Monday, May 30, 2011

Baked Oatmeal

When I saw my friend's post on baked oatmeal, I knew we needed to try it out (everything I've tried from her has been delicious), but I wasn't sure what to expect.  Baked oatmeal?  Whoa - this stuff is good!  The consistency is unique - a bit fluffy, which is a strange description for oatmeal.  But we all loved it!  My family of four usually eats 2 cups of oatmeal for breakfast, but today we devoured three.  It was a bit too sweet for my taste, so I'll reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup next time.

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar (too sweet for me)
1 cup milk
1/3 cup melted butter
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups quick-cooking oats (I used old-fashioned oats and they worked great)
1 cup fresh fruit

In a large bowl, mix eggs, sugar, milk, butter, baking powder, salt and vanilla.

Stir in 3 cups oats and spread in a greased 9x13 pan.

Top with 1 cup of your choice of chopped fruit and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

I went with my friend's favorite and used a chopped apple tossed in 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon.  She also suggested cinnamon coated bananas - yum!  And a comment made mention of bananas and chocolate chips on top.  Now there's a real breakfast treat!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A-B-C Frittata (with kids)

This was yummy and family-friendly.  The directions include instructions on how to include children in cooking.  My 3-year-old had fun helping, but I would recommend cooking an extra piece of bacon for those little less-than-patient-hands!

2 egg whites
8 whole eggs
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
salt, to taste
3-4 slices bacon
ground pepper, to taste
2 apples, Fuji or Gala
1 Tbsp butter

Put the rack in the upper third of the oven.  Preheat oven to 450F.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, over a small bowl. After checking for stray shells, pour each egg into a medium bowl. To separate the egg whites, crack the egg over an egg separator or someone’s clean hands. Carefully let the egg white slip through the fingers into the bowl, with the yolk remaining. Discard the yolk or save for another recipe. Using a whisk, beat the eggs until the yolks and whites are thoroughly combined.

Grate the cheese. Younger children can help you use a rotary cheese grater (which protects their skin). Older children can use a box grater. Add half of the grated cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, to your liking.
Cook the strips of bacon. You can fry them in a skillet (watch out! They can splatter.) Or, you can bake them in the oven on a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. We like this method because we don’t have to turn the bacon over and the kids stay safe.
Once the bacon cools, crumble the strips with clean hands. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the apple. If you have an apple corer, you may use it. Or, simply cut up the apple, leaving the core behind. Slice the apple pieces very thinly. As you are cutting, be sure to put the flat side of the apple pieces down, so the chunks don’t wobble on your cutting board.
In a medium cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add egg mixture to the skillet. Sprinkle the bacon crumbles evenly over the eggs. Gently arrange the apples on top of the egg mixture, in a circular pattern. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Move the skillet from the stovetop to the upper rack of your oven. Bake until frittata is firm in the center and cheese is browned, about 20 minutes. Use a flexible spatula to loosen the frittata from the pan. Carefully slide it onto a cutting board. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slicing into wedges.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Peanut Butter Chicken

Another crock pot home run.  My husband went on and on about this one.  The sauce was rich, so I would use more chicken next time to make it stretch.

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken, cut in chunks (I just put breasts in whole and then shredded the chicken at the end)
1/2 cup natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky, but I loved the texture that the chunky added)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 lime, juiced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth

Put the chicken into the bottom of your crock pot and add the peanut butter.  Toss in the vegetables and cumin.  Squeeze in lime, and add soy sauce and chicken broth.  Stir as well as you can to combine (the peanut butter will be clumpy and that's just fine).  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for about 4 hours.  Serve over rice or quinoa.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I love Trader Joes' turkey meatballs.  One of the few downfalls of living in the UK is the absence of TJs.  But I should have been making my own meatballs a long time ago anyway.  Easy peesy - and you know what's in them!  After consulting several recipes, this is what I ended up with.  We all loved them.  I'll triple the batch next time and throw a bunch in the freezer.

1 lb. ground beef or turkey
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp. italian seasonings
dash of Tabasco sauce
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 parmesan cheese

I think clean hands are the best utensil for this job.  Also, if you measure everything out before you go at the meat with your hands, you don't have to wash them just to open a Tabasco bottle or container of bread crumbs.

Mix ground meat, salt, garlic salt, onion salt, red pepper and italian seasonings in a large bowl until everything is thoroughly mixed in.  Add Tabasco sauce and egg and mix again.  Lastly, add in bread crumbs and parmesan cheese.  Mix just until everything is combined.  If the mixture seems a bit wet and isn't sticking well, through in a little more bread crumbs.

