Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chocolate Custard Ice Cream

This is AWESOME, and in no way shape or form healthy...BUT, since it is something we only do occasionally, I deem it OK and do NOT tweak this one at all!

5 C milk (2% or whole works best)
5 oz bakers chocolate, melted
2 1/2 C sugar
5 TBSP flour
3/4 tsp salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
5 C heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract (I use real Mexican vanilla, and so can dial it back)

Scald milk over low heat, while melting chocolate (I use a mix of Semi-Sweet and Unsweetened squares).  As milk is heating up and scalding, mix together the sugar, salt, and flour in a large pot.  Beat eggs and add to dry ingredients.  Once milk is scalded and chocolate is melted, add chocolate into milk and mix thoroughly.  Slowly pour chocolate milk over egg mix, stirring constantly.  Cook egg and chocolate mixture over low heat until it coats the spoon.  Remove from heat and chill in fridge.  Add cream and vanilla and mix gently to incorporate.  Place in your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer's instructions.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Banana Beet Chocolate Muffins

My little guy was in the mood for muffins, and he wasn't thrilled with my banana muffin experiment that contained crystallized ginger, and he was most definitely in the mood for chocolate.  So I decided to see what I could do to make a mostly healthy chocolate muffin.  I searched the internet for ideas, and ended up only using the basic ratio for dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Everything else came from my imagination, so you are getting a baked-once-tried-once recipe.  Feel free to tweak it as desired.  I bet you could hide a LOT of veggies in here.

1/4 c. ground Flax seed
1/2 c. Quick Oats
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 c. Unbleached All Purpose Flour
1/2 c. Sucanat
1/4 c. Brown Sugar
3/4 c. Cocoa
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
3/4 c. Chocolate Chips
3 Eggs
1/2 c. + 2 T. Plain Yogurt
1/2 c. mashed Banana (one medium-large banana)
3/4 c. pureed Beets
3/4 c. Milk
1/3 c. Canola Oil
1 tsp. Vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease 2 muffin tins (enough to give you 24 muffins).

2. In a large mixing bowl, mix:  flax, oats, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well combined.  Then stir in chocolate chips.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs.  Add mashed banana, pureed beets, milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.  Stir well to combine.

4. Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredient mix, and stir gently until ingredients are completely combined.  Using a large cookie scoop, fill muffin tins.  (You'll probably fill them 1/2 to 2/3 full.)

5. Bake muffins 15-18 minutes, or until they begin to smell good and a toothpick comes out clean.  (A good tip is that they are most likely ready just 2-4 minutes after they start smelling delectable.)  Cool in pan for 3-5 minutes, and then gently remove and place on cooling rack.  Enjoy!

*May be wrapped and frozen for 3 months.
*I used beets harvested from last summer's garden.  You can too!  Just roast peeled beets and puree them using a bit of water, if needed.  Freeze in 3/4 cup portions in plastic bags to throw into any recipe you like!
*Next time, I'm totally throwing in some zucchini.  You could also use mashed sweet potato in place of the banana.  And I may even decrease the sugar a bit.  It's perfectly yummy as-is, but if it's possible to reduce the sugar while keeping the yumminess factor, why not?!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Gluten Free Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

After trying a cookie recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess which turned out to be deliciously delectable, I decided to get brave and try to tweak my own Double Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and make it gluten free.

My first try turned out pretty good, and chocolate is a wonderful way to cover up the taste of some of the healthier gluten free flours.  So while you can't call this a "health food" because of the sheer amount of butter, you can rest assured that you're still getting good fiber, protein, and a few nutrients like Vitamin C and Iron.  Combine that with chocolate, and I think you've got a win-win situation.  =)

Like any experiment, you can tweak this to your heart's desire and see what works best for your own family.

1/2 c. Tapioca Flour
Scant 1/2 c. Buckwheat Flour
1/3 c. Amaranth Flour
1/3 c. Millet Flour
1/3 c. Sorghum Flour
2 tsp. Xanthan Gum
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Salt
1/3 c. Cocoa
1 c. Butter
1 c. Brown Sugar (I bet you could lessen this a bit.)
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 Eggs, beaten with a fork
2 T. Milk
2 c. Chocolate Chips (I used mini ones.)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  (The Gluten Free Goddess has you line your cookie sheets with a Silpat or parchment paper for her recipes because she says the GF cookies have a tendency to scorch.  So to be on the safe side, I used parchment paper for this experiment.)

2. Mix flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt, and cocoa together in a medium bowl.  Set aside

3. Cream butter and sugar in mixer.

4.  Add in vanilla, eggs, olive oil, and milk to creamed mixture and mix well on medium speed.

5. Slowly add in small amounts of flour mixture and mix well until fully combined and a smooth dough has formed.  (I cover my stand mixer with a towel during this part so I don't get flying flour everywhere.)

