Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Gnocchi with Turkey Sausage, Tomatoes and Spinach



Gnocchi with Turkey Sausage, Tomatoes and Spinach

Top with shredded parmesan cheese, if desired

-1 package store bought gnocchi, cooked to package directions
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb Italian turkey sausage
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/4 c heavy cream
-1/2 lb spinach

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add onion, saute, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute. Add turkey sausage, crumbling the meat from the casings. Cook while breaking up with a wooden spoon until sausage is cooked through. About 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and their juices. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Add cream. Add spinach a few handfuls at a time stirring and adding more spinach as it wilts down. Once all of the spinach is wilted add cooked gnocchi, stir and serve.

Kheema (Indian Beef and Peas)




Kheema (Indian Beef and Peas)

Serve this over rice of your choice- we like basmatti and garnish with cilantro, if desired.

-2 Tbsp canola oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 inch knob ginger, peeled and minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb ground beef
-1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
-2 Tbsp curry powder
-1 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
1 cup frozen peas

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and ginger, saute 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute. Add beef, cook breaking up with a wooden spoon until well browned. Drain off fat. Add diced tomatoes, curry powder, turmeric, cumin, sugar, salt and cayenne and stir. Add potato, continue to cook, stirring intermittently, until potato is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in peas, cook 5 additional minutes and serve.

Wilted Spinach Salad


Wilted Spinach Salad

This is one of my favorite salads. It's simple, yet elegant. You can serve it with cloves of roasted garlic, toasted pine nuts, or curls of parmesan cheese.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1/2 pound spinach
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-juice of 1 lemon

Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic, saute 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add spinach a few handfuls at a time, stirring as it cooks down and adding more when you have room. Once all of the spinach is incorporated and wilted remove from heat, add salt, red pepper flakes and lemon juice and serve immediately.

White Bean Soup


White Bean Soup

This is my altered version of Shauna Niequist's Magical White Bean Soup from her book Bread and Wine. This soup base is vegan, glutenfree, quick, easy, inexpensive yet delicious and elegant. I like to leave it chunky, but it would be just as good pureed smooth. 

For The Soup
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1/2 pound carrots, diced
-1 bulb fennel, diced
-4 celery ribs, diced
-1 Tbsp dried rosemary
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-6 cans white beans in liquid (cannellini or great northern beans)
-salt and pepper to taste

For The Vinaigrette
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon pepper
-1/4 cup olive oil

For Serving
Prosciutto, torn into ribbons
Parmesan, curled into strips with a vegetable peeler

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, fennel, and celery, and allow to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Add beans in their liquid, rosemary and red pepper flakes. Cover and cook for 20 minutes at a gentle boil. Taste, add salt and pepper, taste again-- keep in mind that you'll get a good amount of salt from the toppings. Cook for an additional 20 minutes, or longer if you have time.

While the soup cooks, make the vinaigrette. Place all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor and mix until evenly incorporated.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, drizzle with vinaigrette and top with parmesan and prosciutto (if desired).

Cherry Clafoutis


Cherry Clafoutis

This is one of my favorite desserts. It's simple yet elegant. It's not overly involved or overly sweet. Most importantly, it's delicious!

-3 eggs
-1/2 c sugar
-6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
-1 c flour
-1 c milk
-1/2 tsp almond extract
-2.5 c frozen cherries, thawed

Beat the sugar and eggs together with a whisk until they lighten in color. Gradually add butter, beating to incorporate. Add the flour and whisk until everything is evenly incorporated into the batter. Next slowly pour in the milk a little at a time. Add the extract, mixing well.

Place the cherries in a greased round baking dish or cake pan (9 or 10 inches in diameter). Pour the batter over the fruit. Bake at 400 25 to 30 minutes, until slightly browned and almost completely set in the middle. Let sit at least 15 minutes before serving in wedges. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Cream Cheese Blueberry Galette


Cream Cheese Blueberry Galette

I took the quick and easy route on this one using store bought pie dough for the pastry. You can easily substitute your favorite pie crust recipe for the store bought variety. This is one of my favorite desserts. It's pretty, easy yet elegant, not overly sweet or heavy and  is delicious!

-1 store bought refrigerated pie crust
-2.5 cups frozen blueberries, thawed and drained
-1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulate sugar, divided use
-4 tsp cornstarch
-1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk

Place the pie crust on top of parchment paper on a sheet pan. 

Toss the blueberries, 1/3 cup sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. 

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese, vanilla, egg yolk and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in a separate bowl.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Top with the blueberries. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling working your way around the entire circle a few inches at a time.  Brush the crust with the beaten egg and sprinkle with a little extra sugar. Bake at 425 until the crust is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool slightly before slicing.

