Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lime Margaritas



So this Lime Tree and I have been fast friends. We are picking the last few limes from the tree for the season, and this margarita recipe has become my 'ol stand by. This recipe has won out the earlier favorite recipe for simplicity. Equal parts of everything make margaritas drinkable faster.

Lime Margaritas
makes 2 drinks

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup simple syrup
1/4 to 1/2 cup tequila (or personal preference)
Crushed ice

Combine the lime juice, syrup, and tequila. Pour over crushed ice and serve.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Friday, April 23, 2010

Cinnamon Butternut Squash Muffins

photo from $5 Dollar Dinners
This seemed like the healthiest muffin recipe I could find...butternut squash, applesauce, and whole wheat flour. I planned for these to be our breakfasts for a couple of days.


Cinnamon Butternut Squash Muffins
recipe adapted from $5 Dollar Dinners
Makes 24 regular size muffins

1 banana, mashed
1 cup cooked butternut squash
4 eggs
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup white sugar
6 Tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour

Optional Topping:
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar


1. In stand mixer or mixing bowl, mix banana, butternut squash, eggs, applesauce, sugar, and oil, until well blended.
2. In separate mixing bowl, combine salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, wheat flour and white flour.
3. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until batter forms.
4. Pour into greased baking cups or muffin tins, and sprinkle with brown sugar-cinnamon topping.
5. Bake at 350. Regular size muffins for 16-18 minutes. Mini muffins for 13-15 minutes.

The verdict?
We had these as snack right out of the oven, and the sugar topping was a nice touch. I don't know how the sugar helps the health factor, but my husband thought they were too sweet for breakfast, so we saved them as a snack for the week.

They reminded me slightly of pumpkin muffins, but didn't have a specfic taste. I was glad it didn't taste too much like it had a cup of squash in it!

After the muffins sat for a few days, they lost some of its umph. I ended up tossing the last two because nobody polished them off. So maybe they were a little TOO healthy.

I'm sharing this recipe at The Grocery Cart Challenge Recipe Swap.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Thai Coconut Chicken

 
I love the idea of opening up a can of coconut milk and instantly having a new palate of interesting tastes on the table. I seem to get into a soy sauce based stir-fry rut, and one measly can of coconut milk adds a whole new dimension to my menu planning.

This recipe was in my latest issue of Clean Eating, a magazine that I love for having real, unprocessed ingredients. It pushes me to try lots of new ingredients (quinoa, barley) and gives introductions to seemingly scary things that aren't so scary (nutritional yeast, anyone?) I would also call this magazine "Introduction to Your Local Bulk Store" because I have tried so many new things from the bulk section after reading about it in Clean Eating.


Thai Coconut Chicken
recipe adapted from Thai Coconut Shrimp from Clean Eating May/June 2010

8 oz thin noodles (I used whole wheat angel hair)
2 cups broccoli florets
2/3 cup light coconut milk
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoon natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon ginger, ground
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 lime
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil, for frying
1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
1 cup bean sprouts (I left out)

In a large pot, bring water to a boil over high heat. When water is boiling, add noodles. When the noodles have 2-3 minutes remaining according to your noodle's package directions, add broccoli to the boiling water. Finish cooking the noodles according to the package directions, then drain the whole pan, rinse in hot water, and set aside.


In a bowl, combine coconut milk, tomato paste, peanut butter, ginger, garlic, pepper flakes and lime juice. Use a fork or whisk to combine.

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large saute pan or wok, heat olive oil over high heat. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry. When the chicken is 3/4ths of the way cooked, with a little pink left, add the pepper strips, and continue cooking until chicken is cooked.

Reduce heat down to medium low, add the coconut mixture to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to prevent clumping.
 

Toss noodles and broccoli into the large pan, covering all with the sauce. (might need to switch to tongs) Serve hot.


The verdict?
This was a hit at our house. After I had a few bites, I knew I would be tempted to over-eat, so I immediately got up and put the leftovers in a container and straight into the frig. My son happily ate the noodles and chicken, and I inhaled...it..all...yum.