6.  Stir in chocolate chips until evenly incorporated into the dough.

7. Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Gently flatten a bit with a spatula or your fingers.  (If the fact that the dough likes to stick is driving you crazy, just moisten your fingers or the spatula a bit with some cold water.)  

8. Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes.  (It's really important to know the temperature of your oven when you're dealing with GF baking, so it's a good idea to keep an inexpensive oven thermometer hanging on the top rack at the back of your oven.)  Leave the cookies on the tray for 3-4 minutes to finish setting up, and then gently remove them to a cooling rack.  You'll be tempted to leave them in the oven longer because they will look like they need more time, but trust me.  If you just let them rest on the pan for 3-4 minutes, they will finish setting up while still remaining chewy and delectable inside.

***My cookie scoop is fairly big, so this made exactly 24 cookies.  As soon as the first batch cooled, I wrapped them in foil and put them inside a gallon ziploc freezer bag.  Gluten free cookies are known for drying out more quickly than ones made with wheat.  So we only keep what we'll eat in 1-2 days out, and freeze the rest to take out as needed.

***My second experiment will include quinoa flour, and I'll probably increase the amount of amaranth flour.  Coconut flour is one of our favorites to bake with too, though not as nutritious as amaranth.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Creamy Broccoli Lentil Soup

I found this recipe for "Creamy Broccoli Lentil Soup" on epicurious.com.  The changes I made are in blue.

1 ½ tbsp (22.5 mL) extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp (10 mL) crushed garlic (3 cloves minced)
¾ cup (85 mL) chopped onion (closer to 1 c... about 1/2 a large yellow onion)
1 large carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried basil
3 cups (750 mL) chopped broccoli (1 large head)
¾ cup (85 mL) dried green lentils
4 cups (1 L) low sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp (30 mL) parmesan cheese, grated (2 tsp)
Optional: 2 green onions, chopped (for garnish)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add onions and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.
3. Add the carrots, celery and basil and cook for a few more minutes until the spices coat them nicely.
4. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour covered, covered.
6. Using a wand blender, puree till smooth. Garnish with green onions if desired.
Makes three 2 cup (500 mL) servings. Freeze some portions for workdays on the run.
This soup is delicious.  It ended up a lot thicker than I expected, perhaps I left too much of the stalks on the broccoli, but why waste perfectly good broccoli?  I tried using a hand mixer because I don't own a wand blender, and it was still too chunky for my texture-finicky children.  So I pulled out the handy ninja blender and pureed it, adding about 2 more cups of water, then returning it to heat some more on the stove.  I think fresh basil would be even better than the dried.  We ate our soup with some oyster crackers, and my 3 1/2 year old apparently mistook it for "guacamole soup."  Nope, sorry son, it wasn't guacamole. (At least he liked it!)  It reminded me of a very rich split pea soup without the ham flavor.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Eastertide Gluten Free Chocolate Bliss

Today I had such high hopes for a delectable dinner and dessert. I had it pictured in my head that my braised lamb and Greek meal would rival that of our favorite Greek restaurant. Well, it didn't quite meet my expectations, though my husband thought it was delicious. But I still think the gluten free pita bread recipe I used must have had fake comments, because there is no way my results looked anything like the original. It was more like naan, decidedly chewy, and a really sad waste of a really expensive flour blend. Most of our meals cost less than $8 total, which is saying something since we have to deal with Canadian prices. But this meal cost as much as a restaurant meal would cost, so the results weren't making my heart leap for joy by any stretch of the imagination. Still, my hubby was happy. So I guess that means something. Right?

Thankfully, dessert was delectable. It was easy to make, and it was a delicious combination of flour-free cake and chocolate mousse. Even better was the fact that the recipe actually said it would essentially look messy. I can do imperfect. And this? This dessert is perfect imperfection. Or would that be imperfect perfection? Who knows? All I can say is that it is the perfect Easter dessert, especially when children are involved. And it's yummy enough for even the most grown-up of adults.

Thank you, Nigella Lawson. You are my hero.

This recipe is from Nigella's Feast cookbook, American edition, page 169. She says it serves 8-10. I'd say it serves about 6-8 if you have a chocolate lover in there. ;)

Ingredients for the cake:
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
6 eggs; 2 whole, 4 separated (keep both parts!!!!)
1/3 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup sugar (1/3 cup for yolks, 1/2 cup for whites)

Ingredients for topping:
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
several Cadbury mini Robin's eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. LIne the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. Do not grease the sides of the pan.

2. Melt the 8 oz. chocolate with the butter in the microwave and stir until smooth. Allow to cool a bit.

3. In a stand mixer, whisk the four egg whites until firm, and then gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and whisk until the whites are holding their shape and the peaks are shiny but not stiff.