Make golf ball sized balls of the meat and place on a lightly greased baking sheet.  They shouldn't touch, but can be very closely spaced.  Bake at 400 for 13-15 minutes.  Turn meatballs over and bake 5 more minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Use hot or freeze for later.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Whole Wheat Rolls

Since my first batch of whole wheat rolls ended up being fairly simple, I felt a bit more confident to try my hand with yeast again.  I wanted something more dense, and this recipe definitely fits that bill.  My husband preferred the lighter version.  I preferred these, but made them too big since they were so substantive.  I also liked this recipe because it uses the kitchenaid mixer for most of the kneading and saved me some time.

2 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp. active yeast
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey
8-9 cups whole wheat flour (I used 6 cups whole wheat and all-purpose for the rest)

Put first five ingredients and 2 cups of flour into your mixing bowl.  Mix on low for one minute, then lest rest for five minutes.

Set mixer to speed 2 and set timer for 4 minutes.  As it's mixing, add remaining flour (around 6 cups) 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to form a stretchy ball and does not stick to the sides of the bowl.  Turn off mixer at 4 minutes.

Take ball of dough out of bowl and work in any remaining flour or bits that are in the bottom of the bowl.  You may need to add more flour during this step until the dough isn't sticky.

Lightly coat a bowl with oil.  Put dough into bowl, then turn over so the entire ball is covered with oil.  Cover bowl and let rise for one hour, or until doubled in size.

Roll dough out on counter top to about 1/2" thick and use something round (biscuit cutter, jar lid, cup) to cut circles of the same size.  Work each circle into a ball to make rolls.  Or leave them flat to make buns.

Place on a lightly greased cooking sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottoms.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pear Cardamom Muffins (Cakes)

Wow!  This is the perfect example of using the word "muffin" to hide the fact that these little treats are actually personal-sized cakes!  Jessie knew I would love this and she was absolutely right.  I will always say yes to cardamom, and had a pear cardamom coffee cake a while back that these reminded me of.  I ended up with a pan of regular muffins and about a dozen mini-muffins.  The regular muffins were a complete fail in coming out of the pan, but they still tasted amazing.  The minis worked great, so I would go that route if you want to serve these for a brunch or something.  I wonder what would happen if you dumped it all in a couple of loaf pans?!  Any really great bakers out there who can give me a hint?!

For the topping:
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the muffins;
2 medium almost-ripe pears, such as d’Anjou, or equivalent
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or more all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream (I used plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Liberally grease a 12-cup muffin tin with the vegetable oil spray, both in the muffin depressions and on top of the tin, and set aside. (If you use muffin liners, grease the top of the muffin pan, as the muffins are large and will spread out onto the top of the pan – or use 2 muffin pans and make smaller muffins.)

Make the topping: combine all the topping ingredients together in a small bowl, mix well, and set aside.

Make the muffin batter: first, chop the pears (peeled or unpeeled) into 1/2” chunks. You should have enough to measure 1 1/2 cups. Place the flours, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend, and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or using a hand-held electric mixer), cream the butter and both sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and very light yellow, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and mix again to blend. Add the eggs, one at a time, and blend on low, mixing between additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl when necessary, until the eggs are completely incorporated. Mix in the vanilla.

With the mixer on low, add first about a third of the flour mixture, then half the sour cream, then another third of the flour mixture, then the rest of the sour cream, and finally the last of the flour mixture, mixing between each addition until whatever was last added has just barely been incorporated. Remove the paddle or beaters, add the chopped pears (and anything else you might want to add, like nuts or flax seeds), and stir just until blended.

Spoon an equal amount of batter into each of the muffin tins (the batter will probably fill the cups a little more than full before you put them in the oven, unless you choose to make smaller muffins). Sprinkle the topping over the batter, using your fingers or a spoon, if necessary, to push the topping into the batter so it adheres better.

Bake the muffins on a middle rack for 20 to 25 minutes, or until well browned and a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the muffins comes out with just a few crumbs clinging to it. (If you make more smaller muffins, bake them only 15 to 20 minutes, and switch the pans top to bottom halfway through baking.) Let the muffins cool in the pans. Use a small spatula to cut between the muffin tops to loosen them from each other, and carefully pry them out of the pans. (These are not muffins that you can dump out of the pan by turning it upside-down.) Enjoy.

Store any uneaten muffins in an airtight container at room temperature, up to 3 days, or cool and freeze up to 2 months.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sweet Potato Chocolate Chip Muffins

I had a couple sweet potatoes lying around and was intrigued by a recipe I saw that replaced pumpkin with sweet potato.  So if you like these, but don't have canned pumpkin, give this recipe for some very moist muffins a try.

4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup apple sauce
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups chocolate chips

Steam the sweet potatoes until tender.  Mash until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, sweet potatoes, milk, and oil until smooth.  Add dry ingredients to liquid ingredients, and stir just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups 3/4 full.  Bake 11 minutes for mini-muffins or 16-20 minutes for regular muffins at 350 degrees.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lentil Shepherd's Pie

I thought this was very good!  The subtle flavors blended nicely and I liked the different textures.  My husband was missing the meat, but he said it tasted like something that should be served with Thanksgiving turkey.  We might just have to try that!  I actually enjoyed it better the second day over brown rice.

