Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Two-color Potato Gratin

We had baked potatoes one night last week with grilled chicken, and mashed sweet potatoes with meatballs on another night. So I was left with 4 Yukon gold potatoes and 4 sweet potatoes (which are actually yams!) that I had to use up. I made a yummy, easy, pretty and pretty healthy side dish that I have to share! You can use this method for all one color potatoes, or whatever you have on hand, but the white and the sweet made this super pretty and yummy! 

Ingredients:
4 yams/sweet potatoes, peeled 
4 white/brown potatoes, peeled 
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 clove garlic, grated 
1 1/2 cups fat free half & half (or whatever milk you have or like)
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
After the potatoes are peeled, slice them thin by hand or use a mandoline on the medium setting (that's what I did!).
In a 9 x 13 casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray, layer the potatoes beginning with white and ending with sweet, 2 layers of each. Season each layer with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. 
Once the potatoes are assembled, set aside and melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. 
When melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon, constantly for 2 minutes. (This flour mixture is called a roux.)
Next whisk in the half & half and bring to a slow boil, stirring very frequently, stopping just enough to add the garlic, or grate it right into the pot like I do!
Once it's thickened, turn off the heat and add salt and pepper, about 1/2 teaspoon of each, stir well.
Pour the mixture over the potatoes and lightly shake the pan so it is evenly distributed. 
Bake covered with foil for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.

Cut into squares, eat and enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Totally Yummy Tiny Turkey Meatloaves

 I have a rotation of 3 or 4 different meatloaf recipes. One was given to my mom by a friend who has had this recipe in her family forever. Another was torn out of a magazine maybe 10 years ago. The third recipe I acquired after my son slept at a friend's house and his mom, my friend E, made it for dinner and he gobbled it. Yet, every few months when I decide to make meatloaf or turkey meatloaf, it's never a family favorite, rather I end up eating the leftovers for lunch 3 days in a row. This recipe is actually a combination of all three. While making this yesterday, I got a little excited that maybe, finally, perhaps, everyone would eat and enjoy this. Our afternoons are so ridiculously busily crazy, that I try whenever possible to assemble/prepare dinner earlier in the day so that I just have to bake off or reheat before dinnertime. Once this was prepared, I just covered it with foil to sit in the fridge for a few hours, then uncovered and baked for an hour while the potatoes (another post!) cooked. At last, a turkey meatloaf recipe that everyone loved, from Daddy to baby D! Let me know what you think, or send me your favorite recipe to try! This made a large loaf and 8 mini-loaves, which everyone preferred to the slices. You can easily halve this recipe if you don't need to feed 6 like I do! Eat and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2-3 large carrots, peeled and grated (I used the multi-colored ones from TJ which were pretty!)
  • 3 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (a friend says you can sub cooked quinoa!)
  • 2/3 cup milk (cow's milk, soy milk, non-dairy creamer, fat free half and half)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
DIRECTIONS:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degreed F and spray mini loaf pan or muffin tin (or large loaf pan if you prefer-tastes equally yummy!!)
  • In a large pan, heat the olive oil and add the onion, carrot and garlic
  • Saute until soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn't burn
  • While the veggies are cooking, in a large bowl combine the meat, the bread crumbs, the eggs, the milk, and salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
  • Let veggies cool for a few minutes, and in the meantime combine ketchup, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl
  • Add the cooked mixture to the meat mixture and mix well with your hands or a wooden spoon
  • Add 1/3 of the ketchup mixture to the meat
  • Divide the meat mixture evenly among the loaf/muffin pans and brush the tops with the remaining ketchup mixture
  • Bake for approximately 40 minutes (50-55 minutes if you are baking a standard size loaf, and maybe 35 minutes if you are doing muffin tins), rotating the pans halfway through the cooking time
  • Let set for 5 minutes before removing from pans