4. In a separate bowl, whisk two whole eggs and four egg yolks with 1/3 cup sugar and vanilla. Gently fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Put a dollop of the egg white mixture into the bowl and stir to combine. Then gently fold in the rest of the whisked egg whites. Nigella says it should take about three stirs, but it took me a few more.

5. Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked but not wobbly on the surface. Cool in pan on wire rack. The middle will sink as it cools and the sides will crack. Do not freak out. This is supposed to happen. Ah, the beauty of purposeful imperfection.

6. Remove the cooled cake from the pan, and gently separate from the parchment paper with a large spatula. Carefully slide onto a cake platter. Nigella says not to worry if bits fall off and to put them back in a loose fashion. Remember, you're trying to make a bird's nest here. Smooth perfection is NOT what you want.

7. Melt the 4 oz. chocolate and set aside to cool. Whip the cream until you basically have a whipped cream consistency. Gently fold in the vanilla, and then fold in the melted chocolate.

8. Spread the chocolate whipped cream on the top of the chocolate cake, smoothing all the way to the edge with a spatula, taking care not to squash out all the air in the mousse mixture. Decorate with candy eggs.

9. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat. Leftovers will keep for a day or two.

Thank you, Nigella. You are helping me forget the rest of my kitchen experience today. Well, you, and the lovely Pinot Grigio I picked out from Trader Joe's. Beautiful combination.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Gluten-Free Cinnamon Buns

Also from Mennonite Girls Can Cook

  • 1 1/3 C (325 mL) warm milk
  • 2 tsp (20 g) sugar
  • 2 tsp (10 g) unflavored gelatin
  • 3 TBSP (40 g) active dry yeast
  • 1/4 C (55 g) butter, softened
  • 1/2 C (100 g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp (8 mL) vanilla
  • 1 C (150 g) potato starch
  • 3/4 C (105 g) cornstarch
  • 1/2 C (66 g) white bean flour
  • 1 C (132 g) white corn flour
  • 3/4 tsp (6 g) salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp (10 g) xanthan gum
  • sweet rice flour
Filling Ingredients:
  • butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 C (300 g) brown sugar
  • 2 tsp (5 g) cinnamon
  • 2/3 C (100 g) nuts, chopped (optional)
  1. Mix together in a cup, the 2 tsp sugar and gelatin. Add warm milk and stir. Add yeast, stir again, and let proof until doubled
  2. While waiting for yeast mixture to double, beat butter, add 1/2 C sugar, beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla.
  3. Mix in proofed yeast.
  4. Mix together dry ingredients and add all at once. Beat on high for 2 - 3 minutes.
  5. Tape down plastic wrap to counter and sprinkle with rice flour. Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and knead lightly, using only enough rice flour to make the dough not sticky.
  6. Roll out to 24 x 10 inches (60 x 25 cm). Spread lightly with softened butter.
  7. Mix brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts and spread over the buttered dough, pressing lightly to set it on surface.
  8. Loosen plastic wrap, lifting to make easier to roll up dough. Starting on long edge, roll dough as tightly as possible.
  9. Pinch the edge of the roll, then cut into 24 slices that are about 1 inch thick, laying carefully in large baking dish, barely touching.
  10. Let rise about 40 minutes.
  11. Bake at 375 F/190 C until nicely browned.
  12. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes.
  13. Spread with icing/glaze while warm, if desired.

Gluten-Free Pizza Crust

Since I know many people in my world who are suffering from Gluten intolerance issues, or just trying to avoid eating gluten-laden foods, I thought I'd share this!!! I myself, suffer from a metabolic issue with wheat - not an allergy, not Celiac, but my body just doesn't metabolize wheat the way most others do.

From "Mennonite Girls Can Cook" cookbook:

  • 1/2 C (75 mL) warm water
  • 1 tsp (7 g) sugar
  • 1 tsp (6g) gelatin
  • 1 rounded TBSP (10 g) active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) olive oil
  • 1/4 C (60 mL) milk
  • 1/2 C (70 g) white bean flour
  • 1/4 C (40 g) millet flour
  • 1/2 C (80g ) potato starch
  • 1/4 C (30 g) tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp (10 g) xanthan gum
  • 1/2 tsp (5 g) salt
  • sweet rice flour for rolling
  • cornmeal for dusting pan
  1. Mix 1 tsp sugar and 1 tsp gelatin in cup. Whisk in warm water and then yeast. Set the cup into a warm water bath to keep warm. Let proof until doubled.
  2. Pour oil and milk into mixer bowl, add proofed yeast and mix lightly.
  3. Blend dry ingredients well, add all at once to liquid mixture.
  4. Mix on low until blended, then mix on high for 3 minutes.
  5. Turn out on floured surface, knead lightly. (use your rice flour here!!)
  6. Roll out to form a 13 inch/33 cm circle. Roll edge under to form a thicker crust edge.
  7. Cut some parchment paper to fit your pizza/baking pan and dust with cornmeal.
  8. Carefully transfer rolled crust to parchment paper.
  9. Bake at 400 F/ 205 C for 20 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven, cool slightly, spread with sauce and toppings.
  11. Bake another 20 minutes or until pizza is done (melted cheese, hot through). If your edges brown too quickly, cover with foil strips.
I've not made this particular recipe yet, but I do know that the ladies who penned this book are awesome! So far, I've loved every one we've tried...

