ShareThis

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Quick and Dirty Minestrone

























Work can get in the way of a  lot of things...often, cooking dinner. With the cold settling in and the dark coming earlier, sometimes its just nice to put a bunch of stuff in a pot and let it cook. Forget the cutting, chopping, mincing, straining...just dump and go. Hence the name, quick and dirty :-) 

Often, I don't know what I want for dinner until almost dinner-time, so, sometimes using a crock pot is not an option unless I want to eat at midnight. I have been making this minestrone for years, since college, and it is budget-friendly, easy on the tummy, grain-free (without the rotini), dairy-free, meat-free, and care-free. Really, you can't screw this up. And, if you really wanted to add some more to it, like chopped zucchini, cauliflower, whatever...you are welcome to! Make it your own! This is not a gourmet meal, and probably not something I would make for company, but, on a night where there is little time and all you want is a warm and cozy meal, this is highly recommended. 

Quick and Dirty Minestrone

Add:

1-2 qt. chicken or vegetable broth, depending on whether or not you want it more soupy rather than stew-like
1 cup frozen corn (I have used canned before, it works fine in a pinch, but you probably only need half a can)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 can diced tomatoes (or, if you use jarred, half an 18.3 oz jar of diced tomatoes)
1 can garbanzo beans

into a pot. Add:

1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Emiril's Original Essence
1/2 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp pepper (or salt and pepper to taste)

Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and and simmer for no less than 30 minutes, but you can simmer for longer, if you want. About 30 minutes before serving, add:

1 cup rotini pasta, cooked -OR- 1 c. lentils, cooked (if you want grain free) -OR- omit it all together

Keep the heat on low until you are ready to serve. Garnish with cheese or dill.

Ingredients
1-2 qt. chicken or vegetable broth, depending on whether or not you want it more soupy rather than stew-like
1 cup frozen corn (I have used canned before, it works fine in a pinch, but you probably only need half a can)
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
1 can diced tomatoes (or, if you use jarred, half an 18.3 oz jar of diced tomatoes)
1 can garbanzo beans
1 cup rotini pasta, cooked -OR- 1 c. lentils, cooked if you want grain free -OR- omit it all together
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Emiril's Original Essence
1/2 tsp. salt & 1/4 tsp pepper (or salt and pepper to taste)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Banana Bread

























No matter how hard I try to, I just don't love bananas. But I really do keep trying, and so I am regularly buying bananas, "just in case" I might want one...which I rarely do...and then they go bad...

I have been making this bread for years, and it's always a hit. It seems that it's another "mom recipe", as every boyfriend I have ever had...their mom has this exact recipe. It's eerie. Kind of like the meatballs that every mother in the world makes for parties...anyways...I wanted to make sure I could find this recipe on the world-wide-web, and share it with those of you I have already gifted said banana bread. I also wanted to share a deviation of the banana bread...

If you follow my blog, you know that I have started experimenting with cleaner eating, cutting out refined sugars and flours, and testing how to incorporate healthier options (the Paleo Chocolate Pie comes to mind...). Although the original banana bread recipe is one that will continue to live as gifts and possibly a treat now and then, I have found a gluten-free and cleaner option. I actually made these as muffins instead of bread, to make them more convenient and easier to grab on the go, so I'm not sure how they would turn out as a bread. Using turbanado raw cane sugar actually makes them less sweet, so I plan on making them for Thanksgiving as a bread option, but I love them for a small breakfast option with my coffee in the morning. They almost have a corn muffin flavor...some sweetness, but not enough to be considered sugary. 

I have added both options to this post, so you can go the tried and true route, or the new-fangled...either way, thanks for joining me on my journey!

Original Banana Bread
In a bowl, cream:

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature

Add:

3-5 bananas, as brown as you can stand it

In a separate bowl, combine:

2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda

Slowly add to the butter, sugar, banana mix, but don't over beat it. Lastly, add:

2 eggs, beaten separately 

Combine and add to a bread pan, sprayed with some cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. 

Note: I have also done this as smaller bread loafs. Just start checking the loafs for "doneness" after about 30 minutes and then periodically after that. 

























Clean Banana Muffins (Gluten-free) 
In a bowl, cream:

1 c. turbanado raw cane sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature

Add:

3-5 bananas, as brown as you can stand it

In a separate bowl, combine:

1 c. oat flour
1 c. brown rice flour 
1 tsp baking soda

Slowly add to the butter, sugar, banana mix, but don't over beat it. Lastly, add:

2 eggs, beaten separately 

Combine and add to a bread pan, sprayed with some cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. 

