Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Baked Cranberry Almond Oatmeal

We polished off our week of baked oatmeal with this recipe from Real Simple that my friend, Patricia, tried first and said was a must.  It was, indeed, real simple, as most baked oatmeal recipes are!  It was also real good, thanks mostly to the butter and, in my opinion, mixing the almonds in with the oats.  This one got both my son's and my husband's votes for top pick.  It'd be a great way to start your Thanksgiving weekend!

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped (I didn't toast mine and used sliced almonds - still good!)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
heavy cream or milk for serving

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter or grease a 2-quart baking dish.  

Combine the oats, almonds, cranberries, cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl.  Stir in the melted butter, milk eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Mix well and spread evenly in the prepared dish.  At this point, I covered my dish with foil and put it in the fridge until the morning.  

Bake in preheated oven until golden and the center is firm, 35 to 45 minutes.  Serve warm, drizzled with cream or milk, if desired.  

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal

This recipe came on Day Four of our Baked Oatmeal Breakfast Week.  My husband's favorite dessert is carrot cake, so I knew it would be a favorite for him, but it ended up being a favorite for the entire family!  This was actually my number one vote at the end of the week.  The carrots gave the oatmeal a more interesting texture, and I liked the raisins and walnuts on top way more than I thought I would.

2 1/4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups lightly packed shredded carrots
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger (or try ½ tsp ground ginger)
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 375F and lightly grease a 2-quart baking dish.  I used an 8x8 square pyrex.

In a large bowl, mix together the rolled oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt (plus ground ginger if not using fresh).  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: shredded carrot, egg, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and fresh ginger.

Add the wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until combined.  Pour mixture into prepared dish and smooth out until evenly distributed. Press down on the oatmeal with a spoon to ensure the oats sink into the milk. If preparing the night before, cover with foil and put in refrigerator until morning.  Then continue on with remaining steps.

Sprinkle walnuts and raisins on top.  Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, or until lightly golden around the edges.  The oatmeal might still look a bit soft or wet in some spots when you take it out of the oven, but it will firm up as it cools.

Let the oatmeal cool for about 10 minutes before serving with milk, cream, or whipped cream for a special treat!

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

My family loves baked oatmeal.  It's the perfect breakfast for us.  It's nutritious, filling, easy to make (I always make it the night before, no matter what recipe I'm using), and everyone is happy coming to the breakfast table when I'm serving baked oatmeal.  So I decided we would do a week of baked oatmeal, trying out a different recipe each day and then voting on our favorite.  If you ask me, breakfast is already the best meal of the day.  But it was especially good during our Baked Oatmeal week!

For Day One, I made our tried and true Banana Berry Baked Oatmeal.  It's been on our breakfast table about once a week for a couple years running, so why not start with what you know you like?

On Day Two, I made Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal.  This is another recipe I'd already tried and knew we all liked.  

Then on Day Three of our baked oatmeal week, I used an idea from my daughter to create this Apple Pie version.  My middle gingersnap suggested one morning several months ago, "What if we put apples on the bottom instead of bananas?"  Great idea!  A few other additions and it was delicious!  

2 apples, cored, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks - I used my corer/peeler/slicer and then cut the slices into smaller chunks
1-2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp apple pie spice
2 Tbsp brown sugar, divided
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease square baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

Spread apple chunks evenly on bottom of the dish.  Using about 2 Tbsp butter total, distribute butter into smaller bits over the apples.  Sprinkle with apple pie spice and 1 Tbsp brown sugar.

In medium bowl, combine oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.  Mix thoroughly and pour evenly on top of apples.

In the same bowl, throughly mix milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Pour evenly over the oat mixture.  Use a spoon or spatula to press down, ensuring there aren't any dry oats left.

At this point, you can cover the dish with foil and store in the refrigerator overnight, making this an easy breakfast the next morning.

When ready to bake, sprinkle pecans on top and place in oven, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes, or until pecans are nicely toasted and oats are golden on top.  Serve with milk and maple syrup as a treat!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pumpkin Challa

My kids and I had been learning about the Jewish calendar and certain Jewish festivals in school, so one of our projects for the week was to make Challa bread.  Challah is a braided bread made with eggs that is traditionally eaten on the Sabbath or certain holidays.  Since we are also enjoying Fall, I decided to make a less traditional Challah bread and use pumpkin!  We followed this recipe exactly, and used this video as our tutorial to do a six-strand braid for our loaves.  The bread was especially delicious toasted with butter and honey on top!