ALSO - a note for pizza making - I will pre-cook most of my toppings! Things like peppers or onions get sauteed or steamed briefly to help them be not quite so crunchy, and your pizza not be too soggy from the moisture level of the veggies! Obviously, if you're using ground meat, you'd want to season/brown it and drain it well first...cured meats like pepperoni or prosciutto don't need cooked.

We've also recently discovered the intense flavor of artichoke hearts on our pizza! A great way to boost flavor without having to use tons of cheese (if you're into avoiding fat or lots of cheese for some reason...)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gluten Free Salted Fudge Bliss in a Brownie

I almost hesitate to post this here. I mean, my salted fudge brownies are to-die-for, and now that I've triumphed in making them gluten free, well, it seems like it should be a top secret thing. But no, my friends, if you have to be gluten free and you happen to adore chocolate baking, this is a sweet surprise. I still hope to experiment with switching out some of the butter for squash and a few other tweaks to make it super healthy but still blissfully delicious, but it is perfect for sharing right now in its gluten free state.

Without further ado, here is my one pot wonder for your tasting pleasure.......

3/4 c. butter
2 oz. chocolate, chopped
6 T. cocoa
1 c. white sugar (I've actually used sucanat with success in its place)
1/2 c. brown sugar (yellow sugar in Canada)
3 eggs, beaten with fork
1.5 tsp. vanilla
1/6 c. sorghum flour
1/6 c. GF millet flour
1/6 c. tapioca flour (also sometimes labeled tapioca starch - same thing)
1/2 c. brown rice flour
scant 1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and grease foil lined 8" dish.

2. Melt butter and chocolate over low heat in medium sauce pan, stirring to combine well.

3. Remove butter and chocolate mixture from heat, and stir in cocoa and sugar until well blended.

4. Stir in lightly beaten eggs and vanilla until evenly incorporated.

5. Combine flours and xanthan gum in a small bowl, and then pour into sauce pan mixture. Stir gently to fully combine.

6. Pour batter into prepared pan and sprinkle half of the salt evenly over top of batter, and swirl through the batter with a knife. Then sprinkle remaining salt on top. (I confess to using more than 1/2 tsp. at times.)

7. Bake for 28-30 minutes. You want the edges to be set, but the center to be soft. (Soft does not mean soupy. I keep a thermometer in my oven at all times, so 28 minutes at exactly 350 worked well for me.) Don't bother testing with a toothpick because it will come out coated.

8. Cool in pan for a couple of hours. Gently ease foil out of pan and place on plate in refrigerator for a couple more hours. (It's okay to leave the foil on the cooling rack covered by a tea towel overnight instead.) Resist the urge to cut into them too soon, and give them time to completely set up. (And yes, I totally broke that rule in order to take a picture for you.) Cut into one inch pieces of bliss and enjoy.

You're welcome. =)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Gluten Free Pizza Link for You

So a few days ago after talking about it and wondering about it for a few months, my husband decided to go gluten free. Ironically, I had a loaf of bread and two hamburger buns made out of whole wheat flour cooling on my counter at the moment he said it. But anything to help him stay awake long enough each day to actually work and later on to play with our son seemed like it was worth trying.

I don't know if this will be a permanent lifestyle change, or if it's just temporary. But I do know that long-term success depends entirely on how well I adapt our favorite foods to be gluten free. I'll only be compliant if it's yummy and not making me feel all deprived. (Maybe that's why I had issues with wearing my head gear and retainers as a kid? Maybe they should have been chocolate flavored?)

Tonight was my first attempt to create a dish that is usually made with wheat in a gluten free manner. Man cannot live on meat and veggies, nor corn chips alone after all. I didn't realize I was jumping in the gluten free baking deep end until halfway through, so if I can accomplish this, apparently I can accomplish much more than I imagined. (But I'm still mourning the loss of wheat in our diets, even though I'm not a fan of looking six months pregnant after a bowl of pasta. Hopefully, I'll get over it soon enough.

I already knew the one trustworthy source I'd go to, and I was not disappointed. No, it's not wheat, and it's not my perfect homemade dough for the amazing pizza I love to make. But I have to admit that it is good enough to make again. My only comments on her recipe would be to follow it exactly as she says and pay attention to the note she includes with the instructions on forming the dough. As long as you remind yourself not to freak out, you'll be okay. In my case, I realized after my first try that I should have been brave enough to keep working with the dough a bit more to spread it out a bit more thinly. I didn't realize how much it would still rise, and I think this kind of crust is better if it's just a bit thinner. Oh, and after greasing the pan, instead of using gluten free flour to coat it, I used cornmeal as I usually do.

