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)
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
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")
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.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Seventh Heaven

It was a week of babies around here! I had already planned to bring meals to two different friends who recently had their third babies. And then my sweet nephew decided it was time to make an appearance! I'm baby crazy anyways, so this week has me in seventh heave!. In celebration, here are seven of my favorite recipes to share with you. :)



1.
I cut this recipe out of a magazine back when we were CSA members and always looking for something to do with an abundance of zucchini. It's a great appetizer, but more often than not I make it as a sandwich. And I like to only brush one side of the bread with oil so it's not a greasy mess when you pick it up. It's quick and easy and the flavors play so nicely together! 

Zucchini Crostini
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ciabatta loaf, sliced
1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 t. salt
4 oz. neufchatel (1/3 less fat cream cheese)
1/8 t. pepper
2 T. basil, chopped
Zest of 1/2 a lemon
DIRECTIONS
Preheat broiler to high. Combine garlic and olive oil in a medium bowl. Arrange half of the bread on a baking sheet and brush with garlic oil mixture. Broil 2 minutes or until toasted. Repeat with remaining bread. Add zucchini, onion, and salt to garlic oil mixture and stir to coat. Spread on baking sheet and broil 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine cream cheese, pepper, basil, and zest. Spread on toasted bread. Top with zucchini and onions.


2.
After my 2013 cleanse, I started following some of the recipe contributors and ended up buying Dr. Susan Blum's book, BlumKitchen Nutrition Guide and Cookbook. It's a great book and this soup couldn't be easier, healthier, or tastier.

North African Red Lentil Soup (adapted from BlumKitchen)
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
10 baby carrots, chopped
1 t. cumin
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 t. salt, divided
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup red lentils
1/2 t. pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon or lime
1 T. parsley
DIRECTIONS
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium high heat. Add onion, carrot, cumin, garlic, and 1/2 t. salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes or until golden. Add chicken broth, lentils and remaining 1/2 t. salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes. Stir in pepper and juice and sprinkle with parsley.


3.
A few years ago, my older son and I found an ice cream maker on sale and we were so excited to start making our own ice cream on a regular basis. But... it's so expensive! You pick up the cream and the half and half and whatever else you're adding in and then you see the $1.99 ice cream quart in the freezer case on your way to the checkout line and end up throwing in the towel. Sorbet, however, is a whole different ball game. There are far fewer sorbet flavors available at the grocery store and it's fun to experiment with whatever fruit you have on hand. (I have a tri-melon sorbet freezing up right now!) The methodology is also interesting to me. The lime sorbet I made last week calls for simple syrup, while this sorbet just calls for the sugar to be stirred straight in. And the melon sorbet I'm currently making adds 2 tablespoons of vodka to the mixture. I see a lot of sorbet taste-testing in my future...

Watermelon Lime Sorbet (adapted from Ellie Krieger)
Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
9 cups cubed, seedless watermelon
1 cup of mint leaves
Juice of 2 limes
1/3 cup sugar
DIRECTIONS
Working in 2 batches, puree watermelon and mint in a blender. Add lime juice and sugar and refrigerate overnight. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Freeze in airtight container at least 3 hours before serving.


4.
This recipe takes about an hour from start to finish, but it's worth the effort. It also freezes well, so it's a good one to make ahead or double and freeze half. It's especially delicious served over mashed potatoes.

Chicken Cacciatore (adapted from Ellie Krieger)
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2 t. extra virgin olive oil
8 chicken cutlets
Salt and pepper
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 c. dry white wine
14.5 oz. can whole tomatoes in juice, chopped and juice reserved
1/2 t. oregano
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
DIRECTIONS
Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown in two batches, about 4 minutes per side. Remove chicken from pan and reduce heat to medium. Add onion and pepper to pan.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook uncovered until the mushrooms begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add wine and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juice, oregano, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 t. salt and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Return chicken to pan and simmer covered 20 minutes longer.