Beef Stroganoff


Beef Stroganoff

I like to serve this over whole wheat egg noodles but you could do it over rice, potatoes or any pasta of your preference. Garnish with parsley if desired.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb flank steak, sliced into strips, across the grain
-2 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1 (16 oz) package mushrooms, sliced
-2 cups beef broth
-5 Tbsp flour
-1 tsp thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-1 Tbsp dijon mustard
-1/2 cup sour cream

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add flank steak, saute, stirring often, 3-5 minutes, until the strips are cooked rare ( somewhat browned, but still have some pink to them).  Set steak aside and drain off juices from meat. Add butter and onion to the pan, saute 5 minutes. Add mushrooms. Saute 5 additional minutes. Whisk together broth and flour, then pour into pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring everything. Once broth has thickened add salt, pepper, Worcestershire and dijon and stir to combine. Add beef back to the pot and turn off the heat. Stir in sour cream and serve.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Green Chile Strata


Green Chile Strata

This is a unique twist on the traditional breakfast casserole. It can all be assembled up to 24 hours in advance then refrigerated until you are ready to bake and serve.

-10 eggs
-2 cups milk
-1 tsp salt
-2 (7 oz) cans green chiles
-2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese
-10 corn tortillas, cut into bite sized strips

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk and salt. Stir in green chiles (and their juice), pepper jack and tortillas. Pour mixture into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes, until the casserole is set and browned and puffy on top. Serve.

Zucchini and Rice Gratin



Zucchini and Rice Gratin

This is a twist on an old school Julia Child recipe. I have lightened up her recipe significantly and simplified the process. I loved the end result. This would be a great way to use up day old leftover rice.

-1/2 cup heavy cream
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp dried thyme
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-6 zucchini, shredded (I used a food processor)
-1 cup cooked rice
-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese, divided use

In a medium bowl, whisk together cream, salt, pepper, thyme and garlic. Stir in shredded zucchini, rice and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese. Pour into a greased, medium sized casserole dish and top with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until cheese on top has browned. Sprinkle with parsley if desired and serve immediately.

Turkey Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash






Turkey Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

This is one of my favorite breakfasts ever, or also serves as a great breakfast for dinner. The flavor combination of the smokey sweet potatoes with the turkey sausage is amazing. I like to serve it with hot sauce and avocado slices. Because I like the pairing of sweet potatoes and black beans I like those as a side also, or some fruit.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
-1 lb turkey breakfast sausage
-1 dozen eggs
-chopped cilantro

In a greased 9 x 13 pan combine olive oil through cayenne and stir to mix well. Add sweet potatoes and stir until well coated. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

While sweet potatoes are baking, cook turkey sausage in a pan, breaking up with a spoon while cooking. Drain off fat and set aside.

Once sweet potatoes are done, stir in turkey sausage into the pan. Then top the mixture with eggs and bake at 400 an additional 10-15 minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks aren't fully cooked. Remove from oven, top with cilantro and serve.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu



Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

This is such a hearty, easy dish that will warm you from the inside out. I served this over polenta but it would be great over pasta, rice or even mashed potatoes. Top with parmesan cheese and/ or parsley if desired.

- 1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 (29 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried oregano
-1- 1.5 flank steak, trimmed of excess fat
-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Grease the inside of a slow cooker with olive oil. Add the crushed tomatoes through oregano in the slow cooker and stir. Cut the flank steak into 4 pieces, place in slow cooker and spoon some of the tomato mixture over top. Cook on low for 8-10 hours until meat easily shreds easily. Stir in balsamic vinegar and serve over top of a starch of your choice.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Roasted Parmesan Zucchini


Roasted Parmesan Zucchini

This is my favorite way to eat zucchini.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp thyme or oregano
-4 zucchini, each one cut into 8 spears
-1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Place zucchini on a greased baking sheet (I like to line mine with parchment or foil for easy clean up). In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme or oregano. Pour oil mixture over zucchini and stir to coat. Sprinkle parmesan over zucchini. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes, until desired tenderness is reached.

Lightened Up Pasta with Vodka Sauce


Lightened Up Pasta with Vodka Sauce

I've replaced the butter with olive oil and reduced the cream in this over the traditional version to make it a little less guilt laden. Serve with a green salad or roasted asparagus or broccoli for a quick, vegetarian dinner.

-1 box penne pasta, cooked to al dente
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-3/4 cup vodka
-1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
-1 1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 c heavy cream
-1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Heat oil in medium to large pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes stirring often. Add garlic, saute 1 more minute stirring constantly. Add vodka, simmer 3 minutes, stirring intermittently. Add tomato puree, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Simmer 5 minutes. Stir in cream, remove from heat, toss pasta with sauce and top with parmesan cheese.


Israeli Chopped Salad


Israeli Chopped Salad

This is a great salad to serve with gyros, hummus, chicken gyros, shakshuka or any Mediterranean meal. You can also toss feta and/ or chickpeas into this to make it a more hearty salad.

-3 Tbsp lemon juice
-3 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 english cucumber, chopped
-1 green pepper, chopped
-1/2 red onion, chopped
-4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1 bunch parsley, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 2 hours prior to serving.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Baked Sweet and Sour Pork


Baked Sweet and Sour Pork

This recipe works equally well with chicken and pork. It's a fuss-free, lightened up version of the classic Chinese takeout dish. Serve over your rice of choice for soaking up the access sauce.