For our toppings, we just used traditional pizza sauce, and then I added kale, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and pepper that had been sauteed in a teensy bit of olive oil and salted. (It's important to saute your veggies so they are cooked enough since her baking times a lot shorter than traditional wheat dough times. At least that's my opinion.) Then I added some leftover avocado and pineapple before topping with cheese.You can find the link for the just about perfect pizza dough recipe by the Gluten Free Goddess.

You'll have to excuse me now. I need to go try to make some gluten free salted fudge brownies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Not-Too-Sweet No-Bake Cookies

So I wanted a chocolate fix, and I had a kid over at my house who wanted to bake something while her mother was at a meeting. But there are no eggs in my refrigerator currently, which kind of puts a cramp in my baking style. (We really need to put chickens in our landlord's backyard. I'm sure he'd love it.)

No-Bake cookies can be a decent idea when these two factors come into play, but most often the ones I have had taste more of sickeningly sweet white sugar and cheap chocolate. After reading up on a bunch of different versions, I decided to come up with my own. I have to say it turned out pretty yummy, so it seemed like a good idea to share it here. It's easy and quick, and you'll have your chocolate fix in minutes. Plus you can feel all giddy inside because most recipes called for another 1/2 cup of sugar and double the butter. You can almost feel yourself getting skinnier just reading the recipe. =)

*****When I say "loosely packed" it means that you just take your 1/2 cup measuring cup and scoop it into your ingredient without packing it down or leveling it perfectly.

1.5 c. Brown Sugar (or Yellow Sugar if you are in Canada) loosely packed
1/2 c. loosely packed Cocoa
1/2 c. 1% Milk
1/4 c. Butter
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Salt
2/3 c. (heaping) Natural Crunchy Peanut Butter
2.75 c. Quick Oats
1 c. Shredded Unsweetened Coconut

1. In medium sauce pan, melt butter and peanut butter together over medium low heat.

2. Add in sugar, vanilla, salt, milk, and cocoa and stir to combine. Bring to a light boil for just a minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

3. Add in oats and coconut, stirring to combine completely.

4. Using a small cookie scoop (about a tablespoon size), drop mixture on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Let set until solidified. If you are like me, eat two while the rest are setting up. Sigh contentedly that you have just eaten what could be argued as oatmeal with chocolate and peanut butter. Wonder if it could count as a healthy breakfast. I feel almost like saying "rinse, repeat" at this point. But I'll just say "the end".

Makes about 38 small cookies.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crunchy Orange Roughy

This was my latest "challenge" recipe...usually, with fish, I either batter and fry it, or douse it with lemon, EVOO, and seasonings, and bake it...this was something a tiny bit different. BB and I enjoyed it immensely, but the kiddos said they didn't like the coating. I think next time, I'll halve the oregano, and maybe try something like paprika or cayenne for a teensy bit of kick.

  • 1/3 C lemon juice (I used the bottled stuff, as fresh are out of budget right now)
  • 1 T EVOO (or other veggie oil)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 C instant mashed potato flakes (DO NOT USE THIS MUCH UNLESS YOU ARE COOKING FOR AN ARMY!!!! I cut it by half and still had a TON left over)
  • 4 - 6, 6oz roughy fillets, thawed, rinsed and patted dry
Preheat oven to 500 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray (I use my Pampered Chef mister and regular EVOO or corn oil).
Whisk together the lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, and oregano in a shallow container. Place fish fillets in container and set aside to marinate while oven heats and you prepare your side dishes.
To cook, dip the fish in the potato flakes, and place on lined baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

* - I misted the coated fish with some more EVOO, and baked it close to the heat to get a good golden, crispy coating. The fish actually took about 10 minutes per side, so I think the original recipe might have left that part out.

Regardless, this produces a good, juicy fish with a delicate lemon flavor. It was a bit overwhelmed by the oregano, which makes me think that next time, I'll try subbing something like dill, and adding that dash of cayenne.

We enjoyed this with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Poor Man's Toffee

I admit, I haven't been here in quite a while & I've felt a bit guilty about it.  I'm so glad to see the renewed interest in the site & I hope things keep clicking along they way they have of late.

While scrolling through I've loved seeing the healthy recipes & adaptations you all have posted...and now I'm going to ruin all our resolutions to eat better in this new year.  This recipe is floating about the ether in a few forms but this is my favorite thus far.

You will need:
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 to 1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers
1 to 1 1/2 cup good chocolate chips (I prefer Ghirardelli Milk Chocolate chips because they melt beautifully)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a heavy sauce pan, melt butter and brown sugar together & bring to a boil.  Boil for 3 minutes stirring often.