That being said, the recipe needs a little more punch. The spice level wasn't too much of an issue with me since I prefer things mild for my son so I can spice it up at the table, but I did top my plate off with more lime, a sprinkle of soy sauce and and some sriracha on the side.

This recipe makes a lot (4 servings) and it could easily stretch further by adding more vegetables. The sauce to noodle/veggie ratio was perfect, so if you do add more veggies, increasing the sauce might be a good idea. I had around 1/2 can of coconut milk left in my frig, so next time I might double up the sauce and veggies to make more for leftovers.

My husband ate some of the leftovers a day later, and the dish was still just as good.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Crispy Baked Fries



Update 1/26/12: These are my go-to fries that I have been making for consistently for over a year now, and I have some updates and revisions to the recipe. 

So this is what my son gets when he whines...and whines... and whines for french fries. He's old enough to know that McDonald's and Burger King have fries, and smart enough to realize we very, very, rarely ever get fries from those places.

So when I asked my son what he wanted for lunch one day...I know, it's almost a dumb idea to ask a 2 1/2 year old their food preferences...he asked for fries. I had seen this earlier at Lynn's Kitchen Adventures, and I had a 10 pound bag of potatoes from the Easter sales hanging out in my cupboard, so it was an easy dish to put together for a weekday lunch.


After I cut the potatoes into thin potato fries (think McDonald's size), I soak them in a large bowl of water to remove some of the starch, (this is also a great way to prep them ahead of time) then dry the potatoes off with a kitchen towel or paper towels before tossing them on the cookie sheet with the vegetable oil.

Also, don't be afraid to let the fries brown up - this is what makes them crisp. If you've ever had fries from Five Guys, you know what I'm talking about, but if you are afraid of letting them let brown, you will forever have limp fries. And that's a bummer.

I have quit buying the bags of frozen fries because I almost always have potatoes on hand. These fries are only a minimal amount of work more than the bagged version, but taste phenomenally better.


Crispy Baked Fries
recipe adapted from Lynn's Kitchen Adventures

1-2 pounds of russet/baking potatoes
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Peel potatoes and cut potatoes into french fry size sticks. Toss potatoes in oil on a large cookie sheet (give 'em room to crisp up - don't crowd them) Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, stirring two to three times or until edges are crisp, and the potatoes are browned. Season with kosher salt, to taste. If there is alot of oil left in the pan, remove the fries to a paper towel lined plate to absorb some of the oil. Serve.




Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Giada's Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup


Anyone ever overcook your dried beans? I mean, REALLY overcook them? I like to cook up big batches of dried beans, then freeze them in 15 oz portions to match cans of beans. Of course, my last batch of white beans got incredibly mushified (not a real word) ....which I don't know how. Maybe I was doing too many things at once and forgot about the pot on the stove. (imagine that!)

The beans were already almost falling apart when I put them into the freezer bags, so I knew I would have to be pretty picky with how I used them up. They weren't sturdy enough to throw in a salad, but the perfect consistency for soup.

When I saw this recipe in my latest library book find, I decided to finally get rid of those mushy beans!

Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup
from Giada's Kitchen: New Italian Favorites
4 to 6 servings

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots chopped
2 sage leaves, stems removed
2 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper



Place a medium, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Add the butter, olive oil and shallots. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the sage leaves, cannellini beans, and garlic and sir to combine. Add the chicken broth to the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook gently until the garlic is softened, about 15 minutes.

Pour half of the soup into a large bowl. Carefully ladle a third to half of the soup from the bowl into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth (be careful to hold the top of the blender tightly, as hot liquids expand when they are blended.)

Pour the blended soup back into the pot and repeat with the remaining soup from the bowl. Once all the soup is returned to the soup pot, stir in the cream, salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm over very low heat.

The verdict?
This was a very simple soup which would have been better paired with a big 'ol hearty sandwich than with the wimpy salads we had. So we didn't get too full, but the flavor was good, and the texture was very calm and creamy.