Sweet and Sour Sauce
-1/2 cup pineapple juice
-1/2 cup ketchup
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
-1/4 cup water
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp canola or vegetable oil
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 inch chunk ginger, minced
-1 Tbsp cornstarch, mixed with 1 Tbsp water

-1 pound lean pork, trimmed of excess fat and cut into bite sized pieces
-1 pineapple, peeled and cored and cut into bite sized pieces
-1 green pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
-1 red pepper, cut into bite sized pieces

In a small bowl, whisk together pineapple juice through sesame oil and set aside. Heat oil in a small pot, over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, saute 1 minute. Pour pineapple juice mixture into pot and bring to a simmer. Whisk in cornstarch, reduce heat and simmer 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Remove sauce from heat and cool at least 15 minutes.

In a greased 13 x 9 pan combine pork,chopped pineapple, bell peppers and cooled sauce. Stir well. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Serve immediately over your favorite rice.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta


Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta

This is a knock off of a dish served at a local restaurant called Domenica. Even my non-cauliflower eating hubby ate this one.

-2.5 cups white wine
-1/3 cup olive oil
-1/4 cup salt
-4 Tbsp lemon juice
-2 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 bay leaf
-1 head cauliflower, outer leaves removed

Whipped Feta
-1/2 cup feta cheese
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 Tbsp lemon juice
-1/4 tsp salt

In a medium large pot combine wine through bay leaf with 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add cauliflower, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes, turning every 5 minutes to ensure even cooking. Remove cauliflower from liquid using a slotted spoon and drain on a kitchen towel. Roast cauliflower at 475 for 30 minutes, or until it is browned all over.

While cauliflower is cooking combine feta, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a food processor. Process until smooth. Refrigerate until cauliflower is done.

Once cauliflower is done, remove from oven and serve with feta on the side for spreading.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Blondies



Blondies

This is a good base recipe and then you can change up the mix ins. White chocolate and dried cranberries would be good. Or any kind of nut, butterscotch or caramel chip would work also. Sometimes I do a light sprinkling of sea salt over top before popping in the oven. This recipe easily doubles to do a 13 x 9 pan if you're feeding a crowd.

-1 stick butter, softened
-1 cup brown sugar
-1 egg
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 c flour
-1 c chocolate chips (or mix in of your choice)

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Stir in egg, vanilla and salt, Stir in flour. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread batter into a greased 8 x 8 pan and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

Sweet Chili Brussels Sprouts


Sweet Chili Brussels Sprouts

-2 lbs brussels sprouts, sliced in half and outer leaves discarded
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 tsp salt
-4 Tbsp sweet chili sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce

Toss brussels sprouts with olive oil and salt, Roast at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until browned to your liking. While brussels sprouts roast, stir together sweet chili sauce and soy sauce. Once the brussels sprouts are nicely browned, toss with the sauce and roast 5 additional minutes. Serve immediately.

Sukuma Wiki- Kenyan Beef with Collards and Tomatoes



Sukuma Wiki/ Kenyan Beef with Collards and Tomatoes

I love the flavors and simplicity of this dish. Serve over brown rice for a balanced, easy, nutritious meal.

-2 Tbsp olive, peanut, coconut or canola oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 lb lean ground beef
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp coriander
-1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 bunch collards, washed and sliced into strips
-1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
-juice of 1 lemon

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes. Add beef, cook until brown, about 10 minutes, stirring and breaking apart with a spoon while cooking. Drain off fat. Add garlic, cook 2 additional minutes, stirring well. Add spices, cook 1 additional minutes. Add collards, cook 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. Add tomatoes, cook 3 more minutes, stirring intermittently. Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice and serve immediately over your preferred rice.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sweet Potato, Corn and Black Bean Salad with Chipotle Lime Dressing


Sweet Potato, Corn and Black Bean Salad

This is a great side dish to accompany Mexican flavored main dishes or can serve as a main dish of its own. The combination of flavors, textures and colors make this salad dynamic. If you have an avocado lying around that would be a great addition in here as well.

Sweet Potatoes
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-1 Tbsp chili powder
-1 tsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a bite sized dice

Corn
-Tbsp butter
-1 bag (16 oz) frozen corn
-1/2 tsp salt

Chipotle Lime Dressing
-8 oz sour cream
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-1 chipotle in adobo pepper, minced- or 1 Tbsp chipotle hot sauce
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt

Salad
-1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1/2 red bell pepper, diced
-1 bunch cilantro, minced

Whisk together canola oil, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Toss with diced sweet potatoes. Roast sweet potatoes at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.

While sweet potatoes are cooking heat melt butter over medium high heat in a medium pot. Add corn. Cook 10 minutes, stirring intermittently, until corn has a nice char to it. Stir in salt and set corn aside.

While sweet potatoes cook and after corn is made whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside.

When sweet potatoes are done, in a medium large bowl toss sweet potatoes with corn, black beans, red onion, red bell pepper and cilantro. Drizzle dressing over top and serve.

Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Bake



Spinach and Artichoke Quinoa Bake

Because quinoa is packed with protein it is a great grain for a vegetarian or vegan dinner. It is also gluten-free, so it is a good option for those with dietary restrictions. To make cooking the quinoa easy, I like to cook it in my rice cooker using a 2:1 water to quinoa ratio. This dish can serve as a vegetarian main dish, or as a side dish to accompany your favorite meat.

