crust-less quiche, but I like to think of it as a hands-off frittata. It's one of my favorite ways to use up leftover veggies or beet greens!

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
Handful of cooked veggies or raw leafy greens
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup olive oil mayonnaise
4 eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheese (optional)
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a pie plate with cooking spray. Spread veggies evenly in the bottom of the pie plate. Whisk together milk and mayo until smooth. Beat in eggs. Pour egg mixture evenly over veggies. Sprinkle with cheese, if using. Bake 35 minutes until puffed and golden.


5.
The boys would eat French fries every day if I let them! This version is a little healthier and works just as well with sweet potatoes if you're so inclined. :)

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
3 large baking potatoes cut into 1/4 inch thick matchsticks
2 T. canola oil
Salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss potatoes with oil in a large bowl and spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes. Use a metal spatula to loosen the fries and sprinkle with salt.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

June Jewels

Some favorite recipes for my favorite month!



1.
I should put a bit of a disclaimer on these. Although they are absolutely delicious, they do take about an hour and a half to make from start to finish. But, the finished empanadas freeze and reheat very well (400 degrees for about 30 minutes). And you can chunk the recipe into four separate parts - making the dough, making the filling, assembling the empanadas, and baking them -and you can refrigerate in between each step. Well worth the effort, in my opinion. Serve them with Chimichurri Sauce (recipe below).

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
4 cups + 1 T. flour, divided
2 t. baking powder
Salt
2 t. dried thyme, divided
2 t. dried rubbed sage, divided
1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup ice water
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 T. sherry
1 T. red wine vinegar
Pepper
1 large egg
DIRECTIONS
1. Making the dough: In a food processor, pulse 4 cups flour, baking powder, 2 t. salt, 1 1/2 t. thyme, and 1 1/2 t. sage until combined. Add butter and pulse until only a few pea size pieces of butter remain. Slowly add ice water while pulsing until dough begins to form. Pour into a gallon size resealable plastic bag and form into a disk. Seal bag and refrigerate until ready to use.
2. Making the filling: Set a steamer basket in a pot with 2 inches of boiling water. Add potato, cover and cook about 10 minutes, until tender. Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to high and add pork, remaining 1/2 teaspoons of thyme and sage. Cook while stirring to break up meat, about 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of flour and stir to coat. Add raisins and 1/4 cup water and cook about 1 minute until thickened. Stir in potato, pine nuts, sherry, red wine vinegar, 1 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper.
3. Assembling the empanadas: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds. On a floured surface, cut disk of dough into 8 equal wedges. With your hands, roll each dough wedge into a ball and then flatten with a rolling pin into a 6 inch circle. Place a scant 1/2 cup of filling in the center. Use a finger to moisten the edge of the dough with water. Fold dough in half over filling. Press edges to seal and crimp with a fork.
4. Baking the empanadas: Place empanadas on 2 parchment lined baking sheets. In a bowl, beat egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush over tops of empanadas. Bake until golden brown, about 40 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. 


2.
I could literally drink this stuff! It's great as a dipping sauce for empanadas or on flank steak . I used it this week to brush over shrimp kabobs and they were fantastic (1/4 cup per pound of shrimp). 

Chimichurri Sauce (adapted from America's Test Kitchen) - GF, DF, V
Serves 6-8
INGREDIENTS
1/4 c. hot water
2 t. dried oregano
2 t. salt
1 1/3 c. loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2/3 c. loosely packed cilantro leaves
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
DIRECTIONS
Combine hot water, oregano, and salt in a liquid measuring cup and let sit 5 minutes. Pulse parsley, cilantro, garlic and red pepper in food processor for ten 1-second pulses. Add water mixture and vinegar and pulse briefly to combine. With food processor running, pour in olive oil . Transfer to airtight container and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour, or refrigerate up to 3 days and bring to room temperature before serving.


3.
This great summer drink reminds of my honeymoon in Aruba. Leave out the rum and your kiddos can enjoy it as well!

Rum Punch - GF, DF, V
INGREDIENTS
1 part light rum
2 parts cranberry juice
2 parts pineapple juice
3 parts ginger ale
Splash of lime juice
Lime slices for garnish (optional)
DIRECTIONS
Combine all ingredients and serve over ice.


4.
Nothing says summer like fresh ears of sweet corn. This chowder captures their flavor beautifully! The potatoes don't freeze especially well, but this makes such a big batch that I usually end up freezing half anyways to save for a gloomy winter day.

