Author Archive: hopefulgirl828

Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts

Last week, the weather here was positively fall-like.  Then, this weekend, suddenly it is summer again.  But, I just couldn’t wait until it cooled off again to make this side.  Seriously, I think I could eat it everyday and be just as happy as a clam.  Even my kids like it (yeah, they eat Brussels Sprouts, but only if I make them like this).  As with most of my recipes, feel free to adjust to your liking.  If the kids weren’t around, I would have definitely added some chile flake to this and I might add some red chile powder next time anyway – just for fun.

Start out by peeling and cubing one butternut squash.  Then trim and halve about 30 brussels sprouts.  Toss those with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper (I wish I could tell you how much, but I don’t measure it, just sprinkle it over until it feels right. Besides, your taste and mine are probably different when it comes to how much salt is enough).

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Spread these in an even layer on a sheet pan and put them in a 400* oven for about 20 minutes.  While those are roasting away, very finely dice onion until you’ve got about 2 tablespoons and mince one clove of garlic.  Sweat those down over very low heat in another tablespoon of olive oil.  When they are nice and tender, stir them into a half cup chopped pecans, a half cup dried cranberries (unsweetened if possible) and a tablespoon or two of maple syrup (again, this varies depending on your taste.  Go ahead and splurge on the real stuff though – your tastebuds will thank you.)

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When your butternut squash and brussels sprouts have been in the oven 20 minutes, pull them out and stir in the pecan/dried cranberry mixture.  Put it all back in the oven for another 10 minutes (and try not to drool).  When you pull it out, it will look like this and smell like heaven.

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Seriously! Who wouldn’t want a big ole serving of that deliciousness?!?!  I served mine with pan seared pork chops tonight, but it is equally delicious with chicken – or all by itself (you know you thought about it).  Bonus points if you can find the pork chop on this plate.4

Recipe

1 butternut squash – peeled and cubed

25-20 brussels sprouts – cleaned and halved

2 Tablespoons olive oil (separated)

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tablespoons finely diced onion

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1-2 Tablespoons maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400*.

Toss butternut squash and brussels sprouts with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper.  Spread in even layer on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes.

While squash and brussels sprouts are in the oven, sweat onion and garlic in remaining tablespoon olive oil over very low heat. When onions are soft and translucent, stir in pecans and dried cranberries.

Remove squash and brussels sprouts from oven.  Stir in pecan mixture.  Spread into an even layer and return to oven.  Roast 10 minutes more.

Remove from oven and serve with your favorite protein!

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Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been around.  I’ll keep posting some, but definitely sporadically – not because I’m out of recipes, but just because I’m busy.

Whenever I’m serving sweet potatoes with a meal, I like to cook up extra and have them on hand for recipes like this one.  The sweet potatoes I used for this tonight had been grilled and then frozen.  So, as long as they are soft, it really doesn’t matter how you prepare them. This crust comes together really easily.  Just throw all the ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth.  I use the dough blade and function on my processor for this.  If you don’t have a food processor, a mixer will do just as well (or even a potato masher and then a spoon, but this won’t be quite as smooth). Your dough will be thin and spreadable – more like cornbread batter than a traditional dough.

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Be sure you use parchment paper or grease your pan really well.  I was fresh out of parchment tonight.  Use a spatula to smooth your pizza dough into an even layer on the pan.

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Bake at 400* until the edges are brown and the crust is set.  It took 20 minutes in my oven.

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Top as desired and pop it back in the oven to melt the cheese! I used barbeque sauce, seasoned hamburger and sharp cheddar tonight!

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Slice, serve and smile 🙂

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Recipe

2 1/4 cup cubed sweet potato, cooked until soft

1 egg

1/2 cup quinoa flour (or oat flour)

1 Tbsp coconut flour (or 2 Tbsp almond flour)

1 1/2 tsp oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400*.  Grease pizza pan liberally or line with parchment paper.

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth. Spread dough onto prepared pizza pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are brown and the crust is set.

Remove crust from oven, top as desired and cook until cheese is melted.

 

More than Microwaving – Thanksgiving Ravioli

My mother-in-law always hosts Thanksgiving on the years we are home.  But, I’m picky, so I cook basically an entire second meal just for my family.  This always translates into TONS of leftovers.  Usually, I eat on them for a couple of days and then make a soup, but this year, I was hoping for something different.  Someone I know shared a video showing how to make egg rolls filled with Thanksgiving leftovers served with a cranberry dipping sauce – and that got me thinking.  I only had wonton wrappers, and I wasn’t looking forward to going to the store or messing up my kitchen frying up a bunch of egg rolls.  But, putting that stuff together inside wonton sheets.  Genius.  Seriously.  And thus, this recipe was born.