Easy & Yummy Grilled Chicken Marinade

The last few times I have tried out a new marinade recipe, I start off really excited that the finished product is going to be delicious. I measure and mix and marinate...and then am disappointed. The lack of flavor is surprising given the combinations of flavors, but at last I found one that is full of flavor. A winner! I found the basis for this one on Pinterest and then played around with it-added more lime, reduced the amount of sugar, used low-sodium soy sauce, etc. The best part of loosely following a recipe like this is being able to tweak it to make it your own, to suit your taste or your family or your cooking needs. We made this on Sunday, and everyone loved it-from Grandpa down to baby D!! I threw the chicken in the marinade around noon and let the flavors marry together in the fridge for about 5 hours, thought you could certainly leave it overnight if you have time or let the chicken sit for just half an hour as you prepare the rest of dinner. You can easily use this for flank steak as well. This is now my new go-to grill marinade, though if you have a favorite please send it my way! Eat and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS: (this is for 2-3 lbs of chicken breast, so adjust accordingly)

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice 
  • 4 cloves grated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
DIRECTIONS:
  • Juice the limes and put the juiced lime halves in a gallon size food storage bag (they add extra great flavor to the chicken!)
  • Whisk together the oil, soy sauce and lime juice
  • Add the garlic, brown sugar, salt, pepper and mix well
  • Pour the mixture into the bag
  • Add the chicken breasts, seal well, and marinate in refrigerator for up to 24 hours

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Old-fashioned Oatmeal Muffins

When I was a little girl, my grandma and my mom made the yummiest bran muffins. The batter could be made in advance and could stay in the fridge for a few weeks, and when we smelled them baking we ran to the fridge to grab the butter and sat waiting for them to cool enough to eat. There was no better after-school snack then these fresh muffins. It's still a good recipe, but I updated it to make the ingredients easier to find and super easy to whip up and bake. No hunting down Bran Buds, no need to make the batter in advance. I mixed this recipe up at 7:30 this morning and by 7:55 AM we had warm muffins for breakfast. This recipe is pretty forgiving too; sub applesauce for half or all the oil, use some pumpkin in place of eggs or oil, add raisins or cranberries or chocolate chips, toss in some cinnamon....they will be delicious no matter what you do to them!

Here's the basic recipe, which makes 18 standard/generous muffins. You can make them mini or jumbo, suit yourself!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups All Bran or Trader Joe's Bran (this is cereal, not oat bran, please note!)
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats (I use Trader Joe's in the bag), not instant
  • 2 cups low-fat buttermilk (if you don't have this you can use any type of milk you have/use!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable/canola/grapeseed oil
  • 1 scant cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup white and 1 cup whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
DIRECTIONS:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Pour buttermilk over bran and oatmeal and let sit for 5 minutes
  • In the meantime, combine flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder 
  • Stir cereal mixture, then add vanilla, eggs, oil and sugar to it and mix well
  • Fold in dry mixture
  • Spray 2 12-cup muffin tins with cooking or baking spray (best not to use paper muffin cups with these, they may stick to the paper)
  • Use a large cookie scoop or tablespoon to fill up the muffin tins with the batter
  • Bake 18-20 minutes, depending on your oven (I like to set the timer for 15 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 3-5 minutes until they are done)
  • Use a butter knife to gently remove from the muffin tin and cool on a baking rack
  • These will stay fresh in a food storage bag or container for 3 days, and they freeze really well
They are SOOO yummy warm with a drop of butter, or just warm, or cool, or cold, or anyway you like to eat them......Eat and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Simple sweet and savory salmon

Tonight dinner had to be thrown together in 20 minutes, between walking in the door from soccer practice and homework for 3 kids, and had to involve the oven rather than the stove so I could hold the baby at the same time! So here it is-super simple, super yummy and super fast salmon! After hubby polished it off, the biggest compliment was when he asked why I hadn't made this before! Well, it's a keeper y'all! So is he :). Eat & enjoy!!