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
3 slices bacon, chopped fine
6 ears corn
1 onion, chopped
Salt
Pepper
24 oz. baby red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 (15 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
5 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup heavy cream
4 scallions, sliced thin
DIRECTIONS
1. In a large pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut kernels from ears of corn and reserve kernels and cobs separately. Remove bacon from pot with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined plate and reserve. 
2. Add corn kernels, onion, 1/2 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper to the bacon fat and cook until vegetables are softened and golden brown, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, puree canned corn and 2 cups of broth in a blender until smooth.
3. Add potatoes, corn puree, remaining 3 cups of broth, and reserved corn cobs to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Discard cobs and stir in cream, scallions, reserved bacon and 1 t. salt.


5.
Light, moist, sweet, healthy. Everything I'm looking for in a muffin. And don't skip the lemon zest! It definitely makes the muffin!

Serves 12
INGREDIENTS
1 cup flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt
1/4 cup nonfat milk
1 t. vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, canola oil and eggs until light and frothy. Then whisk in the applesauce, yogurt, milk, vanilla and lemon zest. With a rubber spatula, stir the dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Rinse the blueberries in cold water several times until the water is noticeably lighter when you drain them. Dry the berries well with several layers of paper towels. Gently stir them into the batter. Use a large cookie scoop to portion heaping scoops of batter into the muffin liners. Bake about 20 minutes until a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack about 15 minutes.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Mother's Day

As I've mentioned before, this spring was SUPER busy around here! But, I still had time to cook up some yummy things and snap some pictures. Here are a few recipes we enjoyed from this year's Mother's Day week.



1.
The boys and I recently went strawberry picking and found ourselves with more strawberries than we knew what to do with! Luckily, Mother's Day was right around the corner and I found this delicious recipe to gift to some of the mothers in my family. It's so easy, the boys were able to do most of it themselves. Since it's just a quick jam, it has to be refrigerated and used up fairly quickly - which was not a problem for us at all! It's also a bit runnier than a typical jam. We ate it on PB&J, poured it on pancakes, stirred it into sparkling wine, and even used it to fill vanilla cupcakes topped with whipped cream. This is definitely something I will look forward to making again next spring if not sooner!

INGREDIENTS
1 quart hulled strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
DIRECTIONS
Process strawberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Pour into a large skillet and add sugar and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until jam is thickened and bubbles completely cover the surface, about 10 minutes. Pour into jars and let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Use within 2 weeks.


2.
Here's a simple, yummy recipe I love - perfect for sitting outside and enjoying the beautiful weather!

Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
3 ripe avocados, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup any kind of onion
1/2 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 t. salt
Tortilla chips for serving
DIRECTIONS
Lightly mash avocados in a large bowl and stir in remaining ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips.


3.
The friends my husband and I made as newlyweds have become a second family! We all learned how to be grown-ups together and a lot of that included cooking for each other. I treasure the recipes my friends share with me - it's a way for me to feel closer to them even when we're states apart!

Iry's Taco Casserole
Serves 8-10
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. medium pasta shells
1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
3 oz. neufchatel (1/3 fat cream cheese)
Cooking spray
16 oz. mild taco sauce
2 cups reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
Crushed tortilla chips for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove from heat and stir in cream cheese.
3. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. Pour cooked pasta into dish and cover with meat mixture. Pour taco sauce over meat. Sprinkle with shredded cheese.
4. Bake for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with crushed tortilla chips just before serving.


3.
I had so much fun making these! It was like making three desserts in one! The shortbread crust is the perfect texture and the crumb topping tastes just like a crushed up oatmeal cookie. And I loved the richness of the date jam filling, but it was a little much for the boys. I'm curious to try the recipe again with a different fruit. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!

Date Bars (adapted from "Martha Bakes") - V
Makes 16
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
2 c. flour, divided
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1/2 t. salt, divided
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, divided
1 large egg
2 c. dried dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 c. apple cider
1 t. lemon zest
2/3 c. oats
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. cinnamon
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9 inch square baking with cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving a 2 inch overhang. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray.
2. In a food processor, pulse to combine 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 t. salt and 1 stick of butter. Let the remaining half stick of butter sit at room temperature. Add egg to the food processor and pulse until evenly distributed. Pour into prepared pan and press into the bottom with the palm of your hand. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Then bake for 20 minutes or until golden.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine dates, cider, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until the consistency of jam. Remove from heat and use a hand mixer to puree the mixture until smooth. Stir in lemon zest and spread evenly over baked crust.
4. In a medium bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Use your hands to work in the butter forming crumbs. Sprinkle the crumbs over the date filling. Bake until filling is set and crumbs are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack. Use parchment overhang to remove from pan. Cut into 16 squares using a serrated knife.