Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers

Like most kids, Redmond loves Goldfish crackers.  They're the perfect size for his little hands and great for on-the-go.  But, I don't love all of the unnecessary ingredients in them.  There are about 12 ingredients in Goldfish crackers with some of those ingredients containing more ingredients!  So, I decided to take it upon myself to make some from scratch with just five (yes, 5!) ingredients.  Cheese, flour, salt, butter and water.  You can make the crackers as big or as small as you'd like.  After I cut out my first batch, I rolled out the dough to cut out more.

We got a winner!!!

Whole Wheat Cheddar Crackers
Makes approx 8-9 dozen (depending on the size)

8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup whole wheat flour, plus 1-2 tbsp for rolling
4 tbsp unsalted cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold water

1.  In a food processor combine all ingredients except the water.  Pulse until the mixture resembles course sand.  Add in the water and continue to process until a dough ball forms.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. 

2.  Preheat oven to 375°.  Lightly sprinkle flour over a hard surface and roll out dough until about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut dough into crackers with a knife or cookie cutters and place on a baking sheet*. 

3.  Bake for about 13-18 minutes, removing from oven as soon as the crackers begin to brown.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

*My crackers were puffy and a little on the chewy side, they still taste good, but if you want a crisper cracker, you may want to prick the the crackers with a toothpick a few times before baking.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peanut Noodles

This is one of our favorites, but we haven't had it in forever!  I was so glad that Jason suggested it for dinner this week.  It's a fairly fast dish and has lots of veggies.  Redmond even ate some....okay, he didn't eat any of the veggies, but I'll take it!

Peanut Noodles
Serves 4

8 oz whole wheat/grain pasta or Soba noodles (I like to use linguine)
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut in 1-2 inch chunks
1-2 bunches of green onions, all but 2 cut into 1 inch pieces; cut the other two into small pieces for garnish
3 oz carrots cut in 2 inch pieces
4 oz snow peas
1 stalk baby Bok Choy, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp minced ginger (you can add more if you like ginger - I'm not a huge fan)
1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
3 tbsp natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
2 1/2 tbsp lite soy sauce
1 tbsp honey
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 oz lightly salted peanuts, chopped

1.  Cook noodles according to package; drain and set aside.  While noodles are cooking, heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame oil and cook the vegetables, ginger and garlic until beginning to soften. Add noodles to vegetable mixture.

2.  In a small saucepan, combine the broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, honey and red pepper flakes and heat over medium heat.  Simmer, whisking frequently until mixture is well combined and has thickened.

3.  Pour the peanut butter sauce over the noodles and vegetables and mix well with tongs.  Serve with chopped nuts and scallions on top.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Caprese Pasta

This is one of the easiest and fastest recipes ever!  The thing that takes the longest is cooking the pasta - seriously!  It's a great summer dish - it's satisfying, but not too heavy.

Caprese Pasta
Serves 4

8 oz whole grain Rotini
1/4 cup evoo
4-5 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
8 oz fresh mozzarella (I like either the cherry or pearl sized)
1 handful fresh basil, chopped or torn
Balsamic Vinegar (optional)

1.  Cook pasta, reserving 1-2 ladles of pasta water before draining.  Set aside.  In a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Once shimmering, add in garlic and tomatoes.  Cook until tomatoes begin to soften and break up, about 10 minutes.  Add the pasta, mix well and allow to cook for about 2 minutes.  Add any pasta water if needed.

2.  Add in the mozzarella, mix well and cook until mozzarella begins to melt.  Once the cheese begins to get gooey, add in the basil.  Mix together well and serve.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle with additional basil if desired.  Enjoy!

Make it Your Own Baked Pasta

This is my go-to quick dinner recipe for pasta.  It's similar to my Roasted Veggie Baked Pasta, but for this I sautè the veggies instead (it's a lot faster) and I basically just throw whatever odds and ends I have in the fridge into the pasta.  The possibilities are endless, you can use any combination of pasta/veggies/cheese or even meat (like hot Italian sausage!) that you can come up with.  I'll just give the ingredients of what I used this time.  Use your imagination and clean out your fridge!

Make it Your Own Baked Pasta
Serves 4-6

1 lb Gnocchi
Italian Seasoning
2 tbsp evoo
1 bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 red onion, cut into bite sized pieces
6 large mushrooms, cut into eighths
1/2 can no salt added diced tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
8 oz mozzarella, cubed
1 oz grated fresh Parmesan

1.  Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 8x8 baking dish with cooking spray.  Cook pasta until just al dente.  Reserve 1-2 ladles of pasta water, drain pasta and dump into prepared dish.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and seasonings and sautè until veggies begin to soften.  Add tomatoes and basil, cooking until heated through.  This is your 'sauce'.  If it is too dry, slowly add in pasta water until a sauce has formed.

