Sunday, October 28, 2012

Black Licorice Caramels for Halloween

Last week, my littlest and I made caramels for a Halloween treat.  At first, he wasn't so sure about the black licorice flavor, but as they set over night the flavor mellowed.  I love black licorice, it reminds me of my grandfather.  He always had a stash of black licorice in the top of one of the kitchen cupboards when I was little.  It is a very nostalgic flavor for me.
Black Licorice Caramels
Adapted from a cousin's family recipe
1 cup butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups corn syrup
2 cups sugar
1/4 t salt
1/8 ounce anise flavoring
1/2 t black food coloring paste

This takes about 30 minutes and you need to stir it the entire time.  Bring all ingredients through salt to a boil in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Keep at a rolling boil until 240˚F. Remove from heat and stir in food coloring and flavoring. Pour caramel into a well-buttered 9x13 inch pan. Let cool and set overnight. Cut into pieces and wrap in wax paper or cellophane squares.
Makes 100-150 pieces

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Quick Steelcut Oats for Breakfast

I love Trader Joes's. One of my favorite things in their freezer section is the Steelcut Oats.  They are perfect little packages of breakfast goodness.  And, for me, they are a great breakfast option when I need something quick.
Then, I saw this post about how she made her own breakfast "Oatmeal Breakfast Pucks."  I was intrigued enough to try it.  So, I picked up some Steelcut Oats in the bulk section of my local store, and gace it a go!
I cooked the oats at a ratio of 1 part oats:3 1/2 parts water.  When they were finished, I scooped them into my muffin tins, and popped them into the freezer.  They were a little warm going in so I froze them for a couple hours before trying to repackage them.
Then, I filled my sink with about an inch of warm water and set the trays inside.  The oatmeal popped right out.  I threw them all into a freezer bag, and squished out all the air.  Labeled the bag, and stuck them back in the freezer.
Steelcut Oats for Breakfast
1 part steelcut oats
3 1/2 parts water

Bring to a boil in a large enough pot.  Turn down to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes.  Stir occassionally to preent the oats from sticking.  When cooked, but still a little runny, transfer to muffin tins for freezing.  My standard muffin tin, is about a 1/2 C serving.  Let the oats cool slightly, then, flash freeze.  Transfer to a freezer bag for storage.

Reheat each 1/2 C serving for 1 minute 30 seconds on high.  Stir, and heat for 1 more minute.  Top as desired.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roasted Broccoli

This dish is a great side.  And, really, you could prepare any vegetable using this technique.
Parmesan-Roasted Broccoli
4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves (about 12 leaves)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Cut the broccoli florets from the thick stalks, leaving an inch or two of stalk attached to the florets, discarding the rest of the stalks. Cut the larger pieces through the base of the head with a small knife, pulling the florets apart. You should have about 8 cups of florets. Place the broccoli florets on a sheet pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Toss the garlic on the broccoli and drizzle with 5 tablespoons olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until crisp-tender and the tips of some of the florets are browned.
Remove the broccoli from the oven and immediately toss with 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, pine nuts, Parmesan, and basil. Serve hot.

Rapid Rolls

These rolls are great for a Sunday morning.  In fact, just last week, my mom called and asked if we wanted to come for dinner.  She asked if I had a baguette that I could bring, I didn't.  But in 1 1/2 hours, start to finish, I was able to have these rolls ready.

Rapid Rolls

from Kelsey Nixon
3 (.25-ounce) packets active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup melted butter, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs, beaten
4 to 6 cups flour, plus more if needed

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the instant yeast, and warm water. Let it activate for 5 minutes until bubbly. Stir in the honey. On low speed, add 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 teaspoons salt, and eggs. Slowly add the flour cup-by-cup until fully incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl. Add more flour if it is too sticky. Portion the dough into 2 even servings. Roll into a circle, and cut into 24 wedges.  Roll up and place on a baking sheet spaced evenly apart. Set aside and allow to rise approximately 20 minutes, or until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the rolls with melted butter. Bake for 25 minutes until the tops are golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush with more melted butter, and sprinkle with a little salt.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Open-faced Pimento Cheese BLT's

These sandwiches were a great summertime meal.  The spend hardly any time in the oven, and highlight many of the great things about summer.  We paired ours with some sweet potato fries and fresh summer fruit.

