Sunday, August 28, 2011

Possibly the Best Zuchini Ever and Croque Monsieur Light

Simple, easy, and oh, so tasty!

Best Zucchini Ever:

Make an aluminum foil packet with sliced zucchini, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, and a pat of earth balance spread.  Cover with a generous sprinkling of Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle.

Place the pack on the grill and cook until the vegetables become soft and are beginning to brown.  For the last 5 minutes, top with a thick layer of Gruyere cheese.  Cook until melted.  Enjoy!  Best thing- nothing to clean up after!

I served this with grilled chicken breasts and pasta with marinara sauce.

Um, so what is Gruyere cheese?

Last week, we went out to eat and I chose a sandwich on the menu called a "Croque Monsieur."  If you ever have a chance, order one.  It's very cheesy, creamy, and tasty.  I wanted to recreate it at home, but with less calories and cream, so this is the Croque Monsieur Light:
  • one large french baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • one package of black forest ham (I like the Applegate Farms uncured ham)
  • about a cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
  • Earth Balance spread
I began by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  I sliced the baguette lengthwise and laid it open faced on a cookie sheet.  I spread a thin layer of Earth Balance on top, then placed the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes until it was toasty.  I placed the ham slices on top of the bread, topped it with a layer of shredded Gruyere, and put it back into oven for a few minutes until the cheese began to melt.  I finished it off in the broiler for about a minute until the cheese began to bubble.

The kids ate and ate and ate.  I served it with chicken veggie soup (recipe to come), and apple-cherry sauce.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Baking? Who, me?

I'm not much of a baker.  I love baked goods, but don't get a lot of pleasure from baking for myself.  As I've mentioned, I don't really enjoy following recipes because it doesn't feel "creative" enough for me. 

But...I will admit that I have a teensy-weensy bit of the baking bug this summer.  Mainly it's out of necessity as it's difficult to find store-bought baked goods that don't have mile long, unpronounceable ingredient lists, and trans fats.

I have gotten better at adapting and changing recipes a wee bit to make them a little heartier and healthier.  Here are a few baking highlights that I wanted to share!

Chocolate-Chip Raspberry Muffins

I followed this basic muffin recipe: 

But used 1 cup of whole wheat flour and one cup of white flour, a cup of fresh from the bucket raspberries, a handful of chocolate chips (gotta trick Bryce into eating them somehow!), and about 1/4 cup of ground flax seed.  The result?  Yum.  I can't wait to see if Bryce will actually eat them tomorrow morning!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

Basic recipe: 

I substituted the white flour with all whole wheat flour.  I topped the pizza with a variety of fresh bucket veggies and three cheeses- fresh sliced mozzarella, crumbled feta, and fresh Parmesan.  The secret to a good pizza is fresh mozzarella- the slimy, wet looking stuff that comes in a ball.  Oh, and fresh basil!

I forgot to snap a picture before we demolished most of the pizza!

Strawberry-Raspberry Pie

Shhh...I cheated on this one by buying a Pillsbury pie crust and adapting a basic pie recipe I found online. 

The filling was quite simple, 
  • 4 1/2 cups of fresh berries.  I used a mix of strawberries and raspberries (from the bucket!).  But, I'm sure it would be good with some blueberries or blackberries, too!
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of Penzey's Arrowroot Starch
Toss these ingredients into a large bowl until the berries are coated in the sugar starch mix.  Put the filling into the crust.  Cover the edges with aluminum foil and bake at 375 for 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sausage Infused Egg Sandwiches

Last weekend I wanted to make breakfast for the family.  I'm always trying to figure out ways to get the kids to eat eggs.  This was my latest attempt!

Sausage Infused Egg Sandwiches:

I started by frying up ground pork breakfast sausage (I used the Seeds and Spores kind).  I added chopped kale, mushrooms, and onion to the sausage (all from the bucket).  I would've added more vegetables if I'd had more, but I was getting low!  This recipe would be even better with peppers, zucchini, tomatoes, etc added in!