Lay out a wonton wrapper and put about a teaspoon of leftover sweet potatoes right in the center.

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I also happened to have some leftover roasted butternut squash with dried cranberries and pecans.  If you don’t, you can add more sweet potatoes, or mashed potatoes, or stuffing, or cranberry sauce, or whatever you’ve got on hand.

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Top all of that with about a tablespoon of finely diced leftover turkey.  Mine is white meat.  I sent the dark meat with my husband since he went back out on the truck yesterday.

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Generously wet the edges of the wonton wrapper and top with a second wrapper.  Seal the edges well, pressing out as much air as possible.  I find this is easiest if I seal a small area while it is laying down and then pick it up to finish.

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Be sure you keep the finished ones covered while you work so they don’t dry out. When you finish assembling the ravioli, put a pot of water on to boil.  Then, melt a half a stick of salted butter over low heat.  It will foam a little, and that’s ok. Keep the butter over low heat until it turns beautiful golden brown.12325328_10153688432735853_1739943152_n

At this point, I added 1/4 teaspoon dried sage. Fresh would have been better, but I still wasn’t excited about going to the store.  Boil your ravioli for 2-3 minutes and then toss in the warm, brown butter.  Serve up 3 or 4 per person and dig in!

 

Recipe

24 round wonton skins

1/4 cup mashed sweet potatoes

1/4 cup other Thanksgiving leftovers

3/4 cup finely diced, cooked turkey

1/4 cup salted butter

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

Lay a single wonton wrapper on flat surface. Add 1 teaspoon mashed sweet potatoes to center of wrapper.  Top sweet potatoes with 1 teaspoon of other leftovers and 1 Tablespoon of diced turkey.  Wet edges of wonton wrapper well.  Top with a second wrapper being sure to seal the edges well and press out as much air as possible.  Cover finished ravioli and set aside.

Repeat until you are out of wonton wrappers.

Bring a pot of water to a boil.

While water is boiling, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat.  Cook over low heat until golden brown.  Add 1/4 teaspoon dried sage.  Set aside.

Salt boiling water and boil ravioli for 2-3 minutes, being careful not to over crowd the pan or puncture the ravioli.  Remove ravioli from boiling water, drain well and toss in brown butter.  Enjoy!

Chicken and White Bean Chili

In my world, there is a definite difference between chile and chili.

This is chili.

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But THIS is chile.

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We use chile to make chili, but chili can never be chile.  Got it?

The weather has been colder here and that means the start of soup season.  My kids don’t really enjoy chile, yet, so I’m constantly adapting recipes so they can eat dinner and I can have my chile fix without having to cook two meals.  The diced green chile in this recipe is completely optional.  You can have a wonderfully tasty bowl of chili without it.  But, if you want a superb bowl of chili, go ahead and get some diced New Mexico Green Chile and add it in.   Fresh is best.  Frozen is a close second.  Canned will work in a pinch.

Dry beans are a great start to any budget savvy, protein rich meal.  I keep at least dry pinto and dry white beans on hand at all times.  This recipe starts with 1 cup of dry, white beans.  You can used canned beans to save time.  Do not use pinto beans in this recipe.  It just won’t taste the same. Just sort through your dry beans to make sure there are no foreign objects (read: rocks and small dirt clods). Then add them to the bottom of your crock pot.

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Then, add the chicken spices and water or stock on top.  Set your crock pot on low and walk away for the whole day.  Your house will smell amazing.  Just before serving, pull out the chicken, shred it up, and return it to the pot.

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Mmmmmmm.  Can you see those flecks of roasted chile goodness.  This is my bowl.  And it was so good I ate two.

Recipe

1 cup dry Navy beans

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken

4 cups water or chicken stock

1 teaspoon chile powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup diced green chile

Sort beans and remove any foreign objects.  Add beans, chicken, water (or stock), spices and chile to crock pot.  Set on low and cook for 6-8 hours or until beans are tender.  Remove chicken, shred and return to pot.  Serve hot with your favorite toppings and sides (I recommend cheese and cilantro with a hot flour tortilla).