As we started to roll out the dough to make our strands for the braid, I quickly realized we had an excess of dough.  The recipe says you can make one six-stranded loaf or two smaller three-stranded loaves.  But I divided the dough and we had plenty to make two six-stranded loaves.  If you make that change as I did, be sure to reduce the baking time to about 35 minutes.    

1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
3/4 cup eggs and egg yolks (I used 7 yolks and 2 whole eggs, plus 1 egg yolk for the egg wash
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons melted butter
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
7-8 cups flour (bread flour, if you can find it), plus more for rolling.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine water and yeast. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, or until bubbles start coming to the surface. With the mixer on low, add in eggs, sugar, syrup, butter, salt, spices, and pumpkin. Slowly add in 2 cups of flour.

Switch to the dough hook, and slowly add most of the remaining flour until a nice, slightly sticky dough is formed. Add the rest of the flour, if needed. Cover bowl with a towel, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour. Punch down and let rest for ten minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and braid into 1 large loaf with the 6 strand method, or make 2 smaller loaves with the normal 3 strand method. (see my note above about making two loaves) Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and let sit in a warm place for one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together an extra egg yolk and a teaspoon of water. Brush over the top of the loaf. Place in the oven and toss a handful of ice cubes on the bottom of the oven (optional). Close oven door and bake for 1 hour.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Potato Cream Cheese Soup

Winter is setting in and this soup from Maryana Vollstedt's Big Book of Soups and Stews hit the spot on a cold evening.  It's easy to make, and everyone had fun adding the toppings of their choice.  I served the soup with hard-boiled eggs, chopped peanuts, crumbled bacon, and green onions.  We all enjoyed this creamy soup.

4 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or broth
2 cups milk
3 ounces cream cheese, cut into small pieces
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp celery salt (I used onion salt)
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Toppings (we used the first four):
chopped hard-cooked eggs
chopped green onions
cooked, crumbled bacon bits
chopped peanuts
chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded and drained
diced cucumbers
small shrimp

In a large soup pot over high heat, combine potatoes, onion, and stock.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.  Transfer half of the mixture to food processor and puree.  Return to the pot.  Add remaining ingredients except toppings and stir until cheese melts, 5 to 10 minutes.  Add more milk if too thick.  Ladle into bowls and pass the toppings separately.  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Lemon Chicken with Leeks and Croutons

My friend, Patricia, passed on this recipe and I'm so glad she did!  It reminded me of the lemon and chicken dish we all loved so much, but this dinner was much easier to put together.  And I liked the leeks!  I've noted below the changes I made.  This is yummy stuff!

1/2-1 pound sourdough bread, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 10 cups)
4 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths, white and light green parts only
3 lemons, quartered lengthwise
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
salt and pepper
3 1/2 - 4 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks and thighs

*Between the lemons and the sourdough bread, the flavor was a tad bitter.  My husband and I thought it was still delicious, but the kids probably would have preferred either just 2 lemons, or french bread instead.

Heat oven to 425 F.  Combine the bread, leeks, and lemons in a large bowl.  Drizzle in 1/3 cup olive oil and toss until everything is evenly coated.  Add in one teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss again to season.  Dump the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish (an extra deep dish is even better).  Then pick out almost all of the bread chunks and return them to the bowl.  This step was not in the original recipe, but I'd recommend it.  Adding this extra step will prevent the majority of your bread from becoming a soggy mush underneath the chicken.  Some gooey bread is tasty!  But you want to make sure you get plenty of toasted croutons for the top!

Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Place the chicken, skin-side up, in the baking dish.  Stuff the reserved bread chunks around the chicken.

Bake until the bread is toasted, the leeks are tender, and the chicken is lightly browned.  An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest piece should register 165 F.  It took my dish about one hour.  Some of the croutons were pretty charred on top, so if you want to tent your dish with some foil half-way through to prevent burning, go for it.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Breakfast Smoothie

This thick, sweet, and filling smoothie has become a staple in our family's breakfast menu.  I make these about once a week, usually serving them with some scrambled eggs.  