In a separate bowl, I scrambled together 3 farm fresh eggs.  When the meat was fully cooked, I put a few spoonfuls of it into the eggs and added salt and pepper.  This mixture went into the magic bullet until the sausage was very finely chopped into the eggs. 

This is the fun part!

First, I got a small frying pan very hot and coated it with cooking spray.  As a mold, I used an all metal cookie cutter, sprayed with cooking spray.  I would've used a round one, but all I had was a gingerbread man-lol.   I poured the egg mixture into the cookie cutter and waited for it to form and egg patty.

Gingerbread egg boy- ha ha

I flipped it over halfway through to cook both sides.  The end result was a roundish, but not gingerbread shaped egg patty.

I served the egg patties on a toasted whole-grain bagel and topped with a slice of cheddar.  We served our breakfast sandwiches with fresh blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and watermelon from the farmer's market.  Not bad for a crazy experiment.

Lasagna a la Bucket

Sorry, it's been a long time since I posted a recipe!  I'll try to play catch-up this week.  Life's been a bit crazy, but we enjoyed a fantastic weekend as a family, renting out a cabin in the middle of nowhere!  Anyhow, here's tonight's dinner, Lasagna a la bucket!

Lasagna A La Bucket!

The Meat Sauce

In a large sauce pan, I added:
  • 2 small onions, chopped (from the bucket)
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced (from the bucket)
  • 1 pound of pork Italian sausage- I used the kind from Seeds and Spores
  • splash of olive oil
I cooked these ingredients until the meat was fully cooked, then added:
  • 3 bunches of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 5 diced tomatoes (from the bucket)
  • chopped fresh basil (from the bucket)
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • a half cup of chicken broth
  • a dash of Penzey's Black and Red and Italian Seasoning
  • a splash of white wine
This meat/sauce mixture boiled on the stove until the tomatoes became soft and mushy.
 Fresh ingredients make better food!
 The sauce, as it began to simmer

The Cheese Mixture:
In a separate bowl I combined:
  • 1 container of ricotta cheese
  • 1 bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • a generous sprinkle of grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs
 The cheese mixture

Putting the Lasagna together:

I boiled a large pot of water on the stove and began by cooking the whole wheat lasagna noodles 6 at a time for about 5 minutes.  I lined the bottom of the baking dish with a thin layer of marinara sauce.  I used Organicville brand, which is the best jarred marinara I have found! 
 Step One

When the first batch of noodles was ready, I layered 4 across the bottom of the pan, then covered the noodles with a layer of the cheese mixture, then a layer of the meat/tomato sauce mixture. 
Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

I repeated these steps until all of the noodles were used up and then topped the whole thing with the rest of the jar of marinara.  I wouldn't have necessarily needed to use the marinara sauce and could've just used more of my homemade meat sauce, I was just trying to use up the open jar that we had left from our weekend "camping" adventure and was trying to avoid my lasagna being too meaty.

I can't even speak for the results yet, as everything is assembled, but nothing is cooked or eaten yet!  I'll have to update the deliciousness later.  I do plan to stick it in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes-hour, covered with tin foil.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Simple Summer Supper-with only 12 ingredients!

Tonight's supper was simple to cook and simple to clean up after!  I was busy around the house and didn't even realize it was 5:45 until my stomach started to growl.  By 6:20, we were enjoying our supper and by 7:00, we were cleaned up.

Broiled Porkchops:
  1. butterfly cut porkchops
  2. light sprinkling of garlic salt
  3. Penzey's Bicentennial Rub
Broil or grill until fully cooked and browned on both sides.  Flip halfway through cooking.

Brown Rice: 
(I hesitate to call it "brown rice" because it's really long grain white rice, browned with crisco.  Not exactly health food, but oh so tasty.  You could make this recipe with brown rice, it would just take a lot longer).
    4. 2 tablespoons of Crisco
    5. long grain rice
    6. chicken broth

Melt the Crisco in a frying pan and add the rice.  Fry the rice until it becomes light brown.  Do not overcook!  Add chicken broth, cover, and simmer.  You will need to check the rice frequently and add more chicken broth until the rice is fully cooked.

