Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Roasted tomato sauce

This was my favorite sauce to make last Summer with my fresh tomatoes,carrots, basil, and parsley.  You can use tomatoes and any combination of veggies that you would like to roast.  The recipe can be found here.  The only changes I made were adding in extra veggies and a some fresh parsley. 

I had so many tomatoes last year, that I was able to freeze about 6 bags worth of this sauce.  I just pulled out my last bag a few days ago, heated it up in a skillet and served it over some tortellini.  You could also add some ground beef or turkey (seasoned with salt and pepper) to the sauce if you want to.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Vegetable pot pie

Oh comfort yummy you taste on a cold snowy day.  Though, I've been known to make this dish in Summertime too.  I make a double crusted pie, and modify a Martha Stewart recipe that I have used before.  I usually put shredded chicken in my pot pie, but I just ran out of time last night.  If you've never made your own pie crust before, it's way easier than you would think and so much tastier than store bought crust.  I make my pie dough in the food processor and it takes about two minutes.

Double pie crust:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/4 - 1/2 cup ice cold water

Combine flour and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse a couple of times.  Add in the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal. 

With the processor on, add in the water in a steady stream and pulse just until the dough holds together. 

 The dough will look crumbly, that's normal. 

Divide dough in half and shape into two discs, chill in the fridge while you make the filling for your pie.  While your filling is cooking, roll out the first disc of dough and gently press inside the pie pan.

This carrot was planted last Summer.  I love planting carrots, they are tasty and I'm ensured at least a little bit of homegrown goodness in January and February.  They will stay in the ground without rotting all winter. 

 For the filling:

Dice up 1/4 of a large onion and whatever other vegetables you want in your pie.  I cut up one very large carrot and 3 celery stalks.  Next cook veggies in a skillet over med/high heat for 8-10 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup flour and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
Gradually add 2 1/2 cups of milk (I used 1 1/2 cups of low fat milk and 1 cup of half and half)  and cook, stirring until mixture thickens.  Once it's thick, remove from heat and stir in peas and corn.  Season with 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and I like to use about 1 tsp of Kirkland's no salt seasoning mix.  I have a bit of a thing going with feta cheese these days, so I went ahead and added a bit of that on top of the mixture.  Then roll out the other disc of dough put it on top, pinch the ends together and cut vents in the top of the pie crust. 

 Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving and enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Slow cooker chicken chili

This is such an easy meal to put together.  I love how little time it takes to make a healthy and tasty meal in my crock pot.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup corn
1 cup cooked frozen spinach
1 can white beans ( I used Cannellini)
2 cans diced tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion (diced)
2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
2 tsp garlic salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin
4 tsp chili powder

Cook in slow cooker and shred chicken about 30 minutes before the meal is done.  Serve over rice.  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Little things - Sauteed apples

One of the easiest ways to spice up pancakes, waffles, french toast, or ice cream is with sauteed apples.  I cut up three small apples and placed them in the pan.  Then put 1 tbsp butter, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp brown sugar in the pan and sauteed it all together for about two minutes.  You could do it for longer if you want your apples a little more cooked, I prefer them to be a little crunchy.

I put the apples on top of our pancakes, and it was a
quick and easy way to spice up our breakfast!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sugar free oatmeal banana cookies

I found this recipe when I was cooking gluten free for my husband.  We took about three weeks to figure out if he was gluten the end we determined that he wasn't, but it was fun to get creative with baking.  This is one of the recipes I'll stick with, mainly because it's super easy and yummy.  I love that it's sugar free, well, it would have been had I not added in the chocolate chips.  Here is the recipe: Gluten and sugar free oatmeal cookies.  The only thing I did differently was sub Craisins for raisins and added chocolate chips. I also added about 1tsp. of cinnamon.  Be sure to click on the link for the updated version of this recipe, it gives directions for making the dough in the food processor, which is what makes them even easier.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coffee cubes

One of my great loves in life is coffee, especially dark strong coffee.  I usually have some left over from the morning, so I put some of it in ice cube trays and some in the fridge.  In a couple of hours, I have frozen coffee cubes to put in my afternoon iced coffee and the cubes of coffee keep it from getting watered down.  I put the cubes in with a bit of half and half, a pinch of Stevia,  and my left over coffee from the morning.  It's perfect, even on a chilly day.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Real gardeners get their hands dirty...

 At least that's what I keep telling myself.  I actually hate getting my hands dirty, but sometimes, it just has to be done.  Anyway, I planted my peas today.  I can't wait to see my little sprouts shoot up!  I bought my seeds from Territorial Seed Company, which is a great seed company based out of Oregon.  Their seeds are all tested in our climate, so they tend to grow really well here.  I planted the Super Sugar Snap peas last year and LOVED them, so that's what went into the ground this year too!  If you haven't planted your peas yet, and you live in the Portland's the time!