-1 c quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-2 eggs
-1/2 c heavy cream
-1/2 c plain greek yogurt
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c shredded mozzarella, divided use
-1/2 c shredded parmesan, divided usse
1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
-1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess moisture using a kitchen towel

In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, yogurt, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, rosemary and garlic. Stir in 1/2 c mozzarella, 1/4 c parmesan, artichoke hearts and spinach. Spread mixture into a small, greased casserole dish. (I use an 8x8 pan). Top with remaining 1/4 c of mozzarella and parmesan. Bake at 350 for 20- 30 minutes and serve immediately.

Caprese Quinoa Bake



Caprese Quinoa Bake

I make a lot of varied quinoa bakes and salads and Jeremy and I both agreed that this is the best one I've ever made by far. It's a great light lunch or dinner or can be served as a side dish to your favorite meat.

-1 c quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1 c marinara sauce, tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
-1/3 c heavy cream
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
-1 1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese, divided use
-1 bunch basil, sliced into ribbons
-1/3 c balsamic vinegar

In a medium bowl, whisk together marinara sauce/ tomatoes, cream, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir in tomatoes, reserving a small handful of tomatoes to top the finished dish. Stir in 1 c of the mozzarella. Spread mixture into a small greased casserole dish. (I use an 8x8 pan). Top with remaining 1/4 c mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. While dish is making, place balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Then remove from heat. When the casserole is done baking, pour the balsamic over top and top the dish with the reserved handful of tomatoes and sliced basil. Serve immediately.

Dairy-Free Fudge



Dairy-Free Fudge

I got this recipe from a friend, who I think got it from somewhere else, so I have no idea where it originated from. I will says that it is delicious and tastes just like peanut butter fudge made with butter and refined sugar- I don't miss those ingredients at all!

-1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-2/3 c smooth, natural peanut butter
-1/2 c maple syrup
-1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
-dash salt
-1/3 c coconut oil, melted

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process for 8-10 minutes. Spread mixture into a loaf pan that has been greased or lined with wax paper. Freeze for 1 hour, cut into squares, freeze for 1 additional hour until fully set.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Moroccan Quinoa Salad




Moroccan Quinoa Salad

This can be a light main dish, or a side dish to accompany your meat of preference. 

-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1/4 c olive oil
-zest and juice of 1 lemon
-1 tsp cumin
-1 tsp curry powder
-1 tsp turmeric
-1/4 tsp cinnamon
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 Tbsp sugar or honey
-1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
-3 carrots, shredded
-1 bunch cilantro, mint or parsley, chopped
-1/2 c raisins
-1/2 c sunflower seeds

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon zest and juice, cumin, curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon, salt, cayenne and sugar/ honey. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill until serving.




Greek Quinoa Salad


Greek Quinoa Salad

This salad is great as is, but sometimes I like to toss in some romaine or spinach before serving. This is best at room temperature so if you refrigerate prior to serving, allow salad to sit out for 30 minutes prior to serving to take the chill off.

-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1/4 c olive oil
-1/8 c red wine vinegar
-1 tsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 Tbsp oregano
-zest and juice of 1 lemon
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cucumber, sliced into rounds, then cut into quarters
-1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
-1/2 cup feta cheese
-(optional) 1/4 c kalamata olives

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, lemon juice and zest and garlic. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately or chill until serving.

Homemade Ranch Dip




Homemade Ranch Dip

I always have all of these ingredients on hand and can therefore be minutes away from whipping up a veggie tray at any moment. If you would like to turn this into a ranch dressing simply whisk in milk or buttermilk until you reach the consistency you'd like.

-1/2 c mayo
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-2 tsp white vinegar
-1 tsp dried parsley
-1 tsp dried chives
-1/2 tsp dried dill
-1/2 tsp dried oregano

Whisk together all ingredients. Chill at least 30 minutes (or up to 3 days) prior to serving.

Caprese Pasta Salad


Caprese Pasta Salad

This can serve as a vegetarian entree, or a side dish to accompany any main meat. This dish is best at room temperature, so if you refrigerate prior to serving, allow it to sit out for 30 minutes to take the chill off before serving.

-1 box pasta, cooked according to package directions (I used whole wheat small shells)
-1/4 c olive oil
-1/4 c balsamic vinegar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1 tsp sugar
-1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
-1 pack mini fresh mozzarella balls
-1 bunch basil, sliced into ribbons

In a medium bowl whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar. Toss with pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Serve immediately or chill until serving.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sesame Chicken Bake


Sesame Chicken Bake

This dish has all the flavors of takeout Chinese Sesame Chicken without the fat or work of frying. I like to serve mine over a bed of brown rice and with steamed broccoli for soaking up the extra sauce.

-1/2 c water, mixed with 1/4 c cornstarch
-1 cup chicken broth
-4 Tbsp soy sauce
-2 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 cup sugar
-1 tsp- 1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds
-4 scallions, sliced

Combine water/ cornstarch through sriracha in a small pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, until sauce has thickened. Stir sauce and cut up chicken together in a greased 13 x 9 pan. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. Serve over rice.