5.
This entire recipe can be made in the time it takes to cook the pasta. So easy. So yummy. 

Green Bean Ravioli Salad (adapted from Whole Living)
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
12 oz. frozen haricot verts or green beans
20 oz. fresh cheese ravioli
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 T. sliced almonds
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
DIRECTIONS
Microwave haricots verts or green beans according to package instructions. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots and cook about 2 minutes until golden and crispy. Add beans, ravioli, almonds, and lemon juice and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.


6.
What a fun surprise these were! I love to make a tarragon-dressed Bibb lettuce salad with fennel, radishes and hard boiled eggs for Easter, but there are always leftover radishes. So this year I thought I'd fry them up and see what happened. Yum-o! This week I used them in place of croutons on a very veggie salad and they were delish! Although, it's hard to keep them from being eaten long enough to top a salad...

Radish Chips
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. radishes, thinly sliced on a mandoline
Canola oil
Salt
DIRECTIONS
Heat 1/2 inch of canola oil over medium high heat in a large, heavy bottomed skillet. Add a handful of radish slices and cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining radish slices.


7.
This is another great summer appetizer. We've even turned it into a main course by making it into a pizza. Delish!

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
2 plum tomatoes, chopped and seeded
1/2 t. dried oregano
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1 t. balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1 sliced whole wheat baguette
Cooking spray
Alouette Reduced Fat Garlic and Herbs Soft Spreadable Cheese
DIRECTIONS
Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Preheat broiler. Spread baguette slices on a baking sheet and spray both sides with cooking spray. Broil 1 minute on each side or until crisp. Spread with cheese and top with tomato mixture.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

On the Go

I found these recipes about ten years ago as part of a picnic menu in a 1998 Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes cookbook. I packed them in a cooler along with some gazpacho for the Maryland Symphony Orchestra's Salute to Independence Concert at Antietam National Battlefield - which is fabulous if you ever have the chance to go! I also served them at a "Sip and See" I hosted for my yoga teacher friends after my first son was born. And more recently, the recipes came along with the boys and I for a fantastic lunch at the Cincinnati Zoo. Perfectly portable, yet pretty enough to serve to company. Enjoy!



1.
Turkey & Chutney Sandwiches (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, June 1998)
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS
1 T. olive oil mayo
1 fresh tarragon sprig
1 large romaine leaf
4 thin slices cooked turkey
1 thin slice gouda cheese
1 T. shredded carrots
1 T. chutney (a spiced fruit jelly found in the Indian section of the supermarket)
DIRECTIONS
Spread mayo on one flatbread. Top with next five ingredients. Spread chutney on the other flatbread and top sandwich. Slice in half.


2.
Roast Beef & Red Pepper Sandwiches (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, June 1998)
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS
1 T. olive oil mayo
A few spinach leaves
4 thin slices cooked roast beef
1 thin slice pepper jack cheese
1 T.sliced roasted red peppers
1 t. Dijon mustard
DIRECTIONS
Spread mayo on one flatbread. Top with next four ingredients. Spread mustard on the other flatbread and top sandwich. Slice in half and serve.


3.
Coconut Mango Parfaits (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, June 1998)
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS
4 coconut macaroons (or 1/2 cup Coconut Macaroon Granola)
2 5.3 oz. containers yogurt (vanilla, lemon, lime, coconut - whatever you like)
DIRECTIONS
In two serving jars, crumble 1 cookie in the bottom of each jar. Top each jar with half a container of yogurt. Set aside 2 T. of mango for garnish and divide the rest between the two jars. Crumble another cookie on top of the mango. Top each jar with half a container of yogurt. Garnish with reserved mango.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tastes of Summer

Okay. So it's not technically summer. But it has been so busy these last 2 months and school is officially out around here and we FINALLY finished spreading the mountain of mulch that was delivered in April (!?!) and well, it feels like summer to me!