Berry Cobbler

A few days ago, I saw a recipe for a quinoa pie crust.  I immediately decided I wanted to try it.  Then, while shopping the farmer’s market today, I saw the most beautiful fresh black berries.  I knew I had a few blueberries at home that needed using and I knew I had my pie filling.  When I got home, I was sadly not in the mood for pie.  But, berries make fantastic cobbler and that is exactly what I wanted.  Not an normal cobbler though, something a little healthier.  I scoured Pinterest and got some ideas, but nothing just right.  A little of this and a little of that later, this cobbler was born and boy am I glad I did.  You will be too.

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Start by placing your berries in a small baking dish.  Sprinkle with a tablespoon of tapioca starch and stir in a tablespoon of honey.

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Then mix up your topping.  The combination of coconut flour, tapioca starch, quinoa, flax meal and sunflower seeds gives this topping a light texture and a delightful nutty flavor.  Using coconut sugar helps keep the glycemic index down.

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Spread the topping gently over the berries.  Bake the whole thing at 350* for 30-35 minutes.  The top will get wonderfully brown and sightly cracked and the filling will bubble up around the edges.

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And, if that’s not enough guilt-free indulgence for you, top it with a scoop of ‘ice cream’ made from frozen bananas.  I promise you won’t regret it (unless, of course, you’re allergic to bananas, then go ahead and skip it).

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Recipe:

Filling:

3 cups fresh or frozen berries

1 Tablespoon tapioca starch

1 Tablespoon honey (if desired)

Topping:

1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup tapioca starch

1/4 cup quinoa

2 Tablespoons flax meal

2 Tablespoons sunflower seed kernals (I used salted, if yours aren’t, add a pinch of salt)

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup coconut sugar (can reduce this if you choose)

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 egg

2 Tablespoons melted butter (or coconut oil for dairy free)

Preheat oven to 350*.

Stir together berries, 1 Tablespoon tapioca starch and honey.  Place in baking dish.

Stir together coconut flour, 1/4 cup tapioca starch, quinoa, flax meal, sunflower seeds, baking powder, cinnamon and coconut sugar.  Beat together almond milk and egg.  Stir into dry ingredients.  Stir in melted butter.

Gently spread topping evenly over the top of the berries.  Bake at 350* for 30-35 minutes.

Grilled Italian Chicken and Potatoes

This is one of my very favorite summer dinners. It’s so simple that I won’t even really call it a recipe (or write on below for that matter), but it is too good to not share for anyone who might not have thought about it. 

To create this meal, you need three ingredients: chicken, potatoes, zesty Italian dressing. That’s it. 

Wash your potatoes well and slice into 1/4″ slabs. Place chicken in one bowl and potato slabs in a separate bowl. Cover each case bowl with zesty Italian dressing. Let marinate for at least a half hour. Grill. The potato slabs take about 20 minutes. Cook time on the chicken will vary depending on what cut of chicken you use. I use boneless, skinless breast filets and they cook in slightly less time than the potatoes. 

Add a side salad or some fresh veggies and you’ve got a delicious, healthy and super simple meal!

  

Cumin Spiced Beef

Dinner tonight was just too good for me to not share. As the weather warms, I’ll be using my grill to cook a LOT. This spicy meat gets an additional flavor kick from cooking on the grill. If you don’t want to fire up your grill (or, if you’re one of the unfortunate folks who doesn’t have one), this recipe works just fine on the stove top in a super hot skillet (preferably cast iron). 

Delicious and simple, that’s my motto. Just mix up the spices, rub them on a London broil and toss it on the grill. Cook it for 3-5 minutes per side, depending on thickness and desired doneness.  Then, pull it off, let it rest and slice thinly across the grain. Serve it up next to a nice green salad or in a warm tortilla. 

  
Recipe*:

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 pound London broil

Prepare grill or skillet for cooking over high heat. 

In a small dish, stir together cumin, chile powder, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and black pepper. Rub spices over all sides of London broil. Cook over high heat for 3-5 minutes per side depending on thickness and desired doneness. Remove meat from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain and serve. 
*This recipe can be easily multiplied to accommodate larger cuts of meat. Or, spice mix can be made in advance and used as needed. 


More Than Microwaving – Spaghetti Lasagna

It doesn’t matter how carefully I plan, it seems I always have leftover spaghetti. I don’t really like to reheat and eat spaghetti. It just loses something. The noodles get too soggy or they get completely dried out. It’s just never a happy thing for me. But, if you layer those noodles and sauce with some ricotta and mozzarella and bake it, you have all the deliciousness of lasagna, with the ease and resourcefulness of leftovers! 

