Monday, July 9, 2012

Veggie-Full Rue (with a GF option)

There are tons of dishes out there that call for your every day cream sauce or cheese sauce. I think it's boring and can be difficult. Considering it's the kind of thing one typically combines with pasta (and consequently feeds to their children), it's a very unhealthy thing. But I have discovered a secret, and I would like to thank my sister-in-law for the idea: Canned butternut squash and canned pumpkin. These are excellent thickening agents. 

If I am making my own mac n' cheese or rice dish, I use:
About a half a can (about 2/3c) of the pureed veggie
A can of cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup*
Milk (start with 1/2c)
About a cup of grated or cubed cheese
Curry Powder (optional - I like it in everything)

Stir it all together over medium heat until you get a gloopy-delicious veggie rue/sauce - it should be the consistency of the stuff in the picture below.

If you are making pasta, throw in some broccoli in with the pasta for the last few minutes of boiling. Who doesn't like broccoli covered in cheesy goodness?

*For all my gluten-free friends out there: Just omit the cream of chicken soup and add the whole can of puree.

My mom makes really good Alfredo sauce. I have never been able to; mine would always turn out lumpy and more soupy, less creamy. But then I found the veggie trick.

Start with sauteeing a large clove of minced garlic in about 3T of butter. Then add a cup of 2% or whole milk - bring to a boil and let simmer (stirring occasionally) for a minute or two to reduce a bit. Add your 1/4c grated Parmesan cheese, fresh basil, S&P, then about 1/8c - 1/4c of pumpkin puree to finish the thickening job. If you have my luck with Alfredo sauce, you'd better work quickly or you'll get chunky Alfredo sauce. 

Once it's done, you will have fooled everyone into thinking that you make fancy pumpkin pasta sauce. Look at you.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Best Creamy Pasta Salad Ever

It has been above 100 the past few days. Needless to say, I was NOT in the mood to use the oven, yet I was hungry. I visited my friend Martha's website, and combined a few recipes for pasta salad. This salad is a winner.

Recipe Time:

2 Hard boiled eggs*
1 c. Mayo or 1/4 c. Mayo and 3/4 c. Plain yogurt
Lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Any or all of the following herbs: basil, chives, dill - preferably fresh.
1/2 c. Cherry tomatoes, halved
3 c. Pasta shells or macaroni
A cup-ish of cheese - any kind you have on hand will work (cheddar cubes, ricotta, etc.) but I used feta and LOVED it.

Chop the eggs, and mix with mayo, lemon juice, S&P, garlic powder. Chop and mix in herbs, tomatoes and pasta. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Now, this seems like your every day creamy pasta/potato recipe, but the lemon juice and basil, I think, is what really makes this pasta super extra delicious.

*Hard boiling eggs was confusing to me for the longest time. It seems so simple, but there are so many conflicting ways to boil an egg, and I felt like they never turned out okay. But I have now found an idiot proof way to boil eggs: put the eggs in a pot and fill it with cold water. Put it on the stove over high heat. When the water starts boiling (big bubbles), start the timer for 9 minutes. When the 9 minutes is up, run cold water in the pot and after a few minutes, the eggs will be cool enough to peel. Voilá!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dessert Chips and Salsa

Who knew wonton wrappers were so versatile? Well, Martha Stewart did. She knows everything - or at least those who work for her do. I am not very good at making up recipes from nothing. I have tried that a few times in the past few months, and things always turn out yucky (which is why I haven't posted in a while).

Luckily, I am very good at finding good recipes, and perhaps tweaking them slightly, as necessary. Apparently, this is a skill that not a lot of people have, and this is where I can help my friends.

I found a recipe for this next dish on a random blog, wrote down the ingredients (sans measurements or directions) and then made this super excellent party dish. Back to Martha, while looking for this recipe again, I went on to and found all the things she has done with wonton wrappers. Check them out if you have some left over.

Here is the recipe:

Wonton Chips
As many wonton wrappers as you can cook (these are seriously so good)
2 T Sugar
1 t cinnamon
1 Egg + 1 egg yolk
3 T heavy cream
Sliced almonds

Cut wontons into triangles. Mix eggs and heavy cream. Brush wrappers with egg mixture and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then the almonds. Bake about 8 minutes until browning and crispy.