1.
This recipe comes from one of my very best friends and it always reminds me of the epic summer cookout weekends we use to have at her house before we had kids. It's quick, easy, yummy and laced with nostalgia. :)

Jess's Grilled Chicken
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. olive oil mayonnaise
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 t. oregano
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 t. pepper
8 chicken cutlets
Cooking spray
DIRECTIONS
Make the marinade by combining the first 6 ingredients in a liquid measuring cup. Place the chicken in a gallon size storage bag and pour the marinade over top. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as you can and then seal the top. Massage the chicken to evenly distribute the marinade. Place the bag in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Spray a grill pan with cooking spray and heat over medium high heat (or heat up your outdoor grill!). Use tongs to remove the chicken from the bag and shake off the excess marinade. Discard the marinade. Cook cutlets on grill pan in 2 batches (or on outdoor grill) for 5 minutes per side or until cooked through.


2.
I am the only one in my family who likes this, but I like it so much that I make it every summer and eat the whole bowl myself! It's light and simple and makes a great barbecue side dish.

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
10 oz. package frozen corn
1 English cucumber
1/2 small red onion
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 T. sugar
2 T. water
1 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
DIRECTIONS
Cook corn according to package instructions. Dice cucumber and red onion. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and chill for several hours.


3.
This is dangerously good. Super quick. Super Delicious. Super easy to drink a whole pitcher yourself. You have been warned. :)

Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 navel orange
1 nectarine
750 mL bottle sauvignon blanc
1 can ginger ale
6 oz. package blackberries, washed
Handful of fresh mint leaves
DIRECTIONS
Halve and thinly slice the orange and nectarine and place in a large pitcher. Pour wine over top and chill for 1-6 hours. Right before serving, stir in the ginger ale, blackberries, and mint. Spoon some of the fruit into glasses and top with sangria.


4.
This isn't really a summer recipe, but it's a family favorite that I happened to have on the menu this week. So voila!

My husband is a Cincinnati native and when I used to come home with him to visit his family I was introduced to Skyline Chili. I loved it and I used to crave it back in Baltimore where Skyline doesn't exist - so I found this awesome recipe. And my picky-eater-husband who always ordered hot dogs with cheese, actually likes Skyline Chili now! And even though we can walk to a Skyline from where we live now, I still like to make my own. I prefer macaroni to Skyline's sloppy spaghetti noodles and I like to increase the chili to noodle ratio on my plate. Don't let the long ingredient list intimidate you. This is a super easy recipe - the hardest part is pulling everything out of your pantry! 

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
1 T. vegetable oil
2 onions, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. chili powder
1 T. oregano
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. allspice
14 oz can low sodium chicken broth
14 oz. can tomato sauce
2 T. cider vinegar
2 t. brown sugar
1 1/2 lb. 85% lean ground beef
1 lb. macaroni noodles
Shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Oyster crackers
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Cook onions about 8 minutes until soft and brown around the edges. Add garlic, tomato paste, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and allspice and cook about 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth, tomato sauce, vinegar, and sugar.
2. Add beef and break up meat with a potato masher. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 15-20 minutes.
3. Cook macaroni noodles according to package instructions. Serve chili over noodles and top with cheese and oyster crackers.


5.
This is about as simple as it gets and is so tart and refreshing in the summertime! We like to pair it with Coconut Bliss Naked Coconut "ice cream" for a really delicious dessert duo!

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Juice of 8 limes
Lime zest (optional)
DIRECTIONS
Combine water and sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring until sugar dissolves. Add lime juice and chill overnight or at least 6 hours. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Return to airtight container and freeze at least 3 hours before serving. Sprinkle with lime zest if desired. 

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Soup's On!