Red Cabbage Salad with dates and feta


Red Cabbage Salad with dates and feta

After seeing this salad posted on Smitten Kitchen I was super curious and skeptical about the combination of ingredients. Surprisingly, I LOVED this and found that the ingredients work so well together and each one is essential to pull this unexpected salad off. To quickly shred the red cabbage I use my food processor.


-zest and juice of 1 lemon
3Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 small head red cabbage, shredded
-1/2 c dates, chopped
-1/2 cup feta
-1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
-1 Tbsp sesame seeds

In a medium to large bowl whisk together the lemon zest and juice through the red pepper flakes. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Bread Pudding




Bread Pudding

This is my twist on the traditional New Orleans dessert. I use whole wheat sandwich bread because I have it on hand and it adds a little nutrition with the whole grains but sliced french bread would be the most authentic option.

Pudding

-2.5 cups milk
-4 eggs
-2 Tbsp butter, melted
-3 Tbsp whiskey, bourbon or rum
-1 Tbsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp cinnamon
-2 c sugar
-1/2 c raisins (optional)
-1/4 c chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
-10 slices bread, cut into bite sized chunks

In a medium bowl, whisk together milk through cinnamon. Add sugar and whisk again. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 dish and bake at 350 for 40-50 minutes, until set but still moist.

Sauce

-1 stick butter
-1/2 c sugar
1/4 c whiskey, bourbon or rum

While pudding bakes, combine sauce ingredients in a small pot. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring often. Once pudding is baked pour sauce over top and serve warm.

Fruit and Nut Quinoa Salad


Fruit and Nut Quinoa Salad

This salad is very versatile- you could use almost any fruit or nuts you prefer and have on hand. Serve on its own, over greens or as a side dish to accompany a main entree. You could eat this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I take a shortcut on cooking my quinoa and cook it in the rice cooker just like I would with rice.

-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-1-2 Tbsp sugar or honey
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp curry powder
-1 cup dried fruit of choice, chopped (I used dates, cranberries, dried coconut  and apricots)
-1/2 cup nuts of choice (I used sliced almonds)
-3 scallions, sliced
-1/2 bunch chopped cilantro or mint

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil through curry powder. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Moroccan Carrot Salad


Moroccan Carrot Salad

This recipe was inspired by an instagram post of something Shauna Niequist made. I wasn't even sure that I would like it, but having LOVED all of Shauna's recipes I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised by this unexpected combination of flavors and textures. I'm not sure if the feta and sunflower seeds classify as Moroccan, but they work with the dish and add a nice flavor and texture- feel free to leave them out if you want to be more on the authentic side.

-1/4 c olive oil
-juice and zest of 1 lemon
-1 Tbsp honey
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 tsp cumin
-1/2 tsp coriander
- lb carrots, shredded
-1 can chickpeas, drained
-1/2 c feta
-12 dried apricots, chopped
-1/4 c sunflower seeds
-1 bunch mint, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil through coriander. Toss with remaining ingredients and serve.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Baked Chicken Fajitas



Baked Chicken Fajitass

Recently I have started baking my fajitas rather than cooking them on the stove. This works so much easier for me when I have small children running around and can't always baby-sit and stir a pan on the stove. We might even like the end result a little more than when I cook them on the stove. If I'm serving meat eaters and vegetarians I will add extra veggies (like zucchini, squash and/ or tomatoes) and cook the veggies in a separate dish from the meat. I usually have to use two 13 x 9 pans when cooking these so that I don't overcrowd things.

-4 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp chili powder
-1 Tbsp paprika
-2 tsp cumin
-1 Tbsp sugar
-2 tsp salt
-1 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
-1 onion, sliced
-1 pack mushrooms, sliced
-2 colored bell peppers
-zest and juice of 2 limes
-1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
-desired fajita fixings; tortillas, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, cilantro, hot sauce etc.

In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil through minced garlic. Toss with the chicken through bell peppers. Spread the veggie/ meat mixture into two greased baking dishes or sheet pans. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes, stirring halfway through. Put under the broiler for 5-10 minutes to give it a good browning/ char. Stir in lime juice, zest and cilantro and serve.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Vegetable Pot Pie


Vegetable Pot Pie

-4 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1 pack mushrooms, sliced
-1/4 flour
-2.5 cups vegetable broth
-1 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
-1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 egg, beaten (optional)

Melt butter in a medium to large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute 5 more minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and cook, while whisking 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the turmeric through frozen vegetables and stir well. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.

Roll the pastry to fit the top (or you can cut it up and do a lattice pattern on top). Place the pastry over the filling and brush the top with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is brown and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Chicken Parmesan Bake


Chicken Parmesan Bake

This isn't your traditional chicken parmesan. By omitting the frying this dish is more healthful and very easy to throw together. If you are in a hurry you could use jarred sauce rather than making your own and save 15 minutes. Serve on top of your favorite pasta.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can crushed tomatoes
-1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
-1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
-1 Tbsp sugar
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 lb chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
-1/2 c shredded mozzarella cheese
-1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
-(optional) basil or parsley to sprinkle as a garnish

Heat oil in medium pot, over medium heat. Add onion, saute 5 minutes Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes-red pepper flakes and simmer 10 minutes, stirring regularly. In a medium sized greased casserole dish combine sauce and chicken, stirring to coat. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes. top with cheeses and bake 5 more minutes. Sprinkle with garnish, if using and serve with you favorite cooked pasta.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shepherd's Pie