Line a jelly roll pan (or any sheet pan with sides) with aluminum foil and lay out saltines to cover the entire bottom of the pan. 

Pour butter & brown sugar mixture over the crackers & bake for 7 minutes.

After baking, remove from oven for 1-2 minutes then sprinkle with chocolate chips and return to oven for 1 minute.  Once chocolate chips have melted, spread chocolate over crackers with a spatula.  Let cool, then break apart or cut between crackers to eat.

Now, I will warn you, this stuff is rich and addictive.  I love it but can easily eat myself sick on it.  It's best made when you're going to have company to share it with.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Half Indulgent Penne

I was in the mood for a creamy alfredo type sauce tonight, and knew that my three year old would eat pasta (finally!). After figuring out was was available in frig, freezer, and pantry, I came up with this yummy, filling dish that caused my little boy to clean his plate and contemplate seconds. (This is a cause for celebration, just so you know.)

This dish is made up of a mish-mash of leftover bits and regular ingredients I keep in my kitchen, which you'll soon figure out when you see the amounts listed for the various cheeses. You can tweak it to fit what you have in your pantry and change up the amounts. Since my husband has been working on our landlord's barn for the past few weeks, I've served up some version of this for lunch about once a week. It really is a versatile dish and perfect for this winter weather.

At our house, we usually have Half and Half in the frig for my husband's tea, but we rarely have heavy cream. So that's what I most often use for this dish. Thus the name. I figure it's only half as fattening as it would be otherwise. And the tool that makes this super easy is a silicon Calphalon whisk that looks a bit like a spatula. (In other words, it's not a balloon whisk. But I don't know the exact name.) Happy cooking!

***This recipe easily serves 4. (We served two adults and one child, and have enough leftovers to have for tomorrow's lunch.)

1 Package Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry of water
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 c. Carrots, chopped
Handful of Asparagus Spears, ends snapped off and remainder cut into one inch pieces
1/4 c. Pine Nuts
2-3 T. Butter
2 c. Half & Half + some to get desired consistency (you could also use whole milk)
1/3 c. Grated Parmesan
1/3 c. Shredded Mozzarella
1 T. Cream Cheese
1/4 c. Basil Pesto (I make this in summer and freeze in cylindrical ice trays to use year round.)
Salt & Pepper to taste
2-3 cups Penne Pasta

1. Cook penne according to directions so that it is al dente. (I usually add in a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking.)

2. Melt butter in skillet and add in garlic with a bit of salt. Saute over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant and slightly softened. Add in cream cheese and basil pesto and whisk to melt.

3. Add in half & half and gently whisk to combine. Slowly add in parmesan and mozzarella, whisking to combine as it melts. Sprinkle in salt and pepper.

4. Add in spinach and stir. At this point, you may need to add more half & half to retain a good sauce consistency. You be the judge. As the spinach cooks, it will give off a bit of liquid, but if you've drained it well, it won't give off that much.

5. Add in carrots, asparagus, and pine nuts. Add in more salt and pepper if needed, according to your taste. Cover and simmer on low until pasta is cooked.

6. Drain pasta and pour into skillet. Toss creamy sauce mixture with pasta until it is well coated and distributed evenly on all the noodles. Serve & Enjoy!

7. If any leftovers remain, refrigerate. To warm up, just add in a bit of milk or cream and heat in microwave or in non-stick skillet over low heat on stove.

King Ranch Casserole Results

OK - the taste and textures of this casserole were good. All in all it won reviews from BB and myself. The kids? Not so much...but that was later determined to be due to a stomach bug that traveled through 3 of the 5 of us between dinner that night and Sunday afternoon.

Good times...

All in all, I will indeed make this recipe again. I think next time, I will use the "Mexican Cheese blend" they recommend - I had a block of Mild Cheddar that I used and it was a tad lackluster. Or maybe it could be spiced up a tad with some Pepper Jack mixed with the Cheddar? Hmmmmm...the fresh onion was simply not cut into small enough pieces for my taste - I am not one who enjoys crunching on tender-crisp onions - they should either be cooked through and caramelized, OR raw on my salad or sandwich. I just don't like that in-between stage...especially in a casserole...

I will also use low-sodium soups, or even attempt to make their recipes for Cream of Mushroom and Cream of Chicken soups. I had no stock on hand and used Swanson broth. Over all, it was a bit salty for my taste.

DO NOT substitute regular flour tortillas in this recipe! The corn tortillas give a good texture, and a sweet but robust flavor to the otherwise mild tastes.

I hope I'm not boring you all!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My chicken tortilla soup experiment

Coming soon. I'm such a tease.  But if we're friends on FB, I did post it there yesterday.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

King Ranch Casserole

As I approach my third straight week of "try something completely new" challenge, I am already finding myself gravitating towards recipes that are familiar - similar flavors and textures to those things I have in my arsenal. This King Ranch Casserole sounds really yummy, and I'm excited to try it out. Also, it will use up the rest of that package of corn tortillas I bought for the Mexican Lasagna from last week...