I love soup! I could eat it every single day! And when I was trying to track down a Potato Leek Soup recipe I made a few years ago, I came across a hilarious e-mail that I sent to my sweet brother-in-law. He was trying to eat healthier and do more cooking at home and had asked me if I had any good soup recipes to share. I literally sent him 15 soup recipes!!! The poor guy was probably completely overwhelmed and totally convinced that his new sister-in-law was insane! That e-mail did remind me, though, why I love blogging about food. Because in an instant, I can come up with 15 recipes for soup that I have made, that I distinctly remember, and that I love! And perhaps there is an audience for that, beyond my brother-in-law. Even if that audience is only me, not wanting to dig through my e-mails to find the Potato Leek Soup I made 3 years ago. :)



1.
Back when I was a CSA subscriber, I was always looking for new ways to use up our weekly vegetable supply. And one week when we had an abundance of kale, I found this awesome recipe!

Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
2 t. olive oil
8 oz. ground sweet Italian sausage
1 c. thinly sliced celery and leafy tops from center of bunch
1 medium yellow onion, diced medium
1/2 c. dried lentils
6 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 bunch (about 1/2 lb.) kale, stems removed and torn into bite size pieces
1 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 t. red wine vinegar
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil over medium high heat in a large pot. Add sausage and use a potato masher to break up meat. Cook about 5 min. until golden brown. Add celery and onion and cook about 5 min. until softened. Add lentils, broth, and 1/2 c. water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 25 min.
2. Add kale and season with salt and pepper. Return to a rapid simmer, cover, and cook about 5 min. until kale wilts. Remove soup from heat and stir in vinegar.


2.
This is another delicious soup for a time when you want to indulge! It starts with butter and bacon and ends with creme fraiche and chives - so you know it's going to be good. :)

Potato Leek Soup (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
2 T. butter
2 strips bacon, chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 c. dry white wine
2 bay leaves
1/2 t. dried thyme leaves
1 1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. pepper
5 c. low sodium chicken broth
4-5 russet potatoes (~ 1 lb.), peeled and diced
1/2 c. creme fraiche or sour cream
Chives for garnish (optional)
DIRECTIONS
Melt butter in large soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook 5 min. until bacon is soft. Add leeks and cook an additional 5 min. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper, broth, and potatoes and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer for 20 min. or until potatoes are soft. Remove and discard bay leaves. Blend soup in batches to desired consistency. (I like mine a little chunky.) Stir in creme fraiche and garnish with chives, if using.


3.
This is a favorite of the boys and a great meal train recipe for families with young kids. Add a salad and some homemade cookies and you are sure to brighten the day of whoever you share this meal with.

Serves 8
INGREDIENTS
9 c. hot water
3/4 c. carrot (about 3 large, or 15 baby), chopped
3/4 c. celery (about 3 large), chopped
1 c. onion (about 1/2 large), chopped
1 1/2 T. chicken bouillon
1/2 t .salt
1/2 t. pepper
2 rotisserie chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), chopped
DIRECTIONS
Combine water, vegetables, bouillon, salt, pepper and chicken in a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 30 min. Add noodles and simmer an additional 10 min.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Maple Madness

It's March. And while most people are thinking about college basketball, I'm dreaming about maple syrup! This is the time of year when maple trees are being tapped and sap is being collected and turned into liquid gold. When I was a kid my parents took us to a maple syrup festival at Cunningham Falls State Park in Thurmont, MD (about 15 miles north of Frederick). I can still remember the aroma of maple syrup boiling in the cold air and the exquisite, melt-in-your-mouth taste of maple sugar candy...

1.
It became my weekend's mission/obsession to make maple sugar candy. As it turns out, this is no easy task. Maple candy exists in a small window between maple caramel (which is delicious) and maple sugar (which is also delicious, but decidedly not candy). It took me all weekend to find this miraculous window. Luckily, maple syrup is very forgiving and you can just pop your failed attempt back into the pot, add a little water, and start the process all over again. And it is so freaking good, it was totally worth the effort! Maple sugar candy is sort of like fudge, so a little bit goes a long way. I highly recommend making several small batches rather than one large batch. Small batches heat more quickly, bubble up less, and are easier to pour into the candy molds. I also recommend checking out the link below to a video of the candy making process which I found very helpful!