Open-faced Pimento Cheese BLT's

adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012

2 tablespoons bottled diced pimientos, drained
1 tablespoon grated peeled shallots
4 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1 1/4 ounces grated fresh Parmesan cheese (about 1/3 cup)
4 (1-ounce) slices sourdough bread, toasted
12 tomato slices
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 center-cut bacon slices, cooked and halved
1 cup baby arugula leaves

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Spread 3 tablespoons cheese mixture on each bread slice.  Place under the broil, just until the cheese starts to melt.  Top each with 3 tomato slices. Sprinkle tomato slices evenly with salt. Top each sandwich with 2 bacon halves and 1/4 cup arugula.

The pimento cheese on it's own is a great dip or accompaniment to crackers.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Fruit Juice

We love our Green Smoothies, but every once in a while, you want something else.  This was a demo jusice at Costco for the Vitamix blender, but I made it just fine in my Blendtec.  I love my Blendtec!

 5 Fruits: 1 apple, 1 orange, 1 banana, 2 pineapple spears, and strawberries.
 Roughly chop fruits and place in blender.  Blend and serve.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Oil and Sauteed Corn

I saw this on Pinterest, only not on Pinterest at all.  The Pinterest link describes making your own gnocchi to be topped with Coq Au Vin, so not what we are doing here.  My sister in law had a note about mixing it with sauteed corn, etc.  So, I just went for it.
Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Oil and Sauteed Corn
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for sauteeing
1 pkg premade gnocchi, or make your own just depends on how much time you have
1 C corn kernels
Mix together chopped basil, garlic and olive oil with a pinch of salt and pepper.  Let marinate while you prepare the rest.  Boil gnocchi according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.  Drizzle extra olive oil in a large sautee pan.  Add corn and stir to spread out.  Now, let it sit without stirring for 3-4 minutes.  Stir and let it sit again.  Once finished cooking, remove corn from pan and keep warm.  Add 1 Tbsp extra olive oil to the pan and pour in drained gnocchi.  Repeat the steps from sauteeing the corn, and do not stir.  Return the corn to the pan, drizzle with basil-olive oil mixture.  Toss to combine and serve.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Spinach Orzo Pasta Salad

Spinach and Orzo Pasta Salad
adapted from Simply Recipes
4 ounces orzo pasta
2 Tbsp pine nuts
3 ounces feta cheese, roughly crumbled
1 ounce Kalamata Greek olives pitted, roughly chopped, about 1/4 cup (about 10 olives)
2 ounces baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped red onion (about half a red onion)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (can substitute white vinegar or lemon juice)
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Pinch dried basil
Pinch dried tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook the orzo pasta in salted water acording to package directions.  Drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly.  Toast the pine nuts.  Take half of the spinach and purée it in a food processor or blender, adding one tablespoon of the olive oil. Roughly chop the other half of the spinach. In a large serving bowl mix the spinach purée olive oil mixture in with cooked orzo until the pasta is well coated with the purée. Then gently mix in the remaining spinach, the red onion, feta cheese, pine nuts, and the Kalamata olives.

In a small jar, combine the remaining olive oil (1 Tbsp), balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, mustard, dried basil, and dried tarragon. Put a lid on the jar and shake to combine.  Pour over orzo spinach mixture and gently mix in until well incorporated.

Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Our New Go-To Dessert

My husband started the year back on the "South Beach Wagon."  We had invited some friends for dinner to enjoy a new favorite of his, Blackened Chicken, and games.  Our friend offered to bring a salad and something for dessert.  I mentioned our current no-carb situation, and she said that she would look through her books and see what she could find.  She showed up with Chocolate Mousse.  Everyone in our family loved it.  And, we have made it several times since.  The boys every made it for Grandma & Papa's Sunday dinner.
{Chocolate Mousse}
South Beath diet-friendly
1 4-serving box of Suger-free Jell-O Instant Pudding, chocolate flavor
1 tub of Cool-Whip Free, defrosted
2 C cold milk

Mix  pudding and milk according to package directions.  Let set up in fridge until just before serving.  Then, gently fold in Cool Whip.  The end result is an almost guilt-free, fuluffy, creamy chocolate treat!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Green Smoothies

Our family is really enjoying "green smoothies."  I have been drinking them for about a year and a half.  I even went to see the Green Smoothie Girl speak at a health food store here in Seattle last spring!  I will say that purchasing a Blendtec blender made all the difference for the rest of the family.  Nothing blends like a Blendtec.
So, here is our everyday smoothie recipe:
{Everyday Green Smoothie} (about 24 oz.)
8 oz. water
1/2 tsp Truvia
4-5 C spinach, not packed
1/2 of a ripe banana, 1 1/2" slices
1 good sized navel orange, peel cut but some of the pith still there
1/2 -1 C frozen Trader Farm's Triple Berry, frozen berries from Costco
Put it into the blender in that order.
Blend it up.