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
2 bananas (mine are always frozen)
1 1/2 cups blueberries (I've used mixed berries, but we prefer just the blueberries)
1 Tbsp honey, optional
1 tsp vanilla, optional

Blend oats until finely ground.  Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.  If it seems too thick, add a little more milk.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chocolate Beet Cake

Some lovely friends of ours recently shared their harvest of beets with us.  I really enjoy beets, and was thrilled by their generosity!  That week, I made a beet and berry smoothie for lunch.  After tasting the smoothie, I admitted to myself that I had used too many beets, but served it up anyway.  My mistake.  My kids immediately identified there was an overpowering flavor and were not fans.  In a moment of sheer stubbornness and pride, I turned the smoothie into a battle; it wasn't really that bad and they had to finish the smoothie.  There was minor (excessive) complaining.  Eventually all the smoothie was consumed, but my kids walked away vowing never to enjoy a beet again.

I told them they would, and thus became the question before every meal for several days: "Did you put beets in this?"

Then this Chocolate Beet Cake happened.  I read through several recipes and came up with this combination.  It worked.  It's moist and lightly sweet.  I didn't mention the beet part until my kids had taken a bite.  We all agreed that you can definitely taste the beets in the cake, but paired with everything else, they were actually enjoyable.  Success.

1 cup whole wheat white flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup beet puree*
2 eggs
3/4 cup warm water
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla

*I put the equivalent of 3 large cooked and peeled beets in the vitamix.  I measure out the 3/4 cup warm water and then added enough to the beets until they were able to blend into a smooth puree.  It ended up being about 1/3 cup water and then the rest went into the bowl with the puree.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk in beet puree, eggs, water, oil, apple sauce, and vanilla.

Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray.  Pour batter into pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes.  Turn cake out onto a serving platter and let cool completely.  Serve with a dollop of whipping cream for a little treat!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Zucchini Garden Chowder

I was more excited to make this soup using vegetables we'd grown than I was to eat the soup!  And the soup was very tasty.  I know for many of you, growing and eating your own vegetables is a normal thing.  I, on the other hand, have never been great at keeping anything but children alive, so I am still marveling that we are actually enjoying meals made with produce brought in from our garden!  This chowder, taken from Simply in Season, was simple, full of flavor and had some good texture (as long as you don't let the zucchini get too soft before adding other veggies).

2 Tbsp butter
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped; or 1 heaping tsp dried
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped; or 1 tsp dried
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 pepper
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk (a 12 oz. can)
2 cups corn
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat.  Add zucchini, onion, parsley, and basil.  Saute until tender.  Then stir flour and seasonings into vegetables.  Gradually stir in broth to make a stock.

Add lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes.  

Add tomatoes, evaporated milk and corn.  Return to a boil then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes or until corn is tender.

Just before serving add cheese and stir until melted.  Add a pinch of sugar to taste and garnish with fresh parsley (optional).

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Coconut Cream Baked Oatmeal

Overnight breakfast using steel-cut oats and coconut milk.  Do I really need to say more?!  I doubled this recipe, and my hope of leftovers was shattered when we all took our first bite.  We topped ours with bananas instead of more coconut.  The texture of the oats was a little bit chewy, which I much prefer to the mushy glop I've ended up with in previous attempts to do steel-cut oats in the crock pot overnight.  

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 small can (5 1/2 ounces) coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup honey, warmed (I used 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  1. Generously grease a 3-quart casserole or 9-inch square baking dish with coconut oil. 
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, coconut milk, honey and vanilla until smooth. 
  3. Add the water, oats, 1/4 cup coconut, and salt. Mix well
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight. 
  5. In the morning, preheat the oven to 350F. 
  6. Remove the plastic wrap and bake the oatmeal for 35-40 minutes or until set in the middle. 
  7. Meanwhile, toast the remaining 1/4 cup coconut in the oven on the side, stirring once or twice, for 4-6 minutes or until light golden. 
  8. Drizzle the oatmeal with a little extra honey and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve hot.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Baked Oatmeal

I've had a couple people ask me recently about this recipe, and as I looked up the post to share the link, I took a look and realized that my measurements have evolved since first posting it here a few years ago.  If anything, I think the recipe has improved, and it's one of my family's most favorite breakfasts.  It's also a breakfast you can be sure I will serve whenever we have overnight guests.  So I thought it was worth sharing the recipe again, but with my current measurements and ingredients of choice!