Apple Chips

These did not last very long in our house....I used three apples and the chips were gone in about an hour.  This is a great healthy snack and unlike dehydrated apples (which I also love) these were crunchy, so if you're craving some crunch, these are great!  They are super easy to make. Here's the recipe:

Thinly slice through the apple ( if you have a corer, use that first, otherwise you'll have to core them after you cut me).
Cut the core out of the apple slices.
Place on parchment sheet lined cookie sheets and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Bake at 225 degrees for 2 hours, check every half an hour and rotate your cookie sheets.

Because I didn't use a mandolin, my slices were not all the same size, so some will cook faster than others.  As you check on your slices, just eat take out the cooked ones.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Taste as you go

I love to make pasta, all kinds of pasta with all kinds of different sauces and toppings.  This dish is one of my favorites for many reasons. It's simple, flavorful, and quick, but mostly I love it because it reminds of something my Grandma used to make quite often.  She was an amazing cook, her family owned an Italian restaurant for years and she had a love for making people happy with her food.  One cooking tip she taught me early on was to taste as you go and season accordingly.  A lot of the recipes that are posted on here will be seasoned to my liking, so if you really like parsley, oregano, or red chili pepper all means experiment and add in whatever you think would be tasty!

Broccoli and Cannellini bean pasta:

Get the water started for your pasta.  This sauce will make enough for about a half pound of pasta.  While your water is going.  You can get started on the sauce.

3 cups chopped broccoli
3 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 can Cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
1tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup cooked, frozen spinach or 3 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese for topping

Cut broccoli into bite size pieces and set aside. Mince garlic cloves and saute in 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Cook over medium-high heat.  Be careful not to overcook the garlic, it only needs to cook for about 30 seconds, then add in the one can of Cannellini beans.   Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for a couple of minutes and add in the broccoli, cook together stirring occasionally for about five minutes, then add in the spinach.  Cook for another couple of minutes, turn on low and simmer until pasta is ready.  Also, I always like to add a few shakes of garlic salt at the end too.  Taste as you go and add more if you think it's needed.  If you like heat, you can add some red chili pepper flakes, I'd start with 1 tsp.  Top the pasta and veggies with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Slow cooker barbeque chicken wraps

I made these wraps the other night.  I've decided that my two year old, who eats almost anything will eat anything in a wrap.  I topped the wraps with homemade ranch dressing, lettuce, and feta cheese.  I also made a side of turnip fries and now I know.....not  a huge fan of turnips.  I think if you like turnips you'd love these, so I'll include the recipe for them as well.  However, you could also substitute the turnips with potatoes, which I'll do next time, I just like the flavor of potatoes better. 

Slow cooker barbeque chicken:

I cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 white wine vinegar
1/4 Dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2-3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 finely chopped onion
1-2 cups water

Mix together in crock pot, add four chicken breasts and cook all day.  About 30 minutes before it's done, shred the chicken in the crock pot and let it finish cooking.  If the sauce starts to cook down too much, you may need to add a little extra water.  I'd start with a cup, knowing you may need to add more at some point.

Turnip fries:

Wash and peel turnips, cut into wedges.  Put a couple of tbsp of olive oil in a large Ziploc bag, along with a few shakes of garlic salt and pepper.  Place the wedges into the bag and let a really cute toddler shake them up for you.  Put on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and cook at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes, the last five minutes, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Whole wheat banana muffins

These aren't your typical whole wheat banana muffins, they are sweetened with honey and the oil is replaced with homemade applesauce.  Last fall I made a batch of applesauce specifically for freezing to make in breads.  I froze the applesauce in 1/2 cup portions in individual ziploc bags.  It comes in handy on cold, rainy days like today when all I want to do is bake.  I actually had intentions of sowing peas in my garden today, but it is bitterly cold outside.  So instead, I spent some time in the kitchen.

