Monday, January 30, 2012

Spotted Beef Bake

Jason told me last week that he wanted "Polka Dot Potato Bake" for dinner.  Um, what!?  Never heard of was something that he used to eat at a buddies house in high school.  Basically, a beef casserole with canned corn and instant (blech!) potatoes.  So, I took the idea, lightened it up, and created something with the same premise, but new.  Jason loved it!

Spotted Beef Bake
8 servings

1lb ground beef or turkey
1 small red onion, chopped
1 tsp oregano
1 1/2 tsp basil
Salt and Pepper
16oz no salt added tomato sauce
1 roma tomato, diced
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
4 cups mashed potatoes (approx 2lbs)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  Over medium heat, combine ground beef, onion, oregano, basil, salt and pepper.  Cook until beef is no longer pink; drain off any excess grease and return to the pan.
2.  To the beef mixture, add the tomato sauce, diced tomato and corn.  Combine all ingredients and then transfer the mixture to a 7x11 or 9x13 baking dish.  Top mixture with mashed potatoes and shredded cheese.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until heated thoroughly and the cheese is melted.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Veggie Mac & Cheese

Mac & Cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  This version is lightened up, but still creamy and hits the spot.  One of Jason's favorites - he requests this for dinner at least once a month.  It's a great way to sneak veggies in too!

Veggie Mac & Cheese
6 servings
8 oz whole grain or veggie small-cut pasta
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1 roma tomato, diced
2 cups skim milk
3 tbsp unbleached flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
8 oz low-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (I use Cabot)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Dash of Cayenne pepper
Salt and Pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Spray an 8x8 glass baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.  Cook pasta according to directions, cooking slightly less than the box suggests.  Add broccoli to pasta for the last 2 minutes of cooking.  Drain and set aside.

2.  In a large pot, whisk together the milk, flour, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper over medium heat until smooth.  Whisk occasionally until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Once thickened, turn off the heat and add in cheddar cheese, mixing until cheese is melted.
3.  To the melted cheese mixture, add the cooked noodles and broccoli and the diced tomato.  Combine the mac and cheese and transfer to the prepared baking dish.  Top with grated parmesan and bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and parmesan cheese is melted.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Redmond approves!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fresh Berry Sauce

This is a simple (two ingredients!), healthy alternative to maple syrup.  Goes great with pancakes or waffles!

Fresh Berry Sauce
Makes 4 Servings

2 cups fresh berries (blackberries are pictured)
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar

1.  Place berries in a small pot over medium-low heat, sprinkle with sugar and cover.  Allow to simmer gently, while the berries release juices; approximately 10 minutes. 

2.  Uncover and, using a potato masher or back of a spoon, smash the berries to make a chunky sauce.  Lower heat to simmer and allow to cook uncovered until sauce is thickened (I usually just let it cook until my pancakes are all finished).  Spoon over pancakes or waffles and enjoy!

Nutrition Info (per serving): Calories: 43, Carbs: 6g

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

I crave pancakes all.the.time.  It's a pregnancy craving that has never gone away.  I've tried tons of different pancakes recipes, but I have found a winner.  These are so light, fluffy and delicious!  They've become a Sunday morning staple in our house.  They go great with my Fresh Berry Sauce.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
Makes 6 (2 pancake) servings

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 cup canola oil

1.  Preheat oven to 200°.  Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl until well combined.  Add buttermilk, eggs, vanilla and canola oil and mix until well combined and there are no large lumps.
2.  Drop batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto a griddle or pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  As pancakes finish, place on a cookie sheet and place in oven, keeping warm until ready to serve.

Nutrition Info (per serving): Calories: 292, Protein: 10g, Fiber: 4g, Sodium: 612mg, Carbs: 36g, Fat: 13g

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Tzatziki Sauce

The classic Greek-style cucumber dip.  I made this tonight to go with the Chicken and Veggie Gyros I made for Jason and I. 

10 Servings

8oz non-fat greek yogurt
1 cucumber, seeded
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
Salt and Pepper

1.  Place the yogurt in a fine mesh strainer and allow to drain for at least one hour to rid of any excess moisture.  Grate the cucumber or finely mince and also place in a fine mesh strainer or a paper towel-lined colander.  Sprinkle the cucumber with salt to drain any excess water - drain for at least one hour.
2.  Combine drained yogurt and cucumber, garlic, lemon juice, dill, chives and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.  Garnish with additional chives and dill if desired.

Seasoned Baked Fries

Love, love, love french fries.  Hate, hate, hate what fried french fries do to my hips and butt.  So, when I'm really craving them, I bake them.  They taste just like just as good as the 'real deal'.

Seasoned Baked Fries
2 Servings

2 russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tbsp evoo
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp paprika

1.  Preheat oven to 500°.  In a large bowl, toss everything together except salt.  Place fries in a single layer on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Place pan on the bottom rack.

2.  Bake the fries for 10 minutes, remove from the oven and turn them.  Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt, if desired.

Veggie Gyros

To go along with Jason's chicken gyros, I made a veggie version for myself.  Went great with my homemade tzatziki sauce too!

Veggie Gyros
1 serving

1 portabello mushroom, sliced
1/4 cup green bell pepper sliced
1/4 cup red onion sliced
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp evoo
1/4 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp dried mustard
1/4 tsp dried oregano
Salt & Pepper
Whole wheat pita
Thinly sliced onion
Tzatziki Sauce

1.  Combine lemon juice, evoo, garlic, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper.  Place mushroom, peppers and 1/4 cup sliced onion in a zip-top bag or container with a tight fitting lid.  Pour marinade over the veggies and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

2.  Sauté marinated veggies over medium high heat until the mushrooms until browned.  place veggies in a warm pita, top with sliced onion and tzatziki sauce.