First, stir together ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses with a little black pepper and Italian seasoning. Then, lay your leftover spaghetti noodles evenly in the bottom of your pan. Top the noodles with the cheese mixture. Top that with your leftover sauce. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese. Bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. I served mine on top of a couple crisp leaves of romaine lettuce. 

  
Recipe:

1 16 ounce container ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning 

2-3 cups leftover cooked spaghetti noodles

2-3 cups leftover spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350*. 

Stir together ricotta cheese, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, black pepper and Italian seasoning. 

Layer cooked spaghetti noodles evenly in the bottom of a small baking pan (I used a 9″ round cake pan). Spread cheese mixture evenly over noodles. Top with leftover spaghetti sauce. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. 

Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. 

Parmesan Green Beans

Things have been more than a little hectic here. My husband switched jobs and I have been adjusting to life with him on the road. We are settling into a bit of a routine now, so hopefully I will be back to posting regularly.

I figured since I’ve been gone for a while I owed you guys a remarkable recipe. This side dish is simple and tasty. And, it’s good for you too. When we go out to eat, if they’re on the menu, we almost always order fried green beans as an appetizer. My enjoyment of the crunchy delicacy is always overshadowed by my brain reminding me how expensive they are and how I could do it better. So, I did.

First, set up an reading station. I used coconut flour to keep these grain-free, but you could use all purpose flour no problem. Then egg whisked with a little milk. Then, grated Parmesan cheese seasoned with a little garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.

I used frozen green beans (I recently bought 28 POUNDS through my Bountiful Baskets co-op, so I’ve got plenty in the freezer), but this would work just as well (if not better) with fresh. Toss your green beans in the coconut flour, then dip in the egg. Let the extra egg drop off and roll them in the grated Parmesan. Then, place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Repeat until you run out of green beans or a breading element. Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. You may want to flip them after the first 5 minutes. I didn’t and the bottoms got very browned, so that’s up to you.

Recipe:

2 cups fresh or frozen green beans, ends and strings removed

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 egg

2 Tablespoons milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

Preheat oven to 350*.

Place coconut flour in a shallow dish. In a separate shallow dish, beat the egg and milk until well combined. In a third dish,  stir together Parmesan cheese and spices. Working with a few green beans at a time, coat with coconut flour. Shake off excess and dip into egg. Let excess drain and roll in cheese mixture. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Flip once during cooking if desired.

Carne Asada

I’m hosting a dinner later this month for two of my favorite friends and their significant others.  I have agonized over what to serve since I knew that March was my month to host.  I thought about doing corned beef, but it’s really not my favorite food and if I’m going to cook for other people, I really want to like what I’m cooking.  I thought about fodue, but I ALWAYS mess up cheese sauce (unless it is velveeta, then I’m good).  I thought about a three-course Italian meal, but I didn’t want to spend all my visiting time prepping the next course.  So, I went simple.  Taco Bar.  I mean, who doesn’t love tacos?  I’ll be serving my Chicken Tacos with Black Bean and Corn Salsa.  I’ll also be serving pork Barbacoa tacos and I’ll whip up this Carne Asada recipe.  All of these can be prepared before and just warmed before serving, except the Asada.  It needs to be grilled right before serving – of course allowing the meat time to rest before slicing.  But cooking this meat is the easy part.  All the real work is in the marinade, and it is done the day before.

To prepare the marinade, juice 2 limes, smash 3 cloves of garlic and add cilantro, onion, salt pepper, beer, cumin and chile flake.  Mix together in a zip top bag, add your meat and refrigerate overnight.  Pull it out a half hour before you are ready to cook.  If it’s warm enough (or you’re brave enough), fire up your outdoor grill.  If not, heat a cast iron skillet or grill pan over high heat until it is smoking hot.  Cook the meat for 5-7 minutes per side or until desired doneness. Don’t mess with it too much.  You want it to develop some nice browning.

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Let this rest for 5 minutes.  Then, slice thinly and across the grain.  Serve on grilled corn tortillas with cheese, cilantro and salsa or whatever else you like to top your tacos with.

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Recipe:

2 limes

1/2 cup beer

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1/4 onion, diced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon cumin

pinch chile flake

2 pounds flank steak

Juice limes into a gallon sized zip top bag.  Add beer, smashed garlic, cilantro, onion, salt, pepper, cumin and chile flake.  Add flank steak to bag and seal, removing as much air as possible.  Refrigerate overnight.

Remove meat from refrigerator about 30 minutes prior to cooking.  Heat grill or cast iron on high until very hot.  Cook meat for 5-7 minutes per side, until desired doneness.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice thinly across the grain.