The berries in it will make it turn a lovely shade of "bleh."  But, if you are lucky, it kind of looks a little purple.
Here is another delicious option.  The one seen on my son's face in the first picture.
{Really Green Smoothie} about 20 oz.
8 oz. water
1/2 tsp Truvia
4-5 C spinach, not packed
1 whole banana, cut into chunks
2-3 pineapple spears, cut into chunks
Blend it up.
The pineapple does cause this particular smothie to seperate a little faster.  So, we like to drink our in a Blender Bottle.  That way we can snap it closed and remix!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Cranberry Chicken

I know, it has been a long break.  A much needed break.  But, I am popping in to share a quick recipe.  My older son has swimming lessons twice a week at 5pm.  Hello, dinnertime.  And, we now have Church from 1-4pm.  So, I have been searching for recipes that can go into the oven or crockpot and be ready when we come home. 

Enter Cranberry Chicken.  The ingredients might seem a little od, but let me tell you - It is delicious!  The older son asking for seconds on meat, and the younger son saying, "This is SOO TASTY," gives this recipe 4 stars.
{Cranberry Chicken}
12-14 Chicken Tenders, frozen
8 oz. French Salad Dressing
1 (16 oz) can Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce
1 pkg Dry Onion Soup Mix

Mix dressing, cranberry sauce and onion soup mix together.  Whisk until smooth.  Place chicken tenders in a 9x13 pan.  Pour sauce over the top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour - 1 hour 15 minutes.

Serve over rice.  (I served it over a Quinoa & Whole Grain Brown Rice pilaf.)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Butternut Squash Lasagna: Take 3

Yes, I have tried many, many recipes for Butternut Squash Lasagna.  This is my all-time favorite.  In fact, I wish that I were eating it right now!

We tried this recipe at my mom's house when everyone was home for Thanksgiving.  It was so good, that I put it on our dinner menu the very next week.

{Butternut Squash Lasagna}
adapted from
1 large butternut squash (about 3 lb.), halved lengthwise and seeded
2 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 tsp. chopped thyme leaves
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 sprigs fresh sage plus 1 tsp. chopped leaves
1-1/8 oz. (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
1-1/4 cups crumbled fresh goat cheese (4 oz.)
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (2 oz.)
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 cup coarse dry breadcrumbs or panko
15 lasagna noodles
Roast the squash and garlic
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.
Dice the squash and place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle on 1 minced garlic clove and 1 tsp of thyme. Drizzle with 2 tsp. of the oil and, then, season with 1/2 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper. Roast until the squash is browned in spots and very tender when pierced with a skewer, 45 to 50 minutes.  You can begin checking around 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Scoop the squash, thyme and garlic into a bowl. Mash with a fork until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F.
Make a goat cheese and sage sauceMelt 4 Tbs. of the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage sprigs and cook until the butter is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the sage. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and golden, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in the goat cheese, 1/2 cup of the pecorino, the nutmeg, 1 tsp. salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Set aside 1-1/2 cups of the sauce and mix the rest with the mashed squash.
Season the breadcrumbsMelt the remaining 1 Tbs. butter in a small skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, chopped sage, chopped thyme, a pinch of salt, and few grinds of pepper. Add the melted butter and mix well.
Assemble and bake the lasagneSpread 1/2 cup of the reserved cheese sauce over the bottom of a 9x13x3-inch baking dish. Cover the sauce with a slightly overlapping layer of cooked noodles, cutting them as needed to fill any gaps. Spread 1 cup of the squash mixture evenly over the noodles. Add another layer of noodles and repeat the layers as instructed above, to make a total of 4 squash layers and 5 pasta layers. Spread the remaining 1 cup cheese sauce evenly over the top. Sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture and the remaining 1/2 cup pecorino.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the top is browned and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the roasted squash mixture up to 1 day ahead of assembling the lasagna.
You can assemble the lasagne up to 2 days ahead of baking it. Tightly wrap the baking dish in plastic and refrigerate it. Let the lasagne come to room temperature before baking it.


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