Makes 12 candies
INGREDIENTS
1/2 c. pure maple syrup
EQUIPMENT
heavy medium saucepan
candy thermometer
wooden spoon
silicone candy mold
DIRECTIONS
Pour maple syrup into heavy medium saucepan and attach candy thermometer. Heat over high heat to 242 degrees. Remove from heat and stir with a wooden spoon until bubbles subside and mixture just starts to lose its glossiness. Quickly pour into silicone candy molds and let cool.
*After pouring off your candy, be sure to scrape the hardened maple sugar off of your saucepan and save it to sprinkle on ice cream or yogurt! So.... good...


2.
This. Is. Amazing. I saved my maple sugar scrapings from candy-making to sprinkle on the top and added a vanilla waffle cookie. Perfection.

Maple Ice Cream (adapted from Serious Eats)

Makes 1 quart
INGREDIENTS
6 egg yolks
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 c. cream
1 1/2 c. half and half
1/2 t. salt
DIRECTIONS
1. In a heavy, medium saucepan, whisk egg yolks and maple syrup until well-combined. Whisk in cream and half and half. Cook over medium heat, 10-15 min., until a custard forms on the back of a spoon but a swiped finger leaves a clean line. Stir in salt and strain into an airtight container. Chill overnight or at least 6 hours.
2. Churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Return to airtight container and freeze at least 3 hours before serving.


Quick & Easy

The boys and I recently watched an episode of The Pioneer Woman on Food Network (while I was folding laundry) and I was totally inspired by Ree Drummond's "Scrumptious 16-Minute Meals." Everything looked amazing and who doesn't love fast, easy meals? So, here is my take on the recipes we saw. :)

1.
There is nothing earth shattering about chicken taco salad. But, this is a simple, yummy recipe that you can customize to your family's tastes. Both boys loved it and they even chose to eat the leftovers for lunch (twice!) instead of their usual PB&Js! I simplified Ree Drummond's recipe by using rotisserie chicken and frozen corn. However, I totally think it's worth the effort to make your own taco seasoning. It's so easy and so much healthier and cheaper than a store-bought mix.   

Chicken Taco Salad (adapted from Ree Drummond)
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
10 oz. package frozen corn
2 1/4 t. chili powder
1 t. garlic powder
3/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. dried oregano
1/4 t. salt
2 skinless rotisserie chicken breasts
3/4 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup salsa
3 T. cilantro, chopped
7 oz package Hearts of Romaine, shredded
diced veggies of choice (avocado, tomato, green onion)
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded Mexican cheese blend
handful of crushed tortilla chips
DIRECTIONS
Microwave corn according to package instructions. In a large bowl, combine chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Remove 1 t. of spice mixture and stir it into cooked corn. Dice chicken and add to bowl with remaining spice mixture, stirring to coat. In a small bowl, combine ranch dressing, salsa and cilantro. Drizzle over shredded romaine and top with corn, chicken, veggies, cheese, and crushed tortilla chips.


2.
I have long been a fan of Ellie Krieger's Red Pepper-Feta Sauce, but the flavor is a little strong for picky-eater husband and the boys. Ree Drummond's Red Pepper Sauce uses Parmesan instead of feta and I was intrigued. So, we did a little taste test! As it turns out both sauces are equally delicious in their own way, but when you mix them together you get something special! The Parmesan totally mellows out the sauce while the feta gives a welcome brightness. And as for the pasta, when you are feeding kids - rigatoni beats fettuccine. Every. Single. Time. :)

Serves 6
INGREDIENTS
1 lb. rigatoni
2 T. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic
16 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper
Parsley for garnish (optional)
DIRECTIONS
1. Cook pasta according to package.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until soft, about 5 min. Add red peppers and cook until hot, 2-3 min.
3. Add red pepper mixture, broth, cheeses, 1/2 t. salt and 1/8 t. pepper into a blender and blend until smooth. Serve over cooked pasta with parsley, if using.