My son actually inhaled this, which we couldn't figure out why since his appetite is so hit-or-miss, so he was a huge fan of this soup! Who would have thought a 2 year old would love creamy bean soup? I saved the leftovers, but it never made a return visit for lunches. Oh well!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Guest Post: Freezer Cooking Recipes

My great friend Lindsay is my Guest Poster today. She is a working mom and wife with a 1-year-old son, and I have always been thoroughly impressed by her freezer cooking. She is also part of the masterminds behind the Brunch Wedding Shower I attended.

After getting home from work, with not even one step in the door, the question would be "what's for dinner." I used to cringe every time my husband would ask. For years we would get by with grilled cheese, pizza, and mac and cheese for dinner. I really hated cooking.

After having our first child, I decided I really needed to step it up on the cooking. I felt my son deserved some variety and some actual meals with all the food groups. I debated on trying the freezer cooking, but I wasn't sure if I wanted to dedicate a whole day to cooking either.

My mom got me the program and cookbooks called 30 Meals in One Day for Christmas. It gave me the extra push I needed to give it a try. I read the books and gave it a try on a much smaller scale. I devote nap time and night time to cooking and I cook every 2-3 weeks instead of preparing a whole months worth of meals in one day. The first time I tried it, to my surprise, I walked through the door after work and food was on the table ready for me to eat. It was amazing! I have to give some credit to my husband because he has been great at heating up the meals before I get home.

I don't claim to be an expert, but this is what I have found works for me:

First, the program has a list of recipes that you can pick out your meals. You can also add your own recipes to it. I pick them out according to how they are prepared. Oven, Assemble, Slow Cooker and Stove Top. I usually pick out 1 slow cooker, 3 assembles and 2 oven recipes.

One of the books great suggestions is to utilize all your cooking surfaces. It helps save time. I usually do 6 recipes and create enough to divide each meal in to 2. So when I am done I have 12 meals. Some meals have surprised me and I end up getting 3 out of one.

Once I have selected my recipes the program creates a shopping list for me and labels so I can print them out. The shopping list categorizes all the food and adds all the items together from each recipe. The labels are great for marking the containers with directions on how to prepare each meal. The easy to follow instructions have made my husband more willing to help out.

I do all my shopping around 12:00 p.m. and I leave out all the items so they are ready for me to start cooking, except for meat and items that need to be kept cold.

During my sons nap, I get all the vegetables chopped up and get my kitchen organized. As I stated earlier, I leave all my ingredients out so I don't have to do any searching for anything. I also move the trash right next to me. This was another one of the books suggestions that I found handy. I also place trash stations on my counter top using small grocery sacks. It helps keep the mess in order and saves time walking to and from the trash.

Another thing I do to stay organized is to leave my netbook on the counter with all my recipes on it. I can scroll up and down between recipes. Once I get my vegetables chopped up I put them in bags or in a container with saran wrap and put them in the fridge for use later. I usually get my slow cooker recipe going at this point since it needs a little bit more time then the other recipes.

Once I put my son to bed, it is time to begin the cooking. I pour myself a glass of wine and turn on the music. I usually read through my recipes again and get a game plan. Sometimes I can brown beef for multiple recipes at once or cook all the pasta at the same time. I found large pots are a necessity with freezer cooking. If I start at 8:00 p.m. I can usually finish by 10:30 or 11:00.

Once all the meals are cooked, I like to either store them in freezer bags or 8x8 tin pans with foil. The tin pans are great because you can dispose of them when you are done. A dinner with no dishes! My favorite.

Freezer cooking has been working well for me and my family. I have been doing it for 4 months now and I love the freedom it gives me at night, plus the benefits it gives my son.

Below are some recipes that are our favorites. The Hawaiian Chicken is the only chicken I have been able to get my son to touch. I served it over white rice and we had pineapple with it. YUM!