This recipe comes from "The Casserole Queens Cookbook". I love their recipes for the way they incorporate our favorite childhood dishes, but make them a bit healthier, classier, more grown-up.

  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 C chicken broth
  • 1 can Rotel (or whatever brand of diced tomatoes with green chiles you buy)
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • cooking spray (I use my Pampered Chef mister filled with EVOO)
  • 12 8-inch corn tortillas, cut into quarters
  • 1 3-pound roasted chicken, boned and shredded (I admit to having 3 lbs worth of pieces, that I baked up, skinned, boned and shredded and popped into the freezer sometime in the fall, not a freshly roasted chicken)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 C grated Mexican-blend cheese (8 oz when weighed)
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream soups, broth, tomatoes and garlic salt. Stir until warm through - about 5 minutes. remove from heat and set aside
  • Grease a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray. Cover the bottom with half of the corn tortilla quarters.
  • Layer in half EACH of the chicken, and onion, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese.
  • Pour half of the soup mixture over top, then repeat layers.
  • Top the casserole with the remaining cheese.
  • Bake for 45 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.
I'll let you know on Friday how this one turns out! We're having it Wednesday night, and we'll see how it goes over.

Mexican Lasagna

OK, so I'm TOTALLY behind in posting this recipe, but you'll get the recipe and review all in one post...

With last week being FULL of appointments, errands and birthday celebration plans (for Princess and my Dad), I was a little leery of trying a new recipe on my family, but here it is:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 2 tsps chili powder
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 15 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 jalapeno chopped
  • 3 8-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 16 oz can refried beans
  • 1 1/2 C shredded Cheddar
  • 3/4 C sliced black olives
  • 1/2 C salsa
  • 6 TBSP sour cream
  • brown and drain ground beef. Add onion, cumin, chili powder and pepper. Cook until onion is tender (about 5 minutes).
  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Combine egg, ricotta, and jalpeno in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Layer 1 tortilla, refried beans, beef mixture, 2nd tortilla, cheese mixture, 3rd tortilla and shredded cheese in a round casserole.
  • Cover tightly with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover, return to oven and bake another 10 minutes.
  • Remove and sprinkle olives over top. Top each wedge serving with salsa and sour cream.
Review -

First off, do NOT use canned jalapenos - they are much too spicy and wet...although perhaps, drained they wouldn't be so bad. Same with the olives (although I should have realized it!!!). Second - finding 8 inch corn tortillas in my town was a bit difficult...I think that they add a great flavor, BUT, if you can't find the right size, double the recipe and use a 13 x 9 baking dish.

Other than that, I was a little unimpressed to be honest.

The textures and flavors together did not leave me desirous of making this again. The ricotta mix was too...crumbly.

Perhaps it is because I am used my family's secret recipe for "real" lasagna...it is nicely sauced and flavored, but the cheese mixture is firm.

You could maybe get away with using ground turkey instead of beef, or perhaps using a Cheddar/Jack blend to change the flavor a bit...

All in all, I don't think I'll be using this recipe again.

If you choose to, I wish you happy eating, and hopefully your family will enjoy it and you can make it again and again.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Challenge Results - January 13th

I'm a bit late posting these results, but we were very busy this weekend.

We made Inkling's Autumn Vegetable Patties (scroll down a few posts for the recipe). HOLY COW!!!

I may start cutting meat out of my diet more than once a week...I made these as a side dish to go along with some roasted chicken, and salad. I should have tripled the recipe. I opted not to eat the chicken, because I'd had copious amounts of meat at lunch that day, and my stomach was a bit wonky due to some overindulging in baked goods earlier in the week...

I ate 3 of them, BB ate 4, the kids devoured the remainder...

Heavenly! Captain already asked for the "great cakes" twice over the weekend, and Princess wanted some for breakfast today with syrup...

The texture was sublime - not too mushy, not too "lumpy" if you get my meaning...the flavor was a treat for certain. The combination of sweet potato and spinach was not one I'd have ever made on my own, but with the other herbs and spices in there...wow!

We did top ours with the spiced sour cream (only I used Plain Greek Yogurt...shhhh...don't tell BB!), and it was just enough decadence to make you feel like you were indulging in some uber-unhealthy fare like cheese-covered potato cakes or something like that...


Needless to say, these are now in my rotation, and I might even find a way to make them a bit sweeter for breakfast fare...we'll see how that goes...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder

I found this recipe for cheesy vegetable chowder on Pinterest... made it tonight.  My 3 year old ate a bowl and a half.  My 6 year old was not as impressed, but almost an hour ago we figured out that she caught a stomach bug at school (not that she would have liked it anyway, it's hard to tell with her these days.)  I will eat it for lunch again tomorrow.