Original Banana Bread Ingredients
3-5 bananas, as brown as you can stand it
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
2 eggs, beaten separately 
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking soda

Clean Banana Muffins (Gluten-free) Ingredients
3-5 bananas, as brown as you can stand it
1 c. turbanado raw cane sugar
1/2 c. butter, room temperature 
2 eggs, beaten separately 
1 c. oat flour
1 c. brown rice flour 
1 tsp baking soda

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Butternut Squash Leek "Soup"





























Why do I call this "soup"? Because, the reality is, it doesn't have to just be eaten as soup. It can be, and you can even add chicken to it, or maybe cubes of potatoes. But the beauty of this "soup" is it can also just be used as a puree, then be used for other dishes, like, the beginning of a pasta sauce. Now, don't get me wrong, it's great as it is: I have been making this dish as soup since college. However, as I have been making it long, I have also experimented with other uses for it, including the two I mentioned above. This is a great base for anything that needs a butternut squash puree (hmmm, next idea, butternut squash mac & cheese?) or all alone as a soup. Experiment yourselves and enjoy!

Butternut Quash Leek "Soup"

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove papery skin from:

1 whole garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves)

Wrap head in foil. Bake for 1 hour. Meanwhile, quarter:

1 medium butternut squash

Scoop out the seeds and 'hair'. Drizzle with:

olive oil
salt & pepper

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes to 1 hour, based on the size of the squash. The goal is to peel the skin off as easily as possible. 

Pull out garlic from the oven, let garlic head cool. Separate cloves, squeeze to extract garlic pulp into a small bowl. Discard skins. 

Pull the butternut squash out of the oven. Peel the skin off the squash. Cube the squash into 1/2 inch pieces. Try to keep them uniform, if possible.

Heat:

4 tsp. olive oil

in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add:

6 c. Thinly sliced leeks (about 4 large leeks), washed and drained to remove any dirt

sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in:

roast garlic pulp
cubed butternut squash
4 c. chicken broth
salt & pepper to taste

bring to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes or until squash is tender. Blend the soup in batches in a blender or using an immersion hand mixer until smooth. 

























If using a blender, make sure you remove the center opening and cover with a towel to let steam out.

Garnish with roasted sunflower seeds, chicken, parmesean cheese, homemade croutons, creme fraiche...the toppings are endless!

























Ingredients
1 whole garlic head
1 medium butternut squash
4 tsp. olive oil
6 c. Thinly sliced leeks (about 4 large leeks), washed and drained to remove any dirt
4 c. Chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup


























I used to hate fall...HATE IT! Maybe it was because that was when school started, and I wasn't the biggest fan of school. Actually, that was most likely exactly what it was...which may surprise some people now, since I was an outgoing cheerleader in high school and graduated college with an engineering degree, but, yeah, I wasn't a fan...that being said, now I LOVE FALL! I love how good my house smells with food cooking in the crockpot all...day...long...! I love the changing colors, the leaves crunching under my feet. I love that hot chocolate weather is coming, but not yet here, and I no longer have to worry about what I look like in a bathing suit :-) I love that it is okay to start eating more luxurious foods, and soups and stews are abundant! Yup, I love fall :-) 

A short time ago, a family member had an accident and couldn't eat solids for a while, so I made several soups and brought them over. This one was the biggest hit at their home, and my husband was actually a bit disappointing that I hadn't made more. It is definitely a repeat, making it a successful dish for the Schneider household! Keeping with cleaner eating, this is a hearty dish with very little salt, and no heavy cream (just a tad of butter to cook the veggies) and absolutely no sugar (although I am surprised how many soups want you to add sugar into them!). 

Add: 
1 Tbs. olive oil
3 Tbs. butter
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
into a pot. Add:
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup shredded carrots
Cook until softened. Add:
3 Tbs. flour (1 Tbs. each until combined) 
Combine thoroughly, so no flour is visible. Add:
3 cups chicken stock or veggie stock 
Simmer for about  30 minutes, covered. Add:
3 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat for another 30 minutes. Add:
1 cup Cauliflower puree (as made in my Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo)
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
Heat another 30 minutes until all cheeses are melted. Top this off with some homemade croutons, some extra broccoli or cheese, or even crumbled bacon, curl up under a blanket and enjoy!