2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 cups milk
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 ripe bananas, cut into 1/2" slices
1 cup berries (strawberries and/or blueberries are our favorites)
maple syrup, for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter an 8-inch square baking dish.

Combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.  In another bowl, whisk the milk, egg, and vanilla.

Arrange bananas on the bottom of the coated baking dish and cover with the oat mixture.  Slowly drizzle milk mixture over the oats.  Gently press down oats with the back of a spoon to make sure everything is wet and the liquid is evenly distributed.  Drizzle coconut oil on top and then scatter berries.

(*You can do all of the prep the night before, cover tightly, and refrigerate for the next morning.  I almost always make it the night before.  In the morning I turn on the oven, pull the dish out of the fridge, uncover, and stick it straight in without waiting for the oven to preheat.  If you do it this way, it will take 45-50 minutes to fully bake.)

Bake for 40 minutes (unless it's been in the fridge overnight *see note above), until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set.  Drizzle with maple syrup if you want to make it taste extra special.  Serve with milk and enjoy!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Apple Squash Bacon Pizza

Since Jessie introduced me to spaghetti squash pizza, I have ventured off into the world of pizza toppings.  What goes well paired with bread and cheese?  A lot of things!  Of the combinations we've tried recently, this is our current favorite.  It's pretty much taking this soup, and turning it into a pizza (or two!).  The combination of apples, butternut squash, bacon, and cheddar cheese is delicious either way if you ask me!  What are your favorite pizza toppings?

5-7 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled (Have you ever used kitchen shears to cut your bacon into 
                                                               pieces before you cook it?!)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped roughly into 1-inch chunks
1 large apple, cored and thinly sliced (I didn't use my corer-peeler-slicer because I wanted super thin 
                                                   slices, but in retrospect, I think the thicker slices would have worked 
                                                    just fine and the prep would have been much easier!)
10-16 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated (depending on how cheesy you like your pizza!)
2 balls of pizza dough
olive oil
black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450.  If using a stone, make sure you preheat the stone a good thirty minutes.

Cook bacon in a large frying pan.  Remove to a paper towel and set aside, leaving the grease in the pan.

Saute squash cubes in bacon grease over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes.  You don't want to cook the squash completely.  It will finish cooking on the pizza.  But give it just enough time in the pan to start softening and take in the yummy bacon flavor.  

Roll out one pizza dough.  Brush lightly with olive oil.  Spread half the apple slices on dough.  Sprinkle just a little cheese over apples.  Then top with half the squash, more cheese, and finish with bacon crumbles.  Sprinkle with black pepper (if you want to) and bake for 12-15 minutes.  

I had enough toppings to make two large pizzas.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pomegranate Taco Chicken in the Crockpot

If you decide to make the Pomegranate Beef recipe I posted a few days ago,  (and clearly, I think you should!), then you are on the right track to making this as well!  This is another meat in the crockpot that uses pomegranate juice!  The juice is not cheap.  I get it.  But I think these two very different and very delicious recipes are worth that $5 small bottle of POM sitting there on the shelf.

We first tasted this chicken while having dinner with friends.  They served chicken tacos, and the meat was perfectly flavored for tacos, but tasted much better than if they had just dumped some chicken and a packet of taco seasoning into the crockpot.  Turns out they did just dump chicken and a few things in the crockpot!  The idea was so simple, and the chicken so good, I repeated the meal the following week with my family.  You can use the meat for all sorts of dishes: tacos, burritos, a salad, quesadillas, grilled sandwiches, nachos, as a chip dip mixed with some sour cream and salsa . . . you get the idea!

2-4 chicken breasts (I only used two, but they were very big)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup pomegranate juice
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
pepper, to taste (optional)

Place everything in a crock pot.  Cover.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4-5.  Shred with two forks and serve.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pomegranate Beef in the Crockpot

This extremely easy dish is extremely delicious!  I had a strong feeling it was going to be good just from reading the recipe, so I went ahead and made it for the first time when we had friends joining us for dinner.  And because it was so super easy and required no culinary skill on my part, I joined in with everyone else and raved about how wonderful the meat and sauce tasted!  Tender, juicy, and full of tremendous flavor.  The picture is my leftovers over rice, which works.  But it's much better served over creamy mashed potatoes.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (I used 1 tsp. each of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 pounds beef roast (I used a chuck roast)
4 garlic cloves (whole is fine, or you can chop them)
1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
1 cup unsweetened pomegranate juice
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup golden raisins

Use at least a 6-quart slow cooker. Swirl the olive oil into the bottom of the stoneware. Add the onion. Combine spices in a small bowl and then rub the mixture on all sides of meat.  Add to the stoneware with the garlic, the whole can of tomatoes, pomegranate juice, vinegar, and syrup. Sprinkle the raisins on top. 