Shepherd's Pie

To make this authentic Shepherd's Pie you would actually need to use lamb instead of beef, with beef it is technically Cottage Pie, but I grew up calling it Shepherd's Pie so that's what I call it even if it is a tad inaccurate. I double the recipe when I want to make an entire 9x13 pan to feed a crowd, As is this recipe should feed 4-6 people. Sometimes I'll add a can of diced tomatoes with their juices to the filling when I feel like it. For a different variation, use ground turkey instead of the beef, chicken broth instead of the beef broth and sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb ground beef
-1 onion, diced
-1 small package mushrooms, sliced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp flour
-1 cup beef broth
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-4 Tbsp ketchup
-1 small package mixed frozen vegetables (I like the combination of peas, corn, carrots and green beans)
-2 large russet potatoes, peeled, diced and boiled until tender
-1/4 c milk
-4 Tbsp butter
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-paprika and/ or parsley for sprinkling as a garnish (if desired)

Heat oil in medium to large pot, over medium heat. Add onion and beef, stirring intermittently and breaking up the beef with a wooden spoon. Once beef is mostly brown drain off the fat and add the mushrooms and garlic. Saute an additional 1-2 minutes, drain the entire mixture using a strainer and set aside. Return pan to heat and melt butter. Once butter is melted sprinkle in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in broth. Add thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and ketchup. Continue to cook, stirring, until the sauce has thickened. Add vegetables, stir, and spread into a medium sized, greased baking dish. Mash potatoes with the milk, butter, salt and pepper and spread over top of the beef mixture. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Sprinkle with paprika and parsley for garnish if desired. Serve.

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake



Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Quinoa dishes are my go to when I need a quick and easy vegan or vegetarian meal. They are easy to throw together- usually dump and stir- and packed with nutrition. They are also versatile and you can easily change up the veggies and seasonings to use up what you have on hand. I take a short cut to cook my quinoa and do it in the rice cooker using a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. This can be a vegetarian main dish or a side dish to accompany your favorite meat- it would be amazing with kebabs.

-juice and zest of 1 lemon
-4 Tbsp olive oil
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1 tsp dried dill
-1 tsp dried oregano
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 cup quinoa, cooked according to package directions
-1 (16 oz) pack frozen spinach thawed and moisture squeezed out using a kitchen towel
-1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
-1 cup chopped roasted red peppers and/ or artichoke hearts
-1 cup feta cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and zest, olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dill, oregano and garlic. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spread into a medium sized greased baking dish. Top with an additional sprinkling of feta, if desired. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Cool 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Spinach Mushroom Ramel Bowl



Spinach Mushroom Ramen Bowl

Omit the egg and this dish is vegan. Substitute rice noodles and it is also gluten free. I like to prepare the broth in the morning, refrigerate all day, then heat back up to cook the noodles and wilt the spinach just before serving.

-2 Tbsp canola, vegetable or sesame oil
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-8 cups vegetable, chicken or beef broth
-1 Tbsp soy sauce
-1/2-1 Tbsp sriracha sauce
-1 Tbsp honey or sugar
-1 (8 oz) pack mushrooms, sliced
-a few handfuls of baby spinach
-2 packages instant ramen noodles, seasoning packets discarded
-sliced scallions for garnish
-4 soft boiled eggs (simmered for 7 minutes)

Heat oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic, saute for 1 minute. Add broth, soy sauce, sriracha and sugar, simmer for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, simmer 5 more minutes. Add noodles, simmer for 3 minutes, stirring with a fork to break noodles apart. Turn off heat, stir in spinach and let sit for 5 minutes or until it wilts. Spoon noodles and broth into serving bowls, top with green onions and float two halves of a soft boiled egg on top.

(To soft boil an egg bring a small pot of water to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, with the support of a spoon add the eggs, continue to simmer 7 minutes. Plunge eggs into an ice bath for 2 minutes, then peel)

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Sweet Chili Chicken




Sweet Chili Chicken

As a shortcut you can use bottle sweet chili sauce instead of the homemade to make this a super quick and easy dish to throw together. I like to mix the chicken with the sauce in the baking pan the morning of, then refrigerate and just pop in the oven in the evening. Serve with rice and your favorite steamed or roasted veggies.

-1/2 cup warm water
-1/2 cup honey or sugar
-1/4 cup rice vinegar
-zest and juice of 1 lime
-2 Tbsp soy sauce
-1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
-1 tsp Sriracha
-1 tsp salt
-1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into large bite sized chunks
-green onions and sesame seeds for garnish

Whisk together water through salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Once thickened, remove from heat and cool.

Pour cooled sauce into a greased medium sized baking dish. Add chicken, stir to coat with the sauce. Bake at 400 for 30 minutes then broil for 3 minutes to add a little color. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions and serve.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Favorite Ways to Use Shredded Chicken



At least once a month (sometimes weekly) I buy a giant bulk pack of boneless skinless chicken breasts and cook them up in my slow cooker to use throughout the week/ month in other meals. Thanks to the help of my slow cooker and stand mixer all of this requires almost no effort on my part to have a head start on many days of dinners. Cooked shredded chicken is a great time saver that allows me to assemble many dinners in less than 30 minutes.