Chicken Gyros

I wanted to try something different for dinner tonight so I decided to go with Gyros.  I made chicken for Jason and veggie for me.  I even whipped up some homemade Tzatziki to go with them!

Chicken Gyros
4 Servings

1 lb chicken breasts (about 4) cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp evoo
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & Pepper
4 whole wheat pitas
Thinly sliced onion
Tzatziki Sauce

1.  Combine lemon juice, evoo, garlic, mustard, oregano, salt and pepper.  Place chicken in a zip-top bag or container with a tight fitting lid.  Pour marinade over the chicken and place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

2.  Sauté chicken over medium high heat until browned and cooked through.  Divide chicken between four pitas and top each with sliced onion and tzatziki sauce.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Dip

This is something I just threw together one day with ingredients I had on hand.  It's now one of my husband's favorites.

Spicy Black Bean Dip

2 cans refried black beans with roasted red jalapenos*
1/4 cup sour cream
1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
1 small handful cilantro, chopped finely
3/4 cup shredded Mexican or Cheddar cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all ingredients except cheese in a medium sized bowl.  Once combined, transfer to small baking dish** and top with shredded cheese. 
2.  Bake for 15-20 minutes, until warmed through and cheese is melted.  Serve with tortilla chips.

*If you're unable to find these, just get plain refried black beans and add 1 chopped jalapeno.

**This can also be put into a small crock pot.  Cook on low for 2-4 hours, until warm and cheese is melted.

Big ol' Party Meatballs

Who doesn't love meatballs?  Well, actually, I don't, but I don't mind making them for my husband or friends.  I prefer to bake mine on top of a metal cooling rack so they don't bake in all of the fat drippings.  Also, once baked, they can easily be frozen for use at a later date.

Big ol' Party Meatballs
Makes 2 1/2 dozen meatballs
2 1/2 lbs ground beef
1 lb sausage (I prefer Bob Evans Original)
1 egg
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs
1/4 medium onion, minced or grated
Couple dashes of chipotle pepper powder
Couple dashes of garlic powder
Salt and Pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all ingredients into a large bowl.  Mix well (best way is with your hands), but don't overmix.

2.  Take approximately 1/4 cup of the meat and roll it between your hands to form a ball.  Continue doing this until all of the meatballs have been formed.  Place meatballs on a cookie sheet.

3.  Bake meatballs for 20-25 minutes, until nicely brown and no longer pink in the center.  Serve alone or with desired my barbecue sauce!

Kicked Up Honey Mustard

It really doesn't get any easier than this.  The ground mustard adds an additional punch of mustard flavor and a kick of heat.

Kicked Up Honey Mustard:
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/8 tsp ground mustard

1. Mix all ingredients well.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Smokey BBQ Sauce

Never buy the bottled stuff again!  This is double the "normal" recipe.  I made a large batch to go with my Big ol' Party Meatballs and Crispy Garlic Parmesan Chicken Fingers for our White Elephant Party ☺

Sara's Smokey BBQ Sauce
24 Servings

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chipotle pepper powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp chili powder

1.  Heat a medium sized pot over medium-low heat.  Combine all ingredients and warm over heat until all ingredients are incorporated and sugar and salt are dissolved, stirring occasionally.  Let cool to room temperature, seal and store in refrigerator for up to one week.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

White Chocolate Orange Slices

This, along with the Spritz cookies, have become a Christmas tradition for me.  I make them every year.  It is time consuming to peel the oranges, but other than that they are super simple.  And so delicious!

White Chocolate Oranges
Makes approx. 7 dozen

8 seedless navel oranges
1 bag (2 cups) white chocolate chips, divided
1/4 cup Crisco, divided
Sprinkles, optional

1.  Peel the oranges of the skin and excess pith and separate into sections, trying to not break the membranes of the oranges.  Keep three different piles* - intact sections, sections that have some flesh exposed and pieces/sections that have come apart.  Intact sections are best for dunking, exposed flesh is best for drizzling and broken sections are best for eating ☺

2.  Combine 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips and 1 tbsp Crisco in a double boiler.  Stir continuously until chocolate is melted and smooth.

3.  Once chocolate is melted, drizzle melted chocolate over orange slices or dip oranges in melted chocolate.  Before chocolate sets, sprinkle orange slices with sprinkes if desired.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 until all oranges have been dipped, drizzled and sprinkled.

*The white chocolate will react with the acid from the oranges, so you must work fast.  This is also why it needs to be done in small batches and why you should drizzle, not dunk, any orange segment with flesh exposed.

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

These mushrooms are the reason why I actually like mushrooms now.  It's a recipe my mom makes all the time and, not being able to pass up on all the melty, cheesy, yumminess, I used to pick out the smallest mushrooms to I go for the biggest with the most filling!

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms
Makes 3-4 dozen

1 pkg frozen chopped spinach (10oz), thawed and squeezed of all excess water (I use a clean kitchen towel)
2 8oz pkgs cream cheese (I use the reduced fat)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/2 cup plus 1 cup shredded Italian blend cheese
2lbs fresh mushrooms, stemmed and wiped clean

1. Preheat oven to 350°.  De-stem and wipe clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel; place on a rimmed baking sheet.  In a large bowl mix together green onions, worcestershire, cream cheese, 1/2 cup Italian blend cheese and spinach (this can be done one day in advance - just cover and store in the fridge).

2.  Stuff mushroom caps with mixture, sprinkle remaining cup of Italian blend cheese on top.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, until filling is golden and cheese is melted.


*The original recipe calls for only 1/2 pkg of frozen spinach and a 1/2 cup of imitation crab meat, chopped.  I don't care for the crab meat so I substituted it with more spinach.*