3.
Oh, Pizza! How I love you! But how much do I hate making pizza dough? A. LOT. I have tried so many recipes and what it comes down to is this. The more time you spend on the dough, the better it is. And mama ain't got the time no more. So, I have tried all different types of store-bought dough and all different types of pre-made crusts. In my opinion, you can't do better than Stonefire Naan. It's like having a wood-fired pizza oven in your kitchen. I usually buy the whole wheat naan, but I also love the original variety. And Kroger regularly has packages (of two naans) on sale, 2 for $5, which makes me very, very happy. :)

So now let's talk toppings. My three all time favorite pizzas are Dewey's Porky Fig, Peace A Pizza Catonsville's Buffalo Bleu Cheese, and California Pizza Kitchen's Pear+Gorgonzola. Below is my recreation of the first two pizzas. And don't worry, Pear+Gorgonzola. I love you too much to not make you again soon...

"Gourmet" Naan Pizzas
Serves 1-2
INGREDIENTS
Basic recipe:
1 whole wheat Naan flatbread
2 T. sauce of choice
1/2 c. shredded cheese of choice
Toppings of choice
For Ham & Fig:
2 T. fig preserves (in Kroger's cheese shop)
1/4 c. julienned Canadian bacon
1/2 c. shredded pizza blend cheese
1 T. sliced red onion
1 T. bleu cheese crumbles
For Buffalo Chicken:
1 T. creme fraiche
1/4 c. shredded rotisserie chicken
1 T. Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1/2 c. shredded pizza blend cheese
1 T. sliced red bell pepper
1 T. Bleu cheese crumbles
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Assemble pizza(s) on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese starts to brown.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sweet & Sour


1.
I've seen this recipe a few times on Cooking Light's website and resisted making it because I've always been a total fan of the original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. But... these cookies are awesome! They have a chewiness and depth of flavor that you don't get from the Nestle Toll House recipe and they are just as easy. I am officially converted! Picky-eater husband? Not so much...

Cooking Light Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Cooking Light)
Makes 36 cookies
INGREDIENTS
1 c. brown sugar
6 T. canola oil
6 T. butter, softened
2 T. honey
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. chocolate chips
3/8 t. coarse sea salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat first 3 ingredients together in a large bowl. Add honey, vanilla, and egg and beat until well combined. Add flour, baking soda and 1/2 t. salt and beat until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Use a small cookie scoop to portion out 12 cookies onto prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with 1/8 t. salt. Bake 8 minutes, turning baking sheet halfway through. Repeat with remaining dough.


2.
And I may be converted on this recipe as well. These are so light and fluffy compared to my go-to Whole-Wheat Pancake recipe and I love the almond butter sauce with the raspberries. Thank you, Cooking Light!

Oatmeal Pancakes (adapted from Cooking Light)
Makes 9 pancakes
INGREDIENTS
1 T. white vinegar
1 1/3 c. milk (any type)
2/3 c. quick cooking oats
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. vanilla
3 t. maple syrup
1 large egg
Cooking spray
1/4 c. almond butter
1 1/2 T. maple syrup, divided
Fresh raspberries for serving
DIRECTIONS
1. Combine vinegar, milk, and oats in a small bowl and let sit 5 minutes.
2. Heat a large non-stick griddle to 350 degrees.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and whisk together the vanilla, egg, and 3 t. maple syrup. Add the oat mixture and stir all ingredients together until just combined.
4. Spray pre-heated griddle with cooking spray and use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to spoon batter onto griddle. Cook about 2 min. per side.
5. Combine 1/4 c. warm water, almond butter, and 1 1/2 T. syrup in another small bowl. Serve with pancakes and raspberries.