Chicken Cordon Blu
recipe courtesy 30 Meals in One Day

6 small boneless skinless chicken breast
2 Tbl Dijon mustard
6 slices ham
6 slices Swiss cheese
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 cup dry bread crumbs

Place each chicken breast half between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound until thin. Spread mustard on each piece of chicken. Wrap cheese in ham and place on chicken. Roll chicken around cheese and ham. Secure with a toothpick. Dip chicken first in evaporated milk then in bread crumbs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake on greased baking sheet for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Cover chicken on baking sheet with plastic wrap. Freeze for at least 3 hours. When frozen transfer to a freezer bag. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Heat in microwave or in oven. 6 Servings



Hawaiian Chicken

recipe courtesy 30 Meals in One Day

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast
1 1.25 oz envelope onion soup mix
1 cup pineapple apricot jam
1 cup Russian dressing

Cut chicken into strips. Arrange chicken in a greased baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. Pour off liquid. Combine onion soup, jam and dressing. Pour over chicken. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Place in freezer bag. Label and freeze.
To serve: Thaw. Heat until hot and bubbly. 6 Servings

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking




Friday, April 16, 2010

Creatively Domestic is (finally) on Facebook!




Please become a fan of Creatively Domestic on Facebook!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Italian Bread Dipping Sauce


After I made the Foccacia, I needed something to dip my bread in. My husband only wanted marinara, but I was in the mood for something different. I remembered this recipe stashed away on my computer and whipped it up with dried herbs.

Italian Bread Dipping Sauce
Serves: 6

1 tablespoon minced basil
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice
Olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients, except oil and lemon. Put in a small food processor, Chop briefly until all ingredients are about the same. Stir in oil and lemon juice.
To serve, combine about 1 1/2 teaspoons spice blend to 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil on a small dish. Dip sliced bread in mixture.

The verdict?
It reminded me of Carraba's or Bonefish Grill. Along with the fresh homemade bread, this was fantastic. I think this could have been my whole dinner, but I had pesky chicken and vegetables to eat. There was a lot of of the spice blend leftover, and I've used it to roast potatoes and sprinkle on top of the pizza.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Foccacia

I love bread, and I've started wanting to make it myself, from scratch. But, I haven't been motivated enough to give it a go.

A couple weeks ago, while watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, one of the foods he made for the elementary schools was Foccacia, which my husband remarked looked pretty good. I said "Well it's not that hard to make!" and decided to make it for dinner the next night.

Foccacia
recipe adapted from Betty Crocker Cookbook

3 cups all purpose or bread flour
1 tablespoon dried rosemary (2 tablespoons fresh)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast (1 package)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup very warm water ( 120 to 130 degrees)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Mix 1 cup of the flour, the rosemary, sugar, salt and yeast in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons oil and the warm water. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping down the sides often. Stir in enough remaining flour until dough leaves the sides of bowl. Place dough on lightly floured surface. Knead 5 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.

Place dough in a greased large bowl, turning dough to grease all sides. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place about 30 minutes or until almost double. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Grease 2 cookie sheets or 12 inch pizza pans with small amount of oil. Gently push fist into dough to deflate. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a flattened 10 inch round on a cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with cooking spray and let rise in a warm place about 30 minutes or until double.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Gently make depressions about 2 inches apart in dough with fingers. Carefully brush with 2 tablespoons oil, sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.

The verdict?
I put everything into my bread machine on the Dough setting, and the dough came out sticky, wet, and not at all how lovely bread dough should look. I was very disappointed and not at all optimistic about how it was going to turn out, but continued on with the recipe.

After letting it rise, it looked a little better, but I was still expecting flat bread when it came out of the oven. Finally when it came out....bread heaven.

After all the expected disappointment, this bread made my day, my husband's, and my son's. We inhaled the bread with dinner, and fought over the leftovers. I will be making this again soon, but with the regular mixer directions and not the bread machine.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Comfort Meatballs in the Crockpot

I made the regular recipe of Pioneer Woman's Comfort Meatballs, but put them in the crockpot. I browned the meatballs on the stove, then put the them in a greased 4 quart slow cooker, covered with the sauce, then cooked for 4 hours on Low.

The verdict?
Although I liked the ease of throwing this all in the crockpot for the afternoon and just walking away, I preferred the taste and texture of the baked meatballs. The sauce got a little overcooked and some meatballs around the edges were a little too burned.