To cook the chicken I grease a slow cooker, add my cooking ingredients, place the chicken breasts on top, spooning some of the sauce over them and cook on low for 4-6 hours until the breasts easily shred when pulled with a fork. Do not overcook the chicken or it will become dry. Then I shred the chicken using the paddle attachment on my stand mixer (or you can use 2 forks if you don't have a stand mixer). Once the chicken is shredded I refrigerate and freeze it in 2 cup portions based on when I'm going to be using the chicken.



My sauces for cooking the chicken vary depending on how I'm going to use it. My go to is simply 1-2 cups of jarred salsa in the slow cooker. If I want a more versatile chicken then I'll do some combination of lemon juice, white wine, garlic and/ or dijon mustard. Or for an Asian twist I'll do soy sauce, honey, sriracha, ginger and garlic.

Click the links below to see my favorite ways to use up the cooked, shredded chicken once I have it on hand.

White Chicken Chili

Chicken Tortilla Soup

BBQ Chicken Quesadillas

Pulled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches

Thai Chicken Pizza

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Gumbo

Chicken Enchiladas

White Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Curried Chicken Salad

Curried Chicken Pasta Salad

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken Tacos/ Burrito Bowls

Guacamole Chicken Salad

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Chicken Noodle Soup

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Char Siu Seasoned Chicken (make a sauce like I did with the pork and combine with shredded chicken and serve over rice)

Fried Rice

Black Beans Corn and Rice Casserole (with added chicken)


Chicken Pot Pie



Chicken Pot Pie

-4 Tbsp butter
-1 onion, diced
-1/4 flour
-3 cups chicken broth
-1/2 tsp turmeric
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
-2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
-1 small bag frozen mixed vegetables
-1 sheet puff pastry
-1 egg, beaten

Melt butter in a medium to large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in broth and cook, while whisking 5 minutes, until the mixture thickens. Add the turmeric through frozen vegetables and stir well. Pour into a greased 13x9 pan.

Roll the pastry to fit the top (or you can cut it up and do a lattice pattern on top). Place the pastry over the filling and brush the top with the egg.

Bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the pastry is brown and puffed. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Hummus



Hummus

I'm picky about the type of canned chickpeas that I'll use for hummus. I've used some brands that resulted in gritty hummus. I either recommend using Goya chickpeas straight out of the can, or if you're using another brand I recommend boiling them in their liquid for 10 minutes before starting to ensure that you are working with soft chickpeas. This hummus is a good blank slate, then you can customize by adding specialty ingredients like pesto, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, jalapeno etc. as desired.

-1 clove garlic
-1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, drained with 1/4 cup of liquid reserved
-juice of 1/2 lemon
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-2 Tbsp tahini
-1/2 tsp cumin
-1/8 tsp cayenne
-1/2 tsp salt

Place the garlic in a blender or food processor and finely chop. Add remaining ingredients and puree for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Serve immediately, or chill until serving and return to room temperature before eating. For a pretty presentation drizzle some olive oil over your bowl of hummus and sprinkle with fresh parsley or ground paprika before serving.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya


Brown Rice Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

White rice can be used instead of brown in this recipe, but you will need to reduce the water by 1/2- 1 cup and reduce the cooking time.

-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 lb andioulle sausage, sliced
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-6 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (29 oz) can diced tomatoes
-5 cups chicken broth
-2 tsp cajun seasoning
-1 bay leaf
-1 tsp dried thyme
-1 tsp dried oregano
-2-6 Tbsp hot sauce
-2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or diced
-2 cups brown rice
-chopped parsley or green onions for garnish

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook sausage, stirring occasionally, until it is browned, about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to set sausage aside. Add onion and bell pepper to the pot, saute 5 minutes. Add garlic, saute 1 additional minute. Add diced tomatoes, broth, cajun seasoning, bay leaf, thyme, oregano and hot sauce, bring to a boil. Add reserved sausage, chicken and brown rice, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until rice is cooked (45-60 minutes), stirring occasionally and adding extra water if needed until rice is tender. Serve with desired garnishes.


Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake


Quick and Easy Chocolate and Salted Caramel King Cake

I use the term King Cake very loosely in this recipe. Usually a king cake is made with a yeasty cinnamon roll-like dough that has to rise and ends up sort of dry and bread like before it is topped with lots of colored sugar. This is not something we are huge fans of around here- although living in New Orleans and rejecting king cake is almost sacrilegious. Recently I had a chocolate king cake that had almost a croissant like dough that I really enjoyed, so this is my quick and easy attempt to duplicate that.

-2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
-3 Tbsp cinnamon
-4 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 cup chocolate chips
-2-4 Tbsp milk
-1/4 cup caramel sauce (store bought or homemade)
-1/2 tsp sea salt for sprinkling
-1 eggs, beaten

Place the shorter end of one piece of puff pastry on a floured surface against the shorter end of another piece and press the edges together. Roll the dough into one long, thin rectangle.

Combine the cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle over the rectangle.