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for about 5. The meat is done when it has reached desired tenderness. Serve over mashed potatoes, and don't forget to include the sauce on top.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Oatmeal Fruit Biscuits

I call these "biscuits" because that's what the British call a cookie.  And these are mostly like a cookie.  But in my experience, a biscuit and a cookie are not the same thing.  I would rarely choose to eat a chocolate chip cookie with a cup of tea.  But a biscuit?  Well, I find it hard to eat one without a cuppa in hand.  So in my mind, these lightly sweetened cookies are actually biscuits, primarily because they are perfectly paired with a hot mug of black tea (milk and half a sugar, please!).

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup apple sauce
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp molasses
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups diced dried fruit (I used cranberries and dates)
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used almonds)
1 tsp baking soda

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream together butter, apple sauce, oil, sugar, and molasses.  Beat until light and fluffy.  Add egg and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, combine oats, flour, dried fruit, coconut, nuts, and baking soda.  

Add dry mixture to the creamed mixture in 3 or 4 additions, stirring just until thoroughly mixed after the last addition.  Drop by rounded spoonfuls on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 13-17 minutes.  For chewier cookies, immediately remove from pan and place directly onto clean countertop or table surface to cool.  For more crisp cookies, let sit on pan 2-3 minutes after removing from oven and then cool on a wire rack.  Store in airtight container.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Pizza

My friend, Jessie, was here visiting last week.  She is the one who started me on this whole recipe blog idea in the first place, so it was a sure thing that we would enjoy some good food together.  This pizza is something she'd made before and suggested I try.  It was unique and so delicious!  The flavors are simple, but not boring at all.  I was skeptical about the leftovers getting soggy, but a warm-up in the oven with the broiler on low did the trick just fine.   This recipe makes two pizzas. 

1 spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds)—halved lengthwise, seeded and tough fibers removed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling and brushing 
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg 
4 tablespoons coarse cornmeal 
2 pizza dough rounds (about 1 pound each)
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped, plus leaves to taste
One 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese 
1 lemon, cut into wedges (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425°. Drizzle the flesh of the squash with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Place the squash, cut side down, in a large baking pan and pierce the skin in several places with a fork. Bake for 45 minutes. Turn the squash over and bake until the spaghetti-like strands can be easily removed with a fork, about 10 minutes more. Let cool before scraping the flesh into a bowl.

Arrange 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 475°. Sprinkle 2 large, heavy baking sheets with the cornmeal. Place the pizza dough rounds on top of the cornmeal and shape into 12-by-14-inch rectangles. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and the chopped thyme. Bake until golden and crisp, 15 to 20 minutes.

Spread the ricotta evenly over the pizza crusts and top with the squash. Season with thyme leaves, salt and pepper, then drizzle with olive oil. Bake until just warmed through, about 5 minutes. Cut the pizza into squares and serve with the lemon wedges

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vegetable and Feta Crustless Quiche

I've made this twice now, satisfied with the result both times.  It's a simple crustless quiche that can be made using a variety of vegetables.  Just add whatever veggies are in season when sautéing the mushrooms.  

8 oz. fresh button mushrooms
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt, divided
black pepper, to taste
1 10-oz. box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained (I squeeze it in handfuls to get as much of the liquid out as possible)
2 oz. crumbled feta cheese
4 eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350.

Spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Rinse mushrooms and slice thinly.  Place in pan and cook over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, and sprinkle with half the salt and pepper.  Cook mushrooms until no more water remains on the bottom of the pan, 5 to 7 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs until smooth.  Add milk, Parmesan, remaining salt and another sprinkle of pepper.  Whisk to combine,  Pour over mushrooms and feta.  Sprinkle mozzarella on top.  Bake 45 to 60 minutes, until golden brown on top and the center is set.  Let cool slightly.  Slice and serve.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Asian Ginger Sesame Roasted Vegetable Pasta

Here comes another yummy recipe to try from Well Plated.  We liked it so much, I threw together my own version the following week with a new jar of Penzeys Bangkok blend to liven up some chicken on the side.  I roast vegetables all the time, but the addition of sesame seeds and some asian flair to the seasonings was a good change.  Use whatever vegetables you want!    

  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 cup red onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (or 2 tsp. dried ginger)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • For the pasta
  • 12 ounces pasta
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine all of the veggies + garlic & ginger on a 10x15 rimmed baking sheet. Add the olive oil and sesame oil, along with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly to disperse the oils and seasonings. Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain the pasta and add it back to the pan over medium-low heat. Add the roasted vegetables, additional oil, soy sauce, sesame oil, and additional ginger Stir and cook until heated through and add salt & pepper to taste.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Slow Cooker Honey Pulled Pork

Truly, how many variations of pork cooked in a crock pot can there be?  I don't know, but this is another good one worth trying!  The author had me when she said this was one of her husband's most favorite meals while he was in law school.  I can relate to luring a man away from his study books long enough to enjoy a delicious meal.  And my husband was definitely a fan of this meal (while thankfully not having to study as much these days!).  I regret not making the cornmeal pancakes to serve with the meat, but my gingersnaps acted as though the Hawaiian sweet buns were like manna, so it all worked out.

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add less for less heat - I only used 1/4 tsp for the kids' sake, but they probably could have handled a bit more)
  • 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced with white and green parts divided
  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) pork loin, trimmed of excess fat
  • 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • Bob’s Red Mill Cornmeal Pancake Mix (or your favorite cornmeal pancake recipe)

  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon salt, garlic, cayenne, and white part of the scallions (reserve the green parts for serving).

  • Spray insert of a 5-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray. Place pork loin in the insert, then pour the honey mixture over the top. Cover and slow cook for 6 hours on low or 4 hours on high, until the pork registers 165 degrees F on a thermometer and is no longer pink in the center. With tongs, gently remove the pork from the slow cooker and transfer it to a large plate, reserving the pork juices in the slow cooker. With two forks, shred the pork. Set aside.

  • Transfer the pork juices remaining in the slow cooker to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water, then add to the cooking liquid. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce bubbles and thickens, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Return shredded pork to the slow cooker and pour the thickened sauce over the top. Toss gently to combine, then turn the slow cooker to low to keep the pork warm.  

  • Place rack in the center of oven and preheat oven to 200 degrees F. When ready to serve, prepare the cornmeal pancakes. As you cook the pancake batches, transfer them to a baking tray placed in the oven to keep them warm if needed.

  • To serve: Top cornmeal pancakes with pulled pork. Garnish with reserved green onion tops and serve warm.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Overnight Breakfast-in-a-Jar

These individual breakfast jars have become a regular in our morning meal rotation.  I thought it was about time I posted them (I first saw the recipes here).  The basic ingredients stay the same, and then you can experiment and try whatever other add-ins you like!  We've enjoyed banana/chocolate (pictured above), maple/blueberry, and apple/cinnamon.  As you can tell, my jars are not uniform and I play with the ingredient amounts to make a bit more in one jar for my son.  It's always worked out.  This is personally not my favorite breakfast.  I don't mind a cold oatmeal, but the texture is just a bit too mushy for my taste.  Thankfully, the rest of my family loves their breakfast-in-a-jar, so I keep 'em comin'!

Amounts for one jar (one serving):
1/4 cup uncooked old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup skim milk
1/4 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1-1/2 teaspoons dried chia seeds
sweeteners of your choice!
flavorings of your choice!
fruits of your choice!