3.
This may be my five-year-old's favorite breakfast ever! I love it in the winter when we've had a lot of gray days or a lot of sick days and we need an extra boost of vitamin C. And if you've never segmented a grapefruit, be sure to click the link in the ingredients list below! You may never eat a grapefruit the same way again!

Citrus Salad (adapted from Whole Living)
Serves 2
INGREDIENTS
1 ruby red grapefruit
2 clementine oranges
2 kiwi fruits
2 T. lightly salted cashews
DIRECTIONS
Cut grapefruit into segments. Peel and slice clementine and kiwi horizontally. Arrange fruit on 2 plates and sprinkle with cashews.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Kid Approved

If you've checked out My Food Philosophy, you already know I dislike "kid food." I refuse to make separate meals for the boys at dinnertime. I expect them to eat what my husband and I are eating - and for the most part, they do. However, I also want them to enjoy eating as much as I do and I'm constantly looking for recipes I think they will like. So here are 3 recipes made especially for and approved by the Giesler boys. :)



1.
I made these for the boys, but I totally can't stop eating them! They have the perfect chewy texture and sweetness from the honey. They are nut free and gluten free (if you're into that). And don't even get me started on the smell of them baking in the oven...

Fruit & Honey Granola Bars (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves 16
INGREDIENTS
Cooking spray
2 c. quick-cooking oats
1 c. flaked unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. sunflower seed kernels
1/2 c. flaxseed meal
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped
5 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. maple syrup
3 T. brown sugar
3 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13x9 in. glass baking dish with foil, allowing foil to extend over the edges of the dish. Spray foil with cooking spray.
2. Spread oats, coconut, sunflower seeds, and flaxseed into the prepared dish in a single layer. Bake 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Remove from oven.
3. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine oat mixture and dried fruits.
4. Bring remaining ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk. Pour over oat and fruit mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula to coat.
5. Firmly press oat mixture into prepared glass baking dish, creating an even layer. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely. Use foil "handles" to lift bars from baking dish. Cut into 16 bars.


2.
I'm not typically a fan of recipes from Parents Magazine. I generally find them to be bland, or as my picky-eater husband would say, "non-offensive." That being said, a Parents Magazine recipe is pretty much guaranteed to be easy, fast, and something your kids will eat. Which counts for A LOT!!! (Check out more Easy Weeknight Meals from Parents Magazine.) I made these fajitas at my in-law's house last weekend and I really liked them! The grown-ups spiced them up and my kids ate vegetables. Win-win. :)

Shrimp Fajitas (adapted from Parents,com)
Serves 4
INGREDIENTS
1 T. olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 yellow sweet pepper, sliced
1 small zucchini, chopped
10 oz. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/4 t. ground cumin, divided
Salt
10 oz. steam-in-bag frozen corn kernels
2 T. cilantro, chopped
Fajita-size flour tortillas (I like Mission)
Optional toppings: shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream
DIRECTIONS
1. Heat oil in a very large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper and cook, stirring, for 2 min. Add zucchini and cook 2 more min. Add shrimp, 1 t. cumin, and a dash of salt and cook 2-3 min. more until shrimp is cooked through.
2. Cook corn according to package instructions. Pour into medium bowl and stir in 1/4 c. cumin, a dash of salt, and cilantro. Serve alongside fajitas.
3. Assemble fajitas with tortillas, shrimp mixture and optional toppings.


3.
If you ever had Cocoa Cream of Wheat as a kid, this will bring back memories! I definitely prefer the maple syrup Breakfast Quinoa I posted last week. But the boys don't gobble that one down nearly as fast as this more decadent version.

Cocoa Quinoa
Serves 1
INGREDIENTS
3/4 cup cooked quinoa*
1 T. milk
2 t. sugar
1 t. cocoa powder
1/4 cup diced strawberries
1 T. coconut
2 t. chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS
Heat quinoa and stir in milk, sugar, and cocoa powder. Top with strawberries, coconut, and chocolate chips.
*See last week's post for cooking instructions.