I think a shorter cooking time would have helped, so if I'm in a pinch and need a crockpot recipe one day, I might retry with a shorter time, because I LOVE these meatballs! So I gave it a try, but will be sticking with the original recipe!

I am also sharing this at Crockpot Wednesdays at Dining With Debbie.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Grilled Pizza

My husband loves pizza, and I love not heating up the house in the summer to make it.

I first tried making pizza on the grill when we re-did our kitchen five years ago and needed to make some dinners without the use of a stove or oven. I bought those expensive premade pizza crusts and used the grill like an oven. After a few months, I thought I could make the crusts myself. After a few trials and errors, this is the best whole wheat crust I've found.

Grilled Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Cornmeal, for sprinkling when rolling out

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or prepare dough in your bread machine, which is how I do it!)


Preheat the grill, then when the dough is doubled, or your bread machine is done, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Roll out a ball of dough until the circle has reached the desired size. I use a little cornmeal when rolling the dough out and make sure the bottom has a good layer of cornmeal on it to make sliding off the cookie sheet a little easier.

When the grill has reached 500 degrees or hotter, turn the dials down to medium heat, and put the dough on straight on the grill. (Hold your breath, and just flop it on there! If some dough folds on itself, try and fix it, but don't get too worried about it.)

Close the grill hood and let it cook for approx 2-5 minutes, until the dough is puffed and starting to brown on the bottom. It might need to be rotated for even cooking. You can see that my grill is hotter towards the back, so I always rotate the crust after a few minutes.

Flip the crust to brown the other side for 1-2 minutes, if you want a really crispy crust.

Flip back over to the first side (it's prettier!) then remove from grill. If you will be making a pizza to eat, crank the grill back up to High to preheat it.

Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables. When the grill is back up to 500 degrees, slide the pizza back on the grill, then turn the heat down to Low and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. It might need to be rotated for even cooking.

If I'm not grilling two pizzas, I freeze the other in large resealable bag for another night! I've made up to 6 pizza crusts at time to stash in the freezer. Those premade crusts make it almost easier than to order pizza in!


Check out my other recipes for Pizza here. I am sharing this at Tasty Tuesdays, Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays, and Tuesdays at the Table.

Recipe for without photos for easy copying and printing:

Grilled Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
Cornmeal, for sprinkling when rolling out

In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy. Stir the olive oil and salt into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or prepare dough in your bread machine, which is how I do it!)
Preheat the grill, then when the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Roll a ball of dough until the circle has reached the desired size.
When the grill has reached 500 degrees or hotter, turn the dials down to medium heat, and put the dough on straight on the grill. Close the grill hood and let it cook for approx 2-5 minutes, until the dough is puffed and starting to brown on the bottom. It might need to be rotated for even cooking. Flip the crust to brown the other side for 1-2 minutes. Remove from grill.
Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables. Slide back on the grill, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until cheese is melted. It might need to be rotated for even cooking.
If I'm not grilling two pizzas, I freeze the other in large resealable bag for another night!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Monday, April 12, 2010

Stuffing


We are clearing out our freezer, getting ready for 4 natural cage free chickens and 1/8th of a cow from a great local farm. I think we're going to need all the freezer space we can get, since I refuse to buy a chest freezer. Not that I'm against chest freezers and couldn't fill the whole thing, I just don't want another appliance plugged into our power grid.

So I cooked up my last cheap turkey I picked up at Thanksgiving time last year, and some bread from my freezer bread bag, and frozen homemade chicken stock and had a mini-Thanksgiving in April!

This is my Grandma's recipe, and I've found over the years that using my food processor to chop up the bread, apple, onion and celery to make it a pretty quick dish to put together!


*Update: I've made this recipe and froze portions of it for another time. I reduced the broth and made the mixture a little drier so that after freezing and thawing it wouldn't be a goopy mess. It made some great side dishes later in the month!


 This also works well in the slow cooker: I cooked mine on High for 2 hours.

This recipe is now included in my Creatively Domestic's Freezer Meals ebook for sale on Amazon. To view this recipe and many others, please visit (and buy if you're interested) from that site.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Have you tried...Kohlrabi?


I got a new veggie in my Produce Basket this week, and had fun trying something new. It's kohlrabi!