Banana/Cocoa Powder = 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, 1-2 tsp your choice of sweetener (I used honey),  and 1/2 half banana, sliced

Blueberry/Maple = 2-3 tsp maple (or more or less to your taste), handful of fresh or frozen blueberries

Apple/Cinnamon = 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1-2 tsp sweetener (I used honey), 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1/4 cup chopped apple (and if you want your apple to be a bit soft, microwave in small bowl about thirty seconds before adding to jar)

In a glass jar or container with fitted lid, add oats, milk, yogurt, chia seeds, and any other add-ins but NOT the actual fruit.  Put lid on jar and shake well until combined. Add fruit and stir gently until mixed in. Seal jars with lids and refrigerate overnight, up to two days.  Eat straight from the fridge.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Chocolate Chip Bean Bars

Does that say bean bars?  Yes.  These energy bars' main source of protein comes from great northern beans, which is just one of the reasons I love them!  I've tried plenty of oats and nut butter combinations, but I like to mix things up every now and then!  So I've added these to our "energy snack" rotation and no one is complaining.  I recently took some on a trip to share with a friend as we hiked, and they serve as a great travel snack as well.

1 15-oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup maple syrup  
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups oats (old-fashioned or quick)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup oat bran
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  In a food processor (I used my Vitamix), combine the beans, pumpkin, syrup, pumpkin pie spice, and salt and blend until very smooth.  Add the flour and pulse to combine.  Add the oats and pulse to combine.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl.  Add the oat bran and chocolate chips and stir until everything is mixed in.  

Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.  Spread the mixture in the pan (it will be thick).  Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  Let cool in the pan and then cut into bars.  Remove from the pan, and store in the refrigerator.  If you don't think you'll eat them all within a few days, wrap them individually in plastic wrap to keep them moist for longer.  

slightly modified from a recipe found in the Penzeys Winter Magazine.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Whole-Grain Pumpkin Muffins

While I had the 100 Days of Real Food checked out from the library, I sampled several of her recipes.  This was one of my favorites!  The muffins were extremely moist and flavorful.  And I'm a sucker for a really good muffin!

1 1/2 cups whole-spelt or whole-wheat flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Line a muffin pan with liners or spray with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking spa, salt, and baking powder.  Make a well (hole) in the center of the flour mixture and drop in the eggs, honey, and melted butter.  Mix together until smooth, but don't over mix.  Fold in the pumpkin puree just until combined.

Divide the batter among 12 muffin cups.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.  Store at room temperature or freeze for a rainy day!

recipe taken from 100 Days of Real Food

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cajun Chicken Spaghetti

This could be a very yummy hassle-free dinner.  I made extra work for myself by making my own alfredo sauce, but the flavors were great and after getting everything in the crock pot, I didn't have to think about it again until dinner time!  

ounces (about 2/3 of a 1 lb box) dried spaghetti noodles
15 ounce jar Alfredo sauce
medium (about 1 cup) yellow onion, diced
cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 
pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
pound andouille sausage, sliced (I used keilbasa sausage)
green bell pepper, diced
14.5 ounce can Muir Glen Fire-roasted Tomatoes
1 1/2 
tablespoons Creole seasoning
cup heavy cream
teaspoon salt


  • Get all the ingredients out. You’re going to do just a tiny bit of chopping and then a whole lot of dumping – it’s that simple!
  • Dice the chicken and slice the andouille sausage.
  • Dice the onion, chop the green bell pepper, mince the garlic and you’re done! That’s all the prep work. Now we’re just going to add everything to the slow cooker.
  • Pour 1/3 of the Alfredo sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker and stir in the onions and garlic.
  • Layer the chicken pieces on top of the saucy onions.
  • Sprinkle ½ of the Creole seasoning over the chicken.
  • Layer the green bell peppers over the chicken.
  • Layer the andouille sausage over the chicken.
  • Next pour the tomatoes (including the juice) over the sausage.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Creole seasoning over the tomatoes.
  • Pour the remaining Alfredo sauce over the tomatoes.
  • Close the lid and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Open the lid, enjoy the whiff of the delicious sauce, and give it a stir to combine everything.
  • Add about ¼ cup of heavy cream to make the sauce that much creamier and yummy. Add the salt. Add more according to taste or add more Creole seasoning if desired.
  • Break the spaghetti noodles in thirds and place them in the sauce. 
  • Stir the noodles around in the sauce until completely coated and submerged in the sauce. Make sure they’re not sticking out. Raise the heat to high and cook for another 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind that once you turn the slow cooker off, the sauce and noodles will continue to cook for a few minutes and you don’t want to overcook the noodles. So if you’re not going to eat immediately, reduce the time you cook the noodles.
  • Give your Slow Cooker Cajun Spaghetti a good stir or two and you’re ready to rock n’ roll!
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