2.  Add cooked veggies and diced mozzarella to the pasta.  Mix well and top with Parmesan cheese.  Bake until cheese is melted and pasta is hot; about 20 minutes.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 4, 2012

My new toy came today!

It's soooo pretty! Can't wait to try it out and post some recipes!!!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Cheesy Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Winner winner chicken dinner!!  Jason RAVED about this the entire time he ate it.  This is another recipe from my Cook's Country cookbook.  It went great with the Roasted Broccoli I made for dinner.  I made a couple small changes which I'll specify and, like the Quick and Crunchy Pork Chops from last night, I halved the recipe when I made it, but will post the full recipe.

Cheesy Basil-Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 4

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp heavy cream (I used whole milk)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the fatter/thicker the better)
3 tbsp mayonnaise (I use Hellman's Canola Mayo)
2 slices heart white sandwich bread, pulsed in a food processor to coarse crumbs (I used panko bread crumbs - about 1/2 cup for 4 breasts)
2 tbsp evoo
1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
Salt and pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 425°.  Combine the cheese, 2 tbsp basil, cream, lemon juice, 2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl.  Using a sharp paring knife, cut a pocket into the thickest side of each chicken breast.  Stuff each chicken breast with equal parts of the filling.  Secure the chicken by weaving either toothpicks or a 6 inch skewer through the chicken to seal in the filling.

2.  Place the stuffed breasts into a 9x13 baking dish.  Combine the bread crumbs, 2 tbsp basil, 1 tsp garlic and 1 tbsp oil.  Coat each chicken breast with 1 1/2 tsp mayo and firmly pat bread crumb mixture onto each breast.

3.  Toss the tomatoes with the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper.  Arrange them around the chicken breasts in the baking dish.  Bake the chicken until the crumbs are golden brown and chicken is fully cooked - approx 25 minutes.  Serve each chicken breast over the roasted tomatoes.  Enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

Broccoli has always been one of my favorite veggies.  I like them plain (with dip, of course) and just steamed with a little salt.  But, just like Brussels Sprouts, roasting them brings out a whole new flavor.  They are dee-licious!

Roasted Broccoli
2 Servings

1 large bunch of broccoli, cut into large florets
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp evoo
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 425°.  Combine all ingredients in an 8x11 baking dish and mix well.

2.  Roast broccoli for 30 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Quick and Crunchy Pork Chops

This is the first recipe I've tried out of my new Cook's Country cookbook - it was a hit!  Jason really liked it.  I served it with my Cheesy Grits and Roasted Brussels Sprouts - it was good eatin' tonight!  I'm posting the full recipe, but I cut it in half when I made it tonight. 

Quick and Cruncy Pork Chops
Serves 4

1 box (5.25oz) Melba toast crackers (I used the Roasted Garlic)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp sugar
6 tbsp mayonnaise (I used Hellman's Canola Mayo)
4 boneless center-cut pork chops

1.  Preheat the oven to 425°.  Place the melba toast and seasonings into a large ziploc bag.  Seal the bag and pound until the Melba toast resembles large pebble-sized crumbs.  Add 2 tablespoons of the mayo and combine inside the bag.  Transfer the crumb mixture to a plate.

2.  Pat the pork chops dry with a paper towel.  Coat a pork chop with 1 tablespoon of mayo and place on top of crumbs.  Sprinkle crumbs onto the top of the pork chop and press firmly to adhere them to the mayo.  Flip the pork chop over and do the same on the other side.  Place the pork chop on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining chops.
3.  Bake the pork chops until the juices run clear - approximately 16-22 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest 5-10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

This is one of my most absolute favorite veggie sides.  It's also the only way that I've found that I can eat Brussels sprouts.  They get crispy and take on a nutty-like flavor.  Jason's not a fan, so I just make them for myself ☺

Roasted Brussels Sprouts (pictured with my Cheesy Grits)
1 Serving

1/2 lb (about 10 medium sized) Brussels sprouts, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp evoo
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp sliced almonds (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 425°.  Remove the stems and outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts; cut in half or quarters (depending on the size) and place in a shallow baking dish.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

2.  Roast the veggies for 30 minutes, turning once halfway through.  Remove from the oven, serve and enjoy!