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler or by microwaving and stirring at 30 second intervals, Adding a tablespoon of milk at a time once melted to thin out the chocolate. Spread or drizzle the chocolate onto the puff pastry.

Drizzle the caramel sauce over the chocolate. Sprinkle the salt over the caramel.

Starting with one of the long ends of the rectangle start rolling the dough over itself to form one long strip of dough that has been rolled and rolled until all of the filling is on the inside. Place this long tube on a baking sheet covered with parchment and form it into a circle or oval, pressing the ends together. Brush the dough with the egg. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes until pastry is brown and puffy. Cool at least 10 minutes prior to serving.

(I usually bake mine a day ahead and heat the individual pieces in the microwave for 10 seconds prior to serving so that the chocolate is warm and melted)

Pumpkin Cobbler


Pumpkin Cobbler

This is one of our favorite desserts. It bakes up with a warm pumpkin pudding/ sauce on the bottom and a cake-like pumpkin layer on top. Serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.


-1 cup + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-3/4 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
-1/4 teaspoon cloves
-1/2 cup pumpkin puree
-1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Topping:
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
-1 1/2 cups hot water


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and spices. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk pumpkin, milk, melted butter and vanilla together to combine. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to form a thick batter. Pour into mixture into a greased 8 or 9 inch square casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, stir sugar, brown sugar and nuts together. Sprinkle the sugar/ nut mixture over the top of the batter evenly. Pour hot water over the entire thing. Do not stir. Bake for 40 minutes or until the middle is set. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving. 

Indian Spiced Lentil Stew


Indian Spiced Lentil Stew

Serve this hearty stew over brown rice (if desired) and with lots of fresh cilantro and scallions for topping.

-1 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion. diced
-1 inch chunk of ginger, minced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (15 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes
-4 cups vegetable broth
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 Tbsp cumin
-1/4 tsp cayenne
-1 c red lentils, rinsed
-1 lemon, thickly sliced
-fresh chopped cilantro and green onions for toppings

Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and ginger and saute for 5-10 minutes. Add garlic and saute 1 additional minute. Add tomatoes, broth, salt, cumin, cayenne, lentils and lemon. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, until lentils are soft. Serve warm, over rice if desired, and topped with LOTS of fresh cilantro and green onions.

Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake


Spinach Artichoke Egg Bake

-16 eggs
-1/4 c milk or heavy cream
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
-1/2 tsp dried rosemary
-1/2 tsp dried thyme
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed and moisture squeezed out in a kitchen towel
-1 (15 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
-1 1/4 c shredded mozzarella
-1/4 c shredded parmesan

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk/ cream, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme and garlic. Stir in the spinach, using a fork to separate it and break it up. Stir in the artichoke hearts and 1 cup of the mozzarella. Pour egg mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. Top with remaining 1/4 cup mozzarella and the parmesan. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes, until set. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Handmade Christmas Gifts

I'm a big fan of giving and receiving handmade gifts for many reasons. I like gifts to be about a thought rather than the amount of money spent. I like holidays to be focused on things other than presents, pressure and items. I like to focus on experiences, words and thoughtfulness. The act of making handmade gifts is also a fun creative outlet for me and the boys. That said, here are the gifts we did this year;


Instead of doing our traditional cookie baking this year I decided to simplify and go with chocolate dipped pretzel rods covered in sprinkles. I got all of the stuff set up but the boys were able to do this mostly on their own with some supervision from me. They enjoyed making and eating these goodies and had such pride when they were able to give their teachers items that they themselves had made.


Every year we make a different ornament for our family members and close friends. This year we did these super simple birdseed ornaments that can be hung outside to feed the birds (or inside if you prefer). Eli was able to help me press this mixture down into the cookie cutters and poke in straws for the holes.


For the grandparents I always try to incorporate something that the boys are able to make. This year we did these note cubes. This was so quick and easy. I bought plain note cubes and let the boys color all over the sides with markers.


This Chocolate Peppermint Lip Gloss was super easy to mix up and smells quite festive.

I melted 1/4 c un-petroleum jelly and 1/4 c coconut oil in the microwave at 30 second intervels. Then stirred in 1 stevia packet, 1 tsp cocoa powder and 6 drops of peppermint oil until well mixed. Then I poured the mixture into these little lip gloss pots and let it sit for a few hours until it solidified.


These Curried Lentil and Wild Rice Soup Mixes are super easy to whip up and all the receiver has to do is add 7 cups of water and 25 minutes of cooking and dinner is served.

For these I layered 1/2 cup green lentils, 1/2 cup red lentils and 3/4 cup wild rice in a pint jar.  Then I mixed together 1 Tbsp sugar, 1.5 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 Tbsp curry powder, 2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp ginger and 1/4 tsp coriander and put in a small bag. I set the bag in the jar on top of the rice and attached a label instructing to rinse the rice and lentils in a strainer, then put them in a large pot with 7 cups of water and simmer for 25 minutes, or until the rice and lentils are tender.


Two of my boys got these stuffed owls because they were obsessed with them when I made them for friends.


And the third boy got one of these monsters.


For more of my handmade gift ideas sort through my older posts by selecting the Gifts/ Holiday label in the sidebar.