The recipe for the muffins can be found here.  I followed the recipe with a couple of additions.  I added a tsp. of vanilla to the wet ingredients and 1 tsp. of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.  Also, I made muffins instead of a loaf, it cut the cooking time by about 40 minutes.  I'd recommend checking on them after 15 minutes, just stick a toothpick in the center of a muffin and if it comes out clean, they're ready!  These were pretty tasty, but if you have a super sweet tooth, you may want to add a couple of tablespoons to the dry ingredients. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Healthy granola

We don't keep boxed cereal in the house, not when we can have homemade, healthy, and delicious granola instead.  I make this granola often, and it's a little different every time depending on the ingredients I have on hand.  Here's my recipe:

 5 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats
1-2 cups of chopped or flaked almonds
1 cup of raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of sesame or flax seeds
1 cup of unsweetened coconut (if I have sweetened in my cupboard I'll use that too)

Mix all of these ingredients in a very large bowl.  In another bowl whisk together:

1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup (or both) sometimes I'll add in a little bit of molasses too
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk these ingredients together until thoroughly mixed.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until it's completely mixed in.  Spread into a large baking pan and bake at 225 for 2 hours.  I check mine every 30 minutes or so to stir and taste test to make sure it doesn't get overdone.  About 20 minutes before taking the granola out of the oven, stir in one cup of dried fruit, I usually use craisins.

Enjoy and store in an airtight container.

Easy puffed oven pancakes

Puffed oven pancakes, also known as german pancakes, are a staple in our house.  We make them at least a couple of times a week.  They are easy to make, tasty, and there are so many options for toppings.  They puff up and climb up the sides of your pan when they are done, but deflate pretty quickly.  You can top them with powdered sugar, syrup, banana slices, or you can saute apples in a bit of butter and cinnamon.  In the Summer when we have fresh berries, I like to slice up strawberries and blueberries too!

Here is the recipe:

Turn oven to 400 degrees, place two tablespoons of butter in an ovenproof skillet or I just use my 8x8 square Pyrex pan.  Let the butter melt, takes a couple of minutes, and take out the pan.  In the meantime you can prepare the batter.  In a medium bowl, whisk together three eggs and 1/2 cup flour.  It may be a little lumpy, but that's okay, then slowly whisk in 1/2 cup milk.  Add 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon.  Pour into hot pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed and well browned.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roasted vegetable salad

I love the flavor that comes out of roasting vegetables, it's one of my favorite ways to eat them.  The other night, I had some fresh veggies and salad that I needed to use up.  So, I decided to make a roasted vegetable salad.

Balsamic Roasted vegetable salad:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees as you are preparing your vegetables.  I used onions, yukon gold potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and put the cherry tomatoes in at the end.  This is just what I had on hand, other veggies I might use would be sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, peppers, or any kind of squash.  So I just mixed the vegetables up in my cookie sheet and drizzled olive oil and balsamic vinegar over the top, and sprinkled the veggies with salt and pepper.  Mixed it all up and cooked for about a half an hour.  Then I stirred up the veggies and added cherry tomatoes and about 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese for the last 10 minutes.  I mixed this yumminess in with some salad greens to make a tasty roasted vegetable salad.

Corn chowder

I LOVE corn chowder, but hadn't ever attempted to make it, mainly because I just don't make a lot of soup.  So when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I decided to go for it.  I sort of followed the recipe.  I used turkey bacon instead of canadian bacon, and also added chopped spinach (I always add extra veggies if I have them on hand).  I also just boiled a couple of potatoes on the stove top and mashed them instead of in the microwave.  I cooked the turkey bacon first, put it aside and then put the chopped veggies in the same pan and then followed the rest of the recipe.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The little things

Tonight we had a simple dinner.  We ate baked chicken breast (seasoned with garlic salt and Kirkland's organic no salt seasoning) on top of romaine lettuce, lots of veggies, feta cheese, and homemade honey mustard dressing.  We also had whole grain artisan bread with garlic butter.  As simple as tonight's dinner was, it still had special touches.  The garlic butter instead of plain butter is such an easy way to make the bread so much more flavorful.  For the garlic butter I minced three cloves of garlic and squished them with a fork until it became almost like a paste.  Then I added about four tablespoons of  room temperature butter, mixed it up and slathered it on the bread.  Also, there is nothing better than homemade dressing, it's easy to make and I like that I know every ingredient and can control the amount of salt and sugar I add to my meal.

Honey Mustard salad dressing:
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown mustard
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together and viola, homemade salad dressing!

Adventures in blogging

I've been toying with the idea of starting a blog for a while.  I wasn't too sure about it until a couple of weeks ago.  I started posting recipes on a friend's blog, and I realized that I really enjoy sharing my kitchen creations.  Since I can't knock on all of my friend's doors with goodies, I've decided that the next best thing is to blog about these creations.  I have a passion for cooking and baking.  I love creating food that makes people smile.  This is going to be a place for me to share recipes (and keep a record of them for myself) and gardening ideas.  Working in the kitchen is a creative outlet for me, and blogging at about it is a great way to share it with others.  So here we go!