Sauteed Zucchini and Patty Pan Squash

    7. sliced zucchini and patty pan squash (from the bucket)
    8. sliced onions(from the bucket)
    9.  Earth Balance spread
   10. generous coating of Penzey's Brady Street Cheese Sprinkle

Cherry Applesauce - I always have to have applesauce with my porkchops!
    11.  sliced apples
    12.  cherries, chopped and pitted

A few weeks ago I had some apples and cherries that were starting to turn bad in the fridge.  I stuck them in the Magic Bullet until pureed.  I portioned it in the freezer and saved it for just the right meal!  Bailey ate TONS of it.  I had to cut her off.

!2 ingredients, 3 pans, and one simple, delicious, kid friendly meal!

Dessert was even simpler- ice cream cones at "The Big Cow," aka Jilberts!

Mexican Goulash

If you haven't noticed, most of my recipes end up with either a Mexican or Italian flair, and usually involve cheese.  This recipe combines the best of both worlds!

I have to credit my mom on this one, as it's a spin on a recipe she used to make for us growing up <3

Mexican Goulash

In a frying pan I cooked:
  • onions (from the bucket)
  • chopped chard (from the bucket)
  • 1 pound of grass-fed ground beef
When the meat was fully cooked, I added 4 spoonfuls of Penzey's Bold Taco seasoning and a few ounces of water.

In a separate pot I boiled a bag of whole wheat gobetti noodles, but, of course any shape would work fine.

While those things were cooking, in the casserole dish I added:
  • 2 (regular sized) cans of diced tomatoes
  • one can of corn
  • 3/4 of a bag of shredded cheddar
I then added the cooked meat mixture and the pasta into the casserole dish, stirred it well, and poured in about 2 cups of chicken broth.

I baked it, covered, at 350 degrees for about an hour.  10 minutes before it was ready, I uncovered the casserole and topped it with the rest of the shredded cheddar and crushed tortilla chips. 

Simple, very tasty, and the best part- it can be made ahead of time (ahem, nap time) and then tossed in the oven an hour before dinner!

Before cooking

Dinner's ready!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tomato Cream Soup and Italian Chef's Salad

What better on a hot summer night than tomato soup, right?  Well...maybe not, but what else can you do with a bunch of tomatoes and carrots that have seen their better days?  So, here you have it (file it away until fall if you must), Tomato Cream Soup.

 the inspiration veggies

Tomato Cream Soup

I started by slicing and dicing some veggies that were in my fridge, and sauteing them together with a spoon of Earth Balance:
  • onions (from the bucket)
  • celery
  • garlic clove
  • carrots (from the bucket)
After the veggies were softening up, I added 4 tomatoes- diced with the skin on, and a handful of chopped basil leaves.  When the tomatoes began to get mushy, I added about 2 cups of chicken broth, a cup of half and half, and a splash of white wine.  I also added roughly a quarter cup of freshly grated Parmesan and Romano.  The seasonings were fairly simple, Penzey's Black and Red, Penzey's Italian Seasoning, salt, and ground black pepper.

I kept tasting the soup as it simmered, thinking that it needed a bit more flavor.  I kept adding salt a little at a time, but ended up with it too salty.  I think it became more flavorful as it simmered, so next time I would add less salt, but overall it was chunky, fresh, rich, and delicious!

 simmering on the stove

topped with fresh basil

And, because the meal needed a little more protein, I served it with a hearty salad

Italian Chef's Salad
  • mixed greens
  • sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
  • pepperoni
  • hard boiled egg
  • dressing- a simple mix of 1/3 salad vinegar to 2/3 olive oil seasoned with salt and fresh pepper

    The bread in the picture was a baguette (from Marquette Bakery) sliced lengthwise, topped with Earth Balance, garlic salt, and fresh parsley (from the bucket) and broiled in the oven until brown.  A tasty, light, but not exactly summery meal.