Ingredients
1 Tbs. olive oil
2 cups fresh broccoli, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
3 cups chicken stock or veggie stock
1 cup shredded carrots
3 bay leaf
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. flour
1 cup Cauliflower puree (as made in my Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo)
4 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sharp cheddar
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pot Roast Mini-Sandwiches

























I recently re-posted my Pot Roast recipe, which I have not changed since I started making it in 2010. I was out of town last week, and when I got home, since it was getting cooler, I was really in to mood to make something warm in the crock pot and permeate my house with yummy smells! So, I asked the DH what he would like for dinner on Friday night, and he requested pot roast, then suggested we make sandwiches from it for the Bears game on Sunday...what a great idea! I am always looking at ways to use up leftovers! While at the store, I saw cute little mini rolls, both whole wheat and french, and thought it was a great idea to make smaller sandwiches with them! So, Sunday night came along, and I spent a short amount of time re-heating the meat and veggies and assembling the mini-sandwiches...enjoy :-)

Pot Roast Mini-Sandwiches
Since you aren't cooking anything, you only need to preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Separate the pre-made pot roast from the veggies. Add them to the oven for about 30 minutes or until they are reheated. During this time, Slice up some:

Bread Rolls

In the last 5-10 minutes, add them to the oven to toast them up a bit. Once everything is heated, take out the bottom 1/2 of the the bread and the pot roast. Shred the pot roast. Slather some: 

Horseradish Mayo

On the bread. Add the:

Pot Roast, heaping portion
Provolone Cheese

Put the assembled halves back in the oven until the cheese is melted. Finish off by slathering the top halves with:

Horseradish Mayo
Coarse Mustard (optional)

Assemble and eat! 


Monday, August 4, 2014

Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad




I really enjoy entertaining, and the new townhouse we have now allows us to entertain often, even if just for a couple of people or an impromptu house guest. In July we had family and friends over to celebrate the engagement of my husband's cousin and his fiance, who were in the process of moving from New York to LA. I wanted to prepare dishes that were clean, cool and easy...if they could be made ahead of time, that was even better! I prepared many the day before, if not fully, as far as I could go, and will update this post as soon as I have them all entered. However, this one truly represents summer and the beauty of its simplicity. Enjoy!

Based on a recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod

Combine:

4 large tomatoes, cut into large pieces (1/4 or 1/6 of the tomato)
4 large peaches, cut into large pieces (1/4 or 1/6 of the peach)

on a platter. You don't want to mix them too harshly, so cut them one by one and lay them out as you cut them. I found it easy to cut a peach, then a tomato, then a peach, etc., then lay them out after cutting each one so they are distributed as evenly as possible on the platter. Next, rip up and place:

12 ounces burrata cheese, ripped into pieces

Again, you want it to be distributed evenly. Feel free to add more as long as it doesn't overwhelm the dish. Next, evenly sprinkle over:

1/4 cup fresh coarsely chopped basil

Lastly, drizzle some well-aged balsamic vinegar and sprinkle a very small amount of salt and coarsely ground black pepper on top. The original recipe called to create a balsamic reduction, but if you have a well-aged balsamic on hand, it will work just as well. Investing in an aged balsamic, since it can be very expensive, is definitely worth it. You won't use as much and get a thicker and sweeter taste, rather than the more bitter that comes with so many balsamic vinegar's.  The salt and black pepper just brings out the flavor of the elements in the dish. My husband has always recommend adding a sprinkle of salt and pepper on salads, and I agree that it only enhances the flavor.

ingredients:
4 large tomatoes, cut into large pieces (1/4 or 1/6 of the tomato)
4 large peaches, cut into large pieces (1/4 or 1/6 of the peach)
12 ounces burrata cheese, ripped into pieces
1/4 cup fresh coarsely chopped basil
Well-aged balsamic vinegar 
A sprinkle of salt and coarsely ground black pepper


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Paleo Chocolate Pie with a Nut Crust






















Paleo Chocolate Pie with a Nut Crust based on a recipe from www.paleolland.com 

Wow, it's been a busy first half of the year!  Doggie issues, my work, his work, moving...I'm sure there was more, but we are finally getting settled in the new place, Tickle is doing well, and I think we are finally figuring out how to balance our work/home life.  Things are going well, and I am looking forward to the second half of this year. A few weeks back, for my husband's birthday, we had a small family BBQ, at which point we also got him the exact grill he wanted...he was actually speechless, which happens rarely, so I knew we had been a successful purchase. 