Fruit Salsa
Mix together:
Equal parts strawberry and cantaloupe (use a whole cantaloupe), chopped into small pieces
1/2 Jalapeno, seeded, chopped (optional)
1-2 T Agave Nectar (or honey)
Juice from one lime
2 T fresh Basil
1 T fresh Mint

 If you want, you could put other things on the wontons - sesame seeds, add some vanilla to the egg mixture, lime juice and cumin, poppy seeds, sea salt - and use them with whatever kind of salsa you want. The sky's the limit.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cucumber Salsa

This is an interesting little recipe that I stumbled upon. My little helper has volunteered to show you which ingredients you will need:

1 Cucumber
1-2 Avocados
1 Lemon
1/2 Green bell pepper
2T. Fresh mint leaves, chopped
2-3 Scallions or green onions
6 oz. feta cheese (but goat cheese would be tasty, too)
Garlic Chives (see previous post), or minced garlic
1t. each: Salt, Pepper, Cumin
Your favorite hot sauce, to taste
Cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
Fresh corn (optional)

Chop it all up and mix it together. Stick it in the fridge for about an hour to give the flavors a chance to blend.

This makes a really good summer salsa for chips or tacos, but you can also just eat it as a salad (maybe add another cucumber if you're doing a salad). The thing I like about making salsas is that you can adjust the recipes to make it however you like it. If you like more avocado, add more avocado. If you don't like bell peppers or would rather have a red one, make the change. So feel free to go crazy with this recipe.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Garlic Chives?

So you know how you have the whole garlic bulb, but you don't use the whole thing before the middle cloves get those green sprouts that pop out? Well I do. And I typically end up throwing those away. That's not going to happen any more. Here's what you can now do with the unwanted, overgrown garlic cloves:

1. Dig a little hole in the ground that's about 1 inch deep.
2. Put the clove in the ground and cover it with dirt.
3. Water every day or so and wait for little sprouts to pop up.

Voilà! You have your self some tasty garlic plants that you can use like you would use chives. Put them in a salad, or mashed potatoes, sauteé them with some broccoli and lemon then top it with some freshly grated Parmesan. Or use them in the salsa/salad I will be posting about later. So many options, so tasty.

One thing to remember: These won't continuously sprout, so you'll have to replace them every so often. But seeing as how my garlic clove problem is recurring, this is no problem for me, and hopefully not a problem for you either.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Breakfast" Cookies

Okay, I found this recipe in a magazine and tweaked it a little bit. They were gone before I had a chance to take a picture, so I'm using the picture from the magazine (I'll make them again soon - probably on Monday -and repost the pics. Update...these are the real thing now).

Anywho, the magazine labeled these as "Breakfast Bites," only they taste just like the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies to me - they just don't taste as fake and they are a thousand times better for you. Here is the recipe. Try it and let me know if you think they're better than Little Debbies:

1 C. White whole-wheat flour (or 3/4 whole wheat and 1/4 white)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. pumpkin pie spice
1 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 egg + 1 egg white
1 c. old fashioned oats
1/3 wheat germ or flax seed or combination of both
1+ c. finely shredded carrots (3 small-medium)
1/2 c. currants (like little raisins)

8 oz. (1 block) reduced fat cream cheese
2 T. Maple syrup
2 T. Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper
2. In a small bowl, stir together first 6 dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine oil, sugars and eggs - mix to combine. Add the rest of the ingredients (including the dry ingredients) and stir until a ball of yummy cookie dough goodness forms. Seriously, this is some of the best cookie dough I've ever tasted.
4. Drop rounded dough (a heaping Tablespoon sized) on to the baking sheets, then slightly press down with your palm. Cook for 10-12 minutes until cookies begin to brown. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute then move to cooling rack.

5. For filling: cream together the cream cheese, maple syrup, and powdered sugar for 2 or so minutes with a mixer. Using a rubber spatula, place the filling into a plastic bag. Cut the corner and squeeze filling onto cookies, then make your sandwiches.