I took pics, but I am going to just link to the original poster's, I need sleep and left my camera downstairs.

Inkling's Autumn Vegetable Patties

Last week, I posted a challenge for myself of trying one new recipe each week, posting it, and then posting a review. Even though it's no longer autumn, I will be enjoying these with my family tomorrow night! They look delicious, just based on the ingredients, and I CANNOT wait to get cooking on these! I bought my sweet potatoes and spinach this morning (I'm doubling the recipe, because even if no one else in my family likes them, I will!) To make these, I had all but those veggies on hand, and so my "grocery period" expenses was a whopping $5.29 because the spinach wasn't on sale (next time, I'll buy the spinach on sale and keep it in the deep freeze until I'm ready to make these again!).

Autumn Vegetable Patties

8 T. unsalted butter (I use less)
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated (about 1.5 cups)
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 T. minced fresh sage (I used 1 tsp. ground and dried)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 package of frozen chopped spinach (or you can use fresh and cook it down)
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans, navy beans, any white bean, drained, rinsed, and mashed
1 egg white, lightly beaten (I used the whole egg)
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup sour cream


Heat 6 T. butter in skillet over medium heat and add grated sweet potato, cooking until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. Cook, stirring for one minute. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in spinach, mashed beans, and egg white. Season with Salt and Pepper.

Using your hands (I use a cookie dough scoop to help me), shape veggie mixture into 8 - 4" long oblong patties about 1/2" thick and coat in remaining bread crumbs.

Heat 2 T. oil and 1 T. butter in skillet over medium high heat, add four patties and cook turning once until browned on both sides. About six minutes per batch. Transfer to a serving platter and repeat with remaining oil and butter and patties.

To serve, season sour cream with salt and pepper and top each patty with a dollop of it.

Inkling did state that they didn't top them with the sour cream. I will top mine with sour cream, and will let you know on Saturday what the reception was!

Farmwife - I bet that if you didn't read the part about beans, you'd never know they were in there!!! I'll let you for sure.

Weeknight Shepherd's Pie

This is a big hit in our house right now! I like it because it's fast and easy, the kids like it because it's all the "good things" mixed up. BB likes it because it has gravy.

  • 1 lb ground beef (can use 2 C cooked stew meat if you like, the ground beef makes it fast!)
  • 1 C frozen mixed veggies, thawed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (I used fresh last summer, and it was too strong, even cut way back!)
  • 1/4 C half-and-half (I use whatever milk is on hand)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 C mashed potatoes (great way to use up leftovers, or a reason to keep instant around)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley (I use dried, because I'm too impatient to chop fresh)
  • 2 TBSP butter, melted
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 C hot prepared beef gravy
  • Preheat over to 400 degrees F
  • Grease a medium casserole or deep quiche dish
  • Brown and drain ground beef, or cut stew beef into bite-sized pieces and place in casserole
  • Top with veggies and thyme
  • Mix half-and-half with salt, pepper, egg, and mashed potatoes. Sprinkle with parsley and mix.
  • Spread potato mixture over beef, drizzle butter over potatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.
  • Bake until filling is hot and top is browned, about 20 minutes.
  • Top each serving with gravy.
It is, in fact, what's for dinner tonight!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not too spicy black bean dip

Finding a new recipe is easy, it's the follow through that is hard.  (That's the story of my life.)  Well, I was craving beans, and don't come in between a pregnant woman and her craving.  That craving led me to this:

I perused some recipes online and then made this warm dip, based on a recipe for black bean hummus.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp cilantro (fresh would be even better, but had dried on hand)
3/4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove
juice from 2 lemon wedges
Colby jack cheese (mozzarella works great, too)

Blend all ingredients together, pour into oven proof bowl.
Shred cheese (if it didn't come from the store that way) and sprinkle over top.
Sprinkle with black pepper.
Bake for 15-20 min at 350, until cheese is melted and dip is warm.
Serve with whatever you choose... tortilla chips, crackers, etc... and enjoy!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Challenge

Hello anyone out there still checking this blog!

I have decided that with the onset of 2012, we need something new to help inspire us in our kitchens! I don't know about you, but I get awfully tired of feeling like I keep falling back to the same old same old routine recipes. Which may be good, and nutritious, but somehow, I just don't like a rut!

I am challenging myself to do a few different things this year. And I'm sharing them with you, as an invitation, as an inspiration (I hope) to change things up, shake it up a bit...

Without further ado:

  • Try one new recipe each week
  • Go meatless one entree each week
  • Buy organic whenever possible
  • Stop using products with added sugars.
I don't know what things you have in store for your own family and kitchen, but I hope that you'll join me each week...

I'll be posting my new recipe before I try it, and then posting a comment with a review after we've eaten it.

I hope that some of you will join me on this journey!