Part of what I have been trying to do at the beginning of this year is eat healthier.  Now, I am sure many of you think that means I have gone on a diet, lowered my carb intake, increased my protein intake...nope. Well, maybe, but it was a indirect result of eating cleaner.  Less processed foods, almost no soda, more water, a reduction in refined sugar and white flour...and, what I found made the most impact in my health: reading the labels of canned, bottled and boxed items and lowering the amount of foods I purchase loaded with chemicals. It was eye opening to see what kinds of chemicals were in foods like tortillas, salsa, ketchup, cottage cheese...I may be the last one to recognize the severity of all this, since it is in the news, and restaurants are constantly changing their ingredients to improve the quality of their dishes, but now that I am aware of it, it is hard to look away.  

All of this means I am looking at what I cook, the ingredients I use, and what I buy prepared vs. make from scratch.  Many dishes are actually quick and easy to make from scratch, although making them all at once can become time consuming. For example, and I will add these later, but, refried beans, hummus, salsas, all are very quick and easy to make and have so much less of the garbage that you find in the prepared foods on the grocery store shelves. As a result, I eat less sugar, salt, and so does the my family. It's also opened me up to new techniques and new ingredients, to create successful dishes like this chocolate pie.  

I am very excited about this dish. It was something I chose to make because there are several people in my family who have diabetes, and I hate that I never make a dessert for parties that they can eat. I found this, and I knew it was perfect. Not only for them, but, I was really looking forward to trying it! The recipe may seem daunting, but it really isn't. Extremely successful, we didn't even have leftovers :-)

for the crust
In a food processor, finely chop:

⅓ cup macadamia nuts, unsalted
⅓ cup almonds, unsalted
⅓ cup hazelnuts, unsalted
4 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

Transfer the crust mixture to a glass pie dish (diameter about 20 cm), and press it across the bottom and halfway up the sides.

filling ingredients
In a small saucepan, heat:

1 cup coconut cream (cream at the top of a can of separated full-fat coconut milk -leave open in fridge overnight to separate)

just slightly. Add:

8 Medjool dates, pitted
3 ounces (90 gr) dark chocolate, melted
¼ cup (60 ml) coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Using an immersion hand blender, the most a-mazing item in the planet for creaming soups, sauces, and now, I find, pie fillings, blend until the filling is dark and completely smooth. The original recipe called for doing this in the food processor, although I have no idea how she got it as smooth as the hand blender would get it.  You can also use a regular blender, but, because the ingredients have been heated, make sure you keep the small piece of the top off.

Pour the filling over the crust, and chill to set. When you're ready to serve the pie, top it with whipped coconut cream or strawberries (which is what I did). Store the pie in the refrigerator, if it lasts that long :-)

Ingredients
for the crust:
⅓ cup macadamia nuts, unsalted
⅓ cup almonds, unsalted
⅓ cup hazelnuts, unsalted
4 Medjool dates, pitted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

filling ingredients:
1 cup coconut cream (cream at the top of a can of separated full-fat coconut milk -leave open in fridge overnight to separate)
8 Medjool dates, pitted
3 ounces (90 gr) dark chocolate, melted
¼ cup (60 ml) coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Based on Art Smith, Table Fifty-Two






























After I made this, I was told by my husband, and his brothers, which are all my immediate taste testers, that this was the best dish I had made to date.  And, I have to admit, it was a-mazing!  Granted, if you add the buttermilk biscuits, mashed potatoes and green beans, you should only eat this meal once a year, if that, but this is my southern diva coming out...

Note: I have a step by step process of cutting the chicken in another post.

1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces

Place chicken in medium bowl and add:

2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt

Stir well and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Add enough:

Vegetable oil

to a deep large skillet to create a depth of 1 inch. Heat over medium-high heat to 360 degrees (use a deep-frying thermometer or an electric frying pan).

Mix:

1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

in a shallow bowl. Remove dark meat from buttermilk; shake to remove excess, and roll in flour to coat. Shake off excess flour and place in hot oil.

Cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until golden brown and cooked through (about 15 minutes). Adjust heat as needed so that oil bubbles steadily around the chicken -- it shouldn't brown too quickly. Drain on paper towels.

Reheat oil to 360 degrees. Repeat with breasts and wings, cooking for about 15 minutes. Serve chicken hot or at room temperature, within 2 hours of cooking.

Ingredients
1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 cups buttermilk
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable Oil
1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Buttermilk Biscuits






















http://www.oprah.com/food/Art-Smiths-Goat-Cheese-Drop-Biscuits#ixzz2MnIra8nM

Preheat your oven to 425°. Place one 10-inch cast iron pan into the oven while it is preheating. Place: 


2 cups self-rising flour1 teaspoon salt


Into a medium-sized bowl. Cut in:


4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold butter4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese 



Make a well in the middle of the ingredients and pour in:

1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk


Stir until the mix is moistened, adding an extra tablespoon of milk if needed. Remove the hot skillet from the oven and place:


1 Tbs butter 


Into it. When the butter has melted, drop 1/4 cupfuls of batter into the pan, (use a muffin scoop to drop the batter if you have one). Brush the tops of the biscuits with: 


Melted butter 


Bake from 14–16 minutes until browned on the top and bottom. Remove from the oven and sprinkle:


1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Enjoy warm!

Ingredients

2 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) cold butter
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) goat cheese
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter Extra butter to grease pan and top biscuits
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


So easy to make, and goes so well with my Fried Chicken!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lamb Stew






























This cold is horrible, but it's been more manageable than I thought -15 would be.  I have started to experiment with meats other than beef and chicken, and my first attempt at lamb turned out to be a great success!  Although an expensive meat, it was definitely worth it. Matthew even ate the stew as leftovers, and, if you know Matthew, that is practically unheard of :-)  This stew is simple and the kitchen will smell heavenly for days to come.  Warm and comforting, this will be a repeat for years to come when the weather keeps us cooped up indoors, watching movies in front of a glowing fire...

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat:


3 Tablespoons coconut oil


in a large skillet. While it's heating, dry:


2 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes


with paper towels and season liberally with salt and pepper. Brown the lamb in the hot oil.  You will need to do this in several batches, as you do not want the pieces to touch, creating a better sear. Once brown, transfer lamb to a Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Once the Dutch oven has heated, sprinkle the lamb with:


1 Tablespoon sugar


and toss until caramelized, about 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle lamb with:


3 Tablespoons flour


and toss again. Place Dutch oven in the oven and cook for 5 minutes. Toss the meat and cook for an additional 5 minutes. The lamb should be slightly crusted by now. Remove from oven. Reduce heat to 325 degrees. Add:


4 cups chicken broth

3 Tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh thyme

Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring broth to a lazy simmer. Cover the pot and return it to the oven. Bake for 2 hours or until the lamb is meltingly tender. 

Parboil: 

18 pearl onions, peeled, "x" carved into the root end
18 baby carrots
18 tiny potatoes
4 turnips, quartered
1½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen

separately in boiling salted water until just short of tender. (This will take about 10 minutes for the pearl onions, 10 for the potatoes, 5 for the carrots, 5 for the turnips and 2 for the peas, but cooking times will vary according to the size and age of the vegetables.) Once cooked, plunge vegetables into ice-water to stop them from cooking further. Remove navarin from the oven when ready. Transfer lamb to a bowl. Strain the remaining liquid (if necessary), discarding the solids. (I did not need to do this.  I simply removed the bay leaf and thyme from the pot.  Return meat to Dutch oven. Nestle vegetables around meat. Pour the strained liquid back in (if removed). Cover and return to the oven for an additional 10-15 minutes. Off heat, stir in:

Crème fraîche to taste, about 1/3 cup


You can add a dollop of creme fraiche into each bowl before serving.  I did it this way, so that I could keep the stew for leftovers, as only two of us were eating that night. Serve in wide bowls, sprinkled with fleur de sel and a scattering of the remaining thyme and any other fresh herbs of your fancy. A crusty baguette is the perfect partner. 


Ingredients 
3 tablespoons coconut oil 
2 pounds boneless lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
1 bunch fresh thyme
18 pearl onions, peeled
18 baby carrots
4 turnips
18 tiny potatoes
1½ cups green peas, fresh or frozen
Crème fraîche to taste, about 1/3 cup
Fleur de sel