6. Wrap individual cookies in plastic wrap (or baggies) and refrigerate. Try not to eat them all in one day.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


So I made this and was hoping it would be more tasty. I'll make this again but then add some brown sugar or flavored yogurt and see how it turns out. I'll have to come up with a better name as well. But here's the recipe:

1/4 c. old fashioned oats
1/4 c. yogurt (I used Greek for protein)
1/3 c. milk
Any fruit, nuts, or other ingredients you may put in regular oatmeal.

Throw everything together in a jar with a lid and shake it up (baby now, shake it up baby). Leave it in the fridge over night and enjoy in the morning.

Add the yogurt and oatmeal...

...milk and other ingredients...

...screw the lid on and shake...

...refrigerate. In the morning you'll have this. Good for busy mornings.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Healthy Snacking Despite Easter

We all know that Easter candy is the best candy of all holidays during the year. For one reason or another, I have received (or purchased) TONS of Easter candy this year. Unfortunately, delicious candy + 3 months post-baby belly = extra tummy to love.

So in the spirit of wanting to be a bit healthier (for baby and myself), I have been reading lots of blogs and articles and finding ways to be a healthier me. I've been observing myself and found that the crux of the problem is my unhealthy snacking. When you're carrying around a baby with one hand, and eating with the other, you need quick, accessible food. Did you know that Cadbury Mini Eggs are quick and easily accessible? Well they are. In fact, I took pictures of all the places in my house where candy is stashed as kind of a guilt trip for myself:

Desk Drawer
Night Stand
Easter Package
Kitchen Counter
Food Pantry (the black beans are trying to hide it)
Other side of the Kitchen Counter (healthy food, too!)

 Luckily, before I discovered how squirrel-like I am in my candy stashing, I decided to overhaul my snacking habits and prepare easily accessible healthy snack food, as seen below:

Here we have some red and yellow bell peppers (which I recently started liking raw about 2 weeks ago), cubes of cheese, applesauce, cucumbers, pineapple, yogurt, hummus, (not pictured:) cottage cheese, and cut up strawberries. I also bought some deluxe mixed nuts at the store, whole grain crackers, and some melons that I have to cut up as well.

In addition I wanted some healthy more substantial snack ideas, so I looked online and through cookbooks, and compiled this list:

For the past two days I have been doing this healthier snacking/eating thing; I have been a much better snacker. I still have the candy lying around and I won't be throwing it away until Monday (after Easter), but I feel much better about the few treats that I have been eating. Now the trick will be to keep my house stocked with these healthy foods that are easy to snack on and easy to make. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

My Favorite Creation

This is my little smiley kitchen helper, Henry. Maybe I'm a bit biased, but I think he's adorable. This will probably be the only true, 100% unique creation that I make (until the next baby), but it is definitely my favorite.
This is as close to a naked picture as I would get.
Getting used to the bouncer.
Lovin the Bumbo.
This picture was taken just a week later, doesn't he look bigger?

I just love his little chubby smiling face.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Need for a New Blog

I enjoy making things.

When I need a chart or a list, I'll make it.

Instead of spending buco bucks on some do-dahs that I can sew or put together myself, I will craft something. 

I like to cook with my son, Henry; or rather, he likes sitting in his bumbo on the counter while I cook (he's almost 3 months old). I don't "create" many new recipes, but apparently finding (and when needs be, slightly adjusting) a good recipe is a skill that not many people have, so I do that to pass the time.

It's also helpful being married to a man who is very creative as well. Together, we always have something to do or make.

I figured if I have the need for something, others do, too; so I'm sharing my creations and discoveries with the world.

For example, rice is a good side for a lot of dishes. I either like doing Uncle Ben's 10 minute rice with butter, s&p if I'm in a hurry, or if I have some extra time, I will make coconut rice. It's simple: cook a cup of long grain brown rice in some olive oil or butter for a minute, then add 1 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1 1/4 cup water. At this point, feel free to add garlic powder and/or curry powder, depending on what you're having it with. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 40 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

I really like this rice because it's more creamy and less boring than regular 'ole rice.

Come back and visit again (hopefully there will be new post more often than not).