1 cup lentils, rinsed
2 lbs potatoes or sweet potato (I used 2 large sweet potatoes and 2 medium baking potatoes)
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp ketchup
5 drops Tabasco sauce
1 cup frozen sweet corn
salt and pepper

Place lentils in a medium pot and cover with an inch of cold water.  Add a pinch of salt, cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes until cooked.  It is okay if they are not completely cooked, they will cook further later.  Drain.

While lentils are cooking, peel and roughly chop potatoes.  Place in a pot and cover with cold water.  Add a teaspoon of salt to the water and bring to a boil.  Simmer until potatoes are tender.

Drain potatoes and mash.  Add butter and milk and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a medium pot and add chopped onion.  Saute for a few minutes until soft.  Add cumin, thyme, cooked lentils, vinegar, ketchup, tabasco sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine.

Add 1/2 cup of water and bring lentils to a simmer.  Cook for another five minutes or so, stirring often, to let the flavors come together.

Preheat oven to 375.  Place seasoned lentils in the bottom of a medium baking dish.  Spread to cover the bottom.  Top with corn kernels.  Add mashed potatoes on top and spread evenly.  Bake for about 30 minutes until heated through.  Serve hot.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Rootbeer Pulled Pork

This was a hit!  The root beer flavor is definitely noticeable, but not too strong and the Tabasco added just enough kick to make the sandwich interesting.  We liked dipping the bread in the juice.

2 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
1 large yellow onion, sliced in rings
1-2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 cup chili sauce
2 cups root beer
1/2 tsp vanilla
buns, soft rolls, or cooked rice for serving

Put the meat into your crock pot.  Add sliced onion.  Top with Tabasco sauce, chili sauce, root beer and vanilla.  Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until pork shreds easily with a fork.  Serve over rice or on toasted buns.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Light Wheat Rolls

  • I typically avoid yeast.  Baking with it, that is.  I love to eat it.  Oh, yes.  But baking with yeast just frightens me.  Too much chemistry.  However, lately I've had an itch to make my own bread.  I thought I'd give this recipe a go.  They were simple and turned out pretty good.  They did taste a bit light to me.  I enjoy a more dense bread.  But I would certainly make these again and my son even suggested putting chopped apples on the strips before rolling them up!

  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

  • Mix sugar, salt, 1/4 cup melted butter, egg, and whole wheat flour into yeast mixture. Stir in all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  • Punch down dough, cover, and let rise in warm place until doubled again, about 30 minutes.

  • Grease 2 dozen muffin cups. Punch down dough, and divide into two equal portions. Roll each into a 6x14 inch rectangle, and cut rectangle into twelve 7x1 inch strips. Roll strips up into spirals, and place into muffin cups. Brush tops with melted butter. Let rise uncovered in a warm place 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven, and brush again with melted butter.

  • If you would like to freeze the rolls, bake for 8 minutes, remove from the oven, allow to cool, bag, and freeze. Then when ready to use, thaw and finish the baking process.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Zucchini Fries

I'm still here.  I promise.  I'd lost a bit of motivation to try new things while only having one pot and one pan to cook with.  But our stuff has arrived and the kitchen is almost at a fully functioning level!  I have some new recipes to try this week, but we'll start simple (so simple, I don't even have a picture to share).  These weren't crunchy or crisply like fries, but they were tasty and an easy way to change up the side of veg for a night.

several zucchini - I used 5
2 egg whites
dry bread crumbs
parmesan cheese

Separate the egg and discard the yolk.  Place the egg white in a pie plate or shallow bowl; add a pinch of salt and lightly with a fork. Set aside.

In another shallow bowl or pie plate, place some dry bread crumbs, and about half as much Parmesan cheese. Unless you’re feeding an army, you won’t need a lot. I generally start with ½ cup of bread crumbs and a ¼ cup of Parmesan. You can add a shake of salt and dry herbs such as basil or oregano if you like. Set this mixture aside as well.

Cut the zucchini into similar-size pieces or wedges. The coating doesn’t adhere as well to the smooth skin as it does to the more porous zucchini itself so I usually trim off a bit of the skin on each side before slicing.  If you’re short on time—or don’t really care about how much coating adheres, you can skip trimming the skin.

Dip each slice or wedge first into the egg white and then into the crumbs. Lay the pieces on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Place the pan in a preheated 400° F/200° C oven for about 15-20 minutes. Use a spatula to turn them over halfway through the baking time. Depending on your oven, you may also need to switch the baking pans halfway through the baking time: move the one on the top shelf to the bottom and vice versa.

We enjoy them “as is” with perhaps a bit more salt. You can also dip them in a marinara sauce.
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