Ingredients:
1.5 lb salmon fillet, skinless 
2 tablespoons golden brown sugar 
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 8 cubes (or canola/grapeseed oil but I like the butter here)
1 lemon thinly sliced 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
Line baking sheet with foil
Rub the sugar into the salmon
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Scatter the butter over the salmon 
Lay the lemon slices on top
Bake for 15 minutes or until fully cooked 

BONUS recipe!
I roasted some organic broccoli florets tossed with EVOO and salt and pepper on a separate foil-lined baking sheet. I put it in the oven 10 minutes before the salmon, then left it continue to roast while the salmon was in the oven. Those 25 minutes were enough to make basmati rice on the stove and voila! 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Best ever granola



Who doesn't love yummy and crunchy granola in a big bowl with cold milk or mixed with Greek yogurt and fresh berries? Well, if you don't, then stop reading. If you're still reading, you must love it like I do!  I make granola with dried cranberries, coconut, chocolate, walnuts, apricots, matzah....lots of different types! I saw this on Pinterest and thought "why not?!" I tweaked it to suit my tastes and voila! This recipe is healthy, quick, easy and delish! Adapt it to suit you and your family, or keep it simple-as-is and thank me later.

Ingredients:
4 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant; I use Trader Joe's or Quakers)
1 cup almonds, raw or toasted
4 tablespoons coconut oil 
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silpat, parchment paper or foil.
Pour oats into a large mixing bowl.
Using a food processor (can be done by hand), pulse 1/2 cup of almonds until finely ground. Add to bowl.
Pulse remaining 1/2 cup 2-3 times until roughly chopped. Add to bowl.
In a glass measuring cup, measure the honey and then add the oil. Melt in microwave at 20 second intervals until melted-should take 40-60 seconds.
Add vanilla and sugar to the warm mixture. 
Combine liquid mixture with the oat mixture and mix well. Toss with salt.
Spread on baking sheet into a single layer and bake for 6 minutes. Stir and bake for another 6-8 minutes until golden brown. 
Let cool on silpat or wax paper, then break into pieces and store in an airtight container up to one week (but it won't last that long!)

Eat and enjoy and make for a friend! 


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Kitchen Sink Cookies

While my posts have definitely been far and few between, my cooking has not! Sometimes I throw together what's in the fridge, other days I defrost from the freezer, and when I have time I actually plan and shop for and prepare our meals. The same goes for baking-if I have time to search Pinterest and google recipes then I will buy the ingredients I need for Pumpkin Chiffon Cake or Banana Bread or S'mores bars. Then there are the days where my kids request cookies and I reach in the fridge to take out the butter, and....oh, there's none left! 1/2 stick of margarine won't get me very far, and neither will a scant half bag of milk chocolate chips. Luckily enough batches have been baked in my kitchen that throwing together this recipe wasn't too difficult, and luckily was super delish! It's also a winner when the recipe can be made in one bowl-less to wash!! Good to know we can always improvise with what we have on hand, and when made with love the results are always yummy!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup oil (canola, coconut, vegetable, grapeseed)
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, room temp
1 generous tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not steel cut; I use Trader Joe's)
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup milk chocolate chips

**optional: 1/2 cup shredded coconut and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place a sheet of parchment/baking paper on each of 2 cookie sheets. 
  • Combine oil, sugars, eggs and vanilla and mix well with a wooden spoon, using the back to break up the lumps of brown sugar until mixture is smooth. Add flour, salt and baking soda and mix well. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir to combine, getting an arm workout at the same time! 

**At this point, you can bake as is (and they are fabulous!) or you can empty your pantry more and add the coconut and walnuts, both or either. You can substitute pecans if you like.

  • Use a medium size cookie scoop or drop by tablespoons on the baking sheets, 12 per sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes depending on your oven, rotating halfway. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheet then remove to wire cooling rack. Repeat on both sheets. This batch will make 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your cookie scoop.
  • Store in a covered container, cookie jar of zippered food storage bag for up to a week, though they won't last that long!
  • Eat and enjoy!