Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pumpkin Soup! A Fall Favorite

We love pumpkin soup and find this time of year perfect for enjoying this treat. I served this with cheddar grilled-cheese sandwiches with a slice of bacon in the sandwich. I always shred my own cheese. It taste so much better and is so fresh!


Ingredients:

1 can of Pumpkin Puree 29 ounce can
1 medium Butternut Squash peeled, softened, and cut into 1 inch cubbed-pieces*
1 can of low sodium Chicken Broth 32 fluid ounces
1 small onion chopped
2 garlic cloves roughly chopped
1 pint cream
6 whole, black peppercorns
Pinch of salt (or to taste)
I sprig of Rosemary
4 slices of bacon
1 Tablespoon of bacon fat
2 Tablespoons of olive oil

Heat olive oil in dutch oven and add chopped onions. Saute until translucent. Add garlic, salt, and peppercorns. Cook until you smell the garlic. Add pumpkin puree, chicken broth, butternut squash, and rosemary sprig. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes (when squash is soft). While soup is cooking, bake bacon at 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes ( I usually cook more than 4 slices since my family loves bacon).  Reserve 1 Tablespoon of fat and add to soup. Cool bacon and once cooled, crumble to add to soup when it is done.

Cook pumpkin mixture until squash is fully cooked. Remove from heat and use an emulsion blender or regular blender to puree soup.  BE CAREFUL! The soup will be very hot. Add back to pot and mix in cream and bacon. Serve!

*I buy the entire squash, cut in half, remove seeds, and then cook in microwave at 2 minute increments until soften (not full cooked), I cool slightly so that I can peel and cut into 1 inch chunks. However, you can also buy them peeled and cut from the grocery story.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Doin' the Paleo Thing

We have gone Paleo! Yes, that trendy diet or way of eating that follows what the "cavemen" ate.  After a trip to the grocery store and a few hundred dollars later, we began creating recipes that focused on fruits, veggies, lean protein, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats. However, my football playing son still eats carbs since he is expending so much energy. I also include dairy products since I have a Vitamin D deficiency.

Paleo Tilapia

I am not a fish eater, but have been converted by this recipe.

4 Tilapia (if frozen make sure they are thawed)
3 Tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes
2 Tablespoons Almond meal
Salt and Pepper to taste
Olive Oil cooking spray

If you would like to add lime or lemon I'd squeeze over the hot fish right out of the oven.


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking dish with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Mix coconut, almond meal, salt and pepper. Set Tilapia on the pan. Pat each fish fillet with 1/4 of the mixture. Lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.

Place in oven and bake for 6-10 minutes, depending on how thick the Tilapia is. Coconut will start to turn golden and the fish should look white and fluffy.

Serve with roasted broccoli or other veggie. Some say that quinoa is Paleo, so a side of that is great as well.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hamburger Helper???

I have never tasted Hamburger Helper. I've heard that there are numerous varieties now, opposed to when I was growing up and there was only one version.  I don't like boxed foods, they are usually high in sodium, fat, and chemicals I can't pronounce.  So, when I stumbled upon this recipe while scouring Pinterest, I was intrigued.  It is called Cheeseburger Casserole, but could also be called Homemade Hamburger Helper.

Cheeseburger Bacon Casserole 
2 cups (6 ounces) uncooked bow tie pasta (or any shape you desire)
2 teaspoons canola oil or olive oil
1 1/2 cups onions, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
4 slices of bacon - cooked and chopped
1 pound 80% lean ground beef
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes cut in half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 cups extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Boil the pasta in a large pot according to packaged directions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and saute until onions are transparent. Add the garlic and stir about 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the ground beef and fully cook through until brown and drain the fat and return to the stove.
  5. Stir in the seasoned salt, ketchup, mustard and bacon until well combined. Add the chopped tomatoes. Reduce heat and simmer for approximately 2 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.
  6. Add the cooked and drained noodles to the meat and stir well. Pour into the prepared baking pan and evenly sprinkle the cheese across the top. Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and slightly cool before serving.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Winter Baking

Too ripe to eat!
I love to bake and it seems like it happens more in the winter than the summer.  Today is a cold, cold, cold day ( -30 wind chill) and schools are closed, so I'm home baking away.

When I saw these on my counter, I knew what I had to make!

So, I looked to Pinterest and found Martha Stewart's Hummingbird Cake. It called for 3 (yes it was fate!) ripe bananas.  Luckily I had coconut and walnuts, so I was ready to go.