I peeled and julienned it into little sticks to top our salad with. I'd say the raw taste is closest to cauliflower, but with the texture of a radish.


Then I used the remainder of the kohlrabi in a Turkey Pot Pie to replace potatoes. I steamed them in the microwave, then mixed them in with the other veggies. I didn't notice a difference, so they replaced potato perfectly.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Monday, April 5, 2010

Using up Leftover Easter Ham

I was inspired by $5 Dinners post to show some of the ways to use up all the leftover Easter Ham hanging around your house. One of the best ways to stretch the expense of a big 'hunk of meat is to plan to use it in a few meals. Here are a few ideas for you:


Ham and Cheese Toasters


Black Eye Pea and Ham Soup - great use of the Ham Bone!


Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwiches



Slow Cooker Egg Casserole


English Muffin Egg Strata


Ham Balls

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter Menu

This year for Easter lunch I'm serving:



Ham Balls (a family tradition!)



Scalloped Potatoes

Seasonal veggie: zucchini, green beans, or asparagus

Mini Cheesecakes (look for the recipe soon!)

Hope your family has a great Easter!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pan Fried Tilipia - Lent Approved!

 
This is my third year of Lent and the Easter season as a Catholic. I converted for my husband so we could go to church together as a family, but I never realized there is a whole sub-culture for food for Lent-following Catholics. That wasn't a lesson in RCIA, but fish frys, cheese pizza, and fish sticks are just a normal meal for certain people's 40 days.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not a huge fan of fish. Although we live in Florida, I'm a Midwestern girl who grew up eating lots of beef and pork. (Actually lots of ground beef and pork chops!) The first time I ever ate at a Long John Silver's was in college when my now-husband brought me....oooo those hush puppies were yummy, but I passed on the fish!

We've come a long way since those college days, and while we don't eat at Long John's anymore, I can say we've rotated more salmon, tilipia, and shrimp into our diet. I'd rather eat a vegetarian-focused diet, but one night of fish works well in our menu planning.

I finally thought I'd give the classic Fish Fry a try for Ash Wednesday. It turned out great, and my husband was thoroughly impressed. My son inhales this fish, so I'll gladly make this once a week for a long time! We've eaten it alot during this Lent, so thought it was a great post for Good Friday!


Pan Fried Tilipia
4 fillets of tilipia
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 tsp Old Bay
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil

On a plate, combine the corn meal and Old Bay. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium, and add the butter and olive oil in the pan. Pat the tilipia dry, then coat both sides in corn meal mixture. Add to the skillet, and cook over medium until the fish coating is lightly browned. Flip and cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Seasonal Produce for April

I always wonder what is the best produce to buy during each season, so I have started a monthly post that lets you know what is the best fruits and vegetables to be buying for your season.

I also found a new site that I love that shows your state's local produce from the National Resources Defense Council. It shows you how to "Eat Local" by calculating the Food Miles your veggies have traveled.

April
in season vegetables:
Zucchini, rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, spring peas, broccoli, lettuce, leeks, cabbages, carrots

April in season fruits:
Pineapples, mangoes (these have to have a few "Food Miles" on them!)

This is vaguely for the whole USA, so your region might have other veggies that are in season.

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking 

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

I got my newest issue of Everyday Food and didn't waste anytime trying a new recipe from it! I made this cookie dough on a Sunday afternoon, then stashed it in the frig to pull out all week whenever I felt like some freshly baked cookies.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies
recipe adapted from Everyday Food
Makes 32 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
For rolling the cookies in:
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined.

In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon. Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Put on a parchment lined cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes. Let cookies cool on cookie sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

The verdict?
I made a few with the cinnamon-sugar, and a few without, and the cinnamon-sugar mixture really gave the cookies a light cinnamon after-taste. Both my husband and I preferred the cinnamon ones. I only made that mistake once, and so for the rest of the cookies, the sugar mixture was definitely included.

These cookies really hit the chocolate-craving, without any chocolate chips. I've made a few batches during the week, but the dough really went fast!

Easy Cooking | Simple Cooking