Hummingbird Recipe (Adapted from Martha Stewart.com)

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pans and racks (I do not do)
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans (I do not do)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar (I use 1 3/4 cup)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 cups mashed ripe banana (about 3 large)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut, unsweetened
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in the center. I use a baking spray to coat 2 - 9 inch cake pans.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat oil, vanilla, and sugar until combined, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating each before adding the next. Beat at medium speed until mixture is pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  In a medium bowl, mix together banana, pineapple, walnuts, and coconut. Add to egg mixture; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; blend well.  Divide batter between pans. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.  Transfer pans to a greased wire rack. Let cool 15 minutes. Run a knife around edges to loosen. Invert onto racks; reinvert, top side up. Cool completely.

FROSTING
  • 1 pound (16 ounces) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, room temperature
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted
It is really important to have the butter and cream cheese at room temperature.  If not, you will have a clumpy frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and vanilla until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. With mixer on medium speed, gradually add butter, beating until incorporated. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add sugar, beating until incorporated.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas Dinner

Christmas Dinner is a family tradition. We have basically the same meal every year, sometimes there are a few tweaks.

2013 Dinner Menu
Beef Tenderloin - cover with olive oil, crushed pepper corns, and salt. Bake in a 450 degree over for 15 minutes, then lower to 375 for 15 minutes for pound depending on desired pinkness.
Lobster Tails - cut in half, brush with butter, broil for 6 - 7 minutes about 7 inches from broiler
Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Brussels Sprouts - toss olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, 400 degree oven for 25 minutes (if large, cut in half)
Gnocchi with red sauce (My father-in-law makes the Gnocchi and I make the red sauce-one day I'll post the recipe)
Salad
Citrus Salad
Tirimasu
Bread
Clams Casino - a local friend and chef makes these for us
Shrimp
Brie with Currant and Cranberry Chutney (milky brie with currant, cranberry, and walnut chutney from Wegmans over it, served with tiny toasts)

Usually, I chop some garlic and rosemary for the tenderloin, this year I crushed peppercorns and rolled the tenderloin it is so that it was covered (first put a little olive oil and salt). It was perfect.


If there is anything I want my children to take from our food traditions, it is make Christmas special with food, family, and decorations. I use my grandmother's china, silver, and candlesticks. I also have the dinning room decorated and festive. Memories for them to take and use with their families.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Veggies For Breakfast

I'm always looking for delicious low-carb dishes.  I love veggies and my middle child does as well. This dish is a perfect breakfast.  You can saute the veggies ahead and just do a quick reheat if you are trying to save time.

Recipe from Pioneer Woman

The only think I did differently was to shred the cheese on top. And I used a touch of butter AND olive oil in the skillet.
PioneerWomanPicture

  • 1 Tablespoon Butter AND Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Diced Zucchini
  • 1/2 cup Diced Yellow Squash
  • 1/2 whole Medium Onion, Cut Into Chunks
  • Salt And Pepper
  • 1 whole Tomato, Sliced Thick
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack Cheese Shredded ( or cheese of choice)

Preparation Instructions

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to soften. Add the zucchini and squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and stir to cook for 3 to 4 minute. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Grill the tomato slices on a grill pan or simply sear them in a hot skillet. Remove and set aside.
Bring a medium saucepan of water to a gentle boil. Add the vinegar. Use a wooden spoon to carefully stir the water into a circular "whirlpool." Crack one egg into the water and allow it to swirl around in the water until the egg begins to set. Let it stay in the water for 2 minutes (I don't like too much runny yoke, so I cook longer), then remove it with a slotted spoon and set it on a plate. Repeat with the other egg. If eggs need to be cooked longer, just add them back to the water for 30 seconds at a time.

Spoon the vegetables on a plate or in a bowl and set the eggs on top. Lay the tomato slices on the side. Place the cheese slice on the side so that it starts to soften from the heat. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. When you cut the egg, the melted cheese and yoke make a great sauce.

Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper and serve!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer is Pie Time

We love pies in our house and our favorites are Blueberry and Lemon Meringue. I found this recipe in the newspaper in Ann Lander's advice column. Weird place to find a recipe, but it is the most fail-proof Lemon Meringue recipe I have found. I cut out the recipe and it is getting very frail! So I'm adding it here for when the newspaper crumbles.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1 baked and cooled 9 inch pie shell (I use Pillsbury pie crust - to help pie crust retain its shape while baking, add some type of weight in the middle such as a smaller pie plate with beans or rice in it.)
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups cold water
1/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (more if you like an Uber lemony taste)
3 egg yolks
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
2 teaspoons vinegar
3 tablespoons butter

MERINGUE

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
3 egg whites
7 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 pinch salt
Directions:
In a double boiler, or a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together; add in the 2 cups COLD water. In a small cup/bowl,combine the egg yolks with lemon juice; whisk until well mixed. Add to the sugar cornstarch mixture; whisk until mixed. Cook and mix/whisk until mixture thickens (about 6-7 minutes, do not over-boil mixture or it will not set properly), if you are making in a saucepan, be careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan, a double-boiler is definitely recommended for this. Remove from heat. Add/mix in the lemon extract, butter and vinegar; stir thoroughly. Pour the lemon mixture into cooled pie shell; set aside to make meringue.
To make meringue:
A quick tip: I put my Kitchen Aid stainless steel bowl in the freezer with the whisk attachment.  Also, you may think the cornstarch mixture is strange, but it helps make a glossy, fool-proof meringue that browns wonderfully.

Blend/whisk the cornstarch and cold water in a small saucepan. Add in boiling water, and cook, stirring until clear and thickened. Let mixture stand until COMPLETELY COLD. With an electric mixer at high speed, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add in sugar, and beat until stiff but not dry. Turn mixer to low speed; add in pinch salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the cold cornstarch mixture. Turn mixer again to high; beat well. Spread/pile meringue over cooled pie filling, making certain to seal the meringue to the baked crust.

Set oven to 350°F, and bake for 10 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned.



Friday, June 7, 2013

Risotto - Not for the faint of heart

Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms

I love risotto. It is a creamy, decadent dish that we don't enjoy often, but when we do, it is a pleasure. I would have to say that making risotto is not for the beginner cook.  It takes patience and skill, so you may end up making it more than once before it truly turns out.

Recipe

1  16 ounce package of Risotto arborio rice (I use Bellino)
46 ounces of chicken broth
1 small chopped onion
3 Tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
My additions:
1/2 cup of white wine
2 Tablespoons of butter
1 package of sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of asparagus *See recipe for roasting below.
1/4 to 1/2 cup of ricotta (I use my homemade ricotta)

Cook according to package directions!  This is very important to keep a watchful eye on the risotto and make sure your chicken broth is hot while you stir it in.  You want the risotto to be al dente (firm to bite)

I also add just before the risotto is done
1/2 cup of white wine (I use Chardonnay)
2 Tablespoons butter

While the risotto is cooking, I saute 1 package of mushrooms in olive oil.  Then I add roasted asparagus.  You could saute with the mushrooms (add after the mushrooms have started browning)

*If you want the dish to be extra special, roast the asparagus that has been tossed with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper, and 2 cloves of minced garlic. Cook at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.  When done, cut in 1 inch pieces and mix in the finished risotto with the mushrooms. The final touch is to mix in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of ricotta. This adds a creamy texture and great flavor.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Different Type of Birthday Cake!

Beautiful Birthday Cake

A coworker made this and I wanted to duplicate for my mother-in-law's birthday.  I made some changes because I know she doesn't have a huge sweet tooth. But the cake still turned out delish!


1 box yellow cake mix
1 cream cheese frosting (I use Pillsbury)
2 pints fresh strawberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
1/4 cup raspberry jam
40 Kit Kat pieces (the individual piece, not a "bar" and buy extra)
Ribbon

Preheat to 350 degrees. Make cake according to the box directions. This recipe will only use one 8 or 9 inch round cake. I used the rest for cupcakes. While the cake is cooking, clean strawberries and blueberries. I slice the strawberries so it is easier to eat (this is a deviation from the original recipe). Gently mix together and place in a bowl, cover with plastic rap and set aside.

When cool enough to remove from pan, place on a cooling rack. I gently cut the top to make it flat. Heat up raspberry jam, be careful not to burn. I used the microwave for about 30 seconds. With a pastry brush, spread the hot jam on the top of the cake. If you do this while it is warm, it will soak in nicely. (This step is a deviation from the original recipe.)

When cake is finally cooled, place on a flat plate with enough of an edge to line the cake with Kit Kats. On the edge of the cake only, spread with the cream cheese frosting. While the frosting is still fresh, push one Kit Kat vertically until you have circled the entire cake. Secure with a ribbon. I use the curling wrapping ribbon. Fill the well that has been made by the Kit Kat bars with the strawberries and blueberries - Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Biscuits!

I love bread, biscuits, biscotti, pasta, carbs!  I found this great biscuit recipe on Pinterest and I have made it so many times. Each time I do, they disappear fast.

I have even used them for strawberry shortcake and the are so light and fluffy, they are perfect for theMonster Mama
From Monster Mama
dessert. Of course I can't find the original pin, but I did find the recipe at

Biscuits
2 cups of Bisquick
1/2 cup of sour cream ( I use lite sour cream)
1/2 cup of 7 UP ( I don't know if Sprite or Sierra Mist will work)
1/4 cup of butter

Pre heat oven to 425 degrees. In a 9 x 9 baking dish, melt butter. Mix Bisquick and sour cream until just incorporated. Add 7 UP and mix. Will be a stick batter.  Sprinkle a little Bisquick onto the counter and gently knead dough so that you make a 9 x 9 square.  Pre cut and lay on top of butter.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes and they should be golden brown. Watch out, they will fly off the plate!